Book review

A contrarian takes on the internet, again

21 Mar 2015

Internet critic Andrew Keen might be the man for the times, but his new book fails to convince

The American historian Melvin Kranzberg once wrote that “technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.” It’s a lovely observation that reminds us of the fundamentally social nature of technological change.

Little of what an invention might do to us, and for us, is predetermined; instead, its possibilities and dangers typically arise from how it is adopted, used and commercialised by humans – how, in Kranzberg’s words, it “interacts in different ways with different values and institutions.”

This lesson about the perils of determinism, something that all students of media history learn in their earliest lectures, is one that writer and Silicon Valley insider Andrew Keen seems hell-bent on challenging in his latest book, The Internet Is Not the Answer, an engaging but infuriating manifesto about digital culture…

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