My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is an important book for those who are concerned with the impacts of technology upon society. Andrew Keen covers a lot of those actual and potential impacts. He also tries to propose some solutions for softening the negative impacts. Ultimately, it comes down to having citizens act for the good of the community.
The problem that I have with the book is that Keen has very decided views upon what is good for the community. No one paying attention to what’s going on in the public sphere would perceive that there is anything close to unanimity in deciding what that public good is. There is a loud, noisy, and irrationally exuberant debate about almost every point that one could bring up in that public forum. But Keen seems to ignore all of that confusion. He has an answer and never seems to have any doubt that the outcomes that he finds desirable are the right ones for everyone.
For example, he decries the disruptions brought about by the activities of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, requiring that the tech titans think through what the impacts might be before taking any actions. But, on the other hand, he applauds the disruptions brought about by Ralph Nader when he challenged the safety of American-made automobiles in the last half of the 20th century, even though those changes were just as profound. Understand, I don’t think that Nader was wrong and that the tech billionaires are right. I just think that the authors viewpoint could be a little more nuanced.
Still, it’s a good book to read as long as one reads with some skepticism.