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

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  394 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
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 P
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Metropolitan Books (first published October 2nd 2012)
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The People's Platform by Astra TaylorCountdown to Zero Day by Kim ZetterDataclysm by Christian RudderThe Second Machine Age by Erik BrynjolfssonGeek Sublime by Vikram Chandra
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1st out of 10 books — 5 voters
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Jun 22, 2014 Derek rated it really liked it
I've been looking for this book and didn't know it. More precisely, I've been frustrated that so much critical work on digital media and online culture has been polarized into cheerleading or doomsaying. Taylor takes down this dichotomy by focusing her attention not so much on the "end-user" experience (though she has some thoughts on that as well) but on how the architecture of the internet has fostered neoliberal regimes of economic extraction and personality cults. The gist of her critique is ...more
Apr 26, 2014 Naum rated it really liked it
A downer, but an essential read for the 21C, nevertheless.

Documentary filmmaker Taylor skewers the romanticism of utopian new net heralds. That the promise of an open, democratic internet has been subverted by corporate overlords, monopolistic titans, public relations shills, and destructive wasteful advertising interests. In the process, shredding journalism (to which Taylor repeatedly refers to now as "churnalism") and transforming the media realm into hamster wheel (my words here, not hers)
Ben Bush
Sep 01, 2016 Ben Bush rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
Taylor lets the air of TED Talks' tires in one of several brilliant take-downs of libertarian spokespeople for the tech industry. Her arguments: convincing. Taylor critiques the way digital life is damaging the democratic underpinnings of culture without coming across as a Luddite, but instead of focusing on economic and regulatory factors. I would like to live in a world with the kind of internet and media culture that she describes. I'd been awaiting the release of this book for sometime after ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
A great summary about the problems of techno-worship, social networks, "self-branding," and the like. Nothing in it surprised me, really, but Taylor does a great job of connecting the dots, especially regarding the intense amount of labor it takes to keep this all afloat (miners, factory workers, number crunchers, and, yes, even people who write book reviews for Amazon for free, which is what I'm doing right now. ;-)
Apr 20, 2015 Erhardt rated it liked it
This book is not about designing "a people's platform." This book is a critique of the state of the media and internet technology industry, which often uses "for the people" style rhetoric to justify its profit-seeking and control-oriented design decisions. The socio-technical system of our current media ecosystem is not "open" or "democratic" or "free" in real terms; tech entrepreneurs and pundits are selling investors, consumers, and policymakers on a disingenuous vision of the future of cultu ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Reading the peoples platform was a bit of an eye opener for me .. I always considered myself a tech savy person however this book gives a detailed overview of how our internet culture and tech toys have touched all industries.After completing the book I'm not sure we are in a better place or will be .Makes one stop and take a long hard look around at this Cyberspace Wild Wild West.
This is a must read for everyone.
Aug 23, 2015 May-Ling rated it it was amazing
Shelves: saving-the-world
well-researched, smart book about the intersection between technology and culture (society and art) in today's age. taylor does a brilliant job of unveiling effects of tech, both what's happening and cautionary tales for the future. she has a clear perspective, yet lays out such a logical and well thought out argument that's hard to disagree with. rarely has a book made me think so much about issues of our time and caused me to ponder my own role in our changing future.

the people's platform is
Aaron Arnold
When it comes to the production, distribution, and consumption of information, is the Internet a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing? In some ways, the Internet allows small producers to make a living while allowing for greater consumer choice; in other ways, it allows big producers to become ever more dominant, while quietly reducing the number of options consumers have. Everyone agrees that the Internet has dramatically changed the ways that businesses operate and content is cre ...more
Astrid Natasastra
Jun 09, 2015 Astrid Natasastra rated it liked it
One part from this chapter that really struck me was about the notion that the digital revolution is a turn to a better, more egalitarian, greener world. In here the author uses the comparison of e-book versus printed book. On page 181 she wrote that the New York Times evaluated the environmental impact on an e-reader from the manufacturing, transportation, operation and disposal that consume the resources equal to fifty books compare to regular books! And all this time we thought that we are be ...more
Jenny Thompson
I thought this was a very interesting book. I certainly found myself blogging about it and recording quotes while I read more than I normally do. For those of you unfamiliar with the text, Astra Taylor used each chapter of her book to start a conversation about potential concerns about the current media landscape. The work was incredibly well researched.

The aspect I appreciated the most was the way Taylor made me think about things I had not really thought about before. For instance, she points
Uwe Hook
Sep 10, 2014 Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing
This book is filled with so many research-based insights and simple common sense about the effect of the Internet on our lives, I cannot recommend it highly enough Among one of my favorites, "Networks do not eradicate power, they distribute it in different ways, shuffling hierarchies and producing new mechanisms of exclusion."

If you are still taking seriously any of the humanitarian concerns voiced by the Silicon Valley crowd, please read this book because it points out that an Internet born in
Ahmad Alkadri
May 07, 2015 Ahmad Alkadri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Bacaan yang sangat bagus untuk semua orang yang tertarik pada bidang teknologi, internet, informasi, dan hubungan mereka semua dengan faktor-faktor sosial-ekonomi dan privasi masyarakat.
Full Stop
Jun 09, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: spring-2014
The People’s Platform – Astra Taylor

by Meagan Day

[Metropolitan; 2014]

For years Full Stop has been posting all of our content on Facebook, happy to take advantage of the free distribution, and it’s mostly worked well. But over the past few months we’ve been noticing that our reach has dwindled. The number of people who see each post is now typically around 5% of the people who like our page. Next to each grim report about our diminishing visibility is an enticement to Boost Post, or pay to get ou
Robert G.  Paul
Some very interesting information is contained in this book, some of which I found very enlightening. However, I found myself getting bored and distracted very early in the book. It was too wordy and could have been condensed to less than half the size without compromising the overall integrity of the content. This was a very hard read and a major task to complete. I also didn't appreciate the few cuss words included as part of the vocabulary. Was this really necessary?
Oct 14, 2014 Nadia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Four and a half.

Basically: the internet has amplified inequalities instead of democratizing the media like they told us it would.

Despite the myth that anyone can find an audience online and potentially profit off it the people that are successful at it tend to be white and male and professionals (and actually tend to be significantly whiter and more male than those represented in traditional media.) There are more newssites but fewer of them post original content while more newspapers that gener
Saleem Khan

March 14, 2014

My review of The People's Platform in the National Post is now online.

March 8, 2014.

My full review will appear in Canada's National Post newspaper on March 15.

The People's Platform is meticulously researched and well written but could be depressing if you haven't been following the disruption to culture and public good sectors.

Astra Taylor convincingly outlines and explains the problems that society faces due to the amplifying effect of the Internet on establishing and entrenching
Gabriel C.
Jun 06, 2016 Gabriel C. rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016, freddie
Bah, humbug.

I thought this was boring, defensive, and failed to even begin to imagine any solutions to the problems it described.

Perhaps I'm being uncharitable because the landscape has shifted in the two years since the publication of the book, but I feel like nothing here is surprising in the least. She takes great pains to say that she's not a luddite, but I hear her complaining a lot louder about the problems with the new system than with the old. That's fine, the new has a lot more starry
Oct 11, 2014 Charlie rated it really liked it
I'm torn between three and five stars, so four is the compromise. The book has a dynamic, engaging beginning (five stars) but I had a harder time connecting with the last couple chapters (three stars). Taylor's argument is essential to the cultural conversation but I could have done without the superficiality of the critique of capitalism. And by that, I mean I wanted a deep, full-bore critique.
Ryan Kapsar
May 12, 2014 Ryan Kapsar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: innovation, policy
I just finished reading "The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age" by Astra Taylor I really found this book to be interesting. I believe it offered a very different critique on the digital age than Evegny Morozov's "Click here to Save everything" where he focused on the arrogance of the algorithm and total solutionism of the movement, Taylor focused on the cultural cost of our digital economy. I think combined the philosophizing of Morozov with Taylor's discussion ...more
May 15, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing
I became aware of Astra Taylor’s The People’s Platform as a result of her appearance on TV news show. The book is a critique of the current state of the Internet and social media. I am not particularly proficient with the Internet or social media. I am interested in reactions and reviews by readers more adept at understanding this book and the implications of its contents. I probably understood about 50% of the book. My review is mostly excerpts taken directly from the book.
When you have a lapto
May 15, 2014 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Cheston Knapp (Managing Editor, Tin House Magazine): Been a good month, culture-wise. Read Matthew Zapruder’s incredible new collection of poems, Sun Bear, in which he bends and bubbles syntax like Chihuly does glass. Turns out Tony Doerr’s new novel, All the Light We Cannot See, is as good as the excerpt we published last spring promised it would be. But my most impactful media experience came in the form of a cocktail. One part Adam Curtis’s documentary, The Century of the Self, and one part A ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Kendra rated it liked it
I liked the focus of this book, and thought that many of the points it made about capitalism and the Internet are well taken. However, I worry that occasionally Taylor misrepresents the viewpoints of other scholars, or simplifies complex concepts or potential solutions, making it harder to take the conclusions seriously.
Aug 10, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
Every major advance in 20th century communications technology brought a promise of mass education, and popular control. Radio was to bring a School of the Air; trade unions owned radio stations to organize and educate on the public airwaves. It wound up being a terrific way to sell soap. Television brought Broadway to the masses, and ended up a vast wasteland. Cable was to bring public access and a low barrier to entry to create new networks dedicated to the public good. We know how that turned ...more
Daniel Grear
While past critiques of the Internet have fixated on uncovering the psychological effects of being plugged in all of the time--shortening attention spans, social-media obsessions, etc., "The People's Platform" takes a different approach. Focusing primarily on art, culture, and journalism, Astra Taylor introduces us to what it means to be techno-skeptical (or at least techno-hesitant) with regard to socioeconomics. In particular, she does an excellent job of unpacking the corporate-motivated rhet ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an uncorrected proof copy of Astra Taylor's "The People's Platform" from Goodreads.As a retired baby boomer this book really made me stop and reflect on all the changes I have seen in my lifetime.That being said,the bulk of the changes have been in recent years.

The People's Platform is a bit of an unnerving book to read when you see how technology and the internet have touched and more importantly changed lives,businesses,cultures and media.I don't think there is an
Aug 17, 2014 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Taylor nailed it! She managed to summarize succinctly all that is happening in the online world. Rather than democratizing the creative process, it has created huge superstars and some niche creators of art and culture. The middle is gone, like the small town newspapers. There are now only international newspapers and free blogs now. But creators of art and culture had always found it difficult sometimes to sustain themselves. So they either found a patron or gave what the markets want for money ...more
Kalli Meisler
Sep 26, 2014 Kalli Meisler rated it liked it
I think it was too repetitive- and not well researched. I put the book down for a few weeks because of Astra's portrait of women in business in tech- and how wrong she is. I think that there's a dire need for more women in the STEM fields- but stem wasn't even a term brought up in the first 200 pages. I've also worked in the film industry, and succeeded, as a woman. I do not like what Astra experienced, but I do not think it's a gender bias. It's idea and conceptualization to reality female fail ...more
Will Szal
Dec 03, 2015 Will Szal rated it it was amazing
I left Facebook this February. So I've been thinking a lot about the challenges the internet introduces lately. This book is a perfect backdrop for these musings. I guess the fact that I'm even writing a review for this book on a for-profit platform is a little bit depraved or at least hypocritical.

It's a close call, but this is my favorite book that I've read this year.

Do you think the internet has changed much about the world? Astra Taylor will have you reconsider. Sure, how we do things might
Sep 03, 2015 Gina rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
This book certainly deals with important questions, in particular where the cost of supposedly "free" (in multiple senses) cultural content lies. One hidden cost that often goes unremarked upon is digital waste and the environmental impact of huge data centers that power our wireless world. Taylor offers a good review of debates surrounding the struggle for control of information on the Internet when there's money to be made from tracking and targeted advertising. It's a good reminder that barri ...more
Apr 19, 2015 Jesse rated it really liked it
Astra Taylor dives into how the Internet has affected how we experience culture (art, advertising, social relations), how the economics of culture creation and consumption have changed, what the public rhetoric is about these changes and how that rhetoric lines up with reality. It's a well-cited book that clearly reflects how well-read the author herself is, drawing from academic research to pop articles to personal experience as an activist and organizer.

Much of the book is underlined by the st
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Astra Taylor is a writer and documentarian.
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