Hui’s project is remarkable for a conceptual engagement with twentieth-century philosophies of technology (Simondon, Heidegger, Husserl, Stiegler, Ellul) that pushes these theories further by confronting them with questions of the digital.
The object of this remarkable, groundbreaking book is as elegant as it is profound—to provide us with a radically objective account of the digital objects that populate our world, both on- and offline. On the Existence of Digital Objects is a truly innovative and philosophically grounded ‘object oriented ontology’ that is designed for and can scale to the increasingly complex orders of magnitude confronted in the twenty-first century.
— David J. Gunkel, author of The Machine Question
It has all the qualities of becoming a genuine classic in the future, in a domain that it is partially in the process of excavating itself. A truly outstanding achievement that deserves a wide audience and is indispensable and essential reading.
…Reader is rewarded for their perseverance through the history of philosophy, the intricacies of html mark-up.
This is a major contribution to the subfield of the philosophy of technology, and as such, takes on two of the towering figures in the 20th century thinking on humans’ relationship with technics: Heidegger and Simondon.
On the Existence of Digital Objects is a demanding read, but it is also an extremely rewarding one…With this book Hui has established himself as a formidable young digital scholar and he will undoubtedly continue to draw from this substantial conceptual foundation for many years to come.
Hui hat ein Buch vorgelegt, das die Aktualität von Metaphysik und den dringenden Bedarf an neuen Ontologien in digitalen Zeiten überzeugend darstellt und überzeugende, teils kühne Vorschläge liefert.[Hui has written a book, that convincingly shows the actuality of metaphysics and the pressing need for new ontologies in the digital age, and he has delivered convincing, partly bold suggestions.]
Hui develops in this essay an absorbing philosophical investigation of these objects which goes well beyond the ample definition of digital humanities.
Hui adeptly blends his technical training and philosophical knowledge to address a fundamental question: what is the relationship between technological and humanistic concerns?
Digital objects, in their simplest form, are data. They are also a new kind of industrial object that pervades every aspect of our life today—as online videos, images, text files, e-mails, blog posts, Facebook events. Yet, despite their ubiquity, the nature of digital objects remains unclear.
On the Existence of Digital Objects conducts a philosophical examination of digital objects and their organizing schema by creating a dialogue between Martin Heidegger and Gilbert Simondon, which Yuk Hui contextualizes within the history of computing. How can digital objects be understood according to individualization and individuation? Hui pursues this question through the history of ontology and the study of markup languages and Web ontologies; he investigates the existential structure of digital objects within their systems and milieux. With this relational approach toward digital objects and technical systems, the book addresses alienation, described by Simondon as the consequence of mistakenly viewing technics in opposition to culture.
Interdisciplinary in philosophical and technical insights, with close readings of Husserl, Heidegger, and Simondon as well as the history of computing and the Web, Hui’s work develops an original, productive way of thinking about the data and metadata that increasingly define our world.
On the Existence of Digital Objects is also now translated in Chinese.