David Daley of Salon reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
Google Glass wearers, Kindle readers, music downloaders, creative-class hopefuls toiling for free in new media content farms, unite! You have nothing to lose.
That's the message behind Astra Taylor's essential manifesto "The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age."
In this idealistic - yet rigorous and clear-eyed - argument, Taylor takes on crucial contradictions: If the Internet was supposed to democratize media, culture and politics, how have a handful of companies come to dominate what we see and hear? And what power do we have as individuals, beyond merely liking something on Facebook?
Taylor is not anti-technology, a Luddite, or a naive nostalgist who mourns some make-believe pre-Internet era when our politics and culture were perfect. She's a progressive thinker who's enthusiastic about the Internet's potential to amplify new voices and destroy the old barriers to entry which once made a few Hollywood executives and music-industry suits our cultural gatekeepers. Taylor believes we've been living with the Internet long enough to draw conclusions about the ways in which things have actually changed.
Taylor's really asking us to consider the kind of world we want to live in. She is the Marshall McLuhan or the Neil Postman of our new digital economy, the lonely voice raising urgent questions we need to answer together, or else surrender our choices to Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon.
In six years, we've lost 30 percent of all paid media jobs in America. In the last week, Rizzoli Books, J&R Music World and Pearl Paint and Craft joined the list of vanished New York institutions. So how do we support what matters as old business models disappear? How do we value creative work - and who profits from it? If "The People's Platform" doesn't spark the conversation about the kind of democracy and culture we deserve, then we'll deserve the one we get.
For more book reviews, visit salon.com.