“The Internet is NOT the Answer” by Andrew Keen, QUOTES Part 3
Wikipedia is written by a crew that is 90% male. According to the Guardian’s Anne Perkins Wikipedia gives “a world according to young white western men with a slight personality defect.”
I personally haven’t noticed a strong bias in the Wikipedia entries I have read but quite possibly I am one of the “young white western men with a slight personality defect” that Anne Perkins is referring to. I would be interested to hear what people of color, particularly women of color, have to say about what they read in Wikipedia.
According to a Bloomberg News article “collecting, packaging and selling personal information, often without the users’ full knowledge and sometimes without their informed consent is generally what [the social media internet corporations] do for a living.”
Certainly there are parallels between the internet industry and other industries. When the telephone was established, there were only a few companies that controlled the lines and made money off every phone call we made. Similarly today there is the cell phone system which also makes money every time we use it. But what is new with the internet business is that it is no longer just our use of it that makes money for the gatekeepers. Now what we say becomes their property for them to continue to make money on, long after we have said it. Our very ideas, our creativity becomes their produce to sell to whoever they can (within certain limits).
If we compare this to the publishing industry of years past, those companies owned a percentage of the ideas and creativity that they received and disseminated to the public. There were prior contracts that shared the value of whatever was created. The author shared ownership. Were there authors who wrote books and handed over their percentage to the publishing company in exchange for the simple act of publishing and distribution? Yes, but they were looked upon like we might look upon the illegal immigrant who was just hired to take over our job at half the pay.
Does Andrew Keen’s arguments, and mine here as well, make us pro-Union? Maybe pro-workers’ rights, perhaps. At some point we have to look reasonably at the future of the job market in America. Americans of all educational levels need work. That is a fundamental requisite of a healthy society. Not everyone can manage hedge funds, code software or consult for foreign investors. And since environmentally we need to start scaling back the fossil fuels industry, we should be thinking about other industries that can make up for the potential job loses in that sector. But instead this latest multi-billion dollar industry employs almost no one.
“‘Badass’ entrepeneurs such as Travis Kalanik [Uber] and Peter Thiel [Paypal] have much in common with the capitalist robber barons of the 1st industrial revolution. . . . These new corporations are as hostile to trade unions, taxation and regulation as JD Rockefeller, JP Morgan and Andrew Carnegie ever were in their day. The only difference is that the new titans employ far fewer people, enjoy higher margins and are less harassed by governments than their predecessors.” John Naughton, a historian editor of the Guardian.
Just as the destructive power of those monopolies of America’s past were at some point recognized by the public and re-arranged forcibly by politicians the same should happen for the Internet. Unfortunately, the political machine doesn’t seem to represent a healthy America as much as it used to and so, we need some strong maverick politicians to take a stand.
Despite the fact that both Apple and Google were originally funded with government funds, Apple is now accused of cheating the US government out of $44 billion between 09 & 2012.
It is a telltale sympton of our times that the US government does not seem willing to pursue what is owed it from big corporations without a public outcry. Nevertheless, the engine of democracy contains the ability to fix this situation where there is true concern and persistent insistence of justice.