Princeton Pre-Read

Class of 2023 selection: Stand Out of Our Light

President Eisgruber’s Princeton Pre-read selection for the Class of 2023 is Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy by James Williams, who recently completed his doctoral work in philosophy at Oxford University and previously worked for Google as a technology and business strategist. The book presents a rigorous and original argument about the profound influence of digital technology on human attention and democratic political competence. President Eisgruber hopes that Stand Out of Our Light will inspire students, faculty, and staff to discuss and debate the ways in which this digital landscape is affecting our ability to shape our identities, lives, and societies.

Copies of Stand Out of Our Light will be available to community members with distribution beginning over the summer. For more information, please contact Tessa Yelenik in the Office of Finance and Treasury at 609-258-2755 or tyelenik@princeton.edu.

Pre-Read Assembly

In September, James Williams will join President Eisgruber, several Princeton faculty members, and members of the Class of 2023 for an engaging discussion on Stand Out of Our Light.

Learn more about Stand Out of Our Light

The distractions of digital technology have implications for the educational project of this University and others. President Eisgruber encourages you to learn more about the book’s arguments and reflect on their relevance to your own life.

“There is something profound, and potentially irreversible, happening to human attention in the digital age….I think that the way that we respond to this challenge could be the defining moral and political issue of our time.” – James Williams, Stand Out of Our Light - TEDxAthens   

“As we struggle to understand the impact of technology on our lives, we would do well to reflect on the conclusions of technologist turned philosopher James Williams.” – The Financial Times

“It’s an extremely well-considered, brilliant and eloquent plea — the latest in a lengthening trail of internet-era technology criticism…As Williams cogently demonstrates, nothing less than the coherence of democratic will may be at stake in a global media environment optimized for increasing distraction, and aiming to extend its reach into the neurological register with brain-to-computer interfaces for more in-depth, direct social sharing.” – Medium

Reviews

“A very insightful and perceptive analysis of one of the crucial issues of our age: how we spend our time in the infosphere. It will be the starting point for anyone who wishes to create a better future.” – Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford

“Passionate, provocative, personal and funny! Drawing on philosophy and video games, ancient literature and current science, Stand Out of Our Light helps us to see what's currently happening to the human experience and how we can take back control.” – David Runciman, University of Cambridge

“On the contemporary attention crisis, there is no writer who has thought deeper on it than Williams. His pivotal insight is the recognition that attention is the fuel of our lives, the ingredient essential to any self-chosen goal. Reading this refreshing and rejuvenating book will make you think hard about how life should be lived.” – Tim Wu, Columbia University

Previous Pre-read selections

Stand Out Of Our Light Book Cover