A David and Goliath story about Ireland’s role as prime real estate for the world’s largest tech multinationals, and the considerable impact it has had on us as individuals.
At the start of the millennium, the Tech giants landed on Ireland’s shores. Dublin, once one of Europe’s poorest cities, became a beacon of Silicon Valley’s promise of progress and power. As the face of the capital was remade in the image of Big Tech, Irish society embraced technology like no other. Romantic Ireland was dead and gone: social media was here to stay.
In this provocative account, Aoife Barry explores the human cost of Ireland’s Faustian pact with Big Tech, from the local communities uprooted by Google to the traumatised moderators squirrelled in the capital’s pockets, keeping the internet safe at a terrible price. Unsettling, insightful, and wryly funny, she paints a portrait of a country addicted to the internet, refreshing the news, refreshing Twitter, scrolling and scrolling towards a feverish future. She turns an equally honest eye on her own life online, from her humble beginnings using dial-up in her parent’s kitchen to working for Ireland’s first digital-only newsroom, and asks what we bargain in exchange for life in the metaverse.
Social Capital is the coming of age story of Ireland 3.0: set against the backdrop of the tech revolution, it chronicles how we collapse the boundary between physical and virtual reality, and where we might go from here.