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The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age

The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age

Written by Andrew O'Hagan

Narrated by Liam Gerrard


The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age

Written by Andrew O'Hagan

Narrated by Liam Gerrard

ratings:
3/5 (1 rating)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 10, 2017
ISBN:
9781541481695
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

The slippery online ecosystem is the perfect breeding ground for identities: true, false, and in between. The Internet shorthand IRL—"in real life"—now seems naïve. We no longer question the reality of online experiences but the reality of selfhood in the digital age.

In The Secret Life, the essayist and novelist Andrew O'Hagan issues three bulletins from the porous border between cyberspace and IRL. "Ghosting" introduces us to the beguiling and divisive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose autobiography the author agrees to ghostwrite with unforeseen—and unforgettable—consequences. "The Invention of Ronnie Pinn" finds the author using the actual identity of a deceased young man to construct an entirely new one in cyberspace, leading him on a journey deep into the Web's darkest realms. And "The Satoshi Affair" chronicles the strange case of Craig Wright, the Australian Web developer who may or may not be the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto—and who may or may not be willing, or even able, to reveal the truth.

Publisher:
Released:
Oct 10, 2017
ISBN:
9781541481695
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Andrew O’Hagan is one of Britain’s most exciting and serious contemporary writers. He has twice been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. He was voted one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. He has won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of Our Fathers, Be Near Me, The Illuminations, among other books. He lives in London.


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3.0
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  • (3/5)
    Modern society has become utterly reliant on the internet. It is pervasive and has many positive and negative aspects, from the way that it can bring people together to the troubling undercurrents of the darknet. In The Secret Life, Andrew O'Hagan brings us three different stories, one of a man who courted public opinion whilst holding it in contempt, a man who was thought to be someone else and shies away from the spotlight and a final story about a man who does not exist. All of these individuals live in the hazy zone between real and online life.

    His first story concerns Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, the website that looks to get under every government’s skin. Assange had signed a fairly substantial deal with Canongate to tell his life story, and O'Hagan is brought in to interview, document and prepare a readable text ready for publication. Assange is a hugely complex character who suffers from justified paranoia, vanity and narcissistic tendencies, who wants to portray a particular image of himself and his website; he reviles excessive state controls that some countries apply, whilst missing the irony of applying similar rules to those that work for and with him. O'Hagan somehow manages to cobble together a manuscript for the publishers, but has come to realise that Assange doesn’t want to publish at all, merely to have the prestige of being an author.

    The second essay describes how O’Hagan uses the identity of a deceased young man, Ronnie Pinn, to construct and fake real and online profile. After obtaining a birth certificate he starts by signing up to a couple of social media platforms, as the fake identity grows and the credibility of the identity is established, he starts to venture into the murky world of the dark net where illegal items are easy to obtain. It is all simple to do, but it didn’t really tell O’Hagan who Ronnie Pinn actually was, the more he investigated he realised that he was a much of a ghost in real life as he was on the net. Until one day he found out that his mother was still alive.

    The third and final story is called the ‘The Satoshi Affair’ about the mysterious and elusive creator of Bitcoins. For ages no one really knew who Satoshi Nakamoto was, or if it was a group of people who pulled together the code to make the blockchain database that is the foundation of the Bitcoin credibility. There was lots of speculation as to the identity. O’Hagan was then asked to write the story of Satoshi Nakamoto, who may be an Australian web developer and former academic called Craig Wright. He had just avoided being arrested shortly after it was suggested by a website that he was Nakamoto and had headed to the UK with his wife. As O’Hagan interviews him, there are points of lucidity and certain moment when no one is actually sure if he is trying to pull the most elaborate hoax ever.

    O’Hagan has bought together three fascinating stories of the modern day blend of real world and online personas and identity. It is quite shocking is some ways just what someone can achieve and obtain in the dark recesses of the net with little or no effort. The essay about Assange made for entertaining reading, just to see what he was actually like from an insiders view was quite an eye opener too. Craig Wright’s story was the hardest to get a grip on, even though he is a clever bloke and more than capable of coming up with the blockchain, there are still elements of doubt as to whether he is the legendary Nakamoto or not. Overall I thought that this was an enjoyable book of our modern age. 3.5 stars.