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Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

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A stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the Internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and that proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age. Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the I A stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the Internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and that proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age. Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the Internet, in the process creating three monopoly firms-Facebook, Amazon and Google-that now determine the future of the music, film, television, publishing and news industries. Taplin offers a succinct and powerful history of how online life began to be shaped around the values of the men who founded these companies, including Peter Thiel and Larry Page: tolerating piracy of books, music, and film while at the same time promoting opaque business practices and subordinating privacy of individual users to create the surveillance marketing monoculture in which we now live. The enormous profits that have come with this concentration of power tell their own story. Since 2001, newspaper and music revenues have fallen by 70%, book publishing, film and television profits have also fallen dramatically. Revenues at Google in this same period grew from $400 million to $74.5 billion. Google's YouTube today controls 60% of the streaming audio business and pays only 11% of the streaming audio revenues. More creative content is being consumed than ever before, but less revenue is flowing to creators and owners of the content. With the reallocation of money to monopoly platforms comes a shift in power. Google, Facebook, and Amazon now enjoy political power on par with Big Oil and Big Pharma, which in part explains how such a tremendous shift in revenues from artists to platforms could have been achieved and why it has gone unchallenged for so long. The stakes in this story go far beyond the livelihood of any one musician or journalist. As Taplin observes, the fact that more and more Americans receive their news, music and other forms of entertainment from a small group of companies poses a real threat to democracy. Move Fast and Break Things offers a vital, forward-thinking prescription for how artists can reclaim their audiences using knowledge of the past and a determination to work together. Using his own half-century career as a music and film producer and early pioneer of streaming video online, Taplin offers new ways to think about the design of the World Wide Web and specifically the way we live with the firms that dominate it.


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A stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the Internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and that proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age. Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the I A stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the Internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and that proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age. Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the Internet, in the process creating three monopoly firms-Facebook, Amazon and Google-that now determine the future of the music, film, television, publishing and news industries. Taplin offers a succinct and powerful history of how online life began to be shaped around the values of the men who founded these companies, including Peter Thiel and Larry Page: tolerating piracy of books, music, and film while at the same time promoting opaque business practices and subordinating privacy of individual users to create the surveillance marketing monoculture in which we now live. The enormous profits that have come with this concentration of power tell their own story. Since 2001, newspaper and music revenues have fallen by 70%, book publishing, film and television profits have also fallen dramatically. Revenues at Google in this same period grew from $400 million to $74.5 billion. Google's YouTube today controls 60% of the streaming audio business and pays only 11% of the streaming audio revenues. More creative content is being consumed than ever before, but less revenue is flowing to creators and owners of the content. With the reallocation of money to monopoly platforms comes a shift in power. Google, Facebook, and Amazon now enjoy political power on par with Big Oil and Big Pharma, which in part explains how such a tremendous shift in revenues from artists to platforms could have been achieved and why it has gone unchallenged for so long. The stakes in this story go far beyond the livelihood of any one musician or journalist. As Taplin observes, the fact that more and more Americans receive their news, music and other forms of entertainment from a small group of companies poses a real threat to democracy. Move Fast and Break Things offers a vital, forward-thinking prescription for how artists can reclaim their audiences using knowledge of the past and a determination to work together. Using his own half-century career as a music and film producer and early pioneer of streaming video online, Taplin offers new ways to think about the design of the World Wide Web and specifically the way we live with the firms that dominate it.

30 review for Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Euler

    Move Fast and Break Things made me angry. Why? Because I really wanted the book to be great. Alas, it isn't. Let me explain. I'm very sympathetic to Taplin's general thesis: Yes, the internet broke the traditional media system. Yes, the downward spiral that followed hurt exactly the wrong people, the creators. Yes, the giant internet platforms of our era - particularly Google, Facebook, and Amazon - certainly show monopolistic traits. And yes, the libertarian school-of-thought Taplin depicts in Move Fast and Break Things made me angry. Why? Because I really wanted the book to be great. Alas, it isn't. Let me explain. I'm very sympathetic to Taplin's general thesis: Yes, the internet broke the traditional media system. Yes, the downward spiral that followed hurt exactly the wrong people, the creators. Yes, the giant internet platforms of our era - particularly Google, Facebook, and Amazon - certainly show monopolistic traits. And yes, the libertarian school-of-thought Taplin depicts in his book should cause suspicion. All those topics are important. It might surprise you, given my opening remarks, but I'm also with Taplin on many of the solutions he proposes. I'm a proponent of re-decentralizing the web, I regard subsidiarity as an important and very useful organizing principle (especially in complex systems), and I'm a friend of platform co-operativism (though it has limitations). I don't even think that Taplin's most radical claim is beyond reason: he suggests to declare the web's big platforms as public utilities (using a similar model as with AT&T in the 50s). Particularities aside, I indeed think that platform ownership is going to be an important, decisive debate over the next one or two decades. Why, then, did the book enrage me? Well, Taplin is a good storyteller and he makes some interesting observations about culture. However, he is not a good analyst, particularly not when it comes to business. The reason I state that? His book lacks nuance and he picks his examples rather selectively. Most of Taplin's criticism of the internet economy and its influence on the media and entertaining industry reads like a 101 of mainstream media internet aversion: Google took all the ad dollars without paying for content. Internet companies detest copyright laws. Peter Thiel is the archetypical Silicon Valley protagonist. And so forth. But Taplin's critical observation ability all-to-often seems to stop when it comes to his peers in the media and entertainment industry. Several important aspects go unnoticed. Why isn't there a chapter on old media's severe omission to adapt their business model to the internet (hint: even in a web without an ad platform duopoly, advertising wouldn't earn them the profits physical media granted them; zero marginal costs are inherent to digital goods, with or without Google). Taplin complains that the internet put creators in a tough spot and, a few pages later, argues (correctly) that Hollywood - all too focused on low volatility - became a superhero franchise assembly line. Wouldn't it be fair, then, to at least mention that Netflix - an internet business - has likely become the biggest buyer of indie movies? Why does the book contain some very recent data - the manuscript was clearly handed in after the Trump election - but portraits music streaming at the state of circa 2015? Maybe because writing a book takes time and keeping data up-to-date is tough; but maybe because it would have ruined some of the author's arguments had he used current data. Streaming revenue didn't only take over sales as the music labels' biggest revenue source, it even brought growth back to the industry. Something it hadn't seen in over a decade. Also, Taplin often doesn't distinguish between creators and media companies. But doing that is critical. While the internet renders many old media business models obsolete, creators - particularly those with an entrepreneurial mindset - have gained some very interesting new opportunities. The missing Netflix would have been a case in point. Taplin wonders how the TV industry can avoid the same downward spiral that caught the music industry. If he really is primarily worried about creators, not incumbent businesses, he makes a mistake many media industry veterans make regularly. He assumes that the old way is the only way to finance the creation of "quality content" and proper art. But that's not the case. As the Netflix case would have shown. These are only a few examples of Taplins rather lopsided analysis. There are several others in the book. And this makes me mad (and sad!). Partial analysis comes with several problems. It's questionable per se. But we don't have to get into ethics. There are very mundane reasons to oppose it, too. First, analysis that's based on such lopsided representation is flawed by definition. Which, often, leads to wrong conclusions in turn. Most importantly, though, both the work and the author become vulnerable. Even if only parts of the analysis are one-sided, while other points are perfectly valid (as is the case in this book), readers who aren't convinced of the presented position anyway, will likely disregard all arguments as soon as they perceive the work to be partial. And that is the essence of my anger. Taplin wrote a book about important topics. He addresses issues that deserve to be heard and thought about. And, critically, not only by Taplin's media peers but also by the tech and founder community. Because even if Taplin portraits the tech community (by and large) as a bunch of little Peter Thiel's, technologically savvy entrepreneurs need to be part of the solution. Alas, many of them likely won't finish the book. And that's a shame. For additional context: I cover related topics on my blog attentionecono.me where I write about the intersection of tech, media and digital business.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tim O'Hearn

    This book wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess that’s what I get for not reading past Break Things. Move Fast and Break Things is a biased work in which a guy who spent his career in the music industry bemoans the death of that golden goose and blames tech for the plight of the modern artist. It’s well-written. The pacing is perfect, but the underlying arguments, specifically those centered around the state of content creation, are flawed. Many of the later sections are quite good, but chapter one This book wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess that’s what I get for not reading past Break Things. Move Fast and Break Things is a biased work in which a guy who spent his career in the music industry bemoans the death of that golden goose and blames tech for the plight of the modern artist. It’s well-written. The pacing is perfect, but the underlying arguments, specifically those centered around the state of content creation, are flawed. Many of the later sections are quite good, but chapter one is particularly bad. I found it difficult to organize my thoughts, so here’s what I have to say. Chapter 1 The first argument is that social networks are responsible for the proliferation of what was called fake news during the 2016 election cycle. Facebook’s main purpose is to curate content. Then, due to various external pressures, it moderates some content too. But I can’t understand the outrage surrounding fake news (well—I can—it’s because the bad guy won) because we as citizens have a duty to verify the authenticity of the news we view. People act like Facebook was running a ticker tape with fake news headlines. It wasn’t. It was just highlighting what most people were sharing and often this came from sites with no news credentials whatsoever. This was pronounced because everyone’s parents had joined Facebook since the last election cycle, so they didn’t view articles with titles like “Lil Wayne dies of Lean overdose” with the same suspicion as my generation. The next point in chapter one is that studies have shown that 98% of people can’t begin to understand the implications of the internet. This is scary, but, having run a consumer-facing business on Instagram, I have to believe that this is true. And it generally helps push forward the arguments in this book. Then we get to Peter Thiel and other megarich people wanting to prolong their lives into the 100s. I say let them. Eventually that technology will trickle down to me. Nay, says the author, for some reason this means that the average man’s life expectancy will fall to 60. There is the argument about Amazon decimating the book industry. My family has held many different posts in the book industry, including, most recently, running a packaging and warehousing business, until—yeah—we closed up shop. The employees had lucrative layoff packages because the publisher we contracted for was able to prove in court that eBooks destroyed the print business and that, since eBook readers’ manufacturers were located overseas, the jobs were effectively outsourced. Did I cry over it this cruel twist of fate? Of course I did! We could no longer afford to pay my college tuition! But at the end, in all honesty, there was no point in scapegoating Amazon. The paradigm shifted, it took 15 years for us to feel the pain, and we were left behind fair and square. The author talks about a lot of things such as income inequality, but, as is common amongst liberals, he frames otherwise innocuous words and phrases in a way that makes them seem dirty. I can tolerate this if it’s accompanied by some explanation, but it never is, and these sections are worthless. It seems that musicians really have it rough these days. But is it such a terrible thing that mediocre musicians need day jobs? I can’t sympathize. TimBL There’s a lot of talk about Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for the internet. There is a notion that he didn’t use his invention to enrich himself because he wanted to forever be known as the white knight (he literally has been knighted) who didn’t create a monopoly. The author mentions how TimBL is still dependent on government funding for his research and how that must be such a bad life. But he seems to forget that there are only a couple of companies that have monopolistic control over their segments of the internet. Of those, they all became monopolies sort of by accident. Is it not a possibility that Tim Berners-Lee didn’t fully understand what opportunities there were for generating profit on the internet? He’s had almost 30 years to latch on to one project that interests him and ride it to IPO. If the man wanted cash money he could have obtained it in a way that didn’t involve sullying his reputation. Peter Thiel Chapter 4 is the worst chapter in the book. The author takes aim at Peter Thiel and his controversial book The Diversity Myth. I just read it and find the author’s criticisms to be laughable. Particularly funny is that the author claims it is hypocritical that Peter Thiel, who is gay, spoke out against the collective behaviors of certain groups gay people in the book. If anything, Peter Thiel being gay and writing what he did in the book demonstrates even greater conviction in his beliefs. Further, the author criticizes Peter Thiel’s takedown of Gawker. Peter Thiel didn’t like Gawker because the website ousted him as gay. The article was published while Thiel was in Saudi Arabia, the most homophobic place on Earth. Also, Thiel had friends whose reputations were damaged by Gawker coverage. It makes sense to me why he’d cut a couple million loose and try to take down the operation. Also omitted by the author is the Gawker ignored the court order from the first ruling (actually, openly mocked it), and that is what sent the website down the digital drain. Chapter 5 Missteps It is suggested that it is a bad thing that Google decided to index the entire world wide web. You know, they didn’t ask for permission. The author forgets that indexing was already recognized as a major need (at least by academics) and that, before search engines, websites would be listed in haphazard phonebook-like directories. I cringe at the thought. Then the author pretends that early YouTube is the YouTube of today in that “all music,” even copyrighted music, is available there (with the insinuation that most of it isn’t hosted in a way that benefits the artist) and is easy to upload. Later in the book, he contradicts this directly by admitting that YouTube has an extremely strict ID system that can catch and prevent virtually any copyrighted track from being posted. Anyone who creates content on the site knows this because they have been affected by it. Very early YouTube (2007) was the wild west, but I don’t agree that any website should have to devout significant resources to moderating copyrighted content unless that website’s express purpose is distributing copyrighted content (Megaupload). The Band vs The Bandits I have to give it to Joseph Taplin, who wrote this book and was also the ex-manager of a group known as The Band. Back in 2012, he debated Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian over many of the points recounted in the book. The debate was centered around the fact that The Band’s Levon Helm had cancer and no longer could pay his bills due to the need to tour to make a living. Alexis, after proudly proclaiming that he downloaded copyrighted works for free, tried to get in the last word by sending an open letter. Between that letter being sent and Taplin responding, Levon Helm passed away. Taplin’s eventual response was soul-crushing. It was recounted in this book and it was powerful. If you don’t read the book, you need to look up the exchange, because, though it’s ancient history now, it encapsulates what this debate is all about. I believe that the internet has empowered the modern content creator. Back in the golden days where the A&R “took care of you” and all that—that’s because any major label’s roster could only support so many artists. If you sounded like The Beatles in the 1960’s, you were that group that sounded like The Beatles and you could make a couple pence playing at your local pub. Sure, the income distribution has become way more stratified, but at least you have a chance now. In the past, everyone aside from exceptional talents needed a lot of luck and sex appeal to make it. Now, it’s totally possible to make it from SoundCloud to the big time. Especially as a rapper, producer, or instrumentalist. In the past, you’d have a demo tape and would have to pray that you could get it into the right hands. Now, artist discovery is easier than ever. The music industry is based on touring and performing, and that’s not great because older artists who aren’t superstars, like Levon Helm, can’t make the same living. If it’s any consolation, I enjoy the current atmosphere because music consumption is so much more democratic. Most kids don’t grow up listening to the radio anymore. Aside from the Grammy’s, there’s no centralized body telling you what to listen to or telling artists what to say. I think that’s a good thing. Also, was Netflix excluded because it didn’t fit into the narrative? My take is that new age video streaming services (including YouTube Red) have breathed a new life (and a hell of a lot of new money) into a nearly-dead industry. The author must have hit the skip button there. Chapter 8 I’m going to say it—I like targeted ads. If there’s a server out there crunching all my data and determining what it is that I want, I’m all for it. I picked up cigar smoking as a hobby because I received a targeted ad for Cigars International. I purchased lip balm the other day because something out there made the educated guess that my lips were dry and knew that I preferred Burt’s Bees. There’s the idea that it’s wrong for Facebook to treat us as lab rats. Every successful website on the internet treats users like lab rats. In the tech world, it’s called A-B testing and it’s where we display different things to different users. Sometimes at random; sometimes not. Facebook’s attempting to influence users’ moods does sound a bit extreme, but that’s all A-B testing is—seeing if different user segments respond differently to different versions of a site experience. Kim Dotcom was a Loser After spending his early life as a petty criminal, Kim Dotcom rose to prominence as the founder of Megaupload, which was one of the top torrent sites between 2005 and 2012. He hid behind the veil of being DMCA compliant, which basically means that the site owner has a duty to comply with all reasonable takedown requests. The only problem with Megaupload was that, by my estimate, 97% of the content on the site was infringing on copyrights. In irony that has already been lost to the sands of time, major artists endorsed Megaupload. I remember visiting the site and seeing the hottest artists of the day coaxing me to rip their entire catalogues. What a strange few years those were! Mr. Dotcom’s political ideology never became mainstream and the service he provided was parasitic. It’s no wonder that, once he got busted and stuck in the legal system, everyone stopped caring. He was not a pariah. He just found an opportunity, abused vague copyright laws, and got booked. The silver lining to all of this, and what I find most incredible, is that the successor to Megaupload, Mega, is an extremely popular filesharing service apparently used for legitimate purposes. It has over 50 million users and 20 billion files, but it’s no longer associated with Kim, so it’s hardly vindicating. We Are Building Whole Sectors of the Digital Economy on the Concept of Addiction Chapter 11 was when I started sending out texts telling people how good this book is. What’s said here almost makes up for the stumbles earlier in the book. Taplin discusses the “coliseum culture in which celebrities are thrown to the lions” with a level of clarity that no other writer has captured since the celebrity-throwing became a daily occurrence. If you pick this book up in a bookstore and only read one chapter, number eleven is what it needs to be. Conclusion Taplin makes a good effort but puts the blinders on when it is convenient for him. Sometimes his arguments sound like the college liberal. Other times, his lack of technical background causes prevailing logic to take a back seat. I don’t usually recommend books that I disagree with but I think this one is worth a look. See this review and others on my blog

  3. 5 out of 5

    Naum

    Anticipated reading this, believed I would enjoy reading it, but although I sympathize with the author argument on tech overlord monopolies, this isn't a good work. I have trouble envisioning the author as professor (as it says on the book sleeve) as it's written in the style of 3rd grade reading comprehension level political polemic. The author makes chain associations that are ridiculous and often veers into his animus over internet piracy and how back in the good 'ol days (the 60s and 70s) ar Anticipated reading this, believed I would enjoy reading it, but although I sympathize with the author argument on tech overlord monopolies, this isn't a good work. I have trouble envisioning the author as professor (as it says on the book sleeve) as it's written in the style of 3rd grade reading comprehension level political polemic. The author makes chain associations that are ridiculous and often veers into his animus over internet piracy and how back in the good 'ol days (the 60s and 70s) artists were treated well by recording industry and publishers and how the internet (& Google & Amazon) destroyed all that.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zephm

    Judging a book by its cover is not the mistake you want to make here. The title alone makes you want to dive right in at the library or Barnes and Noble and start reading before you even leave. This was not this case for me. Within the first three chapter I knew it was going to be hard to finish. Yes, Jonathan Taplin took the time to write this but this book could have been much better if it had not come from him. Google, Facebook, and Amazon did corner the market but that’s Capitalism. The simp Judging a book by its cover is not the mistake you want to make here. The title alone makes you want to dive right in at the library or Barnes and Noble and start reading before you even leave. This was not this case for me. Within the first three chapter I knew it was going to be hard to finish. Yes, Jonathan Taplin took the time to write this but this book could have been much better if it had not come from him. Google, Facebook, and Amazon did corner the market but that’s Capitalism. The simple fact that these companies thrived and evolved to fit the social norm today is the very reason they have undermined Hollywood and Musicians. Jonathan Taplin bias attitude in this book made it extremely hard to finish. I was hoping for more of a on the edge of your seat facts and information that I had not yet known about these “evil” companies. Those never came and I could barely stomach reading the book to the end. Yes, these companies have grown to the point that they have political sway but so did Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s. You may like this book if you are a libertarian and hate Capitalism. I am always open to people’s views on capitalism and politics but this author seems to be frozen in time looking for people to pity him because he is not on the winning side anymore. The attitude in this book seemed as if he nagged the entire time and wouldn’t shut up. This author seems to be dwelling on things in the past that are still affecting him emotionally and causing him to blame others for his misfortune. This book would have been a great diary for him to address his issues. Wait, was this book a diary before he published it? Question for the ages I guess. Don’t Judge the book by its cover.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    The main thesis is that Libertarians who digested Ayn Rand invented the Internet. They've caused all sorts of problems that we really haven't dealt with. Because of Robert Bork, our anti-trust laws have essentially disappeared. The Internet killed the musician. Data is the reason why Hollywood can't do anything besides superhero and other sequels. There were some good tidbits in this book and I enjoyed the book, although I have to admit that I'm a bit tired of scattershot books. This book could The main thesis is that Libertarians who digested Ayn Rand invented the Internet. They've caused all sorts of problems that we really haven't dealt with. Because of Robert Bork, our anti-trust laws have essentially disappeared. The Internet killed the musician. Data is the reason why Hollywood can't do anything besides superhero and other sequels. There were some good tidbits in this book and I enjoyed the book, although I have to admit that I'm a bit tired of scattershot books. This book could have only focused on Google and that would have been enough. Although this book nicely explained and summed up who the Koch brothers are. That one section of the book made the purchase right there. Anyone have any suggestions for books that focus on one business story and dig deep?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    All I want is the ability to add Wiki style “citation needed” tags whilst reading. Sloppy logic, bad writing. The author moved too fast in writing and broke his book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ramnath Iyer

    Whither humans, and art and culture, in the age of Techtopia? Does the specter of mass unemployment loom ahead for humanity as 47% of jobs will disappear in the next quarter century because of what a 2013 Oxford University study of 702 occupations termed as “computerisation”? Or are we headed towards a wonderful future, with 6 billion humans shed from the burdens of working and instead engaging in arts, culture and scientific discoveries, as tech visionaries like Marc Andreessen would have you be Whither humans, and art and culture, in the age of Techtopia? Does the specter of mass unemployment loom ahead for humanity as 47% of jobs will disappear in the next quarter century because of what a 2013 Oxford University study of 702 occupations termed as “computerisation”? Or are we headed towards a wonderful future, with 6 billion humans shed from the burdens of working and instead engaging in arts, culture and scientific discoveries, as tech visionaries like Marc Andreessen would have you believe? Jonathan Taplin, who references the above study as well as an interview of Andreessen, firmly believes that its time to worry – and take a stand. He tears into the characterization by the latter of worries about growing unemployment as simply a matter of “reskilling” of workers – suggesting that only someone as rich, and hence out of touch with the common man, as Andreessen can think that a 50-year-old oil technician can simply reskill, learn coding and work for Google when he loses his job. “Move Fast and Break Things” is a broadside against big tech, as a threat to democracy and cultural values. The growing role played by technology in everyday lives have been examined in quite a few books recently, although those generally focus on either the risks people take with allowing tech too deeply into their lives (broadly termed cybercrime) or are visions of what a future brave new world is going to look like. Taplin’s book worries about the socio-cultural impact, flowing in part from the economic impact of the growing dominance of a few tech giants which is the gist of his arguments. Citing data showing that inequality has increased significantly in the US (and around the world) in the past 25 years, the book holds tech monopolies and near monopolies as a major factor in creating inequality. Rules that apply to normal companies such as anti-trust, monopolies, taxes - don’t apply the same way to internet companies, as internet entrepreneurs have convinced successive governments that these will come in the way of “efficiency”. The result is a few outsized winners, and many losers. The problem is that the internet is particularly good at creating monopolies or duopolies as scale is easily achieved. An example of this dominance - Google’s Herfindahl-Hirschmann Index score in the online search segment is 7200. Regulators usually consider markets with HHI of 1500-2500 to be moderately and >2500 to be highly concentrated. The book contains numerous examples to illustrate this fact and its negative fallouts, whether it’s the slow death of traditional magazines and newspapers as online advertising sucks away their ad revenues, or Amazon leading to a shuttering of bookshops, small publishers as well as mom and pop corner stores. Taplin’s bigger argument is socio-cultural, that society has put tech innovators on a pedestal and is not paying attention to the enormous costs their mode of thinking inflicts on societal cohesion, while almost exclusively celebrating their successes and innovations. As someone from the media and communications industry, he is a passionate believer in the value that artists of all kinds bring to society, something is being sharply eroded by the high concentration levels we are witnessing. He cites examples from personal experience to show how the music industry, or the film-making has changed, and how the artists are actually much worse off in the new regimes. With insights into the thoughts of various Valley personalities, and their visions of tech driven Utopia, Taplin suggests that their underlying belief is that of a government hands-free libertarianism as espoused by Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand. As he points out, these people forget that the internet was started through government funding, and the initial idea of the internet’s early pioneers, such as Tim Berners Lee, was to democratize and equalize everyone, not to create more inequality. In similar vein, he highlights the internal contradictions and personal and professional moultings of Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and spawner of the “Paypal Mafia” (those who worked at Paypal and went on to found Yelp, Linked, Youtube, Palantir, etc.) There is a lot of merit in the central arguments which bears thinking about, but the book also suffers from various flaws. Stylistically, there are simply too many quotes! At times chapters feel like assemblages of quotations. That is not to say that he doesn’t have his own mind; he does marshal and furnish various views primarily to support his hypothesis. However, the constant intrusions of quotes make for a jarring reading or listening experience. His personal experience in the media, entertainment and communications industry make his views on them most authentic, and make his suggestions innovative and positive (such as artists cooperatives much like the Californian orange farmers’ cooperatives to combat Youtube and improve film-making). And it does appear that things have gone off-course a fair bit, whether it’s what we read in the news about Peter Thiel’s increasing megalomania, or of the scarcely believable words of Andreessen considering his Netscape was the first to cry bully at Microsoft in the late Nineties. But it’s not as if concentration is a problem exclusive to the tech industry, as the author himself acknowledges when he quotes (yes, again) Elizabeth Warren stating the growing concentration in industries as diverse as airlines, drugstores, and health insurance. This suggests that there may be larger factors at play in the American economy. Finally, apart from the above innovative suggestion for the film industry, Taplin has no positive recommendations to offer other than government intervention to break the monopolies. And here lies the second flaw – the views are US-centric, but while they apply broadly to the world since these same companies dominate these fields in most countries, there are notable exceptions such as China. Knowing the Chinese government’s authoritarianism and the local tech giants’ willingness to abide by government diktats, their state is likely to be even worse. And the recommendations of this book are likely to hamstring one set of American companies against essentially Chinese competition for everything future tech related.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Blake Mazurek

    I went into this book with some questions in my mind about where we are going with technology in our world. All three sites mentioned in the title are my "go to" sites where I spend a vast majority of my time on the internet. Before reading, I wondered if I would find connections with the author's background in the entertainment industry (particularly music) - I enjoy music, but my understanding of the "industry" is limited. He gives the reader enough of a backstory to make the reader empathize I went into this book with some questions in my mind about where we are going with technology in our world. All three sites mentioned in the title are my "go to" sites where I spend a vast majority of my time on the internet. Before reading, I wondered if I would find connections with the author's background in the entertainment industry (particularly music) - I enjoy music, but my understanding of the "industry" is limited. He gives the reader enough of a backstory to make the reader empathize with the artists and their plight in the digital age. But, the book takes you so far beyond the effects of Google, Facebook, Amazon and others on music offering a truly disturbing look into the world of Trusts and the feeling that the world is changing under our feet while we are only focusing on the sky. I found this book insightful, frightening and empowering. I've been inspired to try my own "social media" experiment by going cold turkey on FB and Twitter (my two most addictive sites) and see where it takes me. Jonathan Taplin has offered us an opportunity to pull back the veil and see who the Wizards are and look beyond the shiny "benefits" these companies offer and, more importantly, what they take from our lives.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Huang

    The contention is that Silicon Valley is not the virtuous cradle of innovation as we'd like to think of it. Some of the tycoons there (e.g., Peter Thiel) are guided by the Ayn Rand-style libertarianism. Their financial success has a tendency to reinforce their view that greed is good, government is inept and even. Yet, much of the technical innovation that fueled the financial success comes from publicly funded research elsewhere (case in point ARPA net --> internet). What the valley is good at The contention is that Silicon Valley is not the virtuous cradle of innovation as we'd like to think of it. Some of the tycoons there (e.g., Peter Thiel) are guided by the Ayn Rand-style libertarianism. Their financial success has a tendency to reinforce their view that greed is good, government is inept and even. Yet, much of the technical innovation that fueled the financial success comes from publicly funded research elsewhere (case in point ARPA net --> internet). What the valley is good at is to monetize technology or figuring out way to profit from the crowd. And here lies the danger: if you are not the customer (paying for something you use), you are the product. Google and Facebook essentially profit from their customers at the expense of some unquantifiable cost of privacy etc. When tech titan becomes so powerful, they can be dangerous as a force of suppression. Google uses its enormous sway on average user to stop the anti-piracy bill called SOPA in 2012, purportedly to protect its commercial interest as search of pirated content is an important part of Google's business. Streaming music now makes the artists' life much more difficult as royalty plummets. The book also talks about how artists might gang together to regain some leverage in negotiations etc.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gabie

    Though I've only read an excerpt from the limited ARC I got, my interest has been piqued. It's quite rare to find a person Taplin, whose background was working with musical legends, and showing us that this background could bring out a story that handles a part of internet history that we're not privy to and how a core group of people and companies could create the value system surrounding the web and dictate how we as consumers use the internet today. I look forward to buying the book to see if Though I've only read an excerpt from the limited ARC I got, my interest has been piqued. It's quite rare to find a person Taplin, whose background was working with musical legends, and showing us that this background could bring out a story that handles a part of internet history that we're not privy to and how a core group of people and companies could create the value system surrounding the web and dictate how we as consumers use the internet today. I look forward to buying the book to see if what I saw in the first chapter is sustained through, but for now, the introduction's got me hooked!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I did not like this book, but I read it through to the end. It had a lot of false correlations, and seemed very biased to the author's personal experiences where Big Media started losing profits to the digital age. I did not like this book, but I read it through to the end. It had a lot of false correlations, and seemed very biased to the author's personal experiences where Big Media started losing profits to the digital age.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Belle

    This book was free from the publisher. If reading the synopsis for Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy makes you feel nauseous, or scared, or a little bit of both, don’t worry. I felt the same way. And I probably had every right to feel that way. I don’t know what made me feel so drawn to reading what is, in essence, a textbook on the business of Amazon, Google and Facebook. Much like reading a textbook, there were times I almost This book was free from the publisher. If reading the synopsis for Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy makes you feel nauseous, or scared, or a little bit of both, don’t worry. I felt the same way. And I probably had every right to feel that way. I don’t know what made me feel so drawn to reading what is, in essence, a textbook on the business of Amazon, Google and Facebook. Much like reading a textbook, there were times I almost fell asleep. Anyone who follows me on Instagram probably saw my twenty five stories where I whined about how I had zero focus, etc. Fun fact: when I am really really into a book, I don’t usually lose focus. Another textbook-like feature of this read was the face that it was very terminology heavy. Maybe everyone else knows what antitrust law means, but not me. I had to google things so many times that I kind of just gave up googling the words I didn’t know. (Yes, I do notice the irony of using Google to google a word from an anti-Google book). The hardest part to read was the first part in particular, where Taplin outlined the history of the firms and of the internet. There was just so much information jam-packed into the first half of the book that I could only read a few pages at a time before I felt like I was studying for a business midterm. One other thing that peeved me quite a bit was the whining feel of Taplin throughout. So many times, he complained from the side of artists, that they weren’t making any money because of the tech businesses. He complained about piracy laws, about antitrust laws, about monopsonizing art… (also not sure if thats a word or not)… but not once did I hear about the good things that social media and technology have done for art. Sure, maybe the YouTubers of today may not be the art that you dream of in a renaissance, but they are the art that this generation finds appealing. Furthermore, with social media, people who had no chance of “getting discovered” without connections are making music, and art, today. One needs to look no further than The Weeknd or XXXTentacion, who used SoundCloud to rise up through obscurity. Despite all the things I did not enjoy about the book, parts were informative to me as a person. Taplin raised good questions about social media. At one point, I posted on Snapchat a line from the book, “Is your friend who spends three hours a day on Snapchat really free?” with the caption “triggered”. I joked, but the truth of it is that these media applications we use truly can be addictive. I love my bookstagram community, but I do sometimes log off for a day if I feel myself getting on too often. It’s all about the balance. My absolute favorite thing about Move Fast and Break Things were the quotes that the book was absolutely chock full of. Taplin gathered many thought-provoking, truth-seeking quotes, and I wanted to underline each and every one of them. Even if I did not learn anything from the book, I at least found some quotes to look up, and some new books and papers to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I have a bit of a mixed reaction to this book. To start, the introduction seemed real scatter-shot in its writing style. Partly I think this was simply because it was a broad overview of the ideas he wanted to get to throughout the book, but the pattern continued, though to a lesser degree. However, I came to a greater appreciation of his broad scope of thought and forgive what I thought was a choppy execution. Also, early in the book I struggled to accept his portrayal of the negative of the tec I have a bit of a mixed reaction to this book. To start, the introduction seemed real scatter-shot in its writing style. Partly I think this was simply because it was a broad overview of the ideas he wanted to get to throughout the book, but the pattern continued, though to a lesser degree. However, I came to a greater appreciation of his broad scope of thought and forgive what I thought was a choppy execution. Also, early in the book I struggled to accept his portrayal of the negative of the tech companies. The story of The Band's failure to continue to capitalize on their recordings felt somewhat like sour grapes since they had limited license control (as he compared to the song writers' rights). The fact that they were receiving royalties that resulted from their fans moving from format (vinyl) to format (CD) didn't win me over. However, his argument that the YouTube effect is limiting the subscription streaming services, does have merit, and would have a financial impact worth considering. All in all, I think the book is a good read, and worth further consideration. I think there should be some consideration in to the monopoly impacts of these three companies, similar to what I recall of the MSFT antitrust lawsuits of the late 90's. For a quick summary, and interesting discussion, check out Taplin's interview from the Aspen Ideas Fest - https://www.aspenideas.org/session/ha...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Ahhhh. So this is the new electronic era. Rather educational. I am glad I read it. Now from here I can expand and learn new things. This is an Internet history book essentially about how big business tried to take over the world by grabbing hold of the music, television, film, news and publishing industries. The alternates to Facebook, Google, and Amazon are not well-publicized. Open-source software, which is not discussed in this book, spreads around the Internet in a viral manner. Moreover, I ch Ahhhh. So this is the new electronic era. Rather educational. I am glad I read it. Now from here I can expand and learn new things. This is an Internet history book essentially about how big business tried to take over the world by grabbing hold of the music, television, film, news and publishing industries. The alternates to Facebook, Google, and Amazon are not well-publicized. Open-source software, which is not discussed in this book, spreads around the Internet in a viral manner. Moreover, I checked the index for his discussion of piracy and didn't find it very useful, just a little. So I am generally leery of books from this section of the library due to the fast-eroding nature of the Internet. However, you may find Jonathan Taplin's Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy useful in your own quest to learn more about this digital world!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leah Agirlandaboy

    This is great reading about (per the subtitle) “how Facebook, Google, and Amazon cornered culture and undermined democracy.” The subject isn’t my usual fare AT ALL, and perhaps the book’s greatest strength is how clear and accessible it is to people who might *not* be immersed in the intricacies of business economics. I highlighted so much and nodded along and felt like I was learning a lot about not just the world as it is but also as it might be. Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror” was amazing but also This is great reading about (per the subtitle) “how Facebook, Google, and Amazon cornered culture and undermined democracy.” The subject isn’t my usual fare AT ALL, and perhaps the book’s greatest strength is how clear and accessible it is to people who might *not* be immersed in the intricacies of business economics. I highlighted so much and nodded along and felt like I was learning a lot about not just the world as it is but also as it might be. Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror” was amazing but also made me well up with (righteous) rage, but by some magic this book left me feeling more hopeful than depressed. It’s at least as inspiring as it is infuriating, and whether that’s merely a product of the author’s privilege or also partially the fruition of his intention to make us *want* to wake up/resist/change, it really worked for me. Highly recommend (and I’d love to see a follow-up version about everything that’s happened since this was published in 2017).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Good but not great book that was made more interesting because I was also listening to the audiobook of Cory Doctorow's Information Doesn't Want to Be Free. Not at literally the same time, of course. While Taplin claims that the music industry and the careers of most musicians have been destroyed by the availability of free downloads of music on the Internet, Doctorow makes a mostly opposing claim. One of the main differences is that Taplin focuses on the traditional ways that musicians have mad Good but not great book that was made more interesting because I was also listening to the audiobook of Cory Doctorow's Information Doesn't Want to Be Free. Not at literally the same time, of course. While Taplin claims that the music industry and the careers of most musicians have been destroyed by the availability of free downloads of music on the Internet, Doctorow makes a mostly opposing claim. One of the main differences is that Taplin focuses on the traditional ways that musicians have made a living, while Doctorow emphasizes that there are other ways. This has been the case for many industries, especially in manufacturing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aidan

    In the spirit of a central premise of the book (respect the providers of original content) here are some informed reviews: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201... https://www.thenational.ae/arts-cultu... Worth reading if you want to gain a better understanding of the ideology and personalities behind the rise of the internet and the impact it has had on culture. In the spirit of a central premise of the book (respect the providers of original content) here are some informed reviews: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201... https://www.thenational.ae/arts-cultu... Worth reading if you want to gain a better understanding of the ideology and personalities behind the rise of the internet and the impact it has had on culture.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    Perhaps this book was early in recognizing the threat that these tech monopolies present to a vibrant economy or artistic community, but it is not the best by a wide range. It is pretty personal and not at all data-driven.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    Quite interesting and informative. Recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Campbell

    I could throw this book on to the crime and tragedy shelves I've created but it's actually non-fiction. Taplin shines a spotlight on the dystopia we're all presently living in but haven't noticed. He invites you to look up from your screens and think about the men behind the curtain of technology. There's a Wild West frontier being developed in the digital world and from the lawlessness of the early internet some powerful groups have developed and are fighting to keep it the way they like it. But I could throw this book on to the crime and tragedy shelves I've created but it's actually non-fiction. Taplin shines a spotlight on the dystopia we're all presently living in but haven't noticed. He invites you to look up from your screens and think about the men behind the curtain of technology. There's a Wild West frontier being developed in the digital world and from the lawlessness of the early internet some powerful groups have developed and are fighting to keep it the way they like it. But don't worry, they've got nice slogans and smiles so we can probably trust them, after all how bad can people be whose philosophy is "Do the right thing"? Examining the libertarian philosophy behind Facebook, Google, Amazon, and from individuals such as Peter Thiel (PayPal), Kim Dotcom (PirateBay) and Sean Parker (Napster), Taplin looks at the land-grab they've made to ensure their unassailable monopolies can set the agenda of the digital world we live in. Sadly, I still love these companies (the "legal" ones at least), and their products yet seeing the effects of their business practices is more than a little disheartening. These large companies do not dominate by accident. Proprietary platforms, monopsonist practices (driving prices down to drive competition out) and lobbying at all levels allows them to crush competition and step back from responsibilities they could easily manage to assume and which they arguably bear a lot of moral responsibility for. Moral responsibility, however, seems to be for the weak in the libertarian eye. With the unspoken code of "Who's going to stop me?" (from Ayn Rand's `The Fountainhead`) these companies and individuals have contributed to the loss of payments to music industry artists, massive copyright infringement across all cultural and artistic forms (barring perhaps pottery and Morris dancing), terrible worker conditions, the demise of the local book / record / video stores and job losses in multiple sectors. But they're so convenient. I like the benefits. At the time of writing this Cambridge Analytica is in the firing line for abuse of data gained via a Facebook personality app, which tapped into not just the 2,700 people who took part in the app's test but all of their contacts too. Data which was then sold on to a third party group and allegedly mined to provide crucial voter details for the 2016 US elections allowing for targeted ads to manipulate the readers' voting choices. Allegedly, at this moment. The thing is Facebook is a "surveillance marketing" company more than anything else. It's platform has moved beyond a cool place for college kids to hang out and connect, it's now a multi-billion dollar data-harvesting tool that can find out what you buy, where you live, who you're connected to, what you did each weekend, what sort of news you like, what you "like" when you click that button and an array of tiny details that build up into a consumer, or voter, profile that becomes enormously valuable to advertisers who really want to target 25 - 35 year old women who love cycling and live within 30 miles of their store (Facebook's example from their own site). In exchange for giving up that information, we get access to their beautifully convenient platform. Google do the same with your searches while Apple encourage ad-blockers because, well, they sell phones and computers, not data. During the election process conservatives complained to Facebook about biases in trending topics due to liberal moderators. When Zuckerberg then fired the moderators, Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica (remember them?) used an army of bots to manipulate trending topics. Because they can. And, "Who will stop me?" There's a hopeful thought that things can change and suggestions for how best to improve the way the companies contribute to society. Of course for that to work they'll have to choose to do so themselves (and nothing indicates they wish to give up any advantage they have - who would?), or be forced to do so. Every attempt to block or change these companies' direction (in the USA) has been short-lived, through funding, lobbying and cross-pollination of staff between regulators / government and these major tech companies. Unless financial imperative drives them to change, it's likely it will be this way forever. Most of us won't even notice. Should we care? I think so. About $6.8 billion of advertising revenue is generated via bots clicking web-links and convincing companies that the traffic their sites receive justifies the extra payments they're making. Costs which get passed onto the consumers. Us. Meanwhile, artists who rely on the work they've created to pay them as they grow older are being left high and dry. The argument to just go out and keep on touring doesn't work for most and truthfully the majority of the money earned by musicians goes to a tiny percentage of top-tier stars. One million plays of a song on iTunes could earn a musician $900,000, on Google owned YouTube they'd get $900. Devaluing culture means we get less variety, worse quality and ultimately miss out. Computer algorithms are being used to identify pop hits or even write some dance tracks. Others are being created to make screenplays. Meanwhile monopolies cut competition which cuts jobs. For all of Facebook's $80 billion in the bank and millions of annual income it only employs around 15,000 people. Job creation comes with competition as does innovation. We're missing out but don't see it. Taxes are viewed as optional to these multibillionaires; Thiel himself is financially backing seasteading, creating artificial islands outside of any government controlled territory and therefore immune to taxation and regulation. Google's Larry Page is researching privately owned city-states. Both men are funding research to extend lives, specifically theirs, so perhaps they can make it to 150 and maybe long enough to see themselves uploading their consciousness for the betterment of… well, themselves. Our culture and commerce are experiencing a Game of Thrones level body count. House Facebook ("Vanity trumps privacy"), House Google ("Control the menu, control the choices") and House Amazon ("Nobody has a right to happiness") are all vying for the throne left by Queen Ayn Rand ("Who will stop me?"). The populace is suffering but their eyes remain fixed on the prize. Sadly, each one gets a throne in this scenario. Each gets their own kingdom but share dominion over the one world consumer-populace. For me this raises concerns about the next steps on the path as it is currently set out. Peter Thiel's stated view that "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible" leaves an uneasy sense that the future is in doubt. Not just because he himself is a close friend to Jared Kushner, influential in the White House and a rumoured pick as Trump's second Supreme Court appointment but because of the influence he both spreads and represents which already exists across the stratosphere of American politics and industry. The Koch Brothers (Koch Industries is oil based) laid the foundations for this in their pursuit of an antiregulation, antitax legislative environment which seems to be making happy headway under President Trump. These Kochs have laid the foundation in the physical world for the Empires being built in the digital realm. A realm ruled by the corporations, not by the people it was opened up for. This book is heavy-going at time; always approachable, just a lot to get your head around. It is worthwhile reading though, so much so that I'll be reading it again. It's eye-opening and may challenge your views but you'll be a stronger person than me if it also changes your online habits. Perhaps it will encourage you to support changes in legislation, or to question the messages that "techno-determinists" send as they shape our thoughts on what internet freedom really means. Perhaps, Matrix-like, we will wake up to the world around us and really make a change and start a co-operative to drive demand in a different direction and empower content creators. Whatever comes from this book, be alert because the future is being written now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Luca

    Hot topic in which I am deeply involved. The book is biased. Easy to read. Very political. Too political.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Simon Freeman

    The tedium of non fiction

  23. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    https://www.mic.com/p/inside-kolektiv... Inside Kolektiva, the social media platform built by anarchists and activists By Ella Fassler November 11, 2020 In August, Facebook purged a number of anarchist news organizations and left-wing activists from the site under the guise of a larger ban targeting far-right extremists and QAnon conspiracy theorists. Following the ban, a group of anarchists created their own social media server called Kolektiva Social on Mastodon, a decentralized, non-corporate soc https://www.mic.com/p/inside-kolektiv... Inside Kolektiva, the social media platform built by anarchists and activists By Ella Fassler November 11, 2020 In August, Facebook purged a number of anarchist news organizations and left-wing activists from the site under the guise of a larger ban targeting far-right extremists and QAnon conspiracy theorists. Following the ban, a group of anarchists created their own social media server called Kolektiva Social on Mastodon, a decentralized, non-corporate social media alternative. The server, dubbed an 'instance' in Mastodon-speak, has since amassed over 2,100 users and continues to grow from an influx of left-leaning activists who feel they are targeted by larger social media platforms. Just last month, without warning or explanation, Instagram disabled the account of the Pacific NorthWest Youth Liberation Front, a decentralized network of youth collectives committed to taking direct action toward 'total liberation.' In response, the group encouraged people to find them on Kolektiva Social and on their blog. Anarchist filmmaker and Kolektiva Social collective member Franklin Lopez tells Mic, “Folks saw a need for a social media platform that was not rife with censorship, shadow banning, and data tracking [...] This would be a platform that belongs to us, that is ad free, where we don't track users’ habits or keep any of their data except for what they publish themselves.” So far, the server’s discourse is productive and the environment is friendly. Mastodon, home to over 3 million accounts and growing, borrows from Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook by allowing for 500-word character limits in an interface reminiscent of Twitter, while each community moderates its own content. The platform was founded by German-born developer Eugen Rochko in 2017 with funds from crowdfunding site Patreon. It is attractive for anarchists partially because it mirrors the type of decentralized, non-hierarchical society they hope to build. Each instance within Mastodon acts as its own community, and disparate instances can link up and share content, or 'federate,' with each other. 391.8K59 FirstNations - “Native Americans” - Open Solar Farm Near Dakota Access Pipeline Zooming out, Mastodon is part of the larger 'Fediverse' through Activity Pub, a decentralized network of social media platforms that can all interact with one another. Imagine if Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook users could communicate without creating an account on each platform. Welcome to the Fediverse. Lopez explains, “The idea of federations is one that has been embraced by anarchists for many decades, most notably during the Spanish Civil War.” (During the Spanish Civil War, millions of people organized their lives in a bottom-up fashion through federations without a centralized state.) “The fact that we can run our own Mastodon server and never be kicked out, like what recently happened to [anarchist news site] It's Going Down and others on Facebook, and still be part of this larger constellation of Mastodon servers, or Fediverse, is a very anarchist vision of what the world should look like. Small self-governing communities or affinity groups, united but decentralized.” Another perk may be that, unlike Facebook, Mastodon does not have a centralized Law Enforcement Response Team (LERT) as the platform isn’t owned by any particular company or individual. In 2019, police requested data from 164,782 Facebook accounts, and the company complied in 88% of cases. Mastodon as a whole can’t comply by design: “This decentralized nature does mean that, for example, US law enforcement does not have total reach like it does with US tech companies,” founding developer Rochko tells Mic. Kodiak Couch, an anarchist organizing with Slay the System, an agitprop collective creating content on Leftbook (Facebook for leftists), first joined Mastodon in 2018. Couch tells Mic they joined because, “It had been presumed that Facebook would inevitably censor, restrict, and collaborate with federal agencies progressively as it is doing now [...] Corporate platforms hinder this ability to freely associate, for they turn us into marketing research commodities, and purposefully stoke division.” Slay the System joined Kolektiva Social after Facebook decided to boot anarchists from its platform. For a time, Mastodon was billed as “Twitter without Nazis,” a haven for the left. But this changed in 2019, when social media network Gab created a Mastodon server and its white supremecist users followed. As tech companies attempt to address the spread of far-right mass disinformation campaigns that lead to real-world violence, groups like Qanon may increasingly migrate toward Mastodon. Last month, YouTube announced new moderation policies that outline the removal of content that targets or harasses people based on conspiracy theories. The far-right’s migration is an unfortunate side-effect of Mastodon’s decentralized model. Anyone with the source code can start a server, Rochko tells Mic. But there are ways to limit their reach. Rochko says he has seen moderators boot QAnon conspiracy theorists off Mastodon servers. The servers he operates, for example, don't tolerate dangerous misinformation, and he says he has a high confidence in servers advertised on the Join Mastodonintroductory page. But, Rochko adds, “I'm aware that there are servers out there that are full of them.” Mastodon’s hostility toward those groups might make other social media alternatives, like privately owned Parler, known as a 'Twitter clone for conservatives,' more attractive to the far-right. Following last week’s election results, Parler has become the most downloaded app in the App Store and in Google’s app marketplace, amassing one million users over the past few days. While de-platforming far-right movements and their fundraisers can hinder their organizing, some argue that addressing power imbalances at their roots are necessary for squelching hateful conspiracies. Cory Doctorow, in his book How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, asks “What if the trauma of living through real conspiracies all around us — conspiracies among wealthy people, their lobbyists, and lawmakers to bury inconvenient facts and evidence of wrongdoing (these conspiracies are commonly known as “corruption”) — is making people vulnerable to conspiracy theories?” Social media alternatives like Mastodon promote a world without a reliance on people in power, which, of course, makes powerful people less powerful. If conspiracy theories and supremacist rhetoric are a manifestation of systemic power imbalances, then social media alternatives that prioritize people over profit — while also moderating for supremacist rhetoric as much as possible — should lead society into a more liberatory direction. Lopez remembers how the internet was originally managed by its own users in this way. “Indymedia, launched in 1999 by anarchists, revolutionized things people now take for granted, like blogging, photo sharing, and audio and video streaming, all in a worldwide decentralized network of Independent Media Centers (IMC's),” he says. But then, as well-funded capitalists monopolized social media, independent platforms suffered. Sometimes progress means addressing what went wrong in the past. “I think it's time to once again embrace that saying from the 90s,” Lopez says. “Don't hate the media, be the media.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Zienty

    The next time you post on Facebook, upload a video to YouTube, or use a Google product, take a moment to stop and realize that you are, in essence, an unpaid employee of these corporations. After all, you are creating the content from which they are reaping billions of dollars in terms of marketing and advertising. Taplin examines the rise of these "monopoly platforms" which have created the surveillance-data mining-marketing culture in which we now live. He frames his argument from the perspect The next time you post on Facebook, upload a video to YouTube, or use a Google product, take a moment to stop and realize that you are, in essence, an unpaid employee of these corporations. After all, you are creating the content from which they are reaping billions of dollars in terms of marketing and advertising. Taplin examines the rise of these "monopoly platforms" which have created the surveillance-data mining-marketing culture in which we now live. He frames his argument from the perspective of the music industry. He points out that Google and Facebook achieve their massive net profit margins because they dominate the means by which content is distributed on the net, while creating very little of it themselves. For instance, You Tube (owned by Google) has in excess of 55% of the streaming audio business but only contributes 11% of the revenue that is distributed to the creators of this content. Contrast this with TV networks whose profit margins are much smaller because of their expenditures on creating actual content, the television shows they broadcast. He explores the libertarian mindset of the men who created these platforms (Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Trump supporter Peter Theil) and how it affects their business practices, such as overlooking the piracy of books, music and film, while undermining and deliberating invading the privacy of their users. He even examines their connections to the Koch Brothers: their shared hatred of government and its laws, regulations, taxation and copyright protection. They are all in the extraction business, he notes. But instead of oil, the Web entrepreneurs extract data, "as much personal data from as many people in the world at the lowest possible price and to resell that data to as many companies as possible at the highest price possible." This is a definitely a polemic, but it's a lively read with anecdotes about the music business (Taplin was a tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band) and some eye-opening statistics and arguments about how the Internet was hijacked and monopolized and what we can do to reclaim it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    So Google, Facebook and Amazon are bad because as platforms they are monopolies/ monopsonies. Even though Taplin confesses that he himself uses facebook. Their major sins: 1. They don't produce any content but earn from the artists' sweat and blood. Youtube takes 45% of the ad earnings. The old media companies used to groom artists and produce original content. 2. They drive down prices of songs and earnings for artists. Record companies used to sell whole albums even if fans only want one or two So Google, Facebook and Amazon are bad because as platforms they are monopolies/ monopsonies. Even though Taplin confesses that he himself uses facebook. Their major sins: 1. They don't produce any content but earn from the artists' sweat and blood. Youtube takes 45% of the ad earnings. The old media companies used to groom artists and produce original content. 2. They drive down prices of songs and earnings for artists. Record companies used to sell whole albums even if fans only want one or two songs. Now the platforms sell per song. 3. Google links to pirate sites, destroying the livelihoods of artists and record companies. Youtube hides behind legal protection that says that content providers are responsible for their own piracy policing. 4. All these companies earn money from us, direction scary ads toward us. He thinks that these companies should be controlled by laws that govern utilities. Individual artists should band together to form co-ops that let artists earn their fair share. That was how the orange brand Sunkist was formed. I think Tapling misses the good old days as he was rather successful during those times. Unfortunately the world has changed. These companies provide value to the consumer and that's why we are using them. The moment something better comes along, we would shift our allegiance. To enjoy these products for free, we allow ads to be targeted at us. Tapling seems to have forgotten that TV, radio and newspapers had always sold ads to us to make profits. TV and radio are free, and newspapers are priced ridiculously low. Artists and authors had always struggled until someone was willing to take a chance with their work. Rowling was rejected 12 times before her work was published. Importantly, these companies allow someone to showcase their work to the world. Now and then their work turns viral and they turn successful. If one is really unhappy with them one is always free to use an alternative product.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Phong

    “Unless you are breaking stuff, you aren’t moving fast enough” — Mark Zuckerberg This book will make you think twice the next time you share anything on Facebook, do a search on Google or made a purchase on Amazon. It would be interesting to hear Taylor Swift and Pewdiepie's reaction to their mentions in the book. My favorite takeaway would be the description on how you present your "future self" on Facebook, in contrast to the "current you" in life. Facebook has built its works around human's tw “Unless you are breaking stuff, you aren’t moving fast enough” — Mark Zuckerberg This book will make you think twice the next time you share anything on Facebook, do a search on Google or made a purchase on Amazon. It would be interesting to hear Taylor Swift and Pewdiepie's reaction to their mentions in the book. My favorite takeaway would be the description on how you present your "future self" on Facebook, in contrast to the "current you" in life. Facebook has built its works around human's two fundamental needs: (1) The need to become a better person: though it has somehow turned out to be narcissism for most cases, where you pretend to be a better person, spend most of the time retouching your photos, set up perfect angles, captions... but you're missing out the real things in life: the views, the real people. You hang out with friends at a beautiful coffee shop just to take dreamlike selfies (we decide to "get together to talk", instead of "actually talking to each other"). (2) The need of approval: the emptiness in life as a product of cheap entertainment, the rewards & behaviorals system (B.F Skinner) are the origins of the "like" button. You continuously seek for approval and put yourself out there, counting likes as you feel insecure about yourself, and only through the "like" approval, you think you've become a better person. While the whole time, you can close Facebook app and focus on completing your true self, focus on the real you. It's such an irony as I am also guilty as charge. I'm posting this on Facebook and pretending that I have an insight knowledge of how the world operates after reading one book. I'm no better than the rest of the world. But as another outcome of the social network, I now can share the information and spread my poisonous, ludicrous thoughts.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Steeves

    Scattered, unfocused and ultimately very flawed. Jonathan Taplin starts out documenting how artists and creative people have been getting the raw of the stick more and more, citing the example of the late Levon Helm who had to start performing again in his 70s while fighting cancer because the current digital era had seen his income from The Band's work cut to a trickle. Most of the book focuses on the big three, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, and the way that a small group of people had managed to Scattered, unfocused and ultimately very flawed. Jonathan Taplin starts out documenting how artists and creative people have been getting the raw of the stick more and more, citing the example of the late Levon Helm who had to start performing again in his 70s while fighting cancer because the current digital era had seen his income from The Band's work cut to a trickle. Most of the book focuses on the big three, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, and the way that a small group of people had managed to keep the game rigged in their favor to the point where they held monopoly (or near monopoly) positions. Unfortunately, the strength of those sections gets quickly overwhelmed by the myopic view that "in my day..." , combined with an inability to tie this into a broader cultural narrative. Levon's tale, as tragic as it was, mirrors that of many Americans who find themselves forced into working well into their 70s because they have no choice in the matter. The Washington Post just today posted a piece documenting this. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/w... While Taplin touched on Trump and the Kochs, he fails to show similar patterns in fights against the SPA or financial regulation. He also spends time arguing against organizations like the EFF and their fights against copyright enforcement abuses. While artists certainly deserve to enjoy some measure of protection against their work, legislation allowing industry organizations to take people offline unilaterally are not even close to being an acceptable solution. In the end, nothing really new or interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ilib4kids

    303.4833 TAP summary: Internet is not what was envisioned: overthrow political hierarchy and decrease inequality, decentralize controls, deepen our knowledge base, a new platform for democratic communication, creative tools for artists, become instead of tools of monopoly, winner-takes-all economy of the Internet age. Internet increase inequality, intensify monopolization.Basically Facebook, Google, Amazon, with tools, filter what audience want to see, hear, listen. These winner take all promote 303.4833 TAP summary: Internet is not what was envisioned: overthrow political hierarchy and decrease inequality, decentralize controls, deepen our knowledge base, a new platform for democratic communication, creative tools for artists, become instead of tools of monopoly, winner-takes-all economy of the Internet age. Internet increase inequality, intensify monopolization.Basically Facebook, Google, Amazon, with tools, filter what audience want to see, hear, listen. These winner take all promote monopoly suppress competing voices, threat democracy. The need to be informed will died down, our views become more narrower. In turn, Internet dumb down. In afterword, author hopes to see Berners-Lee's dream of a "re-decentralized" Internet, one much less dependent on surveillance marketing and allows creative artists to take advantage of zero-marginal-cost economics of the Web in a series of nonprofit distribution of cooperatives. see more on evernote. Terms in this book: 1. mean reversion: 2. Seasteading: is the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea 3. Content industry:The content industry is an umbrella term that encompasses companies owning and providing mass media and media metadata. This can include music and movies, text publications of any kind, ownership of standards, geographic data, and metadata about all and any of the above. 4. Herd mentality, or mob mentality: describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors. Examples of the herd mentality include nationalism, stock market trends, superstition, and home décor. 5.network effects : or Metcalfe's law: The value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users. 6.Regulatory capture:is the process by which regulatory agencies eventually come to be dominated by the very industries they were charged with regulating. 7.programmatic advertising 8. native advertising, aka sponsored contents 9.peak content( race): Peak Content: contested theory of “Peak Oil” originated by M. King Hubbert, we will reach a time where we’ve achieved the maximum rate of petroleum extraction, and will have a subsequent decline (based on the fact that oil is a non-renewable resource because it takes a heck of a long time to make it). In other words, a point of maximum content production. 10. externality economics, is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur the cost or benefit.e.g. mine industry. 11. Global labor arbitrage:as a result of the removal of or disintegration of barriers to international trade, jobs move to nations where labor and the cost of doing business (such as environmental regulations) is inexpensive and/or impoverished labor moves to nations with higher paying jobs. 12. Godwin's law: is an Internet adage that asserts that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1". 13.Griefing: is the act of irritating and angering people in video games through the use of destruction, construction, or social engineering. 14. The Gamergate: concerns issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the hashtag #GamerGate. 15. Creative destruction 16.The infinite monkey theorem: states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. 17. subsidiarity 辅从原则(中央权力机关应只控制地方上无法操控的事务) 18.AntiTrust President: Republican Theodore Roosevelt (26th U.S. President), William Howard Taft (27th), Democrat Woodrow Wilson (28th) 19. universal basic income (UBI) 20. Right-libertarianism (seek complete elimination of the state in favor of privately funded security services) and Left-libertarianism p16 Google, Amazon, Facebook are classic rent seeking enterprise. In economics, a rent is money you make because you control something scarce and desirable... Monopolies are price makers, now price takers Books: 1. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism By Turner, Fred, 2006, 303.4833 TUR 2. The Whole Earth Catalog Access to Tools by Stewart Brand (a award book) 3. The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data By Lynch, Michael P., 001 LYN, eAudio, 2016 4. Googled: The End of the World as We Know It By Auletta, Ken 338.761025 AUL, CD 338.761025 AUL, 2009 5. Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow, 343.730994 DOC, eAudio (can small artists still thrive) 6. Democracy--The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order by Hans-Hermann Hoppe 7. Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans by Simon Head 8. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Futureby Peter Thiel 9.Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal 10. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere 11.The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism by Daniel Bell 12.The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War 13.Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy 14 The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism" is a 1970 paper, by the economist George Akerlo 15. The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of individualism by Yuval Levin Books:

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    "Facebook is the primary news sources for 44% of Americans." "Facebook and Google sell the data you give them to marketers. Google gets the data through your search history. Facebook gets it through your social media posts." "Where does surveillance marketing stop and spying begin?" "Facebook is the primary news sources for 44% of Americans." "Facebook and Google sell the data you give them to marketers. Google gets the data through your search history. Facebook gets it through your social media posts." "Where does surveillance marketing stop and spying begin?"

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Saw book from author interview on Thursday 18th May 2017: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/conten... Saw book from author interview on Thursday 18th May 2017: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/conten...

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