Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

quite an insightful review of Astra Taylor's The People’s Platform

Bickerton, E. (2015). Culture After Google. New Left Review, 92, pp. 145-156

147

The People’s Platform looks at the implications of the digital age for cultural democracy in various sectors—music, film, news, advertising—and how battles over copyright, piracy and privacy laws have evolved. Taylor rightly situates the tech euphoria of the late 90s in the context of Greenspan’s asset-price bubble, pointing out that deregulated venture-capital funds swelled from $12bn in 1996 to $106bn in 2000. Where tech-utopians hailed the political economy of the internet as ‘a better form of socialism’ (Wired’s Kevin Kelly) or ‘a vast experiment in anarchy’ (Google’s Eric Schmidt and the State Department’s Jared Cohen), she shows how corporations dominate the new landscape [...]

[...] the main source of Facebook’s and Google’s profits is other firms’ advertising expenditure, an annual $700bn in the US; but this in turn depends on the surplus extracted from workers who produce ‘actual things’. The logic of advertising drives the tech giants’ voracious appetite for our data. [...]

good context

—p.147 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago

The People’s Platform looks at the implications of the digital age for cultural democracy in various sectors—music, film, news, advertising—and how battles over copyright, piracy and privacy laws have evolved. Taylor rightly situates the tech euphoria of the late 90s in the context of Greenspan’s asset-price bubble, pointing out that deregulated venture-capital funds swelled from $12bn in 1996 to $106bn in 2000. Where tech-utopians hailed the political economy of the internet as ‘a better form of socialism’ (Wired’s Kevin Kelly) or ‘a vast experiment in anarchy’ (Google’s Eric Schmidt and the State Department’s Jared Cohen), she shows how corporations dominate the new landscape [...]

[...] the main source of Facebook’s and Google’s profits is other firms’ advertising expenditure, an annual $700bn in the US; but this in turn depends on the surplus extracted from workers who produce ‘actual things’. The logic of advertising drives the tech giants’ voracious appetite for our data. [...]

good context

—p.147 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago
147

Taylor’s ambition, as her subtitle suggests, is to make the case for a new cultural politics of the digital age. How Web 2.0 affects the production and distribution of culture touches her in a direct sense. She is a documentary filmmaker and editor of two books, one on philosophy, the other on the Occupy movement in the US. She has no parallel university job to shield her from the growing structural inequalities she describes; nor for the most part do the musicians, film-makers, photographers and investigative reporters whose stories she recounts, working at the coal face of a culture industry that has been transformed by the internet—but not in ways that Wired predicted. Taylor’s personal background might make her seem an ideal candidate for Web enthusiasm. [...] This background is important; she is coming from a position of high expectations and dashed hopes, not sceptical resistance to technological change.

same

—p.147 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago

Taylor’s ambition, as her subtitle suggests, is to make the case for a new cultural politics of the digital age. How Web 2.0 affects the production and distribution of culture touches her in a direct sense. She is a documentary filmmaker and editor of two books, one on philosophy, the other on the Occupy movement in the US. She has no parallel university job to shield her from the growing structural inequalities she describes; nor for the most part do the musicians, film-makers, photographers and investigative reporters whose stories she recounts, working at the coal face of a culture industry that has been transformed by the internet—but not in ways that Wired predicted. Taylor’s personal background might make her seem an ideal candidate for Web enthusiasm. [...] This background is important; she is coming from a position of high expectations and dashed hopes, not sceptical resistance to technological change.

same

—p.147 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago
151

The People’s Platform ends with a manifesto—in itself a more ambitious move than those of most books on digital culture, even if Taylor’s demands seem disappointingly limited after what has gone before. She shrinks from the thought of nationalization—there is no equivalent here to Evgeny Morozov’s ‘Socialize the data centres!’—and disparages the free-software movement pioneered by Richard Stallman and others as ‘freedom to tinker’. Instead she calls for more regulation of the service providers and major platforms; improved broadband provision; introducing a kind of Glass–Steagall of new media, to force a separation of content creation from communication and thus prevent a new round of vertical integration; levying a tax on the advertising industry; pressuring Silicon Valley to pay tax at higher rates; more public spending on the ‘cultural commons’, the arts and public broadcasting (the education system gets no mention). In the ‘copyright wars’, she opts for reform rather than abolition or ‘copyleft’. More broadly, Taylor argues that the ideology of ‘free culture’ promoted by Web enthusiasts has centred on distribution, obscuring and ultimately diminishing the people and social supports that underlie cultural production. She seeks to redress the balance by way of a more ‘ecological’, long-term mentality, drawing on the politics of ethical consumption and ‘fair trade’ to call for culture that is ‘sustainable’ and ‘fair’, as opposed to ‘free’.

seems like a good summary, might come in handy one day

—p.151 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago

The People’s Platform ends with a manifesto—in itself a more ambitious move than those of most books on digital culture, even if Taylor’s demands seem disappointingly limited after what has gone before. She shrinks from the thought of nationalization—there is no equivalent here to Evgeny Morozov’s ‘Socialize the data centres!’—and disparages the free-software movement pioneered by Richard Stallman and others as ‘freedom to tinker’. Instead she calls for more regulation of the service providers and major platforms; improved broadband provision; introducing a kind of Glass–Steagall of new media, to force a separation of content creation from communication and thus prevent a new round of vertical integration; levying a tax on the advertising industry; pressuring Silicon Valley to pay tax at higher rates; more public spending on the ‘cultural commons’, the arts and public broadcasting (the education system gets no mention). In the ‘copyright wars’, she opts for reform rather than abolition or ‘copyleft’. More broadly, Taylor argues that the ideology of ‘free culture’ promoted by Web enthusiasts has centred on distribution, obscuring and ultimately diminishing the people and social supports that underlie cultural production. She seeks to redress the balance by way of a more ‘ecological’, long-term mentality, drawing on the politics of ethical consumption and ‘fair trade’ to call for culture that is ‘sustainable’ and ‘fair’, as opposed to ‘free’.

seems like a good summary, might come in handy one day

—p.151 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago
153

While Taylor’s dismissal of free software as ‘freedom to tinker’ captures something real about its prima facie narrowness as a political programme, she misses the peculiar way in which this very narrowness gives rise to significant implications when we broaden the frame and examine a more social picture. While the individual user may not be interested in tinkering with, for example, the Linux kernel, as opposed to simply using it, the fact that it can be tinkered with opens up a space of social agency that is not at all trivial. Since everyone can access all the code all the time, it is impossible for any entity, capital or state, to establish any definitive control over users on the basis of the code itself. And since the outcomes of this process are pooled, one does not have to be personally interested in ‘tinkering’ to benefit directly from this freedom. With non-free software one must simply trust whoever, or whichever organization, created it. With free software, this ‘whoever’ is socially open-ended, with responsibility ultimately lying with the community of users itself.

"opens up a space of social agency that is not at all trivial" is nice (on open source)

—p.153 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago

While Taylor’s dismissal of free software as ‘freedom to tinker’ captures something real about its prima facie narrowness as a political programme, she misses the peculiar way in which this very narrowness gives rise to significant implications when we broaden the frame and examine a more social picture. While the individual user may not be interested in tinkering with, for example, the Linux kernel, as opposed to simply using it, the fact that it can be tinkered with opens up a space of social agency that is not at all trivial. Since everyone can access all the code all the time, it is impossible for any entity, capital or state, to establish any definitive control over users on the basis of the code itself. And since the outcomes of this process are pooled, one does not have to be personally interested in ‘tinkering’ to benefit directly from this freedom. With non-free software one must simply trust whoever, or whichever organization, created it. With free software, this ‘whoever’ is socially open-ended, with responsibility ultimately lying with the community of users itself.

"opens up a space of social agency that is not at all trivial" is nice (on open source)

—p.153 by Emilie Bickerton 1 year, 5 months ago