34 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
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.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
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.