As he has in years past, the 44th President of the United States just released a list of his favorite music, movies, TV shows and books of 2019. And as in years past, the main thing about Obama’s favorites is that he has pretty good taste. His movie list, for example, is full of solid choices, and he’s careful to point out the one case where’s he’s biased:

Barack Obama@BarackObama

Next up are my favorite movies and TV shows of 2019. Of course, there’s also American Factory, a film from our own production company, Higher Ground, that was recently shortlisted for an Oscar. Here’s the full list:

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More intriguing for those reading the Obama tea leaves, however, is his list of favorite books. Note the first choice on his list: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, by Shoshana Zuboff.

Barack Obama@BarackObama

As we wind down 2019, I wanted to share with you my annual list of favorites that made the last year a little brighter. We’ll start with books today — movies and music coming soon. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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Zuboff’s book examines capitalism in the modern era, and how tech companies like Google and Facebook want to control what human beings do in the name of profit. And Obama’s own administration comes in for its fair share of criticism.

“Super interesting that Obama lists Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism,” journalism researcher Avi Asher-Schapiro tweeted. “She argues that the “revolving door of personnel who migrated between Google & the Obama admin” helped “fortify” the surveillance capitalism business model.”

Avi Asher-Schapiro@AASchapiro · Dec 29, 2019

It’s super interesting that Obama lists Zuboff’s “Surveillance Capitalism,” as one his of favorite books. In that book, she argues that the “revolving door of personnel who migrated between Google & the Obama admin,” helped “fortify” the surveilence capitalism business model. https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/1211033245812441091 …Barack Obama@BarackObamaAs we wind down 2019, I wanted to share with you my annual list of favorites that made the last year a little brighter. We’ll start with books today — movies and music coming soon. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Avi Asher-Schapiro@AASchapiro

Ah, found the section:

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Of course, Obama could have enjoyed this book despite the criticism of his administration. Or it may have led him to reflect on mistakes made in office. Either way, many observers noted just how surveillance capitalism (not to mention the surveillance state in general) grew under his 8 years in office.

Shuja Haider@shujaxhaider

imagine having Verizon give you personal access to like every American citizen’s phone conversations for 8 years and then being like “my favorite book is the age of surveillance capitalism lmao”4,37512:27 AM – Dec 30, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy745 people are talking about this

You could dismiss Zuboff’s critique as Monday morning quarterbacking — except that much of the same critique was leveled at the Obama administration during his time as President. For example, there was this early 2016 Intercept report on the Obama administration’s closeness with Google. 

In fact, one of the major criticisms leveled at those who helped elect Obama in 2008 and 2012 is how many of them went to work for tech companies in the private sector — instead of helping Democratic candidates down-ballot in the 2010 and 2014 midterms, when the party lost a substantial number of seats in the House of Representatives.

At the very least, Obama’s recommendation should encourage more readers to check out The Age of Surveillance Capitalism — especially, we would hope, his fellow Democrats running for the presidency in 2020. 

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