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Privacy (BIG IDEAS//small books)

American essayist and Harper’s contributing editor Garret Keizer offers a brilliant, literate look at our strip-searched, over-shared, viral-videoed existence. Body scans at the airport, candid pics on Facebook, a Twitter account for your stray thoughts, and a surveillance camera on every street corner — today we have an audience for all of the extraordinary and

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American essayist and Harper’s contributing editor Garret Keizer offers a brilliant, literate look at our strip-searched, over-shared, viral-videoed existence.

Body scans at the airport, candid pics on Facebook, a Twitter account for your stray thoughts, and a surveillance camera on every street corner — today we have an audience for all of the extraordinary and banal events of our lives. The threshold between privacy and exposure becomes more permeable by the minute. But what happens to our private selves when we cannot escape scrutiny, and to our public personas when they pass from our control?

In this wide-ranging, penetrating addition to the Big Ideas//Small Books series, and in his own unmistakable voice, Garret Keizer considers the moral dimensions of privacy in relation to issues of social justice, economic inequality, and the increasing commoditization of the global marketplace. Though acutely aware of the digital threat to privacy rights, Keizer refuses to see privacy in purely technological terms or as an essentially legalistic value. Instead, he locates privacy in the human capacity for resistance and in the sustainable society “with liberty and justice for all.”

Comments

GratefullyTom says:

One of the most enlightening books I have read on Privacy One of the most enlightening books I have read on Privacy – something we all think we get but don’t. 

Price Kimmons says:

Fascinating ideas, but sarcastic tone hard to take There is much to like about this creative defense of privacy as a social and legal concept. This is an incisive, alarming, and well-reasoned call for Americans to wake up to the erosion of our right to privacy–along with a compelling explanation of why we should care. Sadly, however, I was continually put off by the author’s sarcastic tone and asides, which he seems to consider charming and funny, but which are more often buffoonish and insensitive, if not downright offensive. For example,…

William Blackburn says:

A Disappointing Rant This is my first exposure to the work of Garret Keizer, who apparently enjoys a considerable following and whose publishing credentials are impressive. I was therefore disappointed as I tried to follow his thread of argument in this slender volume. Some of his observations are valid, but there is a good deal of riffing, as it were, and one has the sense of the author’s random stitching together his various complaints about the loss of privacy, vague efforts to describe what privacy is, and how…

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