...a bracing, unromantic account of how the internet was captured ... The three great monopolies of the digital world have followed the Thiel playbook and Taplin does a good job of explaining how each of them works and how, strangely, their vast profits are never 'competed away.' He also punctures the public image so assiduously fostered by Google and Facebook – that they are basically cool tech companies run by good chaps who are hellbent on making the world a better place – whereas, in fact, they are increasingly hard to distinguish from the older brutes of the capitalist jungle ... Move Fast and Break Things is a timely and useful book because it provides an antidote to the self-serving narrative energetically cultivated by the digital monopolies.
...[an] excellent book ... Taplin makes a forceful and persuasive case that companies like Google and Facebook could employ their powerful artificial intelligence programs to prevent the infringement of existing copyright laws ... This is not a prophecy but a warning — without changes to legislation, corporate behavior and consumer values, the oligarchic dreams of a few billionaires could reshape the country even more than they already have.
Mr. Taplin proposes some thought-provoking solutions to the challenge of getting people to pay for content...Whatever one thinks of these ideas, Mr. Taplin’s broader explanation of the upheaval in the music and media industries is illuminating. But he is so incensed by Facebook, Google and Amazon that he never considers the benefits that platforms deliver ... Mr. Taplin wages a prolonged attack on the 'libertarian' ethos that he says underpins technology firms. But 'libertarian' is the wrong label. These companies are often closely tied to government and are far from bastions of free-market purity ... Blaming the woes of content providers on a vast right-wing conspiracy will appeal to certain readers, but Mr. Taplin would have been on firmer ground had he left politics aside.
...Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, offers a much bleaker outlook in Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy ... Taplin is particularly concerned with the ways near-monopolies on digital distribution hurt the creative classes... He has some thoughts on how to combat the problem, largely focused on co-operative creative distribution networks that can funnel more money back to the artists rather than skimming a large percentage off the top for 'overhead' ... Move Fast and Break Things is most interesting, however, when Taplin tugs at the roots of the digital economy’s libertarian ethos ... Apart from a bit of ribbon-tying at the end, however, Stone is much more interested in how they did it than why.
Taplin’s sense of outrage is palpable and his case is often compelling. Unfortunately, the two parts of the argument don’t really hang together ... He leans too heavily on the assumption that the 1960s and 70s represented an artistic golden age whose like we will never see again ... In the end, Taplin is reduced to hoping that the dominant players of the digital world will come to their senses and realise the damage they are doing. Of Zuckerberg, he writes: 'I hope that the young CEO of Facebook will be willing to pause and think about where his company is taking the media business.' So that’s what we’ve been reduced to: wishing for a 'good emperor' to hear his people’s distress.
His prose is bold, entertaining and occasionally over the top. But his overall point is an important one. Many hoped that the Internet would have a democratizing and decentralizing effect. Instead, Taplin argues, power became concentrated in a small number of digital giants ... Move Fast and Break Things aims to be a corrective to the techno-utopian belief that the Internet is fundamentally a liberating and democratizing force. But if the techno-utopians get carried away in their exuberance, Taplin sometimes veers too far in the other direction. He is at his strongest when he pulls back the curtain on vague and lofty terms such as 'digital disruption' to reveal the effects on individual artists. Let’s hope this book makes people think twice about how their behavior shapes digital culture.
The book reads like a collection of essays revolving around a series of related topics; the sections never form a coherent, cohesive whole. Taplin provides a keen, thorough look at the present and future of Americans’ lives as influenced and manipulated by the technological behemoths on which they’ve come to depend. His work is certainly food for thought, even if he’s a little unfocused.
The author offers a modest program of resistance, among whose planks is the interesting notion that creators, especially musicians, would do well to follow the Sunkist model, forming cooperatives to control their works just as citrus growers banded together in common interest. 'I have no illusion that the existing business structures of cultural marketing will go away,' he writes, 'but my hope is that we can build a parallel structure that will benefit all creators.' A powerful argument for reducing inequality and revolutionizing how we use the Web for the benefit of the many rather than the few.