Internet for the People: The Fight for Our Digital Future

Verso. Jun. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781839762024. $24.95. TECH
Tarnoff (Voices from the Valley) offers a comprehensive yet palatable history and critique of the internet as it relates to corporatization and profitability. The first part of the book explains how the dominant internet service providers and their infrastructure came into being, practically and politically. The second half is about the companies and organizations that have used internet infrastructure to create and deliver products or services (from dot-com-era start-ups to present-day giants like Facebook and Google). Throughout this easy-reading narrative history, Tarnoff weaves his thesis that the internet must be de-privatized for the good of users, and his political argument becomes increasingly more pointed as it goes on. He uses simple analogies, such as equating online platforms to shopping malls, to explain complicated technical and policy information in ways that will make readers feel like they truly comprehend the vast black box that is the internet.
VERDICT Tarnoff’s politically infused history and critical analysis of the privatized internet is a useful, brief primer for readers with no prior knowledge on the subject.
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