This is an intriguing book, ostensibly about the impact of the Internet on culture, but really a rant about the absence of authoritative voices to make a critical, disinterested analysis of the mania of popularity that the Internet has either promoted or reflects. To that extent, Siegel is as guilty of posturing and asserting as the targets of his criticism, and the result is a fairly lightweight personal vindication of how he can see through the tricks of commerce and the conformism of the mob.
This is a shame, as there is an excellent argument at the bottom of this: the substitution of sentience for the exchange value of immediate experience. The sinister implication of Siegel's Internet is that it uses all human possibility solely for its commercial potential, and that potential is measured entirely by a popularity whose premise cannot be verified. The distortion of democracy into a concept used by Siegel's targets as a justification of their expansion into all forms of life is a very serious issue indeed, and invoked all too frequently in the behaviour of irresponsible or corrupt governmental and corporate conduct. But this is where Siegel's thesis does not quite add up: does the behaviour in the blogosphere or the actions of those offering themselves up for reality television only reflect the aspirations of sinister corporate types who just want to empty our pockets? To what extent does the Internet and the other aspects of mass culture that Siegel objects to represent the free expression of the individual? This is a complex problem, but Siegel is guilty of treating it lightly, in a book whose heavyweight questions are given lightweight treatment in less than 200 pages and whose subject leaps about wildly. Neither the Internet or television, Siegel's two pet targets, are monolithic in their content or the experience of them, and this is an unsubtle and partial account of both.