The Internet Is Not the Answer

The Internet Is Not the Answer

Book - 2015
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"Since its creation during the Cold War, the Internet, together with the World Wide Web, personal computers, tablets, and smartphones, has ushered in the Digital Revolution, one of the greatest shifts in society since the Industrial Revolution. There are many positive ways in which the Internet has contributed to the world, but as a society we are less aware of the Internet's deeply negative effects. In 2007, Andrew Keen, a longtime Silicon Valley-based observer of the digital world and a serial Internet entrepreneur, published one of the first Internet-sceptic books, The Cult of the Amateur, which asked how quality content can be created in an online environment that demands everything for free. In Keen's new book, The Internet Is Not the Answer, he offers a comprehensive look at what the Internet is doing to our lives. The book traces the technological and economic history of the Internet, from its founding in the 1960s to the creation of the World Wide Web in 1989, through the waves of start-ups and the rise of the big data companies to the increasing attempts to monetize almost every human activity. Successful Internet companies have produced astronomical returns on investment, and venture capital and the profit motive have become the primary drivers of innovation. In this sharp, witty narrative, informed by the work of other writers, reporters, and recent academic studies as well as his own research and interviews, Keen shows us the tech world, warts and all--from hoodie-wearing misfit millionaires, to the NSA's all-encompassing online surveillance, to the impact of the Internet on unemployment and economic inequality. The Internet Is Not the Answer is a big-picture look at what the Internet is doing to our society and an investigation into what we can do to try to make sure that the decisions we are making about the reconfiguring of our world do not lead to unpleasant, unforeseen aftershocks" -- from publisher's web site.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780802123138
Branch Call Number: 302.231 KEEN
Characteristics: x, 273 pages ; 24 cm


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Nov 11, 2017

Read this book. You may disagree with it at points, but you should at least consider Keen's arguments that the Internet may not have been as uniformly good for society at large as enthusiasts - especially those making billions of dollars from all the data that the rest of us freely give to Google, Amazon, and Facebook every day - would have us believe.
Keen offers very passionate and evidence-driven arguments that the information superhighway has devolved into a privatized networked economy that benefits a rather small 1% of mainly young white men, while allowing millions of workers in other industries (photography, music and entertainment supported by copyright and royalties, news reporters, unionized taxi drivers) to wither away while big data factories learn more about our every move and thought. He compares the surveillance reach of governments and corporate entities to the dreams of the East German Secret Service ("Is Facebook really the greatest spying machine in world history - greater than either the Stasi, the CIA, or Google?"); he considers the manifold ways in which our online personalities and the bubbles erected around them allow for even deeper rifts of racism, bullying, and hatred. He concludes with an assessment of a new feudalism which results from the increasing gap between the tiny percentage of Bay Area superstars on the one hand, and on the other the millions contributing for free and unable to afford Uber fares because they only get piecework through TaskRabbit.
"Internet skeptic;" "the Christopher Hitchens of the Internet:" this is Andrew Keen's reputation from decades of experience working within - and critiquing - our technological world. Again, you might not agree with Keen at every point (Silicon Valley is "a sixties nostalgia fantasy hosted by space cadets ... who appear to have seceded from both time and space.") but he will engage you.

Aug 10, 2015

Well-written and easy read. Convinced me to change to use DuckDuckGo and FIreFox.
A historical look back at the disruption caused by the Internet, some good, alot bad.
For a BC perspective, a good disruption is the world-wide decease in demand for wood pulp. I understand that there is only one pulp mill now operating in BC. Anyone remember WoodFibre smog back in the day?

Jun 22, 2015

A good diatribe against the internet. It certainly does seem to concentrate wealth much as in the robber baron's age. Some other astute observations were that Amazon is the Walmart of the internet. Another is that our tools shape us. The internet is a tool for us to use, but it seems to increasingly control us instead of the other way around. The internet will not make us stupid, but certainly makes it easier for our stupidity to be visible. One criticism I read was that Keen ignores the good philanthropy that Peter Theil, and others do. It was just as bad when the robber barons suppressed their workers and then built museums and foundations with their names on them rather than sharing the wealth a bit more fairly, so I found that point to be lacking. I would recommend Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death as a good companion piece that shows how other technologies (tv, etc) also degraded our society.

Mar 09, 2015

Sadly, I have to agree with the author. Just look at the CIA's In-Q-Tel, which uses government [taxpayers] money to enrich themselves and, maybe their agency? [Recently sold several companies to Google!] The Cloud is simply the monetization of all data, which will greatly further inequality and the wealth transfer to the .01%. Plus, as demonstrated by an article several years back and the latest DVD on Aaron Swartz [The Internet's Own Boy], online legal databases are incredibly susceptible to manipulation by their owners. [Westlaw and LexisNexis]

Feb 25, 2015

A confused rant, that cannot accept how things develop naturally.


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