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The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation

Candidly, I probably don't agree with Cory Doctorow with much politically, and think he doesn't fully acknowledge how tech has improved many lives. However, the ideas Cory discusses—who controls and primarily benefits from computation and corporate centralization—are incredibly important.

This book doesn't just rant about the woes of big tech; it explores the dark corners of corporate centralization and how we aren't necessarily the direct beneficiaries. In fact, the important discussion here isn't about limiting power, necessarily, but about making sure everyone benefits from tech. This is a subtle difference, and while Doctorow does indeed rant about big tech monopolies, he has a lot of pragmatic suggestions—that actually could be implemented—to offer. Right to repair, reverse engineer, adversarial interoperability, remove DRM, and more.

And, he's right. I've explored this idea in Common Digital Infrastructure — we're lucky that we got a mostly open internet, and this isn't the natural state of things. Minimally, whether you agree with him or not, his ideas are important to discuss, because there's no current cultural discussion about how we can ensure that tech is good for all. I learned a ton, and recommend this book. If you want a shorter introduction to Doctorow's ideas, this talk is great.


These are entirely subjective, and roughly try to capture my personal enjoyment and usefulness, and how likely I'd recommend it to others. Don't read too much into this unless you love my judgement. Rough guidelines:

A: Top quartile. Changed the way I think about something.

B: Worthwhile. I took away something useful.

C: Didn't hit, wouldn't directly recommend. Likely won't revisit.

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