The Internet Con by Cory Doctorow [9/10]

Cory Doctorow is a firecracker novelist, nonfiction writer, and activist, one who has consistently explored alternative publication and marketing strategies. The Internet Con: How To Seize the Means of Computation was a Kickstarter campaign, one that was instantly alluring to me, and I received an audiobook when the funding phase inevitably succeeded. The book is a distillation of Doctorow’s decades of analysis of and activism against the Internet titans such as Facebook, Google, and Apple. His is (literally in my case) a beautifully expressive, but also elegantly educational, voice on the situation we find ourselves in, in which a handful of large monopolistic and oligopolistic players rule, greedily using us ordinary citizens for profit motives. What is needed, Doctorow persuasively claims, is to bring the tech giants to heel using antitrust legislation that compels what he calls interoperability, that is, the freedom for anyone to exit the major services for smaller new ones whilst still retaining access to one’s own data and connections to existing social media connections. The environment in which antitrust is being fought is rife with complexity, not least the perils of privacy loss, bad actor activity, and terrorist inroads. Doctorow weaves a sprightly path through all this. As he notes, the path ahead is long and needs both civic leaders and detailed technical expertise. Overall, The Internet Con is startlingly powerful, at once a digestible read, a comprehensive status report, and a precise action plan.

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