Your Hap­pi­ness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Win­ning the Bat­tle to Con­trol Your Brain—and How to Fight Back

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction - BARRY SIL­VER­STEIN

Vivek Wad­hwa Alex Salkever

Ber­rett-koehler Pub­lish­ers (JUNE) Hard­cover $24.95 (192pp) 978-1-5230-9584-1 Your Hap­pi­ness Was Hacked is an in­ci­sive, timely book that un­cov­ers the dark side of tech­nol­ogy and sug­gests how to use it mind­fully.

Through ex­plo­ration, ex­am­ples, and statis­tics, the au­thors of­fer a per­cep­tive, un­var­nished as­sess­ment of the nega­tive ef­fects of tech­nol­ogy on in­di­vid­u­als, fam­ily life, and the work­place. They point out, for in­stance, that “we spend less time in the most im­por­tant form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion: one-toone or very-small-group dis­cus­sions face to face.” They also an­a­lyze how tech­nol­ogy con­trib­utes to un­healthy habits, sleep­less­ness, and lone­li­ness.

Wad­hwa and Salkever are op­ti­mists at heart. The sec­ond half of their en­gag­ing book fo­cuses on how to make tech health­ier and more hu­mane. The au­thors sug­gest that small steps can have big im­pli­ca­tions. They first pro­vide a sim­ple frame­work for an­a­lyz­ing one’s in­ter­ac­tions with tech­nol­ogy, and then show how tech­nol­ogy can be man­aged through “cre­ative en­vi­ron­men­tal and be­hav­ioral de­sign.”

In ad­di­tion to mak­ing spe­cific easy-to-im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions, Wad­hwa and Salkever dis­cuss emerg­ing ap­pli­ca­tions de­signed to help hu­mans gain con­trol of their tech­nol­ogy us­age. The au­thors also lay out their vi­sion for a fu­ture in which tech com­pa­nies, em­ploy­ers, gov­ern­ments, and users all work to­ward a com­mon goal of more hu­mane tech­nol­ogy.

The book’s epi­logue is very cur­rent; it ac­knowl­edges the re­cent vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties ex­posed by Face­book and other tech­nol­ogy providers, and serves as a call to ac­tion from the au­thors, who have grad­u­ally made changes to their own lives and who en­cour­age oth­ers to “use these prod­ucts, these mir­a­cles of sil­i­con and soft­ware, only on our own terms.” For any­one who feels like the cap­tive of their smart­phone, Your Hap­pi­ness Was Hacked is re­quired read­ing.

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