A New Book Claims the Internet Has Bred a Different Type of Capitalism via Climateer Investing
On a former industrial patch five floors of glass and steel luxury rise skyward. Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch recently launched the Battery, a new hangout for the Silicon Valley elite which, in the owners’ words, will “build community and understanding in San Francisco.” There’s no dress code and they want a diverse clientele.
“So I asked if I could join,” said Andrew Keen. “And they start mumbling and looking at their feet. They say you have to be invited.”
In his new book The Internet is not the Answer, Keen rubs up against the “Silicon one percent” to document what he sees as a profound hypocrisy—an elite made wealthy by the internet, co-opting the language of “community” while privatizing public life in every direction.
“You’ve got wealthy Oakland residents crowd-funding their own militias,” he told me in a phone interview. “Google have superimposed Google Bus on San Francisco’s public transit system. These companies are eating away at the idea of public society.” The so-called Google bus is the private shuttle service that recently? sparked protests as a symbol of gentrification and over the way it used public stops.
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.
“There’s this belief that the internet’s the answer to everything,” he explained, citing venture capitalist Shervin ?Pishevar’s call to “Uberize the government.” (Pishevar later tweeted that he was joking).
With the disintermediating tools of the digital sharing economy, traditional mediators like agencies/small-ads/labor exchanges are replaced by networks. Such networks have a phenomenal edge in matching supply and demand (hence the massive success of something like ?Airbnb) but in Keen’s view would make a disastrous choice for managing government and economies…
See full article via Motherboard
The Internet, created during the Cold War, has now ushered in one of the greatest shifts in society since the Industrial Revolution. There are many positive ways in which the Internet has contributed to the world, but as a society we are less aware of the Internet’s deeply negative effects on our psychology, economy, and culture. In The Internet Is Not the Answer, Andrew Keen, a twenty-year veteran of the tech industry, traces the technological and economic history of the internet from its founding in the 1960s through the rise of the big data companies to the increasing attempts to monetize almost every human activity, and investigates how the internet is reconfiguring our world—often at great cost. In this sharp, witty narrative, informed by the work of other writers, academics, and reporters, as well as his own wide-ranging research and interviews, Keen shows us the tech world, warts and all, and investigates what we can do to make sure the choices we make about the reconfiguring of our society do not lead to unpleasant unforeseen aftershocks.
“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.”—Po Bronson
“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.”—Michael Fertik, CEO, Reputation.com
“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.”—David Lowery, founder of Camper Van Beethoven and cofounder of Cracker
“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.”—Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation
“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.”—Larry Downes, co-author ofUnleashing the Killer App
“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.”—Mark Read, CEO, WPP Digital
“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.”—Keith Teare, co-founder of TechCrunch, Easynet and RealNames
“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.”—Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN and author of How
“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.”—Robert Levine, author of Free Ride