Andrew Keen’s new book, The Internet is Not the Answer (Atlantic Monthly Press), goes on sale today. This is the third book Keen has written about the Internet and digital-age culture. A native of London, Keen first became an Internet entrepreneur in the US with the founding of Audiocafe.com in 1995, and this new book cites his own personal conversion from early evangelist of techno-utopian ideas to an observer with a more critical view of how and why the evolution of the Web is failing to fulfill many of its founding ideals. Through first-hand accounts and solid research, Keen describes how some of the most influential technology leaders abandoned the egalitarian and democratizing goals of the Internet in favor of business strategies that have produced, and will continue to produce, a winner-take-all-economy that only serves to exacerbate wealth stratification throughout the market. While economics are the central theme of this new book, Keen also discusses culture, sociology, and in particular privacy, saying that we are voluntarily creating a surveillance state that would be the envy of the East German Stasi.
Keen believes, as I do, that government must play a role — that if we naively think the Internet obviates the role of regulation and law enforcement through representative government, that we are only empowering an oligarchy and not ourselves. The Internet is Not the Answer is an approachable read for anyone with no prior knowledge of digital-age issues, and for all its seriousness and dire warnings, Keen’s writing is lighthearted, personal, at times very funny, and is ultimately optimistic.
For more information about Andrew, visit www.ajkeen.com.
The Internet is Not the Answer is reviewed here by Michael Harris for The Washington Post.