Book Recommendation: The People's Platform

My partner Albert recommended we read this book, The People’s Platform, by Astra Taylor.

Astra’s perspective, to use my words not hers, is the promise of the Internet to be transformative for society has largely been a disappointment and “the new boss is the same as the old boss.”

This is an important perspective that I want to hear and internalize. So I’m reading it now and I thought you all might want to join me.


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Semeria

    Just reading the Amazon summary seems to sum up the message. I don’t feel massively compelled to read this book, but I hope once you’ve finished you’ll change my mind.

    1. Truthiness

      I will not be buying this book either. It appears to say nothing that I (and many many others) have not been pointing out for years. It is important subject matter but some quasi-celebrity style recommendation (ala Fred in this case) is part of the problem. Why {italicized} should I give a fuck that Fred Wilson recommends it?It is not just that mega corporations are back at the same old tricks (they appear to be) it is that human behavior does not seem to have evolved. For a current event as proof go look at Garth Brooks Twitter launch (massive Ad-style approach that appears built on idol worship and self-induced servitude). Is Garth to blame? Maybe?!? Are the throngs of fans to blame for their willingness to throw themselves at the base of the pyramid and look high into the sky bolstering this type of behavior?!? Um, yeah – I think so.Hacking new tools is such a small part of the answer for those of us who want a new kind of freedom and democracy. Look back at history every new tool that held promise seemed to be corrupted. We (humans) must change the way we think … and act. And that is a lot harder than attending some 36 hour coding event staying up all night, unfed and unwashed.And don’t worry, AVC Community. Fred can easily guess who this is, or should be able to guess. Hello from the Midwest Fred.

      1. Chimpwithcans

        Not worried about your anonymity one iota. Thanks for asking though.

      2. David Semeria

        At first I read “thongs of fans”.Consider editing; it would improve your comment substantially.

      3. fredwilson

        you may not give a fuck what i think but i give a fuck what you thinki read the comments and listen

        1. sachmo

          But on the subject of patents, you don’t give a fuck about what anyone thinks : )

          1. fredwilson

            that’s not true. i care. i’ve spent a lot of time listening to people who think patents are good for society. but i don’t agree.

          2. sachmo

            Maybe that was a cheap shot… no offense intended, was being snarky.

        2. sachmo

          I read and appreciate your blog by the way, but respectfully disagree on a few things here.

  2. Russell

    Your old boss was an API?

    1. fredwilson


  3. Guest

  4. JimHirshfield

    AVC Book Club.Can we all get together and talk?

    1. ShanaC

      i wonder if there is such thing as bulk discounts on digital documents

      1. JimHirshfield

        Why would publishers do that? They still get their heads around the fact that a digital book should cost less than a physical book. 😉

        1. ShanaC

          I just got into a big argument over the weekend about publishers. *headache headache headache*

  5. Twain Twain

    If it was truly the People’s Platform, three things would be true:(1.) Users, especially the earliest adopters, would own equity in the platform at much earlier stages, long before IPO. This is because it’s their efforts, content and interactions that are increasing the value of the platforms but this isn’t being acknowledged.That could change as Reddit seems to be open to doing (….(2.) The emotions and language meanings of users would not be defined by the handful of academics and AI researchers who created LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) and PANAS (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule which were recently used in Facebook’s emotions experiment.There are 1.8 BILLION English-speakers online so it’s questionable whether the expression definitions of a handful of academics and AI researchers are representative of 1.8 billion people.This needs to change if we’re going to democratize language, opinions and its understanding online.Definitely something Twitter team should be looking at with its $10 million investment in MIT Laboratory for Social Machines.(3.) More exchange and portability of our information between Twitter, Amazon, Google, Apple et al and users would be able to monetize their information.Wrt Booklist review on that Amazon page: “(We) should strive to create a more democratic Web in which users are treated like citizens, not consumers or unpaid workers. We need, in other words, a new financial model. Newspapers, he points out, are being hurt by the enormous amount of online content, and most of that content is generated by people who aren’t paid for their work”, it made me think of Jarod Lanier’s thoughts on “Digital Maoism”:*

    1. ShanaC

      2) is worth exploring. And I wonder how much 2 is related to the fact that we don’t teach math well, and that math is not tied into liberal arts (taken loosely) well.Making meaning isn’t really math

      1. Twain Twain

        It’s one of the problems I’m tackling with my system.In ‘Behind the Mic’ (…, Google’s AI guru Geoff Hinton says: “IF the computers could understand what we’re saying…We need a far more sophisticated language understanding model that understands what the sentence means.And we’re still a very long way from having that.”Alison Gopnik of USC Berkeley observes: “When we started out (in AI) we thought that the things like chess or mathematics or logic, those were going to be the things that were really hard…Not that hard! I mean, we can end up with a machine that can actually do chess as well as a Grandmaster can play chess.The things that we thought were going to be easy — like understanding language — those things have turned out to be incredibly hard.Those are the great revolutions (understanding language) — not just when we fiddle with what we already know but when we discover something new and completely unexpected.”In my view, the machines can increasingly “speak the language of mathematics”. However, perhaps we need to ask ourselves if mathematics as a language is the right one to understand and interpret natural language.If not, what can we invent?

  6. Truthiness

    Fred, you could have also culled through folks with whom you have had discussions with over the years. Many of your own current and past “Community” participants have said (are still saying) similar things. Instead, you pimp your partner’s recommendations and, guess what, the new boss is the same boss.Come on now Fred.

    1. ShanaC

      but many of us don’t write books, sadly. :/

    2. JimHirshfield

      “pimping” someone else’s recommendation? That’s actually pimping someone else’s pimping…compound pimping, if you will. However, there’s no gain in this pimping; Neither Fred nor Albert wrote the book.

      1. Truthiness

        Oh come now Jim. It is not about keeping it in the ‘family’ – so to speak – as much as possible, even if tangentially? I will be candid; I expect more from you Jim. I appreciate the reply though.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Will wake tomorrow with more ambition and strive to meet your expectations.

          1. fredwilson

            me too

      2. LE

        compound pimpingI could argue (being the academic that I’m not) that Fred needs to give his partners visibility for many reasons. After all some young entrepreneur that Fred can’t meet with still needs to know that Albert is an important part of the process at AVC in making investments. Not everyone can meet with the star partner with all the visibility and attention. This is especially important as Fred spends more time traveling with Joanne and taking less meetings.How many people knew who Larry David was prior to “Curb”? Only people in the business. Yet he was a vital and essential part of the success or Seinfeld no doubt. And actually less of a tool, and actually not even a tool, and funnier than Seinfeld.Pimping, in the form that Fred does, is a simple concept that makes sense and is the smart thing to do.

    3. fredwilson

      sorry that i have disappointed you. i will try harder in the future.

  7. LIAD

    Non-sequitur. They are not mutually exclusive.The internet can be (and is) transformative for society at the same time as the new boss remaining the old boss.Has the internet improved access to information, education, commerce, social-needs and myriad other things? OBVIOUSLY! Does it matter to all of us benefiting from it that the ultimate riches flow to and is controlled by the same (class of) people who profited from the banking crisis, oil fields, rail roads etc – not 1 iota.A hungry person doesn’t care about who gets paid for the food. they are just grateful for the food.

    1. Twain Twain

      A hungry person would stop being hungry if they were paid so that they could afford to buy more food.

      1. christopolis

        Not necessarily

        1. JimHirshfield

          True. They would be hungry again just before the next meal.

        2. Twain Twain

          3 things can happen to a person to stop them being hungry:(1.) They earn money to buy them food.(2.) Other people give them food for free, preferably indefinitely.(3.) They’re dead — in which case…not hungry anymore.There is that adage, isn’t there: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”Since we’re referring to food as an analogy for the information availability on the Net, then there is an abundance.And we have all sorts of tools to “go fishing” for more information: search engines, social media, APIs (for those of us who are developers) etc.Plus the food (information and content) production is in the individual’s hands — rather than some wealthy landlord we have to pay directly in $$$ rent to access the land to cultivate the content on.In this sense, the Internet is not a feudal system or an economic model as described by the economic moral philosophers of the 18th century.However, in real-life, information is not food. It may be food for thoughts, perhaps, but not food in terms of as a source of nutrients to fuel the physiological functioning of us and our life.

      2. LE

        That assumes there are not losers in society who weren’t raised the same as people who comment on AVC and have a different set of values. In short, there are many losers in the world. And the jobs that they would hold aren’t exactly mind jolting either. Regardless of how much they are paid.This assumption that everyone, if given a chance, can rise out of poverty and make a solid contribution to society is fantasy.

        1. Twain Twain

          Economic Utopian hope rather than fantasy?The realist in us reads articles about people who’d prefer to be on social security indefinitely, to steal or to sabotage the creation of value.The optimist in us believes that providing access to education and information to the have-nots can make their lives better.The pragmatist knows it takes a lot of investment to change values and behaviors, as successive governments, economic policies and technology platforms alike try to do.

    2. Twain Twain

      I agree, though, that the distribution of capital wealth to the company (founders, team, investors etc.) is a different argument from the distribution in information wealth to the global masses.The improved access does mean that someone can learn how to program in a bedroom somewhere in the world, create an app and become successful.It means that people can send money to family and friends via a text message on the most simple of mobiles.It means people can share their hardships and triumphs and we can all realize that, when we take away all the accoutrements, we are all very very human, altruistic, care about other humans.The income equality problem of “old boss is the new boss” is a different argument from the equality of access to information one, for sure.

    3. ShanaC

      you can transformative for some people and still for the vast majority be non-tranformative. It might be that this internet thing is still really radical and still in its early days though

  8. Richard Lee

    i think history will look back at technology the same way we look back at the industrial revolution, positively transformative (within a democratic society)

  9. Andrew Kennedy

    just read the preface. thanks for the rec. lots of great lines just in the preface. this is one of them: “Originality and depth eat away at profits online, where faster fortunes are made by aggregating work done by others, attracting eyeballs and ad revenue as a result.”

    1. Truthiness

      I know, right? Like just linking to a Ride Share app article that regurgitated a reporter’s work – an original article that could have easily been found and referenced in seconds – that took the actual reporter some time to research and write. Who would do something like that? I think that is the type of problem this book might discuss.

      1. fredwilson

        c’mon. can’t you find something better than that to give me shit about?

  10. Brandon Burns


    1. Dave Pinsen

      What’s the latest w/ Wander & Trade?

      1. Brandon Burns

        Good things are happening. I’m not ready to talk about them yet, but I will in the not-too-distant future.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Good to hear. Good luck with it.

          1. Brandon Burns


          2. Brandon Burns

            Maybe Fred should do a monthly community update post, like a short list of the most interesting updates from the AVC community on new things they’re doing.

          3. LE

            Maybe Fred should do a monthly community update postThat’s an assignment. Like having an editorial calendar.What’s the implementation procedure to even “do a monthly community update post”? What do you propose exactly? People mail FRED updates by [THIS DATE!] and Fred edits them and posts a column? [1]Or simply designate a day where anyone can write any update or anything that they want? That’s the way it is every day, right?[1] If it’s not clear in other words “ha ha” to that idea.

          4. Brandon Burns

            All you need is a place where people can say what they’re doing, and allow others to upvote (or congratulate or whatever). Like a Hackpad with upvote functionality (I’m sure this exists and, if it doesn’t, someone should build it).Then copy/paste the top ones into a blog post.Fred is always looking for easy posts on weekends. This copy/paste job should take under a minute. Editorialization welcome but not necessary.

          5. LE

            So once again you are suggesting that Fred take the time to sit down and make all of this happen? Or who? Who is going to actually do all this?Reminds me of all the ideas my Dad would have for me sitting at home as a retired person with time on his hands. Everything seemed “easy” and it was. But time is time.Specifically this:All you need is a place where …….if it doesn’t, someone should build it).Do they sell this at the Duane Reade and can Fred stop by on the way home and pick it up? What aisle? Sorry for the humor. It’s a fine idea. I just think there are enough parts to be a non starter.The MVP of course could just be a two line blog post which says essentially “Tell me what you are up to and how it is going”.

          6. Brandon Burns

            You’re either not seeing it, or you’re looking for a debate. :-)As Fred has done many times here on AVC, I made a Hackpad where anyone can imput what they want. It took less than one minute. Here it is:…If folks were to add things, reading through the list and picking the most interesting would maybe take 5 minutes? With upvote functionality, 10 seconds to copy and paste? I’m sure Fred spends longer than that on 90% of his daily AVC posts.I’m not saying its definitely something that should be done. I’m just demonstrating how ridiculously easy it is.

  11. RichardF

    I’d argue the opposite actually I think it is transformative but it’s an ongoing, slower and more subtle process than some people want…..but that’s evolution

    1. Truthiness

      RichardF I respect your argument and postulation. However, why such quick acts and transfers of large sums of money by a few key players then? If it is slow moving and more methodical than why the massive peaks and the resulting consequences (not always positive: concentrations of wealth, power, etc.) of the same?I respect your argument; it is idyllic and seemingly practical. I do not share it however.

      1. RichardF

        Its short term vs long term. I didn’t say it was methodical. Peaks and troughs are to be expected, that’s basic economics, human behaviour, life.”The peoples internet” is ideological horseshit as far as I’m concerned and all ideology is good for is creating wars. What is exciting and transformative about the internet is the step change in the availability of knowledge and communication that has been created. Those are the fundamentals, Twitter, Facebook and whatever else VC’s want to throw “their” money on are just part of the entertainment along the way (you know we are in a bubble when pet related start ups raise big)Eventually they will go the same way as AOL and GeoCities, some people will win, others will lose. Platforms are, as far as I am concerned, entertainment but the real value to society is still in the basic protocols.. SMTP, SMPP, HTTP that’s what’s transformative.I am amazed anyone can say the internet has been a disappointment it is fucking amazing.

  12. ZekeV

    I can’t seem to find a summary of Astra’s book anywhere. What is her conclusion?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Follow the link in Fred’s post to the Amazon page.

      1. ZekeV

        I did. The summary, excerpt, reviews do not state a point. I assume there’s something in there about how we can take back the Internet. I’m lazy so was hoping for the cliffs notes edition.

        1. JimHirshfield

          “lazy” <—you answered your own question right there. 😛

          1. ZekeV

            My question wasn’t am I lazy (I don’t need to ask you about that!) It was, can anyone summarize the point of this book for me? Apparently, no one can.I dutifully listened to a few youtube clips, and Astra mentions net neutrality as the “beginning” of how to take back the Internet, but doesn’t seem to have any clear proposals beyond that. She says it’s “hard” to change the dynamic in the advertising industry. Well yeah, hard to disagree. Maybe there’s more in her book?But, there are so many great books that I have yet to read.

          2. JimHirshfield

            We’re all too lazy to summarize the Amazon summary for you. Sorry.

          3. ZekeV

            My point is that the Amazon summary doesn’t explain how she proposes to take back the Internet, nor do any of the book reviews. I actually read as much as I could without paying for her book before I commented, buddy.

          4. JimHirshfield

            I understand. And I’m not seriously trying to give you a hard time.I think many nonfiction books lay out a position without necessarily proposing a solution. Not sure that’s the case here. I’d rather read the cliff notes version on things like this…I don’t need a whole book’s worth of examples and anecdotes based off of one simple premise. But I get that people want to write (and sell) books.

          5. ZekeV

            But we’re just enriching the copyright monopolists! 😉

        2. LE

          Also the Amazon page has nothing about Astra who she is why her opinion matters. I had to google that part. Interesting that that was missing.

  13. pointsnfigures

    I think the internet has been transformative in many ways for society. I don’t agree with regulated monopolies-but I think we are less under the thumb of our old bosses than we used to be. The internet will kill big government regulation someday, and that’s a good thing.

  14. jason wright

    the hypernet will set you free

    1. JimHirshfield

      or freemium

      1. jason wright


  15. plango101

    Hard to have a “people’s platform” when the money and execs that drive the industry are focused on exits for **few** people. The public is just expected to cache them out, without vany control. Lawrence Lessig’s arguments fit perfectly well to most public companies and their boards. “People Platform” is a false meme, used by early stage startups when they need you, but just until they have got enough resources to deny their promises. See Twitter, Uber etc

  16. iggyfanlo

    Thanks for the share…1. Couple thoughts… if Albert recommends it, it’s going to the top or near the top of my reading list2. Yes, my old boss is the same as my new boss… my wife;-)

    1. JimHirshfield

      I forget where I got this from, but feel free to use it:”I make all the big decisions and my wife makes all the small decisions. So far, they’ve all been small decisions”

      1. iggyfanlo

        LOVE IT :-)My statement is always that I am the president, but my wife is the secretary of war… unfortunately, we are like Pakistan and while I get a lot of the “photo ops and accolades”, the military is really running things behind the scenes and a coup is always a possibility

        1. JimHirshfield

          Embrace Whirled Peas.

    2. Mario Cantin

      Good one. Today’s comment threads can use a little humor.

  17. Tom Labus

    Thanks for the recommendation, Fred.

  18. JamesHRH

    I will pass.The new boss is always the same as the old boss – humanity.

    1. Brandon Burns


  19. Hershberg

    I read this book shortly after it came out and thought it was fantastic.Here’s a short interview Astra Taylor did with Democracy Now that may be helpful for anyone looking to get a better sense of what she covers:

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      All very true !Still isn’t this just the recurring theme that is political history ?The potential of all new technologies to generate a more distributed fabric of wealth, power, education and control has always lagged far far behind the spirit of human hope and imagination.This is just the old “two step forward one step back” routine? But when you look in the rearview mirror at the printing press, industrialized mass production, telecommunications, ubiquitous computing and now ubiquitous/mobile global networking, in the end, they all have massively moved that distributional needle.It certainly seems true to me that the internet is being “built upside-down” by resurrecting and amplifying the old topdown oligarchic commercial/social structures atop the inherently distributive-potential of our new organically-networkable social medium.Doesn’t this speed bump just echoes the fact that the full social potential of the many previous technology waves have still not been fully baked into our social reality ?Commerial self-interest is the mother of all biological substrate undertows. Or as McLuhan points out the old-ground incumbents are always pulled kicking and screaming into the new-ground.So isn’t this just a generically necessary learning phase ?Don’t we need to experience the collective pain of pushing up against the in-congruencies, that are now surfacing, between the old centralized business-models and the social/commercial organizational potential inherent in our new distributive organizational medium thusly completing our traditionally pain based learning cycle?Surly at some point the old centralized business-models will simply collapse under the weight of their own illegitimate relationship to the potential social-efficiencies that are the new distributive organizational medium. Surly they will be disrupted by the new distributively-based experimenters now toying with the likes of the blockchain.Maybe that is what Web 4.0 or 5.0 will bring ?More investment and collective awareness of the profit potential in reaching for the higher hanging fruit that is distributive-organizing-potential all enabled by the visceral embrace of the network-effect as intuitive mass-culture meme.Maybe we’ll all get lucky/surprised and that distributively-organic organizational-disruption will arrive on accelerated “internet-time” ?On the pessimistic side let’s all hope this is not a case of:The unstoppable distributively-organic social-forcemeetsThe immovable object that is evolutionary-self-interestMaybe we are just hitting up against our evolutionary hull-speed ?:-(PSNot intending to diss the book here just chiming in to cheer on its important message. Especially disrupting the advertisers as interloping middle men to everything !

    2. fredwilson

      thanks for posting that video

    3. sigmaalgebra

      What she says in the video clip interview is both new and good, but the new is not good and the good, not new.Many blogs? Yes, those and long tail Web sites stand to be terrific, but that is old.Her concerns:Ads? They are not very dangerous.NBC on the Internet? Same old junk that will mostly die out. Why die out? Because NBC was always mostly just a result of McLuhan’s “the medium is the message”. So, they pumped out least common denominator (ah, without even using the Euclidean algorithm!) grab people by the heart, the gut, and below the belt, always below the shoulders, never between the ears. But that “message”, basically a case of one size fits nearly everyone, was made necessary by the “medium” of just a few channels, that is, a shortage of bandwidth. Now with much more bandwidth and many more channels, e.g., 1+ million blogs, we can have many more messages. Then, yes, with so many channels or messages, Internet users will need a means, say, TV Guide for the Internet age, to find the content they like; right, so far there’s no good way to do that; right, working on it.What she is worried about should be solved by many millions of channels and good means to find what want.I would summarize: She’s worried. About what? She’s worried about (1) from the two usual ones to worry about, (1) “hostile forces of society” and (2) “hostile forces of nature”. And where’d I get this insight? Sure, my usual source, E. Fromm, The Art of Loving.Continuing from Fromm, two of the possible solutions are (1) “love of spouse” and (2) “membership in a group” (Fromm again). In her role as an independent something or other, say, crying wolf, she is essentially trying (2) but (1) is more highly recommended. Net, she needs a good husband.Why is she so worried? Because for humans the fundamental problem of life is doing something effective about the anxiety we get from our realization (from our human intelligence) that alone we are vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature and society, right, paraphrased from Fromm. So, she feels too alone, on the Internet sees some hostile forces of society, feels vulnerable, has anxiety, and is worried.She might like Obama: She may see his recent statement on network neutrality as reducing the threat of the Internet as a hostile force of society. And Obama’s recent handshake with China over CO2 and, thus, reducing human caused global warming and climate change, to reduce the threat of the hostile forces of nature, e.g., rising sea levels and flooding NYC (think of the upside, kill the rats!).That people get afraid and that their fears can be exploited is a very old story going back at least to the old English morality plays. And, the scam was international, e.g., from page 76 of Susan Milbrath, Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars, (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies), ISBN-13 978-0292752269, University of Texas Press, 2000. with “Indeed, blood sacrifice is required for the sun to move, according to Aztec cosmology (Durian 1971:179; Sahaguin 1950 – 1982, 7:8).” Does Mother Nature believe that women being so subject to anxiety has reproductive advantage? Long ago I had to conclude so.

  20. WA


  21. Matt Kruza

    Fred, frankly aren’t VC’s highly responsible for this? Maybe not individually, but the collective system is. All of the “excess” winnings / economic profits go to about 10 -15 companies per year (hell that is the thesis of Marc Andreeson) and thus to a VERY small part of society. there needs to be a better way to address this (many liberal AND conservative ideas abound), but how do you feel about this personally Fred? I get the impression having never met you, you are a good / upstanding guy, but do you think the “system” is broken?

    1. fredwilson

      that’s why i am reading the book Matt. i want to consider some of these ideas.

      1. Matt Kruza

        Great 🙂 I will look to read it as well

  22. LE

    by Astra Taylor.How does giving me a link to her twitter feed tell me who Astra is or why what she says is important? [1]Following the links this is what I find:Hidden Driver is the creative home of Laura Hanna and Astra Taylor, who use every medium at their disposal—documentary, animation, the written word, activist campaigning, and ethical spectacle making—to better understand the world, connect with others, and challenge the status quo.Here is some of the things that she is or has been involved in:Laura Hanna and Astra Taylor helped spearhead the Rolling Jubilee, a Strike Debt campaign that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it, liberating debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.…Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street that Laura Hanna and Astra Taylor have been active in. With stagnant wages, systemic unemployment, and public service cuts, we are forced to go into debt for the basic things in life while Wall Street profits. Using direct action,… …and so on. There are a bunch of these creative esoteric undertakings the sole purpose being a way for Astra and Laura to earn a living. Their “art” in other words.Lastly, here is the NY Times review of the book:…[1] Interesting entertainment but I have no clue why what she says makes any difference at all anymore than any other person.

    1. Truthiness

      Love Love Love the research effort. Agree, but curious as to your conclusion. Who cares? Why is what Fred or Albert say or recommend mean more, if it does? Where is the place for curiosity in 21st century? If we have new tools to allow for discovery but still require some social pyramid structure that gives more meaning to one person’s recommendation of a work of art, business, etc what good are these new tools?

      1. LE

        Why is what Fred or Albert say or recommend mean more, if it does?If I had the time to read books like this, and if I read books like this, I would be more likely to read it if Fred was reading it.Why? Because I comment on this blog and it makes sense for me to understand how Fred thinks or what is important to Fred. It adds to the entertainment factor and adds background color to what goes on here. And it allows me, and this is important, to construct an argument that works with Fred as opposed to Jim Hirshfield. In order to sell you have to understand someone’s hot buttons. [1]Fred obviously puts a great deal of weight behind what Albert likes which is why Fred is reading the book. Or also because it benefits Fred to mention Albert to the community to build Albert’s brand (see my other comment).My partner Albert recommended we read this book, The People’s Platform, by Astra Taylor.Fred also said Albert said “we” not “I”. If I take that literally it means Albert thought the AVC community would benefit from the book. Not everyone but a large part of the community.If we have new tools to allow for discovery but still require some social pyramid structure that gives more meaning to one person’s recommendation of a work of art, business, etc what good are these new tools?Which is an excellent point. So maybe the tools don’t allow you to be able to narrow down something that a close friend might be able to do but the tools only provide generalized info for many people that isn’t helpful. Some people have tried to use algorithms to change that but that doesn’t work the same as a friend that knows you.[1] I recently had a customer that made a large set of demands to be involved in all phases of a project I was working on. Knowing he was a former movie director and a creative type I told him that what I did was a creative process and I couldn’t have someone messing with my creative brain. Or I would “stutter” when I was thinking (brain, not words). This is true. I didn’t make it up. But I likewise have not trotted that argument out to non creative people. But I knew enough to know that it would work with a creative type. And it did. He apologized, said he understood and didn’t meddle in the process at all.. That’s part of what selling is. Knowing about the person being sold to and hitting their hot buttons.

        1. Truthiness

          “That’s part of what selling is. Knowing about the person being sold to and hitting their hot buttons.”Yep, in general. And the pyramid social structure, as I’ll call it, still has too much influence on “selling” – or being accepted, if you prefer. Which is why my position (formed long before Astra wrote her book) and the premise, it appears, of the Internet remaining sub-optimized in the words of the author.As you replied below to another reply to a post I made (I think), Fred’s mention of Albert, if by design, makes sense. I do not disagree but I also understand that if that act plays to and emboldens the power of scale of social structure and influence, it might very well be a culprit in the Internet’s current status – as defined by today’s overarching topic: Internet as the same old boss — driven by popularity and fueled by eyeballs/advertising.That is why I say hacking new tools will likely do little. It is hacking mindset and action that I believe is needed. Do I spend as much, or more, time researching things now more easily accessible because of new technologies? Do I take a chance and read something, or watch something, or listen to something that I find created by some unknown? Or, do I still rely on recommendations of the famous and fortuned (i.e. rich)? If fame and fortune are still the predominating influencers of successfully selling, enticing, coaxing, etc. then the creation of new tools will not by themselves change that? Can they? Will they?The statements will easily seem hypocritical because I am spending time posting here on his blog today. So I want to address that. I don’t read Fred’s blog much anymore and have not really commented for years. The only reason I even knew of today’s post is because I was following comments made by a reporter, seemingly unrelated to Fred’s post today but actually related.Thanks again for the reply. And as I stated earlier, really love you did the research on the author and dug deeper – something made practical by the ‘new’ tools. Curiosity and creativity go hand-in-hand; I am not at all to read that you are involved in some creative work.

          1. Truthiness

            Oops! Sorry LE”I am not at all to read that you are involved in some creative work.”Dammit! Should’ve written: I am not at all surprised to read that you are involved in some creative work.

    2. ZekeV

      Agreed! What is her point? I can’t really make one out.

  23. LE

    Astra’s perspective, to use my words not hers, is the promise of the Internet to be transformative for society has largely been a disappointment and “the new boss is the same as the old boss.”I guess she must have missed the [1] “committee meeting” and the “summit” where the “internet was formed” and people got together and decided that nobody would be in charge and there wasn’t any particular agenda upfront other than protecting us in the case of nuclear attack.[1] Or was it I who missed the meeting that she attended where it was decided that the internet would be formed to be “transformative for society”?

    1. Hershberg

      I guess you must have missed the 288 pages of text that lay out her argument in detail.

      1. LE

        Why that book and why her opinion? And assumes that her opinion even matters at all. She is not AO Scott writing a history of film and I’m not seeing why her points matter or should be taken as some kind of truth. Who vets what she says anyway? That’s actually a reason why I rarely read “books” like this anymore. Someone says something and you don’t even know without a great deal of work whether what they are saying is even true or not.Since you read the book if you could detail exactly the point which I am referring to which is “promise of the internet to be transformative for society” in other words who made that promise? Nobody did. I never cared at all and I suspect many people using the internet really don’t care or even think about the transformative nature of the internet. They just use the internet period and find value in it.

        1. Hershberg

          I’m not suggesting that her points should be taken as “some kind of truth.” I’m simply saying that it’s generally a good idea to actually hear someone’s argument before dismissing what they have to say. The idea that you’d form a strong opinion based on 15 words that Fred prefaced with “my words, not hers” is asinine.

          1. LE

            The idea that you’d form a strong opinion based on 15 words that Fred prefaced with “my words, not hers” is asinine.I’ve done pretty well with jumping to conclusions about things why stop now? Do you think someone making blog comments has time to heavy lift for each and every thing that they say? [1]Hard to see why you think I should need to read a book (of 288 pages no less) prior to making a comment on this blog. I’m not writing an opinion column for the WSJ or a book review. In which case the word “asinine” would be appropriate.[1] Do you read AVC regularly? If you did you’d see that I’m one of the people that actually makes an attempt to back up what I say with links and/or personal knowledge or insight.

          2. Hershberg

            I didn’t say you needed to read the book before commenting — there are plenty of valuable comments that have been left by people who apparently haven’t read it either — just that I try not to judge books that are hundreds of pages in length based on 15-word summaries.And yes, I read AVC regularly. At least, regularly enough to not only know you try to back arguments up, but that you also like to argue points that no one is actually making:

          3. LE

            but that you also like to argue points that no one is actually making:Well I don’t dispute that at all. You’re right.And although I could spin it as “good for the community” or “in order for people to learn” (or something like that) the fact is I write what I want to write when I want to write it and (as I have pointed out before) while I’d like people to agree with what I have to say and applaud it, I’m definitely not running a popularity contest. But fwiw I don’t have an agenda either (to stir the pot or anything like that) I just say what I want.

  24. William Mougayar

    Well, the “old order” is the same but it’s about to change drastically with decentralized applications that will enable more peer to peer empowerment. Previously, decentralization meant anarchy, but with new distributed technologies (like blockchain related), we can have more orderly empowerment and it will touch a lot more people at the societal level.I’m not sure if this book just gripes about the past 20 years, or if it proposes a better future evolution, but will certainly read it.

    1. Greg Kieser


    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Aren’t we just suffering a little temporary future shock ?Given the unlimited array of organically-networked social/process synchronizations suddenly made not just possible but in deed very practically doable it will inevitably take us some time to unpack/discover all this discarnate organizational potential.I’m straining for a cliché here… wait… wait… wait… oh there it is”Rome wasn’t built in a day”

      1. William Mougayar

        Time will tell!

  25. Greg Kieser

    Will give it a read. I concur in some respects that “the new boss is same as the old boss.” But I do think the blockchain will help resolve some of that concentration of power. Without an easy way to transmit value on the internet companies have concentrated power around payments – for many internet business storing your credit card is a key offering that keeps you coming back and makes it difficult to go elsewhere. I see bitcoin and friends breaking down many of the walls that now prevent information, ideas and other assets to flow. Buying the book now!

    1. William Mougayar

      Exactly. Hail to the blockchain 🙂

  26. Gregory Magarshak

    Interesting. I’m going to take a look but the phenomena on internet are so varied I doubt any “new boss is same as old boss” conclusion can apply to EVERYTHING. Have you read Clay Shirky back in the day? His whole shtick was how the internet disrupts Institutions… and I often think along those lines as well:…I think the internet has empowered individuals and united communities, although most of this has taken place online. One of the most striking examples of disrupting existng institutions has been the Arab Spring, as people were able to unite in ways previously not possible. Online purchasing has revolutionized entire industries, and will continue to do so. In fact, the internet together with advances in automation and logistics have disrupted capitalism’s assumption that the employer values his local labor force and will pay them a good wage. Wealth is now being distributed around the world. One of the US’s greatest exports now is digital content and IP – no wonder we have a strong lobby for IP protections, a lot of the money comes via contracts based around digital content and ideas. And also why the US needs a faster internet to attract business in the 21st century.But yeah I’d like to read and see who the book thinks the new “boss” is. Is it obvious in the first few chapters?

  27. bmathes

    Oh man. This is such a great topic.It’s not the newest of stories, either. Tim Wu lays out the pattern of information platforms as they cycle from open and free to consolidated empire.Western Union was consolidated power.Then phone companies were wild and free, then AT&T consolidated.Then cable stations were wild and free, then Comcast/Time Warner consolidated.Then the internet was wild and free, then ??? consolidated?

  28. Pete Griffiths

    It has always been this way.Every single new form of media throughout history has been hailed as the vehicle that will open new doors of learning and participation. Books, newspapers, radio, tv, film… And every single one has been hijacked by entertainment. And one of the most powerful such forms of entertainment has always been sex. Porn rules.(For an interesting take by a leading intellectual of his time on how media was going to revolutionize society it is interesting to reflect on the contributions of John Reith, the first controller of the BBC.… )

  29. Jason Bremer

    Sounds as though Taylor makes points similar to Jaron Lanier’s “Who Own’s the Future?” Lanier is compelling and a joy to read. I would add the book to your list…..

  30. Chad Kohalyk

    I reviewed this for the Literary Review of Canada (Taylor is a Canadian, so her work was selected for the magazine).# Occupy the Internet!## A passionate rallying cry against digital inequality.…TLDR; very important topics… not very thorough thinking on them.

  31. Aslinda Barus Handel

    Hi… i want to see. where is book d you mean?