Cover image for The Internet is Not the Answer
The Internet is Not the Answer
Keen, Andrew, author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2015]

Physical Description:
x, 273 pages ; 24 cm
A former Internet entrepreneur discusses the negative effects the Internet has on human psychology, the economy, and culture and shows how big data companies are trying to monetize every normal human function.

"Since its creation during the Cold War, the Internet, together with the World Wide Web, personal computers, tablets, and smartphones, has ushered in the Digital Revolution, one of the greatest shifts in society since the Industrial Revolution. There are many positive ways in which the Internet has contributed to the world, but as a society we are less aware of the Internet's deeply negative effects. In 2007, Andrew Keen, a longtime Silicon Valley-based observer of the digital world and a serial Internet entrepreneur, published one of the first Internet-sceptic books, The Cult of the Amateur, which asked how quality content can be created in an online environment that demands everything for free. In Keen's new book, The Internet Is Not the Answer, he offers a comprehensive look at what the Internet is doing to our lives. The book traces the technological and economic history of the Internet, from its founding in the 1960s to the creation of the World Wide Web in 1989, through the waves of start-ups and the rise of the big data companies to the increasing attempts to monetize almost every human activity. Successful Internet companies have produced astronomical returns on investment, and venture capital and the profit motive have become the primary drivers of innovation. In this sharp, witty narrative, informed by the work of other writers, reporters, and recent academic studies as well as his own research and interviews, Keen shows us the tech world, warts and all--from hoodie-wearing misfit millionaires, to the NSA's all-encompassing online surveillance, to the impact of the Internet on unemployment and economic inequality. The Internet Is Not the Answer is a big-picture look at what the Internet is doing to our society and an investigation into what we can do to try to make sure that the decisions we are making about the reconfiguring of our world do not lead to unpleasant, unforeseen aftershocks" --
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HM851 .K444 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Audubon Library HM851 .K444 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Eggertsville-Snyder Library HM851 .K444 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library HM851 .K444 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library HM851 .K444 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The Internet, created during the Cold War, has now ushered in one of the greatest shifts in society since the Industrial Revolution. There are many positive ways in which the Internet has contributed to the world, but as a society we are less aware of the Internet's deeply negative effects on our psychology, economy, and culture. In The Internet Is Not the Answer , Andrew Keen, a twenty-year veteran of the tech industry, traces the technological and economic history of the internet from its founding in the 1960s through the rise of the big data companies to the increasing attempts to monetize almost every human activity, and investigates how the internet is reconfiguring our world--often at great cost. In this sharp, witty narrative, informed by the work of other writers, academics, and reporters, as well as his own wide-ranging research and interviews, Keen shows us the tech world, warts and all, and investigates what we can do to make sure the choices we make about the reconfiguring of our society do not lead to unpleasant unforeseen aftershocks.

Author Notes

Andrew Keen is an Internet entrepreneur who founded in 1995 and built it into a popular first generation Internet company. He is the currently the executive director of the Silicon Valley salon FutureCast, the host of a long-running Techcrunch chat show called "Keen On", a columnist for CNN and a regular commentator for many other newspapers, radio and TV networks around the world. He is also an acclaimed speaker, regularly addressing the impact of digital technologies on 21st century business, education and society. He is the author of the international sensation Cult of the Amateur , which has been published in 17 different languages. His most recent book is Digital Vertigo .

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Keen wants you to know that the Internet has not lived up to its early promise. Rather than fostering an environment of intellectual and social democracy, it has spawned a rule-by-mob culture, promoted narcissism and voyeurism, encouraged intolerance and exclusivity, created global monopolies, increased unemployment, and decimated whole industries. The author seems downright bitter about the way corporate behemoths like Google and Amazon promote themselves as uncompanies, as zippy alternatives to old-world corporations. Make no mistake, this is an angry book, but Keen tempers his invective with cold, hard facts (Amazon's contribution to the upheaval in the publishing and retail sectors, for example). Is this a balanced look at the benefits and drawbacks of the Internet? No. There are books that provide that, but this one is designed to give people who think of the Internet as a sort of democratic digital paradise a hard dose of reality (or one interpretation of reality). Sure to be condemned by some for its seemingly one-sided approach, the book nevertheless clearly stakes out a position in the ongoing debate over what the digital age has wrought.--Pitt, David Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Keen (Digital Vertigo) presents an damning indictment of the Internet and digital technology, arguing that they have failed to deliver on their promises of fostering greater democracy and openness. Keen acknowledges that new technology is reshaping society but asserts, "It hasn't transformed the role of either power or wealth in the world." Instead, we're seeing "deepening inequality of wealth and opportunity." Keen points repeatedly to the Internet's destructive impact on jobs, noting that the private sector employs fewer and fewer people, even as profit levels rise; new technology companies are destroying jobs without creating new ones. And the Internet fosters voyeurism, narcissism, and misogyny; it enables unprecedented and untold information gathering and surveillance. Keen has a deep understanding of technology and concedes that "the Internet is not all bad." But he argues that the negatives outweigh the positives, and that the self-important Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of the 21st century "have much in common with the capitalist robber barons of the first industrial revolution." Though Keen misses several opportunities to genuinely, journalistically engage with the examples he draws, he offers a well-written, convincing critique of Silicon Valley, and a worthy read for anyone with an email account. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Keen (Digital Vertigo; The Cult of the Amateur) argues that today's Internet business models have harmed society by ushering in a vastly unequal distribution of economic power and value. He contrasts the industry's early years-a result of government and academic research and featuring a lack of monetization-with its "disruptive" recent incarnation. He declares that the Internet became monetized-and detrimental to most of society-starting in the 1990s, roughly with the rise of the modern web browser and companies such as Amazon and eBay ("Web 1.0"). Today, Keen argues, users provide content to sites including Facebook and Instagram free of charge, while the companies sell our data to make billions of dollars for their handful of executives. These technology companies also have few employees compared to businesses that were subject to the models of the past. Keen acknowledges that the modern Internet is not all bad, but insists it can do better. He argues for more oversight and laws, such as France's "anti-Amazon" law that prohibits free shipping on discounted books. A well-written work, though topics sometimes appear disjointed. VERDICT A must-read for technophiles and business leaders, or those curious about technology's societal effects.-Leigh Mihlrad, FDIC Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

It is a difficult situation to be fully in agreement with everything an author says in a book and still not feel that a solid argument was made. The Internet Is Not the Answer, written by Keen, a successful Silicon Valley insider and technology journalist, addresses the ways in which the Internet is leading people down the wrong path to the future, particularly in the context of job loss, the diminishing middle class, and the concentration of wealth. The book is mostly anecdotal, though the anecdotes are well annotated. The author asks some hard questions, but not many, and he does not explore them at a depth that would allow readers to think about interesting tangents, historical parallels, and hard answers. The book seemingly works from the assumption that the best choice is to preserve a no-longer-extant status quo rather than give deep thought on the challenge of moving forward. What it has to say is important, and it is an excellent snapshot of the current state of the IT industry. However, from a perspective of social commentary, Alice Marwick's Status Update (CH, May'14, 51-5062) might be a better choice. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. All levels/libraries. --Peter Lawrence Kantor, formerly, Southern Vermont College



No, the more the future unfolds, the clearer it has become that Internet is not the answer. The more we use the network, the less value it actually brings to us. It is more like a negative feedback loop, a digital vicious cycle in which it is us, the web's users, who are its victims rather than beneficiaries. Rather than making us wealthier, the digital revolution is making most of us poorer. Rather than generating more jobs, it is a principle cause of our structural unemployment crisis. Rather than creating more economic competition, it has created new, leviathan-like monopolists like Apple, Google, and Amazon. Rather than promoting economic justice, it is a central reason for the growing gulf between rich and poor and the hollowing out of the middle and working classes. Rather than creating transparency and openness, it is creating a panopticon of information gathering and surveillance in which we, the users of supposedly "free" big data products like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have been packaged up as the all-too-transparent product. Rather than creating more democracy, it is empowering the rule of the mob. Rather than encouraging tolerance, it has unleashed such a distasteful war on women that many females no longer feel welcome on the Internet. Rather than making us happy, it's compounding our disappointment and anger. Rather than fostering a cultural renaissance, it has created a selfie-centered culture of voyeurism and narcissism. Rather than establishing more diversity, it is massively enriching a tiny group of young white men in black limousines. So if the Internet is not the answer, then what is the question? Excerpted from The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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