The Internet is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Where would we be without the internet and the world wide web in particular? Since its conception in the 1960’s (yes really that long ago) it has grown at an exponential rate and has come to permeate our entire lives in a variety of different ways. In its short existence, it has had bubbles as investors have rushed into schemes, made people fortunes as well as almost become as essential as shelter, food and water. For every laudable use for the net to connect like-minded people across the globe there are many dubious activities; theft, fraud, deception and trolling spring to mind. What you also have now is a consolidation of power as the huge monoliths of the web, Facebook, Google, Amazon have brazenly bullied, bought and pushed their way to the top of the virtual pile.
With this concentration of power has come a pervasive surveillance by the state and private companies of every activity that we do online. There is a concentration of wealth in these people that own and run these organisations too. The negative effects that this is having is only just starting to become visible and from what Keen describes is happening in San Francisco with the polarisation of the rich and poor, it is not going to be pleasant as it affects the wider society. He has written an interesting take on the state of the net and some of the subjects reported in the book are quite eye opening. Whether or not we are too late to do anything about it, time will tell. 3.5 stars
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