The People's Platform Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 4/15/2014
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books

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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 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 Platformargues 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 both. What we have seen so far, Astra Taylor says, has been not a revolution but a rearrangement. Although Silicon Valley tycoons have eclipsed Hollywood moguls, the gatekeepers remain a handful of giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook, which dominate our online lives. And the worst habits of the old media modelthe pressure to be quick and sensational, to seek easy celebrity, to appeal to the broadest possible publichave proliferated online, where every click can be measured and where "aggregating" the work of others is the surest way to attract eyeballs and ad revenue. In a world where culture is "free," creative work has diminishing value, and advertising fuels the system, the new order looks suspiciously just like the old one. We can do better, Taylor insists. The online world does offer an unprecedented opportunity, but a democratic culture that supports diverse voices, work of lasting value, and equitable business practices will not appear as a consequence of technology alone. If we want the Internet to truly be a people's platform, we will have to make it so.

Author Biography

Astra Taylor is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Her films include Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world’s most outrageous philosopher, which was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, and Examined Life, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers. Her writing has appeared in The Nation, Salon, Monthly Review, The Baffler, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Preface          1

1. A Peasant’s Kingdom          11

2. For Love or Money          39

3. What We Want          68

4. Unequal Uptake          104

5. The Double Anchor          141

6. Drawing a Line          177

Conclusion          214

Notes          233

Acknowledgments          265

Index          267

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