The Internet Is Not the Answer

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

Book: The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Keen
Preface
THE QUESTION
    The Internet, we’ve been promised by its many evangelists, is the answer. It democratizes the good and disrupts the bad, they say, thereby creating a more open and egalitarian world. The more people who join the Internet, or so these evangelists, including Silicon Valley billionaires, social media marketers, and network idealists, tell us, the more value it brings to both society and its users. They thus present the Internet as a magically virtuous circle, an infinitely positive loop, an economic and cultural win-win for its billions of users.
    But today, as the Internet expands to connect almost everyone and everything on the planet, it’s becoming self-evident that this is a false promise. The evangelists are presenting us with what in Silicon Valley is called a “reality distortion field”—a vision that is anything but truthful. Instead of a win-win, the Internet is, in fact, more akin to a negative feedback loop in which we network users are its victims rather than beneficiaries. Rather than the answer, the Internet is actually the central question about our connected twenty-first-century world.
    The more we use the contemporary digital network, the less economic value it is bringing to us. Rather than promoting economic fairness, it is a central reason for the growing gulf between rich and poor and the hollowing out of the middle class. Rather than making us wealthier, the distributed capitalism of the new networked economy is making most of us poorer. Rather than generating more jobs, this digital disruption is a principal cause of our structural unemployment crisis. Rather than creating more competition, it has created immensely powerful new monopolists like Google and Amazon.
    Its cultural ramifications are equally chilling. Rather than creating transparency and openness, the Internet is creating a panopticon of information-gathering and surveillance services in which we, the users of big data networks like Facebook, have been packaged as their all-too-transparent product. Rather than creating more democracy, it is empowering the rule of the mob. Rather than encouraging tolerance, it has unleashed such a distasteful war on women that many no longer feel welcome on the network. Rather than fostering a renaissance, it has created a selfie-centered culture of voyeurism and narcissism. Rather than establishing more diversity, it is massively enriching a tiny group of young white men in black limousines. Rather than making us happy, it’s compounding our rage.
    No, the Internet is not the answer. Not yet, anyway. This book, which synthesizes the research of many experts and builds upon the material from my two previous books about the Internet, 1 explains why.

The
Internet
Is Not the
Answer

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    Sometimes one gets lucky. In March 2013, at Julia Hobsbawm’s Names Not Numbers conference in the delightful little town of Adeburgh on the Suffolk coast, I had the great fortune to meet the Atlantic Books CEO Toby Munday. Over copious cups of tea at a little café on the seafront, Toby convinced me to write a book synthesizing all my ideas about the Internet. The book was originally entitled Epic Fail. But having sold the American rights to Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove Atlantic in New York, Morgan wisely convinced us to change its name to The Internet Is Not the Answer.
    Toby is a great salesman. “It’ll be easy,” he promised me in Aldeburgh. “Just summarize evrything you know about the Internet.” But books, of course, are anything but easy and The Internet Is Not the Answer is as much Toby and Morgan’s book (at least its good bits) as mine. Morgan was a particularly insightful editor, encouraging me to concentrate on the book’s historical dimension and its structure. Thanks also to the teams at both Grove Atlantic in New York City and Atlantic Books in London. especially the excellent Peter Blackstock who has worked tirelessly with me throughout the editorial

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