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From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, "The People's P From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, "The People's Platform" argues that for all that we "tweet" and "like" and "share," the Internet in fact reflects and amplifies real-world inequities at least as much as it ameliorates them. Online, just as off-line, attention and influence largely accrue to those who already have plenty of both. What we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement. Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, a handful of giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook remain the gatekeepers. And the worst habits of the old media model--the pressure to seek easy celebrity, to be quick and sensational above all--have proliferated online, where "aggregating" the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue. When culture is "free," creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system. The new order looks suspiciously like the old one. We can do better, Taylor insists. The online world does offer a unique opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices and work of lasting value will not spring up from technology alone. If we want the Internet to truly be a people's platform, we will have to make it so.


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From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, "The People's P From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our age The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally. But how true is this claim? In a seminal dismantling of techno-utopian visions, "The People's Platform" argues that for all that we "tweet" and "like" and "share," the Internet in fact reflects and amplifies real-world inequities at least as much as it ameliorates them. Online, just as off-line, attention and influence largely accrue to those who already have plenty of both. What we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement. Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, a handful of giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook remain the gatekeepers. And the worst habits of the old media model--the pressure to seek easy celebrity, to be quick and sensational above all--have proliferated online, where "aggregating" the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue. When culture is "free," creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system. The new order looks suspiciously like the old one. We can do better, Taylor insists. The online world does offer a unique opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices and work of lasting value will not spring up from technology alone. If we want the Internet to truly be a people's platform, we will have to make it so.

30 review for The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age

  1. 5 out of 5

    Derek Kompare

    I've been looking for this book and didn't know it. More precisely, I've been frustrated that so much critical work on digital media and online culture has been polarized into cheerleading or doomsaying. Taylor takes down this dichotomy by focusing her attention not so much on the "end-user" experience (though she has some thoughts on that as well) but on how the architecture of the internet has fostered neoliberal regimes of economic extraction and personality cults. The gist of her critique is I've been looking for this book and didn't know it. More precisely, I've been frustrated that so much critical work on digital media and online culture has been polarized into cheerleading or doomsaying. Taylor takes down this dichotomy by focusing her attention not so much on the "end-user" experience (though she has some thoughts on that as well) but on how the architecture of the internet has fostered neoliberal regimes of economic extraction and personality cults. The gist of her critique is that the "openness" of the internet isn't all that open or equally accessible to all, and that free culture advocates (notably, for her, Lessig and Shirky) don't acknowledge the entrenched economic power that still set the parameters for how things work online. I was particularly impressed with the sections on the click-bait economy and the problem with piracy. While she loses a star for some possibly loosey-goosey citation (a common problem with journalistic work like these), this is an important contribution to moving the debate forward about digital culture. If you liked the general idea of Jaron Lanier's work, but (like me) were frustrated with its digressions and lack of specificity, this is a great book to check out.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ben Bush

    Taylor lets the air of TED Talks' tires in one of several brilliant take-downs of libertarian spokespeople for the tech industry. Her arguments: convincing. Taylor critiques the way digital life is damaging the democratic underpinnings of culture without coming across as a Luddite, but instead of focusing on economic and regulatory factors. I would like to live in a world with the kind of internet and media culture that she describes. I'd been awaiting the release of this book for sometime after Taylor lets the air of TED Talks' tires in one of several brilliant take-downs of libertarian spokespeople for the tech industry. Her arguments: convincing. Taylor critiques the way digital life is damaging the democratic underpinnings of culture without coming across as a Luddite, but instead of focusing on economic and regulatory factors. I would like to live in a world with the kind of internet and media culture that she describes. I'd been awaiting the release of this book for sometime after being dazzled by her "Serfing the Web" piece for The Baffler.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Naum

    A downer, but an essential read for the 21C, nevertheless. Documentary filmmaker Taylor skewers the romanticism of utopian new net heralds. That the promise of an open, democratic internet has been subverted by corporate overlords, monopolistic titans, public relations shills, and destructive wasteful advertising interests. In the process, shredding journalism (to which Taylor repeatedly refers to now as "churnalism") and transforming the media realm into hamster wheel (my words here, not hers) A downer, but an essential read for the 21C, nevertheless. Documentary filmmaker Taylor skewers the romanticism of utopian new net heralds. That the promise of an open, democratic internet has been subverted by corporate overlords, monopolistic titans, public relations shills, and destructive wasteful advertising interests. In the process, shredding journalism (to which Taylor repeatedly refers to now as "churnalism") and transforming the media realm into hamster wheel (my words here, not hers) where every click is measured and logged for the science of predictive marketing. Depressing, because she is correct here -- though I do believe it's not in complete entirety and that this state is due in large part to web users themselves, who are indeed attracted to this model. Saddening, because reading this confirmed my own evolving darkened view of the web, as once I had so much faith in the power of the networked web. Taylor chronicles the obscenity of pay-per-click, the wasted resources (in both money and carbon). Even noting the irony that it was government that created these modern marvels, only to witness now private corporate entities siphon all the goodness in erecting their media empires and their quest to swallow all. That this unethical conflict of interest and crass commercialism reigns in the online realm, where it be considered offensive anywhere else. In the meantime, she questions whether this is a good arrangement for creative workers, who now are relegated to compete in a winner-take-all lottery, with no security, and most not making even enough to live on. Here, it's personal for Taylor -- while she strives to adopt an objective mantle, her experiential background surfaces again and again. Taylor, like a lot of creative professionals, feels like she can belong to neither side in the digital rights battles -- that both sides error egregiously, both the media company overlords and the "everything should be free" crowd. Knocking off a star because the text is repetitive and redundant in driving home her points, even if she conducts her take in a lustered fashion. Also, while recognizing the government creation, I didn't see any mention that most of the tools used to create and publish web "creative" products are the result of those free software loving hippies. Yes, it's acknowledged that a good number of F/OSS (Free/Open Source Software) developers are in the employ of for-profit corporations, so that they can put bread on the table. Though it can't be stressed enough that most of the new media prophets wane eloquently on the greatness of the new age, but yet still draw their livelihood from traditional employers, a future that's growing increasingly impossible for many educated and talented young (and older too) creative workers, due to this "creative destruction" hailed by such luminaries. Some other qualms I have with her arguments (and remedy proposals): * **Failure to distinguish between *text* and *media* (audio or video).** Especially in the matter of digital rights. Yes, this meanders into "the power of plain text", technical details of encoding scheme ownership, etc. But it is an important distinction. * **Failure to promote the power of existing state of internet publishing.** I don't discount the criticism proffered by Taylor in transforming the open net into a click farm and even believe the moniker of "digital sharecropper" is apropos. But, consider that it is so wondrous and such a marvel that in the 21C you have the power to publish a creative work that *anyone* across the *globe* (with an internet connection) can read (or listen or view). Because, in large part, due to Tim Berners-Lee great vision. And all of those F/OSS hippies who contributed tools such as Apache web server, the WordPress blogging platform, etc... * **20C solutions to a 21C problem.** Really need to think outside of the box here, as 20C solutions (Taylor references past initiatives that created public broadcasting, FCC stipulations on serving "public interest", some copyright law fiddling with ponying up more money for longer copyright, software patent reform, etc.) Taylor cites European nation measures to deal with some of these issues, but still, we need to think bigger here. But nevertheless, this is essential reading for anyone interested or concerned with where we are headed with the internet. It's a conversation that must be conducted.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erhardt Graeff

    This book is not about designing "a people's platform." This book is a critique of the state of the media and internet technology industry, which often uses "for the people" style rhetoric to justify its profit-seeking and control-oriented design decisions. The socio-technical system of our current media ecosystem is not "open" or "democratic" or "free" in real terms; tech entrepreneurs and pundits are selling investors, consumers, and policymakers on a disingenuous vision of the future of cultu This book is not about designing "a people's platform." This book is a critique of the state of the media and internet technology industry, which often uses "for the people" style rhetoric to justify its profit-seeking and control-oriented design decisions. The socio-technical system of our current media ecosystem is not "open" or "democratic" or "free" in real terms; tech entrepreneurs and pundits are selling investors, consumers, and policymakers on a disingenuous vision of the future of cultural production. We may all have better access to the means of production now, but new elites own the means and modes of distribution—and that is where the political and economic value now lies. Astra Taylor is at her best in this book when she is critiquing the media and internet industries as a content creator. As a documentary filmmaker and savvy storyteller of her own and her friends' cases, she successfully humanizes what the free culture movement as a philosophy and business strategy has meant for creators. These are people who have worked hard to maintain editorial independence from corporate commissions, branding, big labels, etc. They have a progressive politics that is often in resonance with the core ideas of free culture regarding shared ownership of cultural goods and even an anti-institutional flare. But when big companies adopt this same rhetoric, they are doing so to sell advertising against the free culture on their platforms, leaving little or nothing for the creators. The system makes more money for mainstream artists but the long tail just means that all the independent things are free too, without the economies of scale offered by Vevo Music Videos on YouTube or record sales driven by Spotify plays. Filmmakers, musicians, and journalists are all suffering from this in ways that are waved away because anyone COULD make it big, go viral, etc. They can be their own personal brand and through hard work, make a living. But, ironically, it's harder than ever to make a living. The philosophy suggest that those who love to make culture should we content doing so without payment. Unfortunately, a lot of this terrain is familiar. Taylor goes through much of the key ideas and books that either booster or criticize the internet's potential for more, better, and freer exchange of culture and ideas. Her summaries help establish her legitimacy entering this space—she knows the literature. But the "he said this" and "he said that" is across such a broad array of issues and areas that her core argument gets lost in the middle of the book as she tries to connect the dots and touch everything relevant. Finally, I wish the suggestions in the end for addressing the problems were more concrete and less hand-wavy. The title and subtitle suggest a radical proposal for democratic technology is forthcoming, but it's not there. As a primer for like-minded activists and culture creators, this book could be very useful. But the audience of scholars embedded in this space will have to search for the nuggets of helpful new perspectives and arguments amidst a lot of rehashed summaries of Clay Shirky and Nicholas Carr. Glad it was written, her voice is important, but it left me wanting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Reading the peoples platform was a bit of an eye opener for me .. I always considered myself a tech savy person however this book gives a detailed overview of how our internet culture and tech toys have touched all industries.After completing the book I'm not sure we are in a better place or will be .Makes one stop and take a long hard look around at this Cyberspace Wild Wild West. This is a must read for everyone. Reading the peoples platform was a bit of an eye opener for me .. I always considered myself a tech savy person however this book gives a detailed overview of how our internet culture and tech toys have touched all industries.After completing the book I'm not sure we are in a better place or will be .Makes one stop and take a long hard look around at this Cyberspace Wild Wild West. This is a must read for everyone.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Arnold

    When it comes to the production, distribution, and consumption of information, is the Internet a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing? In some ways, the Internet allows small producers to make a living while allowing for greater consumer choice; in other ways, it allows big producers to become ever more dominant, while quietly reducing the number of options consumers have. Everyone agrees that the Internet has dramatically changed the ways that businesses operate and content is cre When it comes to the production, distribution, and consumption of information, is the Internet a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing? In some ways, the Internet allows small producers to make a living while allowing for greater consumer choice; in other ways, it allows big producers to become ever more dominant, while quietly reducing the number of options consumers have. Everyone agrees that the Internet has dramatically changed the ways that businesses operate and content is created, yet the forces of centralization and monopolization continue to exert themselves in very familiar ways. The impact of the Internet on professions such as journalist, filmmaker, or author is extremely visible, yet it's surprisingly difficult to quantify exactly what happens to workers in those fields, much less find well-reasoned analyses of how to mitigate or ameliorate these tectonic shifts. This is one of those works that's primarily negative, in that its critiques of existing attitudes towards its subject are much clearer than its "solutions". In this case, the effects that digital sharing technologies have had on existing high-tech industries have been subject to a lot of discussion but no clear proscriptions have emerged. Commentators like Clay Shirky have made lucrative careers for themselves as cheerleaders for the forces of "disruption", that ubiquitous buzzword that's usually wielded by people who aren't being disrupted - Taylor wants the reader to step back and consider the distributional impact of sharing technologies. A recurring theme is the ability of disruptive technologies to topple one existing power structure, at the (usually hidden) cost of entrenching a new one. An example is a company like Amazon and its battles with book publishers over royalties and pricing structures; who wins here - Amazon, publishers, authors, or readers? What about taxi companies vs Uber? Taylor Swift vs her record label vs Spotify? Everyone cheers when an old monopoly is toppled, but often a new monopoly is constructed, just one level off in the food chain. The Taylor Swift analogy is probably the most relevant, since Taylor is most concerned with the economics of production. Does the existence of Spotify help or hurt Taylor Swift? Should audiences be on the side of the new distribution channels (whatever that means), the record companies, or simply the artists? Are artists like Taylor Swift better off with Spotify, traditional record labels, or some combination of the two? How about the next Taylor Swift, who is living in her shade, so to speak? The Internet famously facilitates "long tails", which allows for otherwise niche or marginal producers to find a voice and an audience. However, it also allows for network effects to exert their power as well, reinforcing the momentary ubiquity of Taylor Swift. Another famous example is the "Charlie bit my finger" video, which racked up huge numbers of hits on its way to becoming the most-viewed video of all time. This could be considered a triumph of the democratizing power of the Internet; unfortunately, for every truly viral video such as that one there are legions of more traditional corporate products, and today the list is thoroughly dominated by music videos, though "Charlie bit my finger" is still a top contender. All of this is noteworthy. However, one prominent weakness of the book, aside from its paucity of solutions other than the expected vague outlines of motions towards copyright reform or general calls for more regulation, is that at times it feels like Taylor is just asking too much out of the Internet (a similar problem affected Tim Wu's otherwise thoughtful The Master Switch). If the Internet is just a platform, then blaming it for monopolies that use it is like blaming the ocean for the dominance of the Greek shipping industry, or blaming the electromagnetic spectrum for the Big Three TV studios in the pre-cable era. Additionally, in many ways it's hard to see how regulation, no matter how well-designed, would necessarily ameliorate the downsides of disruption - net neutrality might help companies like Netflix fight Comcast's attempts to charge it more for using so much bandwidth (and whether Netflix is actually in the right to demand that it be treated the same as anyone is of course an open question), but it doesn't help Hulu or Amazon Prime fight Netflix. Regulation is complicated, and in the case of media companies, which can simultaneously occupy several places in the chain of production and distribution, great care should be taken to avoid inadvertently stifling competition under the guise of assisting it. Though Jean Tirole's reception of the 2014 Economics Nobel occurred after this book was published, his work on two-sided markets, particularly in the telecom field, would have given this book some more rigor. Her criticisms of claims that the Internet is inherently democratizing are on point, even if it's hard to tell from this book what the best way to resolve that issue might be. It seems like Taylor's heart is in the right place in terms of hoping for a more equitable distribution of power in these newly networked fields, but her work, though thoughtful, doesn't do much to get us there.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Astrid Natasastra

    One part from this chapter that really struck me was about the notion that the digital revolution is a turn to a better, more egalitarian, greener world. In here the author uses the comparison of e-book versus printed book. On page 181 she wrote that the New York Times evaluated the environmental impact on an e-reader from the manufacturing, transportation, operation and disposal that consume the resources equal to fifty books compare to regular books! And all this time we thought that we are be One part from this chapter that really struck me was about the notion that the digital revolution is a turn to a better, more egalitarian, greener world. In here the author uses the comparison of e-book versus printed book. On page 181 she wrote that the New York Times evaluated the environmental impact on an e-reader from the manufacturing, transportation, operation and disposal that consume the resources equal to fifty books compare to regular books! And all this time we thought that we are being green and helping to save trees by reading digitally. I am an avid reader who still buy books every month and I do not own any e-reader although I must admit, there are times when I am tempted to. But strangely, not because I want to have it, but because I thought that maybe reading electronically will save trees. So it was more towards a guilty feeling. I tried reading from an e-reader and I just can't enjoy it. I can read short articles or news from the device, but I can never finish one whole book, which is unusual for someone who can devour thick books. But now that I re-think about my reading habit, where 85% of my books are used books, and by reading Taylor’s explanation about how resilient printed books are, so I can keep my favourite books for years, write on them, study them and go back to them in years to come, that gives me a relief. This is a wonderful book for those of you who love gadgets but don't want to be enslave by it. Our mountains of e-waste grow three times faster than the piles of regular garbage because of electronic products "designed for the dump" that only lasts for two years. So think before you re-buy your gadgets.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Thompson

    I thought this was a very interesting book. I certainly found myself blogging about it and recording quotes while I read more than I normally do. For those of you unfamiliar with the text, Astra Taylor used each chapter of her book to start a conversation about potential concerns about the current media landscape. The work was incredibly well researched. The aspect I appreciated the most was the way Taylor made me think about things I had not really thought about before. For instance, she points I thought this was a very interesting book. I certainly found myself blogging about it and recording quotes while I read more than I normally do. For those of you unfamiliar with the text, Astra Taylor used each chapter of her book to start a conversation about potential concerns about the current media landscape. The work was incredibly well researched. The aspect I appreciated the most was the way Taylor made me think about things I had not really thought about before. For instance, she points out the increased personalization of experience on the web leads to echo chambers. Sites learn what we like, and then they just give us that. For obvious reasons, this is not ideal. This book was assigned reading for a class, which was interesting because Taylor directly criticizes many of the authors we have already read. In many ways, I value her perspective more because she is not a lawyer, academic, or consultant. She is an actual media creator (particularly documentary films) outside of just writing this book. Nevertheless, I would be incredibly interested to read rebuttals or reactions from figures like Shirky or Lessig.

  9. 4 out of 5

    May-Ling

    well-researched, smart book about the intersection between technology and culture (society and art) in today's age. taylor does a brilliant job of unveiling effects of tech, both what's happening and cautionary tales for the future. she has a clear perspective, yet lays out such a logical and well thought out argument that's hard to disagree with. rarely has a book made me think so much about issues of our time and caused me to ponder my own role in our changing future. the people's platform is well-researched, smart book about the intersection between technology and culture (society and art) in today's age. taylor does a brilliant job of unveiling effects of tech, both what's happening and cautionary tales for the future. she has a clear perspective, yet lays out such a logical and well thought out argument that's hard to disagree with. rarely has a book made me think so much about issues of our time and caused me to ponder my own role in our changing future. the people's platform is not a page turner. an avid reader, i usually tear through books within a week or so and this one took me months. taylor's writing is on point and she doesn't waste a word. the vocabulary she uses and editing out unnecessary text leave you with efficient writing. this means each sentence truly says something meaningful and that takes time to process. the subject matter can be tough to return to, as it focuses on problems. i'm so glad i read this important work. anyone concerned about arts and culture, rights, privacy and/or digital technologies should pick this one up!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Uwe Hook

    This book is filled with so many research-based insights and simple common sense about the effect of the Internet on our lives, I cannot recommend it highly enough Among one of my favorites, "Networks do not eradicate power, they distribute it in different ways, shuffling hierarchies and producing new mechanisms of exclusion." If you are still taking seriously any of the humanitarian concerns voiced by the Silicon Valley crowd, please read this book because it points out that an Internet born in This book is filled with so many research-based insights and simple common sense about the effect of the Internet on our lives, I cannot recommend it highly enough Among one of my favorites, "Networks do not eradicate power, they distribute it in different ways, shuffling hierarchies and producing new mechanisms of exclusion." If you are still taking seriously any of the humanitarian concerns voiced by the Silicon Valley crowd, please read this book because it points out that an Internet born in a time of economic exploitation similar to the kind that was rampant in the late nineteenth century's Gilded Age is bound to reflect the concerns of its social context. It was not born and does not exist in a vacuum, so that means those of us who love it--or even those who hate it--need to figure out ways to pursue its pleasures and opportunities without becoming economic and social slaves to its reach and control.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert G. Paul

    Some very interesting information is contained in this book, some of which I found very enlightening. However, I found myself getting bored and distracted very early in the book. It was too wordy and could have been condensed to less than half the size without compromising the overall integrity of the content. This was a very hard read and a major task to complete. I also didn't appreciate the few cuss words included as part of the vocabulary. Was this really necessary? Some very interesting information is contained in this book, some of which I found very enlightening. However, I found myself getting bored and distracted very early in the book. It was too wordy and could have been condensed to less than half the size without compromising the overall integrity of the content. This was a very hard read and a major task to complete. I also didn't appreciate the few cuss words included as part of the vocabulary. Was this really necessary?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    I'm torn between three and five stars, so four is the compromise. The book has a dynamic, engaging beginning (five stars) but I had a harder time connecting with the last couple chapters (three stars). Taylor's argument is essential to the cultural conversation but I could have done without the superficiality of the critique of capitalism. And by that, I mean I wanted a deep, full-bore critique. I'm torn between three and five stars, so four is the compromise. The book has a dynamic, engaging beginning (five stars) but I had a harder time connecting with the last couple chapters (three stars). Taylor's argument is essential to the cultural conversation but I could have done without the superficiality of the critique of capitalism. And by that, I mean I wanted a deep, full-bore critique.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    I liked the focus of this book, and thought that many of the points it made about capitalism and the Internet are well taken. However, I worry that occasionally Taylor misrepresents the viewpoints of other scholars, or simplifies complex concepts or potential solutions, making it harder to take the conclusions seriously.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Don

    The second great book in a row I've read about understanding the impact of various new technologies of the "digital age." The prior book, "The Shallows," really focuses narrowly on the impact had on our neurology - our thinking, our memory, our mindfulness. In this book, Taylor gives a much more expansive and encompassing look at the impact. She discusses it from the perspective of "old media" versus "new media," from politics and psychology, to economics, sociology, culture, and environmentalism The second great book in a row I've read about understanding the impact of various new technologies of the "digital age." The prior book, "The Shallows," really focuses narrowly on the impact had on our neurology - our thinking, our memory, our mindfulness. In this book, Taylor gives a much more expansive and encompassing look at the impact. She discusses it from the perspective of "old media" versus "new media," from politics and psychology, to economics, sociology, culture, and environmentalism. Similar to "The Shallows," she establishes that so many of these swift changes have occurred with little thought as to the impact it would have; though at times she argues persuasively that society was sold a bill of goods as to the impact, but ultimately got a raw deal. While she makes convincing, and timely, arguments about the often disastrous economic impact of the new digital media, the lasting impact for me from Taylor's work is the discussion of environmentalism. She very effectively broadens the scope and shows why the contentions that the digital age were an improvement for the environment (we all use less paper, right?), are very much false. Reading it, and reflecting it, gives me pause on my own use of technology - not from the perspective of how it impacts me (which is what reading "The Shallows" did) - but in how it impacts my world and neighbors. The consumerism culture, of which I am often guilty of succumbing too, shares much blame and responsibility for the disastrous effects on our environment. "The Shallows" made me want to reduce how much I use technology for the sake of my own mental well-being. Taylor's work makes me want to rethink how I use and re-use technology for the sake of my society, and my world.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm Stewart

    Taylor provides many valuable insights and critiques into the problems of the digital age and, more specifically, that which is created and supported by the attention economy and those who benefit most from it. It is in this sense which Taylor’s diagnosis is quite good. But like many who have come before, with ideas undoubtedly shaped with the best of intentions, many (though perhaps not all) of the solutions and suggested means of achieving a “sustainable culture” (the creation of which I agree Taylor provides many valuable insights and critiques into the problems of the digital age and, more specifically, that which is created and supported by the attention economy and those who benefit most from it. It is in this sense which Taylor’s diagnosis is quite good. But like many who have come before, with ideas undoubtedly shaped with the best of intentions, many (though perhaps not all) of the solutions and suggested means of achieving a “sustainable culture” (the creation of which I agree with in principle) fly in the face of sensibility. To quote, from page 228: “... a skeptic may still insist that these proposals for supporting sustainable culture are too costly to seriously consider. But the money for such an undertaking exists, indeed it is already being spent, but with great inefficiency.” Taylor then goes on to suggest that bureaucratic expenditure of such funds might be more efficient as an alternative, as if “bureaucracy” and “efficiency” were two concepts that are intrinsically cooperative in nature and as if received political experience doesn’t already belie the veracity of such sentiment. Therefore it is in this way that Taylor’s prescription is quite bad. The four stars I give to this work reflect the value of Taylor’s contribution to the discussion which desperately needs to be brought before a wider audience.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jay Cruz

    I've been an Internet enthusiast ever since I got online back in the late 90's. I remember discovering bulletin boards, RSS readers, Wikipedia, and creating my first blog with Google's Blogger. It was an exciting time and everything seemed possible. But as the years have gone by, I've seen how the Internet has gone from a medium where you where encouraged to participate, to one where you just passively consume information. There are many reasons why this happened and the book tackles the many re I've been an Internet enthusiast ever since I got online back in the late 90's. I remember discovering bulletin boards, RSS readers, Wikipedia, and creating my first blog with Google's Blogger. It was an exciting time and everything seemed possible. But as the years have gone by, I've seen how the Internet has gone from a medium where you where encouraged to participate, to one where you just passively consume information. There are many reasons why this happened and the book tackles the many reasons why this shift has taken place. The shift for me started with the whole web 2.0 idealism and the beginning of what is dubbed now social media. While this shift made the Internet more accessible to more people, it has changed the community driven spirit of the web to a more individual driven pursuit. This is, as the book argues, one of the reasons why the Internet is starting to look more like traditional media (print, radio, television) where the bottom line is making money. The book of course does a better job at explaining why the Internet is no longer The People's Platform, or at least on how we're loosing it to advertising and corporate interest. But it's given me hope and excited that we still can do something about it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    The paeans to the democratic, utopian promise of the Internet from a few decades ago can sit at odds with what we see today. Indicting the current situation, Astra Taylor highlights "the secretive methods of many Internet companies, the feudal business model of Web 2.0, the increasingly common expectation that people work without compensation, the persistence of inequality and intolerance online, and the disastrous consequences of high-tech manufacturing techniques and the constant upgrading of The paeans to the democratic, utopian promise of the Internet from a few decades ago can sit at odds with what we see today. Indicting the current situation, Astra Taylor highlights "the secretive methods of many Internet companies, the feudal business model of Web 2.0, the increasingly common expectation that people work without compensation, the persistence of inequality and intolerance online, and the disastrous consequences of high-tech manufacturing techniques and the constant upgrading of still functional, but no longer fashionable, gadgets on our natural world." Fortunately, as she stresses throughout the book, there is another way: that there's still hope for democratizing the Internet, but it will require our collective decision-making to build equity into the system itself, rather than continuing to allow it to become a plaything for large corporations.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Blaine Morrow

    Taylor offers an eloquent and convincing jeremiad decrying the unfair power structure of the Web and the fallacy of open and egalitarian information- and culture- sharing. Her critique is especially effective when she considers the information and journalism industries and the plight of writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and similar creative professionals whose products are easily reproduced and shared without compensation via the Internet. Taylor is well-read, thoughtful, and passionate: Taylor offers an eloquent and convincing jeremiad decrying the unfair power structure of the Web and the fallacy of open and egalitarian information- and culture- sharing. Her critique is especially effective when she considers the information and journalism industries and the plight of writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and similar creative professionals whose products are easily reproduced and shared without compensation via the Internet. Taylor is well-read, thoughtful, and passionate: she cites Alan Greenspan, Lawrence Lessig, Tim Wu, Tim Berners-Lee, David Brooks, Clay Shirky, Juliet Schor, Robert Reich, Germaine Greer, Diderot, Condorcet, Siva Vaidhyanathan, Cory Doctorow, and hundreds of others. Provocative and informative.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Adams

    The People's Platform criticizes the myths perpetuated by the tech industry that the internet is some open utopia, reveals it for the privatized, inegalitarian thing it actually is, and provides a vision for making it better. Approachable, nuanced, insightful, convincing. I feel a bit powerless in changing the many deep structural problems, but awareness is a good start. Well worth reading if only to encourage a more critical and thoughtful participation in the platforms and systems I use online The People's Platform criticizes the myths perpetuated by the tech industry that the internet is some open utopia, reveals it for the privatized, inegalitarian thing it actually is, and provides a vision for making it better. Approachable, nuanced, insightful, convincing. I feel a bit powerless in changing the many deep structural problems, but awareness is a good start. Well worth reading if only to encourage a more critical and thoughtful participation in the platforms and systems I use online.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Is definitely one of the best writhen books about todays culture and social bases that i read in the past years. Astra bring to the table some of my concerns about social conjunction and capitalism. is fresh and is not too soft or too negative about what is happening around media, technology and survival of our own selfs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Spinelle

    This book is incredibly prescient. It was published in 2014 but predicts many of the trends we're seeing today in the media. Worth a read for a big-picture understanding of how we got here and what we can do about it. This book is incredibly prescient. It was published in 2014 but predicts many of the trends we're seeing today in the media. Worth a read for a big-picture understanding of how we got here and what we can do about it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marcos Fuerte

    This book is somewhat confusioning to understand but overall make sure you get some preview about social science. Still a great book on 2018.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Terrifying yet hopeful

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dr J

    Good look at what YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok are doing - was great watching with a Linsey Ellis commentary on YouTube as a "creator" came on - and it is a great insight. Good look at what YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok are doing - was great watching with a Linsey Ellis commentary on YouTube as a "creator" came on - and it is a great insight.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paula Koneazny

    I forget books so fast, I should review them within the first hour after finishing them. That said, there's lots of good, thought-provoking ideas here about the Internet, Social Media, democracy and culture. Much will have already come to mind if you've been thinking about such things at all, but Taylor does come up with some new angles. My one criticism is that she's overly repetitious. she should introduce an idea, expand on it & recap it when closing. Beyond that, numerous examples illustrati I forget books so fast, I should review them within the first hour after finishing them. That said, there's lots of good, thought-provoking ideas here about the Internet, Social Media, democracy and culture. Much will have already come to mind if you've been thinking about such things at all, but Taylor does come up with some new angles. My one criticism is that she's overly repetitious. she should introduce an idea, expand on it & recap it when closing. Beyond that, numerous examples illustrating the same point get tedious, even for us forgetful ones. For the record Taylor is a proponent of more and better journalism (the professional, paid for kind)and cultural & material benefits for the many rather than the few. I'm not sure that social media are as damaging to personal relationships as Taylor claims (or even I myself have claimed). Their impact is a complex one. I haven't found that Facebook, for example, has had a negative impact on relationships that are already strong & established & has, in certain instances, allowed less established relationships or even new ones to sustain themselves and even develop. Which is the one reason I have found it impossible to close my Facebook page down, despite the fact that I am critical of just about everything that makes up the FB business model. Here are my favorite quotes from the book: "What is social networking if not the commercialization of the once unprofitable art of conversation?" "Corporate control--in media as in other spheres--is as secure as ever. In profound ways, power has been sucked in, not out." In regards to investigative reporting: "The Internet might be a wonderful thing, but you can't crowdsource a relationship with a terrorist or a whistle-blower." "The ethos of the autonomous creator has been repurposed to serve as a seductive facade for a capricious system and adopted as an identity by those who are trying to make their way within it." "As Maria Popova, founder and editor of the erudite Web site Brain Pickings, has observed, the dominant way knowledge and information are organized online pushes us toward the already familiar instead of broadening our horizons: 'An algorithm can only work with existing data. It can only tell you what you might like, based on what you have liked.'" "Material and social conditions have not given way to will and imagination. Neither the body nor its social context has become irrelevant. The disparities of the off-line world have not been upended and we do not have equal access to the tools of creative production and capacity to attract an audience." "Over 85 percent of venture capitalists are men looking to invest in other men, and women make forty-nine cents for every dollar their male counterparts rake in. Though 40 percent of private businesses are women-owned nationwide, only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups are." "If you and I search the same category on Google, we get different results based on our search histories." [so Net Neutrality isn't a panacea] "The Internet, as some techies point out, is nothing if not a copy-making machine . . . ." "Not everyone benefits equally from openness." "Yet it is just as urgent to ask why it is acceptable for a small and elite group of entrepreneurs to position themselves to capture the wealth generated by our collective creativity." "Small electronics account for carbon emissions equivalent to the vilified airline industry; the average tablet or smartphone, if used to watch an hour of video weekly, consumes more energy than two new refrigerators." "for now the ecological benefits of paperless reading are dubious at best." [my contention all along] "[Steve Jobs] made planned obsolescence so irresistible, it has ceased to be shocking." "Just as worrying are the ways our personal profiles have already started factoring into not just what ads we see but also the prices we are charged for specific goods and, eventually, may affect the rates we are offered on mortgages and credit cards." "Between 1980 and 2004, the amount of money devoted to children's advertising skyrocketed from $100 million to $15 billion a year." "At present, the United States occupies the worst of both media worlds, lacking either a competitive market or meaningful government investment or oversight." "(taxation, in a sense, is a form of crowdfunding, but with far wider obligations).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Kapsar

    I just finished reading "The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age" by Astra Taylor I really found this book to be interesting. I believe it offered a very different critique on the digital age than Evegny Morozov's "Click here to Save everything" where he focused on the arrogance of the algorithm and total solutionism of the movement, Taylor focused on the cultural cost of our digital economy. I think combined the philosophizing of Morozov with Taylor's discussion I just finished reading "The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age" by Astra Taylor I really found this book to be interesting. I believe it offered a very different critique on the digital age than Evegny Morozov's "Click here to Save everything" where he focused on the arrogance of the algorithm and total solutionism of the movement, Taylor focused on the cultural cost of our digital economy. I think combined the philosophizing of Morozov with Taylor's discussion of the value of culture and the economic forces behind these changes is an extremely powerful argument. Alone they are both excellent, but I think they offer balancing points that compliment each other well. First of all, I don't think everyone will like this book. I don't think a lot of my readers will like large portions of the book. However, even the most libertarian will agree with some portions of it. I think that's the power of this book. It's not really fair to one side or the other, although is really obvious she has a bias - which she wears pretty proudly. Knowing this bias is there allows the reader to decide which portion is Occupy Wall street dreaming or which is really a problem (of course one can go too far either direction). Taylor's cultural argument is powerful because we are all part of that economy. We all consume cultural artifacts or perhaps, like myself, make them. The fact that these have been commoditzed to a cost of nothing while still valuable is something we deal with daily. The choice between pirating a movie, renting, streaming it on Netflix, or buying it all are choices we decide on a regular basis. I think that even the most hardcore pirate buys a lot of cultural goods. Many of us, even if we don't produce cultural goods, know someone that does. You might watch a video game streamer, you might have a friend or two that are in various bands, you might read my blog or another friend's blog. All of these people want to use these artifacts to either live on or perhaps enhance their career in some fashion. However, in the digital space most of the companies that share or distribute cultural activities are funded by ads. Twitch makes most of it money from ads, Google makes $50 billion/year on ads, Facebook makes the most money on an ad whenever a friend "Sponsors" that ad with or without our active agreement to "sponsor" the ad. Taylor argues that we need to help develop a cultural public space that helps create value for other cultural goods that you may not actually consume (which is why I wrote this blog). Many of the ideas in the book are anti-corporation, but not because they make money. Instead, it's because they make money in ways that aren't obviously ads and that control our cultural destiny. She is pro-net neutrality, she supports companies making profits from ads, but she argues for more transparency that an article is actually sponsored. Her argument isn't that we should tear down companies, but instead that we pull back some of the power that these companies have simply taken without any real conversation. We need to look at the ethics behind the algorithms they are using and understand their biases. We need to enable true conversations about these topics. Ad driven content leads to self-censorship and lower quality products. Is this book perfect? Not by a long shot, but it really made me think about some topics and I think that we need to have more conversations about not just ads, but also about why companies behave the way they do. We need to find a better balance than we currently have. I rate the book 5/5 for making me really think about topics

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    This should be a must read for everyone in the digital age! I have a bunch of quotes written down from this book that I think can summarize this book better than I can. But overall, I think it's important to understand how new the Internet is to this society. As prevalent as it seems, there is still so many things lagging behind and getting figured out. It is important for big tech companies and up and coming organizations to be more conscious of what they are building and how it can affect the w This should be a must read for everyone in the digital age! I have a bunch of quotes written down from this book that I think can summarize this book better than I can. But overall, I think it's important to understand how new the Internet is to this society. As prevalent as it seems, there is still so many things lagging behind and getting figured out. It is important for big tech companies and up and coming organizations to be more conscious of what they are building and how it can affect the world. It's also important to understand that everything is driven by some kind of end goal, resource, or money to be very frank. But, that is clashing with people's idea of free society and democracy - can something be really free and democratic? How can we almost manufacture a more even playing field? These are all big questions to think about but I don't think anyone has the solution just yet. Motivation and resources; time and power - these are assets that are not evenly distributed of. 107 Self reinforcing consensus about what is important means that other potentially interesting and valuable sources fall by wayside. 128 Dominant economic theories emphasis exchange exchange: the value of a good has nothing to do with how it’s made but, instead, the price it can command in the marketplace. 178 In part the difficulty is technological, as rules are often out of date by the time they have been formalized. 187 Advertising makes our culture less spirited and fearless, more servile and uninspired. 213 No matter how technically “disruptive” or “revolutionary,” a communications system left to the free market will not produce the independence, democratic culture we need. 219 There is no such thing as a public internet: everything flows through private pipes. 244

  28. 5 out of 5

    Full Stop

    The People’s Platform – Astra Taylor by Meagan Day [Metropolitan; 2014] For years Full Stop has been posting all of our content on Facebook, happy to take advantage of the free distribution, and it’s mostly worked well. But over the past few months we’ve been noticing that our reach has dwindled. The number of people who see each post is now typically around 5% of the people who like our page. Next to each grim report about our diminishing visibility is an enticement to Boost Post, or pay to get o The People’s Platform – Astra Taylor by Meagan Day [Metropolitan; 2014] For years Full Stop has been posting all of our content on Facebook, happy to take advantage of the free distribution, and it’s mostly worked well. But over the past few months we’ve been noticing that our reach has dwindled. The number of people who see each post is now typically around 5% of the people who like our page. Next to each grim report about our diminishing visibility is an enticement to Boost Post, or pay to get our dispatches out to followers. If you run a page and haven’t already capitulated to the new promotional structure, you’ve probably noticed the same phenomenon. Full Stop would rather spend our money paying writers for labor-intensive feature pieces, so we’re about to be eclipsed on your Facebook newsfeed by whatever groups you like that are willing and able to play along, and plenty that you don’t like as advertisements continue to creep in. This sidelining of non-commercial actors online should come as little surprise. New media conglomerates are, like other corporations, principally motivated to succeed in an economic system that long predates the Internet. Consequently, as Astra Taylor observes in her new book The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, “the digital economy exhibits a surprising tendency toward monopoly.” In the pixelated realm, as elsewhere, “advantage begets advantage.” The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age challenges techno-evangelism and technophobia’s shared preoccupation with rupture, emphasizing continuity instead. In Taylor’s thinking, the Internet neither upends a reasonably democratic cultural economy nor dismantles preexisting structural inequality. The digital economy’s character is not primarily disruptive but is instead surreptitiously conservative, set up to both creatively game and ferociously protect the principles of the free market. While the Web can certainly facilitate collaboration and democratic network-building, Taylor endeavors to demonstrate that it’s also an annex of the offline capitalist domain in which, without intervention, wealth and influence become more concentrated over time rather than diffused or dispersed. “Winner-take-all markets,” Taylor writes, “promote certain types of culture at the expense of others, can make it harder for niche cultures and late bloomers to flourish, and contribute to broader income inequality.” Under these circumstances the techno-utopian promise of a level cultural playing field has gone tremendously unrealized. The People’s Platform registers this failure, and advises that if we want a thriving, equitable and meaningful digital culture, we’ve got to dispute the tech world’s seductive logic of naturally democratizing openness. Read the rest here: http://www.full-stop.net/2014/05/13/r...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I became aware of Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform as a result of her appearance on TV news show. The book is a critique of the current state of the Internet and social media. I am not particularly proficient with the Internet or social media. I am interested in reactions and reviews by readers more adept at understanding this book and the implications of its contents. I probably understood about 50% of the book. My review is mostly excerpts taken directly from the book. When you have a lapto I became aware of Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform as a result of her appearance on TV news show. The book is a critique of the current state of the Internet and social media. I am not particularly proficient with the Internet or social media. I am interested in reactions and reviews by readers more adept at understanding this book and the implications of its contents. I probably understood about 50% of the book. My review is mostly excerpts taken directly from the book. When you have a laptop at home and Smartphone in your pocket, it can be easy to forget that not everyone is online. Globally most of the population is not. Rural communities, the elderly, uneducated, low income people and minorities are left behind. There is evidence that we are exposed to surprisingly little of other cultures online. Americans are prone to drastically overestimate just how international they are. Some research indicates that a whopping 95% of our news comes from domestic sources, despite the now available international options. Online web sites talk incessantly of public spiritedness and democracy, but commercialism and privatization and inequality lurk beneath the surface: -Google accounts for approximately 25% of all North American consumer Internet traffic and also has struck partnership deals with Disney, Paramount, ABC, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures -More than one in seven people in the world use Facebook. -Amazon controls one-tenth of all American commerce. -Apple jockeys with Exxon Mobil for the title of most valuable company on earth. Search technology is already becoming predictive, offering you results before you have even looked for them based on what they know about you, your routines and your social relationships. Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr, Pandora, Goodreads, Amazon Kindle etc. depend almost entirely on advertising via their users and their personal information. The Wall Street Journal found that the Web’s fifty most popular sites installed 3,180 tracking files to monitor our mouse movements and record our keystrokes, scanning what we do in real time-- often evading or subverting our privacy settings. Similarly, comments we post on news sites, product reviews, social network details, resume and work histories are utilized. The apps we use collect details about us including zip codes, income, race, our age, gender, education, religious leanings, health, marital status, location, preferred entertainment, ID numbers assigned to our phones and tablets, what apps we download, how frequently we use them, how much time we spend on them and how deep into the app we go. Lip service is give to privacy because profit margins depend on accessing our information for advertisers. All this occurs in spite of polls finding that the majority of Americans are deeply concerned about online firms selling or sharing their personal data without their permission.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Astra Taylor dives into how the Internet has affected how we experience culture (art, advertising, social relations), how the economics of culture creation and consumption have changed, what the public rhetoric is about these changes and how that rhetoric lines up with reality. It's a well-cited book that clearly reflects how well-read the author herself is, drawing from academic research to pop articles to personal experience as an activist and organizer. Much of the book is underlined by the st Astra Taylor dives into how the Internet has affected how we experience culture (art, advertising, social relations), how the economics of culture creation and consumption have changed, what the public rhetoric is about these changes and how that rhetoric lines up with reality. It's a well-cited book that clearly reflects how well-read the author herself is, drawing from academic research to pop articles to personal experience as an activist and organizer. Much of the book is underlined by the struggle between corporate interests and citizens, focused on the modern scramble for people's attention through advertising. Taylor starts by discussing the usual issues everyone sees: lessened personal privacy, widespread collection of personal data, shortened attention spans driving more "byte-sized" content. But then she dives into more complex topics stemming from this root: the sudden drop-off in funding for long-form journalism, since "cross-subsidies" for newspapers no longer exist (every post must now be self-profitable); the dichotomy between big-company copyright-enforcement for original artistic content vs. encouraging artists to create, then remix and reuse "sponsored" content. Taylor discusses how to reconcile the proclaimed values of online communities---cultural diversity, egalitarian access---with the actualities of homogeneity in participation and inequality in both access and production. Taylor pushes rhetoric up against reality and not only finds the rhetoric falling short, but acknowledges that issues are much more complex than usually discussed. A particularly thoughtful statement stands out: "The question of how we encourage, or even enforce, diversity in so-called open networks is not easy to answer, and must combine engineering and public policy. Openness is a philosophy that can easily rationalize its own failure, chalking people's ability up to choice and, keeping with the myth of the meritocracy, blaming any disparities in audience on a lack of aptitude or will." The one downside of this book: Taylor's often ad-hominem attacks of other thinkers in the field. She belittles Jeff Jarvis for commending a future with more "free-agent"-like employment while he is personally employed by traditional institutions; she stretches to criticize documentaries for "leaving out" the sources of their funding. Subtler issues include misplaced criticisms, such as knocking Google's Fiber Internet offering for not allowing home servers---a policy which all other major ISPs have for customers, and which was reversed very shortly afterwards. On the whole, the issues barely detract from the overall thoughtfulness and cohesiveness of the book. Highly recommended.

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