Book Review: Griffith Review 64: The New Distruptors is a sweeping look at new technology

The Griffith Review is known for its rich collections of thought-provoking writing and picture stories. The 64th edition, The New Disruptors is no exception. It is a deep dive into the world of technological change, from the recesses of the dark web through to those new opportunities for change.

This instalment is edited by Ashley Hay, who offers her own look at the concept of disruption; and draws together thirty-two written pieces spanning the genres of essay, memoir, reportage, poetry and fiction. Cian Sanders also provides an eye-catching picture gallery where a 3D light printer was used to superimpose digital versions of Australian fauna onto divine landscapes. It will make you consider our humble turtles, bilbies, wombats, platypuses and echidnas in a whole new light.

There are some lighter pieces where the authors give handy little primers to emerging topics. Among these are Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Jenny Sinclair. The former writes a colourful account about the seductive world of cryptocurrency. Abdel-Magied experienced incredible highs as the market did well and dazzling lows when the bottom fell out. For the latter, Sinclair looks at Airtasker and the notion of outsourcing work, questioning at what point things becomes “too much’.

There are some rather serious pieces in this batch. Julianne Schultz offers up an interesting piece, where she describes how members of the West balk at China’s social currency system, yet happily hand over personal information to Facebook, Google and Amazon. Sociologist and academic, Margaret Gibson examines the digital after-life and what remains after one dies. Ellen Broad offers up provocative material about the lack of diversity in the tech world, and considers how systems designed by homogenous, white male teams have unconscious biases.

In other articles we have futurist, Mark Pesce turning his back on Twitter despite having crafted over 300,000 tweets. Ian Townsend, meanwhile, looks at disaster science, while Associate Professor Mark Davis examines those likely upheavals in the future. We are in a brave new world as many of these contributors like Cathal O’Connell know, as she examines the prospect of discovering extra-terrestrial life

The Griffith Review offers up some fascinating and thoughtful articles that are really on-point. This wide look at disruptors offers up something that should appeal to all, including those enthused by, and all users of new technologies. Cerebral collections like The Griffith Review prompt further discussion and debate. This collection ultimately proves that these contributors are very esteemed and knowledgeable company.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Griffith Review 64: The New Disruptors is available now through Text Publishing

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