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Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,350 ratings  ·  184 reviews
A stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the Internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and that proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age.

Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the I
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  1,350 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Thomas Euler
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Move Fast and Break Things made me angry. Why? Because I really wanted the book to be great. Alas, it isn't. Let me explain.

I'm very sympathetic to Taplin's general thesis: Yes, the internet broke the traditional media system. Yes, the downward spiral that followed hurt exactly the wrong people, the creators. Yes, the giant internet platforms of our era - particularly Google, Facebook, and Amazon - certainly show monopolistic traits. And yes, the libertarian school-of-thought Taplin depicts in
Tim O'Hearn
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This book wasn’t what I was expecting. I guess that’s what I get for not reading past Break Things.

Move Fast and Break Things is a biased work in which a guy who spent his career in the music industry bemoans the death of that golden goose and blames tech for the plight of the modern artist.

It’s well-written. The pacing is perfect, but the underlying arguments, specifically those centered around the state of content creation, are flawed. Many of the later sections are quite good, but chapter one
Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Anticipated reading this, believed I would enjoy reading it, but although I sympathize with the author argument on tech overlord monopolies, this isn't a good work. I have trouble envisioning the author as professor (as it says on the book sleeve) as it's written in the style of 3rd grade reading comprehension level political polemic. The author makes chain associations that are ridiculous and often veers into his animus over internet piracy and how back in the good 'ol days (the 60s and 70s) ar ...more
Ramnath Iyer
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whither humans, and art and culture, in the age of Techtopia?

Does the specter of mass unemployment loom ahead for humanity as 47% of jobs will disappear in the next quarter century because of what a 2013 Oxford University study of 702 occupations termed as “computerisation”? Or are we headed towards a wonderful future, with 6 billion humans shed from the burdens of working and instead engaging in arts, culture and scientific discoveries, as tech visionaries like Marc Andreessen would have you be
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Judging a book by its cover is not the mistake you want to make here. The title alone makes you want to dive right in at the library or Barnes and Noble and start reading before you even leave. This was not this case for me. Within the first three chapter I knew it was going to be hard to finish. Yes, Jonathan Taplin took the time to write this but this book could have been much better if it had not come from him. Google, Facebook, and Amazon did corner the market but that’s Capitalism. The simp ...more
The main thesis is that Libertarians who digested Ayn Rand invented the Internet. They've caused all sorts of problems that we really haven't dealt with. Because of Robert Bork, our anti-trust laws have essentially disappeared. The Internet killed the musician. Data is the reason why Hollywood can't do anything besides superhero and other sequels. There were some good tidbits in this book and I enjoyed the book, although I have to admit that I'm a bit tired of scattershot books. This book could ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, math
All I want is the ability to add Wiki style “citation needed” tags whilst reading. Sloppy logic, bad writing. The author moved too fast in writing and broke his book.
Nov 29, 2022 rated it liked it
given up, rather than read, because it’s more diatribe than commentary.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed, ideas, politics
I have a bit of a mixed reaction to this book. To start, the introduction seemed real scatter-shot in its writing style. Partly I think this was simply because it was a broad overview of the ideas he wanted to get to throughout the book, but the pattern continued, though to a lesser degree. However, I came to a greater appreciation of his broad scope of thought and forgive what I thought was a choppy execution.

Also, early in the book I struggled to accept his portrayal of the negative of the tec
Blake Mazurek
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I went into this book with some questions in my mind about where we are going with technology in our world. All three sites mentioned in the title are my "go to" sites where I spend a vast majority of my time on the internet. Before reading, I wondered if I would find connections with the author's background in the entertainment industry (particularly music) - I enjoy music, but my understanding of the "industry" is limited. He gives the reader enough of a backstory to make the reader empathize ...more
Michael Huang
The contention is that Silicon Valley is not the virtuous cradle of innovation as we'd like to think of it. Some of the tycoons there (e.g., Peter Thiel) are guided by the Ayn Rand-style libertarianism. Their financial success has a tendency to reinforce their view that greed is good, government is inept and even. Yet, much of the technical innovation that fueled the financial success comes from publicly funded research elsewhere (case in point ARPA net --> internet). What the valley is good at ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Though I've only read an excerpt from the limited ARC I got, my interest has been piqued. It's quite rare to find a person Taplin, whose background was working with musical legends, and showing us that this background could bring out a story that handles a part of internet history that we're not privy to and how a core group of people and companies could create the value system surrounding the web and dictate how we as consumers use the internet today.

I look forward to buying the book to see if
Dec 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book, but I read it through to the end. It had a lot of false correlations, and seemed very biased to the author's personal experiences where Big Media started losing profits to the digital age. ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was free from the publisher.
If reading the synopsis for Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy makes you feel nauseous, or scared, or a little bit of both, don’t worry. I felt the same way. And I probably had every right to feel that way. I don’t know what made me feel so drawn to reading what is, in essence, a textbook on the business of Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Much like reading a textbook, there were times I almost
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ahhhh. So this is the new electronic era.

Rather educational. I am glad I read it. Now from here I can expand and learn new things. This is an Internet history book essentially about how big business tried to take over the world by grabbing hold of the music, television, film, news and publishing industries.

The alternates to Facebook, Google, and Amazon are not well-publicized. Open-source software, which is not discussed in this book, spreads around the Internet in a viral manner.
Moreover, I ch
Leah Agirlandaboy
Nov 14, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
This is great reading about (per the subtitle) “how Facebook, Google, and Amazon cornered culture and undermined democracy.” The subject isn’t my usual fare AT ALL, and perhaps the book’s greatest strength is how clear and accessible it is to people who might *not* be immersed in the intricacies of business economics. I highlighted so much and nodded along and felt like I was learning a lot about not just the world as it is but also as it might be. Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror” was amazing but also ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good but not great book that was made more interesting because I was also listening to the audiobook of Cory Doctorow's Information Doesn't Want to Be Free. Not at literally the same time, of course. While Taplin claims that the music industry and the careers of most musicians have been destroyed by the availability of free downloads of music on the Internet, Doctorow makes a mostly opposing claim. One of the main differences is that Taplin focuses on the traditional ways that musicians have mad ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the spirit of a central premise of the book (respect the providers of original content) here are some informed reviews:



Worth reading if you want to gain a better understanding of the ideology and personalities behind the rise of the internet and the impact it has had on culture.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Perhaps this book was early in recognizing the threat that these tech monopolies present to a vibrant economy or artistic community, but it is not the best by a wide range. It is pretty personal and not at all data-driven.
Julie Cardinal
Jun 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will make you want to throw your phone out the window. A terrifying but important read. I am so glad that I read it but so very sad about the future of art, community, society etc.

Lots of big questions asked, and Taplin proposes some solutions in the last chapter.
Florin Pitea
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite interesting and informative. Recommended.
I think this book is good. I don’t understand why the top reviews here are negative.
Malcolm Campbell
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I could throw this book on to the crime and tragedy shelves I've created but it's actually non-fiction. Taplin shines a spotlight on the dystopia we're all presently living in but haven't noticed. He invites you to look up from your screens and think about the men behind the curtain of technology.

There's a Wild West frontier being developed in the digital world and from the lawlessness of the early internet some powerful groups have developed and are fighting to keep it the way they like it. But
Simon Freeman
May 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The tedium of non fiction
Joanne Zienty
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The next time you post on Facebook, upload a video to YouTube, or use a Google product, take a moment to stop and realize that you are, in essence, an unpaid employee of these corporations. After all, you are creating the content from which they are reaping billions of dollars in terms of marketing and advertising. Taplin examines the rise of these "monopoly platforms" which have created the surveillance-data mining-marketing culture in which we now live. He frames his argument from the perspect ...more
Matt Schiavenza
Mar 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Several decades ago, when the internet was in an embryonic stage, digital pioneers envisioned that it would function as a decentralized network where individuals could share ideas unfettered by existing social structures. That didn't happen. Today, the internet is essentially an oligarchy, dominated by Amazon (which controls e-commerce), Facebook (social media), and Google (just about everything else).

These monopolies have attracted a lot of scrutiny in recent years for their part in widening in
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
So Google, Facebook and Amazon are bad because as platforms they are monopolies/ monopsonies. Even though Taplin confesses that he himself uses facebook. Their major sins:
1. They don't produce any content but earn from the artists' sweat and blood. Youtube takes 45% of the ad earnings. The old media companies used to groom artists and produce original content.
2. They drive down prices of songs and earnings for artists. Record companies used to sell whole albums even if fans only want one or two
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Unless you are breaking stuff, you aren’t moving fast enough” — Mark Zuckerberg

This book will make you think twice the next time you share anything on Facebook, do a search on Google or made a purchase on Amazon. It would be interesting to hear Taylor Swift and Pewdiepie's reaction to their mentions in the book. My favorite takeaway would be the description on how you present your "future self" on Facebook, in contrast to the "current you" in life. Facebook has built its works around human's tw
Michael Steeves
Scattered, unfocused and ultimately very flawed.

Jonathan Taplin starts out documenting how artists and creative people have been getting the raw of the stick more and more, citing the example of the late Levon Helm who had to start performing again in his 70s while fighting cancer because the current digital era had seen his income from The Band's work cut to a trickle.

Most of the book focuses on the big three, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, and the way that a small group of people had managed to
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
303.4833 TAP

summary: Internet is not what was envisioned: overthrow political hierarchy and decrease inequality, decentralize controls, deepen our knowledge base, a new platform for democratic communication, creative tools for artists, become instead of tools of monopoly, winner-takes-all economy of the Internet age. Internet increase inequality, intensify monopolization.Basically Facebook, Google, Amazon, with tools, filter what audience want to see, hear, listen. These winner take all promote
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Jonathan Taplin is an American writer, film producer and scholar

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“Despite Marc Andreessen’s and Peter Thiel’s belief that the outsize gains of tech billionaires are the result of a genius entrepreneur culture, inequality at this scale is a choice—the result of the laws and taxes that we as a society choose to establish.” 3 likes
“The Internet’s self-curated view from everywhere has the amazing ability to distract us in trivial pursuits, narrow our choices, and keep us safe in a balkanized suburb of our own taste.” 2 likes
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