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

Astra Taylor

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Présentation de l'éditeur

From a cutting-edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the internet as the great leveler of our age.

The internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratising force, a place where everyone can participate.

• So why are minorities and marginalized groups under-represented on user-generated websites, with less than 15% of Wikipedia written by women?

• Why does keyword-jammed and star-studded churnalism proliferate, at the expense of in-depth, investigative journalism?

• And how have a handful of giant corporations like Facebook, Google and Apple seized control of our creativity, galvanizing individuals to produce content for free?

‘The People’s Platform’ argues that for all our ‘sharing’, the internet reflects real-world inequalities as much as it reduces them. Attention accrues to those who already have it. Cultural products are increasingly valued more as opportunities for data collection for distributors – content creators receive little for their efforts. News filters mean people mistake what interests them for what is really important. And we pay for our ‘free’ access to content by offering up our personal details to advertisers.

The online world does offer a unique opportunity for greater freedom, but a democratic community that supports the diverse and lasting will not spring up from technology alone. If we want the internet to be a people’s platform, we will have to make it so.


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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  15 commentaires
22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Like Lambs to the Slaughter 23 avril 2014
Par David Wineberg - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
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. From there, Taylor examines the new way of life, without job security, benefits, decent pay or hope of advancement. Where contract workers are fired rather than being taken on staff. Where endebted graduates have to take unpaid internships. Where Apple employees can’t get a working wage, but Apple has $140 billion it doesn’t know what to do with. Instead, it tells employees to be grateful for living the Apple Experience.

For years, we have criticized the French for (among other things) the majority of their university graduates having the goal of working in the civil service instead of entrepreneurship. But when we look at the new way of life in the USA, that’s a pretty understandable dream.

-The long tail of the internet is a joke. The 80/20 rule is dead; even 99/1 doesn’t do justice to how much the top sites take in, both views and dollars. Efforts outside those sites are pretty much wasted. By 2008, six artists were responsible for almost half of the sixty songs that had risen to number one.
-Journalism is pretty much dead, as sites like Yahoo refuse to consider the whole, and insist that individual articles stand on their own (ie. be profitable). One department can no longer subsidize another, so overseas journalism, for example, vaporizes. The result is four times as many people working in PR as in journalism, because that’s how to get coverage on the internet. Bloggers don’t count because almost none of them do any original research. Bloggers don’t hang out at city hall.
-Advertising makes everything more expensive, produces nothing of value to society, and distorts our civilization by collecting all the money among corporations to dole out if they can see further profit in it. Things of real value get less and less funding. Job security, above minimum wages and benefits are all going away. This is particularly an American disease, as many European countries actively invest to make their cultures sustainable. In the USA, culture is disposable, surviving at the whim of the for profit sector.
-The whole concept of friend means something very different than it used to. Friends are now people you keep up with by reading, not by engaging. Actual personal relationships have given way to the necessity of building networks and personal brands and sacrificing all else for the larger numbers.
-The whole notion of the internet ushering in a new era of openness and transparency has failed. The internet is controlled by gigantic corporations pushing their brands. They own the culture through copyright laws they have purchased in Washington. They can even prevent artists from using their own works.

There are moments where Taylor lowers her standards. In the advertising chapter she asks if we could imagine Silent Spring being sponsored by Autozone. Too silly. Autozone would never sponsor Silent Spring. (Maybe the Sierra Club would.) Autozone would sponsor Cars XVI. She degrades the main point, that journalism, authorship and creativity are all caving to advertising and its restrictive covenants. Overall, The People’s Platform is a challenging condemnation of what was to be our salvation. Instead, it’s not just more of the same, it’s worse.

David Wineberg
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A downer, but an essential read for the 21C, nevertheless. 26 avril 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
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.

Taylor, like a lot of creative professionals, feels like she can belong to neither side in the digital rights battles -- that both sides error egregiously, both the media company overlords and the "everything should be free" crowd.

Knocking off a star because the text is repetitive and redundant in driving home her points, even if she conducts her take in a lustered fashion. Also, while recognizing the government creation, I didn't see any mention that most of the tools used to create and publish web "creative" products are the result of those free software loving hippies. Yes, it's acknowledged that a good number of F/OSS (Free/Open Source Software) developers are in the employ of for-profit corporations, so that they can put bread on the table. Though it can't be stressed enough that most of the new media prophets wane eloquently on the greatness of the new age, but yet still draw their livelihood from traditional employers, a future that's growing increasingly impossible for many educated and talented young (and older too) creative workers, due to this "creative destruction" hailed by such luminaries.

Some other qualms I have with her arguments (and remedy proposals):

* **Failure to distinguish between *text* and *media* (audio or video).** Especially in the matter of digital rights. Yes, this meanders into "the power of plain text", technical details of encoding scheme ownership, etc. But it is an important distinction.

* **Failure to promote the power of existing state of internet publishing.** I don't discount the criticism proffered by Taylor in transforming the open net into a click farm and even believe the moniker of "digital sharecropper" is apropos. But, consider that it is so wondrous and such a marvel that in the 21C you have the power to publish a creative work that *anyone* across the *globe* (with an internet connection) can read (or listen or view). Because, in large part, due to Tim Berners-Lee great vision. And all of those F/OSS hippies who contributed tools such as Apache web server, the WordPress blogging platform, etc...

* **20C solutions to a 21C problem.** Really need to think outside of the box here, as 20C solutions (Taylor references past initiatives that created public broadcasting, FCC stipulations on serving "public interest", some copyright law fiddling with ponying up more money for longer copyright, software patent reform, etc.) Taylor cites European nation measures to deal with some of these issues, but still, we need to think bigger here.

But nevertheless, this is essential reading for anyone interested or concerned with where we are headed with the internet. It's a conversation that must be conducted.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 It prompted me to create a concise description of the Internet 16 juin 2014
Par Mike Wade - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Having read Astra Taylor’s heartfelt appeal on behalf of the cultural commons, and other critical books by Nicholas Carr (The Shallows), Robert Levine (Free Ride) and Jaron Lanier (Who Owns The Future and You Are Not A Gadget), I have come to the realization that until we can all agree on what the internet is and succinctly describe it we will never be able to harness its power for the benefit of humanity. By describing it I don’t mean stuff like “the internet is an opportunity for families and businesses to participate in the digital economy.” Or, it’s a place where the masses hang out liking and linking to everyone else’s trivialities.

Before I offer my own description here’s my rating for Astra Taylor’s book: four stars out of five. I deducted one because of two notions I feel compelled to challenge. 1) The Internet is another world, separate to the one we all live in. Cyberspace. This silly perception perpetuates special treatment for the winner-takes-all mentality, allowing them to manipulate us. There is only one world. We all live in it. The rules should apply equally whether we’re online or offline. 2) The dangerous notion that copyright is an impediment to creativity. This also allows the few to exploit the many. Copyright, besides enabling creators/owners to profit from their own creations actually encourages creativity by forcing artists — at least those who need coercion — to be original. It’s a demanding interface/a desirable obstacle that helps shape the artist.

Now, for the record, my dictionary-styled definition —

The Internet is a parallel marketplace dominated by an advertiser-funded oligopoly, a handful of mega-powerful digital corporations exploiting a tangled network of loopholes — economic, legal, moral, social, cultural — that previously didn’t exist (or were neutralized in the pre online era). Before these loopholes are closed the Internet will have done enormous and largely irreparable damage to civilisation.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Occupy the cultural commons 16 juin 2014
Par Malvin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
“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. Private corporations own the wires and hardware that comprise the physical layer; the user interfaces that are designed to serve up endless streams of profitable advertising messages; and the many thousands of data points that are mined from our online behaviors. Peer to peer networking might well represent a generalized frustration with corporate profiteering, Ms. Taylor observes, but does nothing to help producers make a living.

Ms. Taylor believes we must build a “sustainable culture” to address these myriad problems holistically. These include regulating the Internet as a public utility; funding public news; separating corporate monopolies; imposing common carrier obligations; and so on. It seems to me that most of Ms. Taylor’s proposals are more than reasonable if we accept that we are still citizens living in a democratic society.

I highly recommend this outstanding book to everyone.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 This is a very interesting topic and no doubt the ... 27 novembre 2014
Par Laura - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is a very interesting topic and no doubt the author went to extensive efforts to research and present it accurately, however, I found it nearly impossible to comprehend. The format and style of writing was difficult to follow, not to mention many of the highly technical terminology and "buzzwords" which I felt could have been occasionally substituted for layman's terms, (i.e. for those who are not as technically savvy). I ended up skimming the book, and not gleaning much from it.
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