Sunday, February 22, 2015

An important book

I have just read an important book all should read.  It is The Internet is not the Answer by Andrew Keen.  As readers of my blog know, I am increasingly disturbed by the impact of what I call the electronic world upon us all.  We are enveloped (literally) in it.  Anything I do, where I do it, when I do it and what I do with it, can be tracked, as my life is monitored from minute to minute, my shopping preferences noted, my reading choices logged, my finances closely scrutinized and my telephone calls snooped on.

I am always surprised at the welcome given to all new inventions emerging almost daily from this electronic world, apparently with little thought given to any possible downside to them.  The latest evidence for this is the attention the fashion world is now paying to designing clothes with inbuilt pockets for mobile phones and all the other computer equipment people now carry with them, and with a self-charging capacity so that as we walk along we can charge this equipment up without the need to find a socket somewhere to plug it in.  We will in effect be plugged into ourselves. I had to look at my diary to check whether I had skipped a few months and this was April Fool’s Day!

Andrew Keen’s book points to the many pitfalls of this electronic world, not only ahead of us, but, dismayingly, already all too evident here and now.  The large all-powerful, all-devouring companies of Amazon, Google and the like already hold so much of our lives in thrall that it feels as though there is little any of us can do to counter their power except increasingly protest at this power and make, as I do, our own small gestures of protest.  These include doing things like buying my books at a small local bookshop rather than through Amazon, and buying my newspaper from my small local newsagent rather than at Tesco’s, so much more conveniently closer to hand.

So books like this one by Andrew Keen, based on very detailed, insider evidence of the terrifying consequences of all these huge monoliths gradually taking over ever larger slices of our life, are essential reading, particularly for those, such as politicians, wielding more power than I can ever do.  They do have the chance to halt the progression of these juggernauts over the land.  But at least people are now increasingly awake to the injustice of their hiding away their huge profits in secret tax havens in such a way as to avoid paying taxes on them, and are demanding action on this.  A small but, I hope, significant step. 

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