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“The Internet Is Not The Answer,” is a packed compendium of all the ways digital life casts aside basic human virtues in favor of a rapacious, winner-takes-all economy. Out of Silicon Valley’s libertarian ethos came the myths that information “wants to be free” and that the Internet is fueling a cooperative new utopianism. Keen is excellent at exposing the hypocrisy of that mythology. The book is ambitious — verging on frenetic at times as it hops through the flotsam of our exploded economy and culture — but its central thesis is that the plutocrats of the Internet (the Mark Zuckerbergs and Larry Pages of the world) have availed themselves of an astonishing spectrum of rights while wholly disregarding their responsibilities.
The Internet Is Not the Answer returns to arguments that Mr. Keen has made in previous books, expanding the case for worries about privacy in the wake of the revelations of Edward Snowden . . . it makes a strident economic argument. . . . Unbridled techno-Utopianism shows only the revolution’s benefits, and is dangerously incomplete. It is handy, therefore, to have sceptics like Mr. Keen around.
[Keen is] the most famous British tech voice in the US
Keen is intent on exposing the greed, egotism and narcissism that fuels the tech world . . . Even if you don’t agree with, say, his vitriolic takedowns of Uber and Airbnb, his sheer passion is likely to hold your interest.
Andrew Keen has written a very powerful and daring manifesto questioning whether the Internet lives up to its own espoused values. He is not an opponent of Internet culture, he is its conscience, and must be heard.
[Keen] can be a telling polemicist and has a sharp eye when it comes to skewering the pretensions and self-delusions of the new digital establishment. . . . Keen has a sharp ear for the sanctimonious of tech happy talk.
The Internet Is Not the Answer claims that the only real best friend today’s tech titans have is money, and until policymakers intervene, or until the ‘digital elite’ adopt a more altruistic posture, the Internet will remain a winner-take-all marketplace that’s widening a yawning gulf between society’s haves and have-nots. . . . The Internet Is Not the Answer supports its convincing narrative with startling numbers and research cataloged over roughly forty pages worth of endnotes.
His smart, aggressively argued new book, “The Internet Is Not the Answer,” claims that the only real best friend today’s tech titans have is money, and until policymakers intervene, or until the “digital elite” adopt a more altruistic posture, the Internet will remain a winner-take-all marketplace that’s widening a yawning gulf between society’s haves and have-nots.
Keen, a Silicon Valley expert, naturally writes in tech-minded language with an expert’s mien and with obvious frustration.
Keen (Digital Vertigo) presents an damning indictment of the Internet and digital technology, arguing that they have failed to deliver on their promises of fostering greater democracy and openness. Keen acknowledges that new technology is reshaping society but asserts, “It hasn’t transformed the role of either power or wealth in the world.” Instead, we’re seeing “deepening inequality of wealth and opportunity.” Keen points repeatedly to the Internet’s destructive impact on jobs, noting that the private sector employs fewer and fewer people, even as profit levels rise; new technology companies are destroying jobs without creating new ones. And the Internet fosters voyeurism, narcissism, and misogyny; it enables unprecedented and untold information gathering and surveillance. Keen has a deep understanding of technology and concedes that “the Internet is not all bad.” But he argues that the negatives outweigh the positives, and that the self-important Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of the 21st century “have much in common with the capitalist robber barons of the first industrial revolution.” Though Keen misses several opportunities to genuinely, journalistically engage with the examples he draws, he offers a well-written, convincing critique of Silicon Valley, and a worthy read for anyone with an email account.
A British-born writer and a prominent critic of the web since his 2008 best-seller The Cult of the Amateur, Keen occupies an unusual position in the Valley. He is an entrepreneur who’s worked on startups like Audiocafe but is now most famous as Silicon Valley’s rebel critic, a businessman-turned-pundit emphasising social responsibility. His new book fights the current tendency to recommend the internet’s model of networked capitalism as the solution to the world’s social, political, and economic problems.
The argument travels between a beach in Mexico where the photo-sharing app Instagram was invented on a laptop and the boarded-up buildings in Rochester, N.Y., that memorialize the bankruptcy of Kodak. . . . [Keen] knows the digital world inside and out—both as an entrepreneur and as a journalistic commentator.
Given the increasing power of technology in our lives, it’s worth spending some time with skeptics, people like Andrew Keen . . . The Internet Is Not the Answer is a polemic with a good dose of gratuitous tech bashing . . . Keen argues that the Internet’s hidden costs outweigh its benefits.
Keen wants you to know that the Internet has not lived up to its early promise. Rather than fostering an environment of intellectual and social democracy, it has spawned a rule-by-mob culture, promoted narcissism and voyeurism, encouraged intolerance and exclusivity, created global monopolies, increased unemployment, and decimated whole industries.
Andrew Keen’s pleasingly incisive study argues that, far from being a democratizing force in society, the internet has only amplified global inequities. . . . [Keen] wants to persuade us to transcend our childlike fascination with the baubles of cyberspace so that we can take a long hard look at the weird, dysfunctional, inegalitarian, comprehensively surveilled world that we have been building with digital tools. . . . Keen challenges the dominant narrative about the internet—that it’s a technology that liberates, informs and empowers people.
If you’re stuck like a fly in the World Wide Web and your life is largely lived online, then The Internet Is Not the Answer is a book you won’t be able to put down.
A punchy manifesto on the internet age. . . . [Keen] guides us through the history and excess of the net, from its arrival in 1991, though the birth of Instagram in 2010 and onwards, to the specter of privacy concerns and ‘big data’ that loom over us today. . . . The book is dazzling in scope. . . . This book is a must-read for anyone remotely concerned about their lives on the net.
Should be applauded for rowing against the tide of veneration for technological innovation.
The Internet Is Not the Answer is the most frightening book I’ve read in years (perhaps in my lifetime), as frightful as the conservative Supreme Court justices and the deniers of climate change. . . . Keen is unsparing of what he calls ‘the libertarian elites’ who want to eliminate all oversight, all regulations, all concern for the safety of others. . . . I’d call him a prophet.
This is the best and most readable critique of Silicon Valley yet. Keen is no technophobe nor a stranger to The Valley and this is what makes his book especially devastating. On the other hand it allows him to carve out a small space for optimism.
Keen goes among the Silicon Valley hipsters—those who truly believe they are on the verge of joining the one percent who own half the winner-takes-all economy—and he is not impressed.
Andrew Keen has again shown himself one of the sharpest critics of Silicon Valley hype, greed, egotism, and inequity. His tales are revealing, his analyses biting. Beneath the criticism is a moral commitment, too, a defense of humane society—the right to be left alone, a fair shot at success, access to the doings of the powerful, and other democratic ideals threatened by the Internet and its moguls.
Andrew Keen is the Christopher Hitchens of the Internet. Neglect this book with peril. In an industry and world full of prosaic pabulum about the supposedly digitally divine, Keen’s work is an important and sharp razor.
Keen provokes us in every sense of the word—at times maddening, more often thought-provoking, he lets just enough out of the Silicon Valley hot air balloon to start a real conversation about the full impact of digital technology. But will anyone accept the invitation? And, if they do, will anyone thank Andrew Keen for bursting our bubble? If so, maybe there’s hope for the digital generation after all.
A provocative title and an even more provocative book. Andrew Keen rightly challenges us to think about how the internet will shape society. I remain more optimistic, but hope I’m right to be so.
Andrew Keen has done it again. With great authority he places modern Silicon Valley into a historical context, comparing its structure to the feudal system, which produced a wealthy elite from the efforts of myriad serfs. If you have read The Circle, this is your next read. Like me, you may find much to disagree with. But you won’t be able to put it down. This is a book that demands a reaction. The Valley will never be the same.
Keen makes a deeply important argument and offers a constructive caution that there is no Moore’s Law for human progress, that technological determinism is not a good in itself, and that until we fuse technology with humanity the real power in the technology that connects will in many ways be to disconnect us from what matters.
For the past two decades, as we listened to a chorus of pundits tell us the Internet would generate more democracy and opportunity, the real world seems to grow more oppressive and unequal by the day. Drawing on his formidable knowledge of this New Economy, Andrew Keen explains why Uber could make billions destroying taxi unions, to cite just one example - and why some people still see this as progress. If you’ve ever wondered why the New Economy looks suspiciously like the Old Economy - only with even more for the winners and less for everyone else - put down your shiny new phablet and read this book.