[ download books ] The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age Author Astra Taylor – Vansonphu.com

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age From a cutting edge cultural commentator, a bold and brilliant challenge to cherished notions of the Internet as the great leveler of our ageThe Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can be heard and everyone can participate equally But how true is this claim In a seminal dismantling of techno utopian visions, The People s Platform argues that for all that we tweet and like and share, the Internet in fact reflects and amplifies real world inequities at least as much as it ameliorates them Online, just as off line, attention and influence largely accrue to those who already have plenty of bothWhat we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, a handful of giants like , Apple, Google, and Facebook remain the gatekeepers And the worst habits of the old media model the pressure to seek easy celebrity, to be quick and sensational above all have proliferated online, where aggregating the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue When culture is free, creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system The new order looks suspiciously like the old oneWe can do better, Taylor insists The online world does offer a unique opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices and work of lasting value will not spring up from technology alone If we want the Internet to truly be a people s platform, we will have to make it so When it comes to the production, distribution, and consumption of information, is the Internet a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing In some ways, the Internet allows small producers to make a living while allowing for greater consumer choice in other ways, it allows big producers to become everdominant, while quietly reducing the number of options consumers have Everyone agrees that the Internet has dramatically changed the ways that businesses operate and content is cre When it comes to the production, distribution, and consumption of information, is the Internet a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing In some ways, the Internet allows small producers to make a living while allowing for greater consumer choice in other ways, it allows big producers to become everdominant, while quietly reducing the number of options consumers have Everyone agrees that the Internet has dramatically changed the ways that businesses operate and content is created, yet the forces of centralization and monopolization continue to exert themselves in very familiar ways The impact of the Internet on professions such as journalist, filmmaker, or author is extremely visible, yet it s surprisingly difficult to quantify exactly what happens to workers in those fields, much less find well reasoned analyses of how to mitigate or ameliorate these tectonic shifts.This is one of those works that s primarily negative, in that its critiques of existing attitudes towards its subject are much clearer than its solutions In this case, the effects that digital sharing technologies have had on existing high tech industries have been subject to a lot of discussion but no clear proscriptions have emerged Commentators like Clay Shirky have made lucrative careers for themselves as cheerleaders for the forces of disruption , that ubiquitous buzzword that s usually wielded by people who aren t being disrupted Taylor wants the reader to step back and consider the distributional impact of sharing technologies A recurring theme is the ability of disruptive technologies to topple one existing power structure, at the usually hidden cost of entrenching a new one An example is a company likeand its battles with book publishers over royalties and pricing structures who wins here , publishers, authors, or readers What about taxi companies vs Uber Taylor Swift vs her record label vs Spotify Everyone cheers when an old monopoly is toppled, but often a new monopoly is constructed, just one level off in the food chain.The Taylor Swift analogy is probably the most relevant, since Taylor is most concerned with the economics of production Does the existence of Spotify help or hurt Taylor Swift Should audiences be on the side of the new distribution channels whatever that means , the record companies, or simply the artists Are artists like Taylor Swift better off with Spotify, traditional record labels, or some combination of the two How about the next Taylor Swift, who is living in her shade, so to speak The Internet famously facilitates long tails , which allows for otherwise niche or marginal producers to find a voice and an audience However, it also allows for network effects to exert their power as well, reinforcing the momentary ubiquity of Taylor Swift Another famous example is the Charlie bit my finger video, which racked up huge numbers of hits on its way to becoming the most viewed video of all time This could be considered a triumph of the democratizing power of the Internet unfortunately, for every truly viral video such as that one there are legions oftraditional corporate products, and today the list is thoroughly dominated by music videos, though Charlie bit my finger is still a top contender.All of this is noteworthy However, one prominent weakness of the book, aside from its paucity of solutions other than the expected vague outlines of motions towards copyright reform or general calls forregulation, is that at times it feels like Taylor is just asking too much out of the Internet a similar problem affected Tim Wu s otherwise thoughtful The Master Switch If the Internet is just a platform, then blaming it for monopolies that use it is like blaming the ocean for the dominance of the Greek shipping industry, or blaming the electromagnetic spectrum for the Big Three TV studios in the pre cable era Additionally, in many ways it s hard to see how regulation, no matter how well designed, would necessarily ameliorate the downsides of disruption net neutrality might help companies like Netflix fight Comcast s attempts to charge itfor using so much bandwidth and whether Netflix is actually in the right to demand that it be treated the same as anyone is of course an open question , but it doesn t help Hulu orPrime fight Netflix Regulation is complicated, and in the case of media companies, which can simultaneously occupy several places in the chain of production and distribution, great care should be taken to avoid inadvertently stifling competition under the guise of assisting it.Though Jean Tirole s reception of the 2014 Economics Nobel occurred after this book was published, his work on two sided markets, particularly in the telecom field, would have given this book somerigor Her criticisms of claims that the Internet is inherently democratizing are on point, even if it s hard to tell from this book what the best way to resolve that issue might be It seems like Taylor s heart is in the right place in terms of hoping for aequitable distribution of power in these newly networked fields, but her work, though thoughtful, doesn t do much to get us there A downer, but an essential read for the 21C, nevertheless 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 A downer, but an essential read for the 21C, nevertheless 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 upmoney 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 Reading the peoples platform was a bit of an eye opener for me I always considered myself a tech savy person however this book gives a detailed overview of how our internet culture and tech toys have touched all industries.After completing the book I m not sure we are in a better place or will be.Makes one stop and take a long hard look around at this Cyberspace Wild Wild West This is a must read for everyone. One part from this chapter that really struck me was about the notion that the digital revolution is a turn to a better,egalitarian, greener world In here the author uses the comparison of e book versus printed book On page 181 she wrote that the New York Times evaluated the environmental impact on an e reader from the manufacturing, transportation, operation and disposal that consume the resources equal to fifty books compare to regular books And all this time we thought that we are be One part from this chapter that really struck me was about the notion that the digital revolution is a turn to a better,egalitarian, greener world In here the author uses the comparison of e book versus printed book On page 181 she wrote that the New York Times evaluated the environmental impact on an e reader from the manufacturing, transportation, operation and disposal that consume the resources equal to fifty books compare to regular books And all this time we thought that we are being green and helping to save trees by reading digitally I am an avid reader who still buy books every month and I do not own any e reader although I must admit, there are times when I am tempted to But strangely, not because I want to have it, but because I thought that maybe reading electronically will save trees So it wastowards a guilty feeling I tried reading from an e reader and I just can t enjoy it I can read short articles or news from the device, but I can never finish one whole book, which is unusual for someone who can devour thick books But now that I re think about my reading habit, where 85% of my books are used books, and by reading Taylor s explanation about how resilient printed books are, so I can keep my favourite books for years, write on them, study them and go back to them in years to come, that gives me a relief This is a wonderful book for those of you who love gadgets but don t want to be enslave by it Our mountains of e waste grow three times faster than the piles of regular garbage because of electronic products designed for the dump that only lasts for two years So think before you re buy your gadgets This book is not about designing a people s platform This book is a critique of the state of the media and internet technology industry, which often uses for the people style rhetoric to justify its profit seeking and control oriented design decisions The socio technical system of our current media ecosystem is not open or democratic or free in real terms tech entrepreneurs and pundits are selling investors, consumers, and policymakers on a disingenuous vision of the future of cultu This book is not about designing a people s platform This book is a critique of the state of the media and internet technology industry, which often uses for the people style rhetoric to justify its profit seeking and control oriented design decisions The socio technical system of our current media ecosystem is not open or democratic or free in real terms tech entrepreneurs and pundits are selling investors, consumers, and policymakers on a disingenuous vision of the future of cultural production We may all have better access to the means of production now, but new elites own the means and modes of distribution and that is where the political and economic value now lies Astra Taylor is at her best in this book when she is critiquing the media and internet industries as a content creator As a documentary filmmaker and savvy storyteller of her own and her friends cases, she successfully humanizes what the free culture movement as a philosophy and business strategy has meant for creators These are people who have worked hard to maintain editorial independence from corporate commissions, branding, big labels, etc They have a progressive politics that is often in resonance with the core ideas of free culture regarding shared ownership of cultural goods and even an anti institutional flare But when big companies adopt this same rhetoric, they are doing so to sell advertising against the free culture on their platforms, leaving little or nothing for the creators The system makesmoney for mainstream artists but the long tail just means that all the independent things are free too, without the economies of scale offered by Vevo Music Videos on YouTube or record sales driven by Spotify plays Filmmakers, musicians, and journalists are all suffering from this in ways that are waved away because anyone COULD make it big, go viral, etc They can be their own personal brand and through hard work, make a living But, ironically, it s harder than ever to make a living The philosophy suggest that those who love to make culture should we content doing so without payment.Unfortunately, a lot of this terrain is familiar Taylor goes through much of the key ideas and books that either booster or criticize the internet s potential for , better, and freer exchange of culture and ideas Her summaries help establish her legitimacy entering this space she knows the literature But the he said this and he said that is across such a broad array of issues and areas that her core argument gets lost in the middle of the book as she tries to connect the dots and touch everything relevant.Finally, I wish the suggestions in the end for addressing the problems wereconcrete and less hand wavy The title and subtitle suggest a radical proposal for democratic technology is forthcoming, but it s not there As a primer for like minded activists and culture creators, this book could be very useful But the audience of scholars embedded in this space will have to search for the nuggets of helpful new perspectives and arguments amidst a lot of rehashed summaries of Clay Shirky and Nicholas Carr.Glad it was written, her voice is important, but it left me wanting I thought this was a very interesting book I certainly found myself blogging about it and recording quotes while I readthan I normally do For those of you unfamiliar with the text, Astra Taylor used each chapter of her book to start a conversation about potential concerns about the current media landscape The work was incredibly well researched.The aspect I appreciated the most was the way Taylor made me think about things I had not really thought about before For instance, she points I thought this was a very interesting book I certainly found myself blogging about it and recording quotes while I readthan I normally do For those of you unfamiliar with the text, Astra Taylor used each chapter of her book to start a conversation about potential concerns about the current media landscape The work was incredibly well researched.The aspect I appreciated the most was the way Taylor made me think about things I had not really thought about before For instance, she points out the increased personalization of experience on the web leads to echo chambers Sites learn what we like, and then they just give us that For obvious reasons, this is not ideal.This book was assigned reading for a class, which was interesting because Taylor directly criticizes many of the authors we have already read In many ways, I value her perspectivebecause she is not a lawyer, academic, or consultant She is an actual media creator particularly documentary films outside of just writing this book Nevertheless, I would be incredibly interested to read rebuttals or reactions from figures like Shirky or Lessig well researched, smart book about the intersection between technology and culture society and art in today s age taylor does a brilliant job of unveiling effects of tech, both what s happening and cautionary tales for the future she has a clear perspective, yet lays out such a logical and well thought out argument that s hard to disagree with rarely has a book made me think so much about issues of our time and caused me to ponder my own role in our changing future the people s platform is well researched, smart book about the intersection between technology and culture society and art in today s age taylor does a brilliant job of unveiling effects of tech, both what s happening and cautionary tales for the future she has a clear perspective, yet lays out such a logical and well thought out argument that s hard to disagree with rarely has a book made me think so much about issues of our time and caused me to ponder my own role in our changing future the people s platform is not a page turner an avid reader, i usually tear through books within a week or so and this one took me months taylor s writing is on point and she doesn t waste a word the vocabulary she uses and editing out unnecessary text leave you with efficient writing this means each sentence truly says something meaningful and that takes time to process the subject matter can be tough to return to, as it focuses on problems i m so glad i read this important work anyone concerned about arts and culture, rights, privacy and or digital technologies should pick this one up Taylor lets the air of TED Talks tires in one of several brilliant take downs of libertarian spokespeople for the tech industry Her arguments convincing Taylor critiques the way digital life is damaging the democratic underpinnings of culture without coming across as a Luddite, but instead of focusing on economic and regulatory factors I would like to live in a world with the kind of internet and media culture that she describes I d been awaiting the release of this book for sometime after Taylor lets the air of TED Talks tires in one of several brilliant take downs of libertarian spokespeople for the tech industry Her arguments convincing Taylor critiques the way digital life is damaging the democratic underpinnings of culture without coming across as a Luddite, but instead of focusing on economic and regulatory factors I would like to live in a world with the kind of internet and media culture that she describes I d been awaiting the release of this book for sometime after being dazzled by her Serfing the Web piece for The Baffler This book is filled with so many research based insights and simple common sense about the effect of the Internet on our lives, I cannot recommend it highly enough Among one of my favorites, Networks do not eradicate power, they distribute it in different ways, shuffling hierarchies and producing new mechanisms of exclusion If you are still taking seriously any of the humanitarian concerns voiced by the Silicon Valley crowd, please read this book because it points out that an Internet born in This book is filled with so many research based insights and simple common sense about the effect of the Internet on our lives, I cannot recommend it highly enough Among one of my favorites, Networks do not eradicate power, they distribute it in different ways, shuffling hierarchies and producing new mechanisms of exclusion If you are still taking seriously any of the humanitarian concerns voiced by the Silicon Valley crowd, please read this book because it points out that an Internet born in a time of economic exploitation similar to the kind that was rampant in the late nineteenth century s Gilded Age is bound to reflect the concerns of its social context It was not born and does not exist in a vacuum, so that means those of us who love it or even those who hate it need to figure out ways to pursue its pleasures and opportunities without becoming economic and social slaves to its reach and control


About the Author: Astra Taylor

Astra Taylor is a writer, documentary filmmaker, and activist Her films include Examined Life, and her books include The People s Platform.


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