Book Review: Shouting Zeros and Ones - Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand - Andrew Chen

A plain book cover.

‘Understanding how the zeros and ones increasingly influence and control our lives is critical to understanding how we can reciprocate influence and control back onto those zeros and ones.’
This vital book is a call to action: to reduce online harm, to protect the integrity of our digital lives and to uphold democratic participation and inclusion.
A diverse group of contributors reveal the hidden impacts of technology on society and on individuals, exploring policy change and personal action to keep the internet a force for good. These voices arrive at a crucial juncture in our relationship to fast-evolving technologies.

Possibly the most important and timely book I've read about the state of Digital Policy. Written in the aftermath of the horrific fascist/terrorist attacks on New Zealand - and in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis - this book examines some of the knotty problems facing Aotearoa.

This is not a parochial, inward facing text. All the problems it identifies are applicable worldwide. It presents a compelling case on how we should construct digital policy as we emerge from the shadow of COVID.

The section on Indigenous People's data rights, and the colonialism present in the current infrastructure, has lots of Te Reo (Māori language) phrases. That can be a bit intimidating for a newcomer - but it's nothing that a few minutes with a decent dictionary can't fix.

There were two particularly interesting questions that I was left with.

  1. What's the carbon footprint of, say, GOV.UK? Do we make enough use of renewable energy? Can we schedule computationally heavy tasks for times when green energy is at its peak?
  2. How do we make the language we use more inclusive? We need to take people on a journey, and if they can't understand our acronyms and jargon, we lose them.

The book is available DRM free from

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One thought on “Book Review: Shouting Zeros and Ones - Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand - Andrew Chen”

  1. Thanks for reading and writing a review! Great that it has a reach outside of our shores at the bottom of the world 😁


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