In this monograph, O’Hara reviews the literature that characterises what is called digital modernity. Digital modernity narratives focus on the possibilities of the data gathered by an ambient data infrastructure, enabled by ubiquitous devices such as the smartphone, and activities such as social networking and e-commerce. It is characterised by (1) a subjunctive outlook where people’s choices can be anticipated and improved upon, (2) the valorisation of disruptive innovation on demand, and (3) control provided by data analysis within a virtual realm that can be extended and applied to the physical world. O’Hara explores the synergies and tensions between these three aspects as well as the opportunities for and dilemmas posed by misinformation. He identifies five principles that emerge from the study of relevant texts and business models and concludes by contrasting digital modernity with other theories of the 21st century information society. Narratives of digital modernity are useful because they help explain the development of technology. It matters because many influential people accept, and often generate, the digital modernity narrative. Given digital modernity’s strong association with the Web, it is a central topic for Web Science as the interdisciplinary study of the World Wide Web from the technological, social, and individual points of view.

Kieron O’Hara is Emeritus Fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.

This publication can be found here: It is also available on IEEE Xplore at You can contact the publisher for access options or order a print copy at the $40 discount rate using the code: 226485

Digital Modernity by Kieron O’Hara
Published: 17 November 2022
ISBN: 978-1-63828-104-7