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The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 289 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The Internet, many thought, was going to usher in a new era of information sharing; of open, unfettered communication; of new arts and new media. But, instead, Taylor argues in this persuasive book, the Internet has given us more of the same. Instead of leveling the playing field, giving everyone equal opportunities to succeed creatively and economically, the Internet carried over the traditional problems: corporate monopolies at the controls, unfair economic practices, and a disproportionate focus on popularity and mass appeal. The author isn’t saying we should rebuild the Internet from scratch but, instead, that we should strive to create a more democratic Web in which users are treated like citizens, not consumers or unpaid workers. We need, in other words, a new financial model. Newspapers, he points out, are being hurt by the enormous amount of online content, and most of that content is generated by people who aren’t paid for their work. How, Taylor asks, is that fair? A smart, well-reasoned approach to a highly topical subject. --David Pitt


'If you want to understand the web not as some invasive, alien dimension but an extension of our own world, 'The People's Platform' is an excellent place to start.' Oliver Moody, The Times 'We need books like this ... [Taylor's] done a lot of homework and writes well, so 'The People's Platform' will be an invaluable primer for anyone seeking to understand why our networked world isn't all that it is cracked up to be.' John Naughton, Observer 'Public discourse on the subject of technology is skewed to the margins, to the extremes ... credit is due, then, to Astra Taylor, for trying to reject such simplistic divisions ... She has highlighted a genuine problem facing the world - the difficulty of promoting art, culture and public- spiritedness in the internet age.' **** Tom Chivers, Sunday Telegraph 'There have been a lot of books about how the Internet is changing our world, but this is absolutely one of the best. Beautifully written and highly recommended.' David Byrne 'Sane, lucid, and generous. This book adjusted my thinking on several scores.' Jonathan Lethem 'This timely book lands just as the valuations of technology companies soar and cracks have begun to show in the public's reverence for the likes of Google and Facebook ... 'The People's Platform' is packed with facts that give weight to this argument ... Taylor's nightmare and Zuckerberg's dream may well come true: we'll be living in a Facebook world.' Hannah Kuchler, Financial Times 'Perhaps the most important book about the digital age so far this century.' Douglas Rushkoff 'The scariest book I've read in a while is also the most exhilarating: there is no better, stronger picture of our bleak new technological landscape and the peppy delusions and deceptions of its profiteers than The People's Platform. But knowledge is power, and Taylor gives us a picture so clear it empowers us to find a way forward through the debris. Read it and revolt.' Rebecca Solnit

Product Details

  • File Size: 998 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007525591
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; Reprint edition (April 15, 2014)
  • Publication Date: April 15, 2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A3PIZL8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,248 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Wineberg TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
There is no such thing as the public internet. Everything flows through private pipes. This statement appears in the conclusion of The People’s Platform, but frames Astra Taylor’s entire book. Her chapters descend a steep curve of hucksterism that has us all in its thrall.

It is rare that I get book this clear, this well thought out and this well organized. The People’s Platform condemns Web 2.0 for making everyone a serf in the billionaires’ playground. We create content, we upload everything in our lives, we list our friends and contacts for the social media sites to exploit, and we get nothing for it, at all. We do it for the “freedom” it gives us, for the creative license it gives us, for the feeling of community it gives us. The massive profits from it go entirely elsewhere. And those same corporations now dispense with our services for the freebies we give them.

The Internet is a funnel. We follow our friends, their comments and their likes and end up buying what they buy or recommend. Facebook even adds our photos to our likes, so friends will know immediately it’s us and it’s true. We populate whole websites with uploaded content for free, so that giant corporations can reap the benefits of either the content or the data about us and all the people we name. A prime example is book reviews, which have certain among us slavishly reading books and analyzing them for the benefit of the site’s sales. Writing critical reviews results in negative votes, which lower the reviewer’s rank, so the successful reviews tend be rather cheery. Taylor calls it digital feudalism, where users work the digital farm and owners reap the very real profits. “Online, originality doesn’t pay; aggregation does.”

That’s just the first chapter.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Documentary filmmaker Taylor skewers the romanticism of utopian new net heralds. That the promise of an open, democratic internet has been subverted by corporate overlords, monopolistic titans, public relations shills, and destructive wasteful advertising interests. In the process, shredding journalism (to which Taylor repeatedly refers to now as "churnalism") and transforming the media realm into hamster wheel (my words here, not hers) where every click is measured and logged for the science of predictive marketing. Depressing, because she is correct here -- though I do believe it's not in complete entirety and that this state is due in large part to web users themselves, who are indeed attracted to this model. Saddening, because reading this confirmed my own evolving darkened view of the web, as once I had so much faith in the power of the networked web. Taylor chronicles the obscenity of pay-per-click, the wasted resources (in both money and carbon). Even noting the irony that it was government that created these modern marvels, only to witness now private corporate entities siphon all the goodness in erecting their media empires and their quest to swallow all. That this unethical conflict of interest and crass commercialism reigns in the online realm, where it be considered offensive anywhere else. In the meantime, she questions whether this is a good arrangement for creative workers, who now are relegated to compete in a winner-take-all lottery, with no security, and most not making even enough to live on. Here, it's personal for Taylor -- while she strives to adopt an objective mantle, her experiential background surfaces again and again.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
“The People’s Platform” by Astra Taylor is a timely discussion about the Internet, media and artistry. Ms. Taylor is an accomplished documentary filmmaker, musician, writer and activist. This visionary, intelligent and passionate book explains why we must Occupy the cultural commons to secure a better future.

Ms. Taylor reminds us that the on-and offline worlds are deeply connected. Sharing her own struggles with us, Ms. Taylor explains how the work of cultural production remains labor intensive for most filmmakers, musicians and journalists. However, as the Internet forces prices down to zero due to the relative ease of copying and distributing content, the author contends that the ecosystem supporting cultural producers has been rapidly crumbling around us.

As corporations shed workers dedicated to important vocations such as investigative journalism, Ms. Taylor challenges the ludicrous idea that mass amateurism can substitute for the work of dedicated professionals. The rhetoric of end user empowerment masks a private agenda to profits from the public’s voluntary labors; while BP’s purchase of search terms related to the recent Gulf oil spill demonstrates how corporations use their power to control the message. Discussing the Internet’s rampant sexism, inequality and lack of diversity, Ms. Taylor convincingly argues that the Internet has reinforced the power structures of the real world – not empowered the weak.

One of the finest attributes of this book is how Ms. Taylor challenges the libertarianism of the technology industry. Ms. Taylor says that practically, the Net is not really an open platform.
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