April 18th 2017
MOVE FasT and Break Things
How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy
A stinging polemic that traces the destructive monopolization of the Internet by Google, Facebook and Amazon, and that proposes a new future for musicians, journalists, authors and filmmakers in the digital age.
Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the Internet, in the process creating a set of monopoly firms—Facebook, Amazon and Google—that now determine the future of the music, film, television, publishing and news industries.
Taplin offers a succinct and powerful history of how we got to this point. He begins with a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs, Peter Thiel and Larry Page among them, who in the 1990s began to hijack the original decentralized version of the Internet. Taplin show how these firms and individuals began to shape online life in their own image: tolerating piracy of books, music and film while at the same time promoting opaque business practices and subordinating privacy of individual users to create the surveillance marketing monoculture in which we now live.
The enormous profits that have come with this concentration of power tell their own story. Since 2001, newspaper and music revenues have fallen by 70%, book publishing, film and television profits have also fallen dramatically. Revenues at Google in this same period grew from $400 million to $74.5 Billion. Google’s YouTube today controls 60% of the streaming audio business and pays only 11% of the streaming audio revenues. More creative content is being consumed that ever before, but less revenue is actually flowing to creators and owners of the content.
If you think this is a problem only for musicians, or journalists, you are wrong. With the reallocation of money to monopoly platforms comes a shift in power. Google, Facebook and Amazon now enjoy political power on par with Big Oil and Big Pharma, which makes finding solutions to this problem even more difficult.
But Taplin has answers. Move Fast and Break Things offers a vital, forward-thinking way for how artists everywhere can reclaim their audiences with knowledge of the past and determination to work together. Using his own half century career as a music and film producer and early pioneer of streaming video online, Taplin offers solutions that would allow us all to reimagine the design of the World Wide Web and specifically our interaction with the firms that dominate it.