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The Internet is Not the Answer Hardcover – 5 Feb 2015

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (5 Feb. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782393404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782393405
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Pacey and chilling... A powerful, frightening read --Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

Andrew Keen's pleasingly incisive study argues that, far from being a democratising force in society, the internet has only amplified global inequities. --John Naughton, Observer

Keen has a sharp eye when it comes to skewering the pretensions and self-delusions of the new digital establishment --Financial Times

A punchy manifesto about the future and integrity of the internet age... This book is a must-read for for anyone remotely concerned about their lives on the net. --Independent

Extremely well-researched and well-written --William Hartston, Daily Express

A packed compendium of all the ways digital life casts aside basic human virtues in favor of a rapacious, winner-takes-all economy. Out of Silicon Valley's libertarian ethos came the myths that information "wants to be free" and that the Internet is fueling a cooperative new utopianism. Keen is excellent at exposing the hypocrisy of that mythology. --Michael Harris, Washington Post

Andrew Keen has written a very powerful and daring manifesto questioning whether the Internet lives up to its own espoused values. He is not an opponent of Internet culture, he is its conscience, and must be heard. --Po Bronson

Andrew Keen has again shown himself one of the sharpest critics of Silicon Valley hype, greed, egotism, and inequity. His tales are revealing, his analyses biting. --Mark Bauerlain, author of The Dumbest Generation

Keen provokes us in every sense of the word-at times maddening, more often thought-provoking, he lets just enough out of the Silicon Valley hot air balloon to start a real conversation about the full impact of digital technology. --Larry Downes, co-author of Unleashing the Killer App

A provocative title and an even more provocative book. Andrew Keen rightly challenges us to think about how the internet will shape society. I remain more optimistic, but hope I'm right to be so. --Mark Read, CEO, WPP Digital

If you've ever wondered why the New Economy looks suspiciously like the Old Economy - only with even more for the winners and less for everyone else - put down your shiny new phablet and read this book. --Robert Levine, author of Free Ride

Andrew Keen is the Christopher Hitchens of the Internet. Neglect this book with peril. In an industry and world full of prosaic pabulum about the supposedly digitally divine, Keen's work is an important and sharp razor. --Michael Fertik, CEO,

Book Description

In this controversial new book, Andrew Keen argues that the Internet has had a disastrous impact on all our lives - and outlines what we must do to change it, before it's too late.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Throughout the 20 years that I've been using the Internet, numerous people have pointed out that this technology could have consequences very different from what its boosters claimed. Andrew Keen's new book The Internet Is Not the Answer discusses the many problems that the Internet has caused and exacerbated over these past two decades.

"…rather than democracy and diversity, all we've got from the digital revolution so far is fewer jobs, and overabundance of content, an infestation of piracy, a coterie of Internet monopolists, and a radical narrowing of our economic and cultural elite."

A number of Keen's arguments are familiar. Far from encouraging openness and freedom, the Internet is often a hotbed of hatred and inequality. New monopolies, such as Google and Amazon, are increasing inequality and taking control of our data. Jobs are being destroyed, entire swathes of the economy are being decimated, and the middle class is disappearing as there is little room for those other than the wealthy or participants in the gig economy.

And those with the money controlling the Internet are attempting to impose their libertarian views to prevent unionization of their employees, block government regulation, and avoid paying taxes.

Keen points out that the Internet, designed to be open and cooperative, is anything but. "Instead, it's a top-down system that is concentrating wealth instead of spreading it."

Keen sketches the early history of the Internet, and explains how money started pouring into new ventures. And this is when thing went wrong:

"As Wall Street moved west, the Internet lost a sense of common purpose, a general decency, perhaps even its soul.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the strength of a radio interview with Andrew Keen, a journalist, former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and now techno-pessimistic for hire; appearing at conferences and on panels when a dissenting view is needed for balance. He came across as an eloquent and clear-eyed critic of our collective rush to embrace the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google; headless of the consequences for our privacy and economy. Such contrarian views are welcome, and necessary in the debate surrounding the role of these technologies in our lives. Unfortunately, I found The Internet is Not the Answer to be unbalanced and sloppily-executed; more rant than reasoned argument. It sheds more heat than light.

The Internet is Not the Answer is grouped into eight chapters; each addressing a different theme. Several of these are rather good, and make important points. Keen writes well, for instance, on the invasion of privacy inherent in moving much of our daily activities from the analogue to the digital world; although his comparison to the Stasi of Soviet East Germany is overblown. He illuminates nicely how users of social networks and other free services are essentially unpayed employees, generating content pro bono. This is how the start-up WhatsApp could be valued at $19 billion with a revenue orders of magnitude less and a payroll of fifty employees; its loyal user base is what gives it its value. However, Keen skirts around the edges of the important point that reduced transaction costs allow every aspect of life to be commoditised; paving the way for a neoliberal fantasy of a market free from 'externalities.'

Keen is less good on the economics of the digital age.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very brave piece of work that challenges the notion that we must never stand in the way of technological progress. The subject matter is too wide and deep to be explored comprehensively in 228 pages. Everyone has a view on the internet, its goods and its evils, so arguments about it usually end unresolved. This book doesn’t settle any arguments, but it should raise sufficient concern to get people thinking about how we manage our collective lives in the digital age.
As I write this, there is a General Election being fought in the United Kingdom. Even though the National Health Service has just been disrupted on a grand scale by criminal hackers, none of the parties are leading with any punches to the challenge of technology. You can see why. Technology has disembowelled many traditional industries and services, but invented others to replace them. It has infected contemporary childhood with pornography, violence and depression, whilst liberating children from the repressive shackles and hang-ups of their parents in previous generations. It has spawned a generation of competent young musicians, through on-line teaching, whilst destroying the recorded music industry. It is hard for a politician to find the angle when one negative charge against technology is always countered by a positive.
So Andrew Keen kicks off with that old Anglo –Saxon favourite - mock horror at the sheer extent of wealth amassed in Silicon Valley. The demonization is amusing in places, but it fails to recognise our complicity in the process of how and where wealth accumulates. It’s a cheap shot, a kind of revolutionary shorthand for how to identify your enemy. Personally, I do not envy Bill Gates his wealth or Peter Thiel his bitterness, or Jeff Bezos his lack of human empathy.
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