Lurking | Joanne McNeil

Summary of: Lurking: How a Person Became a User
By: Joanne McNeil


In the book ‘Lurking: How a Person Became a User’, author Joanne McNeil delves into the history of the online user and how people engage with the internet. McNeil discusses the paradoxical nature of the internet, examining how it shapes users and, in turn, how users shape the virtual world around them. She critiques companies such as Facebook for exploiting users and argues that an ideal internet would function as a civic body that values justice and human rights. Readers can expect a personal yet insightful look at the early days of the internet, how anonymity and privacy have evolved, the emergence of online communities, and the role of social justice movements in reshaping the online landscape.

The Paradox of the Internet

Joanne McNeil’s “Lurking” is a reflection on the impact of the internet on its users and the online universe. The book delves into the exploitation of users by social media companies and how society should value human rights in the digital world.

Joanne McNeil’s “Lurking” is a thought-provoking analysis of the internet’s impact on its users. She examines the relationship between people and the online world through various lenses, highlighting the paradoxes that arise as a result. McNeil is deeply critical of social media companies like Facebook that exploit user data for profit. She argues that experiences on the internet should be valued as priceless, instead of monetized and sold back to users in a degraded form.

The book expresses a vision of an ideal internet that values justice and human rights. McNeil’s ease in navigating issues surrounding the online world has earned her critical acclaim. Her willingness to include her own emotions in the narrative makes “Lurking” a personal, yet essential read. The book joins the ranks of other notable works that examine the internet’s impact, such as “The Ethical Algorithm” by Michael Kearns and “Irresistible” by Adam Alter.

In conclusion, “Lurking” is a timely reminder of the need for a just and equitable digital world. McNeil’s analysis will undoubtedly spark conversations about how we can create an online universe that upholds human values and promotes the common good.

The Truth About Google’s Influence

In the early days of the internet, users navigated rather than searched for information. Google emerged as a winner among search engines by monitoring user habits and indexing pages with more hits. The author emphasizes that search engines provide educated guesses, not facts. Google’s immense power, however, comes with no accountability or customer service. McNeil’s book sheds light on the truth behind Google’s influence on the internet.

Anonymity vs Privacy Online

McNeil makes a distinction between anonymity and privacy. Anonymity refers to being in public unnoticed while privacy is protecting yourself from intrusion. With the rise of the internet, users have created a more voyeuristic online model, which has broken down anonymity. McNeil stresses that although people may believe they can lurk anonymously, the internet is surveilling everyone all the time.

The Rise and Fall of Blogging

Blogs were once popular, but their lack of journalistic rules limited their cultural impact. As social media platforms emerged, blogging lost its significance. The introduction of the iPhone marked a shift in online behavior and facilitated self-expression through selfies. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram normalized online lurking and reduced human interactions to mere clicks.

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