Book: Seven Veils of Privacy

Here, Kieron O’Hara details a framework of seven levels to help separate the effects and affects of privacy from the facts. In looking at when a privacy boundary is crossed or not, this framework helps citizens think about when that’s problematic, and why this differs not only across cultures, but also across generations and even for the same individuals.

Privacy is one of the most contested concepts of our time. This book sets out a rigorous and comprehensive framework for understanding debates about privacy and our rights to it.

Much of the conflict around privacy comes from a failure to recognise divergent perspectives. Some people argue about human rights, some about social conventions, others about individual preferences and still others about information and data processing. As a result, ‘privacy’ has become the focus of competing definitions, leading some to denounce the ‘disarray’ in the field.

But as this book shows, disagreements about the role and value of privacy obscure a large amount of agreement on the topic. Privacy is not a technical term of law, cybersecurity or sociology, but a word in common use that adequately expresses a few simple and related ideas.




  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6302-8
  • Pages: 384
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2023

WebSci’24 Latest News

WebSci’24 promises a rich exploration of web science through:

    • Workshops
    • Tutorials
    • A Ph.D. symposium
    • Five inspiring keynotes.

In addition to keynotes by Eszter Hargittai, Jie Tang, Dirk Hovy, Hannes Werthner, and Jennifer Pan, we look forward to the panel discussion, including Steffen Staab, with the theme:

“Reflecting on the Web, AI, and Society.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend and immerse yourself in the diverse and enriching program that awaits you at the Web Science Conference in May 2024.

Register here:

Be sure not to miss Brave Conversations Stuttgart ( on May 21.

Register here:

Digital Modernity

Digital Modernity


“Modernity” is a social, cultural, or historical descriptor for a certain type of society or set of social arrangements. It is a contentious and disputed term, often understood implicitly. It is a way of describing and classifying highly complex, dynamic, and emergent aggregate social phenomena, and so dramatically simplifies such contexts. However, the language of modernity remains attractive to commentators, academics, and policymakers.

In this monograph, the author 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. The author explored the synergies and tensions between these three aspects as well as the opportunities for and dilemmas posed by misinformation. The author 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.

Publication Date: 17 Nov 2022

© 2022 K. O’Hara


Web3 – the promise and the reality

Web3 describes a group of technologies for managing collective interactions on the internet while avoiding centralised control, granting users agency over access to their data, and managing distribution of value as digital assets. The technologies are distributed ledgers including blockchain, cryptocurrencies, distributed autonomous organisations, decentralised finance, and non-fungible tokens. Web3 technologies offer technical solutions to problems of trust and verifiability online. Their open source basis makes them available to developers globally and across sectors and communities. Some of these technologies are already in use across many sectors and have been proposed as applicable to a much greater range of uses in the future. If the technologies prove successful sustainably at scale for a very wide range of functions, they might change and expand what the internet delivers for a high proportion of users, and genuinely warrant the description Web3.