How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality | Foer (Washington Post)

How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality; Franklin Foer; In The Washington Post; 2017-09-08.
Teaser: The perils of monopoly.

tl;dr → A jeremiad. They’re stealing your soul, you know that don’t you? The book promotion. It’s so bad, even the good parts are bad. The youngs, these days, they have no sense of the noblesse oblige, as we, their betters and progenitors, did. They are untutored, unwashed, and self-absorbed. As ingrates they come. The Republic will fail for it. Mark the time, and where you were.


Franklin Foer; World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech; Penguin Press; 2017-09-12; 272 pages; ASIN:1101981113: Kindle: $14, paper: $18+SHT; previously filled.


  • Exxon
  • McDonald’s
  • Walmart
  • Google
  • Larry Page
  • Sergey Brin
  • Amazon
    “the everything store”
  • Whole Foods
  • cloud, The Cloud
  • Jeff Bezos
  • The Washington Post
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • “personal assistant”
  • artificial intelligence software
  • Google Glass
  • Apple Watch
  • Brin has
  • Some Book, cited via Google Books.
  • An Article; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Esquire (the lad’s mag); WHEN?
  • Facebook
  • Mark Zuckerberg, “chief,” Facebook.
  • Zuckerberg on Privacy; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In VentureBeat; 2010-05-13.
  • Silicon Valley Libertarian Revolution; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Politico; 2014-07.
  • Silicon Valley’s Ayn Rand Obsession; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Vanity Fair; 2016-10.
  • Ayn Rand
  • the titans of tech
  • Facebook Newsfeed Personalization Hussein Mehana; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Motherboard; WHEN?
  • The big tech companies (again)
  • The Europeans
  • Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon (GAFA)
  • shredding the principles that protect individuality.
  • Authors Guild v. Google; status statement; WHEN?
  • Some Jeremiad; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Wired; WHEN?
  • Peter Thiel, boffo
    investor, Facebook
  • Peter Thiel, Blake Masters; Zero to One, Crown Business; ;2014-09-18; 224 pages; site, ASIN:0804139296: Kindle: $15, paper: $9+SHT.
  • the tech companies (again)
  • <paywalled>A Complaint; Staff; In The Financial Times; WHEN?<paywalled>
  • algorithms, their algorithms
  • monopolies

Something about agriculture; Big Food. Big Food is bad.
The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In The New York Times (NYT); 2013-02-24.
Author?; The Omnivore’s Dilemmna: The Natural History of Means; Publisher; WHEN; ASIN:0143038583
It is without any indication of irony that Franklin Foer cites Amazon as the authoritative site for the book; not the publisher of the book, nor its companion promotional site, but Amazon. <belaboring>Amazon bad, remember?<belaboring>
industrial farming

  • Facebook Live
  • Facebook
  • Very Long Title (something about Facebook, audience, advantage); Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In The New York Times (NYT); 2016-05-06.
  • Article (about that “blue” dress); Some Linkbaitist; In Buzzfeed; WHEN?
  • “Game of Thrones,” the evergreen content fountain.
  • <quote>Old media had a pack mentality, too, but the Internet promised something much different.</quote>
  • Facebook
  • Authors?; Some Article; In An ACM Publication; WHEN?; paywall
  • two hive minds, The Archetypes
    • the entrepreneur
    • the author
  • Eli Pariser; A Talk; performed at Theater, Entertainment & Delight (TED); WHEN?
  • Eli Pariser; The Filter Bubble; Publisher; WHEN?; N pages; ASIN:B0050FLOMI
    tl;dr → unironic. op. cit, supra.
  • feedback loop
  • Facebook Filter Bubble; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Motherboard; WHEN?
  • the 2016 presidential election
  • The Russians
  • dubious agitprop via Facebook.
  • Occupy Democrats
  • The Angry Patriot
  • Being Liberal
  • Facebook
  • elites
  • gatekeepers.
  • sycophantic to power and snobbish
  • Executives of Silicon Valley
  • Silicon Valley (again)
  • lead-footed government
  • dynamism of [publishing] technology
  • Google
  • Eric Schmidt, of Google.
  • Eric Schmidt Testimony; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In Search Engine Land; 2011-09.
  • free products
  • next-day delivery
  • Why Startups are Struggline (because, there be The Giants…); Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In MIT Technology Review; WHEN?
  • the proliferation of falsehoods and conspiracies through social media
  • the dissipation of our common basis for fact
  • conditions ripe for authoritarianism.


  • a coterie, of corporations
  • the tech monopolies
  • the technologist’s view of the world
  • Ayn Rand
  • the titans of tech
  • The big tech companies
  • The big tech companies (again)
  • Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon (GAFA)
  • shredding the principles that protect individuality.
  • hostility toward intellectual property
  • the tech companies (again)
  • algorithms, their algorithms
  • monopolies
  • <quote>They have compiled an intimate portrait of the psyche of each user — a portrait that they hope to exploit to seduce us into a compulsive spree of binge clicking and watching. <quote>

<commentariat>Whereas history rhymes, in another age: someone, many ones, wrote this same piece against railing against the uber-baddies of the era: Uber (sic), Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Steel, Big Meat, ITT, IBM, AT&T, Western Union, Standard Oil, The Trusts, The East India Company.</commentariat>
<commentariat>You know, if you don’t like what’s in the news, then go out and make some for yourself.</commentariat>


In The Washington Post

Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture | The New Yorker

Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture, also appearing in non-clickbait non-machine readable settings (i.e. in paper-print) as “The Content of No Content”; Elizabeth Kolbert (bio); In The New Yorker; 2017-08-28.
Teaser: What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean for our culture.

tl;dr → a paean to the two jeremiads.


Book Promotion


Each reference in the original article points at Amazon.
Because she can; because it is easy. And, most importantly: what else could she do?

Does this obviate the argument presented?
Of course.


GAFA, attributed to “the Europeans”
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Apple


The Victorian Internet

By way of convention in these things, requisite throat clearing: a story, a parable, concerning the election of 1876 wherein the Republicans, once before had lost the popular vote but “stole” the election with subtrefuge, misdirection, technical trickery and outright dishonesty. To wit:

  • 1876-11-07,
  • Lucy Hayes, Mrs. Rutherford B Hayes.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Samuel J. Tilden, Democrat, candidate for President (he lost).
  • Electoral College.
  • William Henry Smith
    “ran” the “western arm” Associated Press
  • Collusion, there was.
  • Western Union
    a “monopoly” over telgraph lines
  • The election is thrown into dispute.
  • “Hayesociated Press”
  • 1877-03-05, the New York Sun appeared with a black border on the front page.
  • 1877-03-07, Rutherford B. Hayes is inaugurated.
  • <quote>History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.</quote>, attributed to Mark Twain.


  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
    • Google Books
    • YouTube
  • Napster, deceased


  • Jeff Bezos
  • Dale Andrew Carnegie
  • Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook.
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Judy Collins
  • Bob Dylan
  • Levon Helm, drummer, The Band
  • George Harrison, sponsor, The Concert for Bangladesh.


  • Digital Media Copyright Act
  • Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
    • Jimi Wales’ Wiki
    • 2011-Fall
    • Sponsors
      • Senator Marco Rubio, FL
      • Someone else
    • Backers
      • National District Attorneys Association
      • National League of Cities,
      • Association of Talent Agencies
      • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    • 2012-02, Google acts: the black search page.


  • “The Koch brothers” are bad, per Jonathan Taplin.
  • Google is bad, like “The Koch brothers”, per Jonathan Taplin.
  • The Huffington Post (a.k.a. HuffPost) stands accused of pilfering aggregating “content” by Franklin Foer.
  • Newspapers are good,
    exemplars of such goodness:
  • The Washington Times
  • The Washington Post.
  • Big Tech
  • Facebook, is bad
  • paywalls, are good.

Stolley’s Law

  • Attributed to Dick Stolley, in “the nineteen-eighties.”
  • Dick Stolley, was founding editor of People
  • A formula for magazine cover images
    • Young is better than old.
    • Pretty is better than ugly.
    • Rich is better than poor.
    • Movies are better than music.
    • Music is better than television.
    • Television is better than sports.
    • And anything is better than politics.

On “Virality”

  • Chartbeat,
    automates Stolley’s Law.
  • Cecil The Lion, 2015, shot, arrow, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, a dentist, from Minnesota.
  • Donald Trump
  • <quote>Trump began as Cecil the Lion, and then ended up president of the United States</quote>, attributed to Franklin Foer.


  • Stewart Brand
  • Ken Kesey
    dropping a lot of acid
  • The Whole Earth Catalog
  • Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link (WELL)
  • Rolling Stone, 1972
  • a prediction of “no more [need for] editors”, attributed to Stewart Brand
Vignette on the “Virality”
Something about politics and money…
  • Silicon Valley
  • Hillary Clinton.
  • Democratic National Committee
  • e-mails (But her emails? No, their emails, via Russia)
  • Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook.
  • John Podesta, campaign chairman, Hilary Clinton 2016.
  • listicles
  • fake news
  • Beqa Latsabidze
    • age 22
    • undergraduate, computer-science
    • Tbilisi
  • A traffic generation scheme
    • Pro-Hillary Clinton generates revenue.
    • Pro-Donald Trunp generates revenue.
    • <quote>For me, this is all about income<quote>, attributed to Beqa Latsabidze.

Anti-Trust Action

  • European Union
  • Google
  • $2.7-billion fine.
  • United States, Department of Justice
  • A.T. & T.,
  • Alleged
    Violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • Result
    • Consent decree
    • Signed 1956
    • A.T. & T. to license all the patents of Bell Labs, for a small fee.
  • The transistor.
  • The salubrious effect.

Google in 2016 is like A.T.&T . in 1956.


  • The craft workers must seize the means of production, attributed to Jonathan Like.
  • The parable of the artisanal cheesemakers, <quote>The culture industries need to present themselves as the organic alternative, a symbol of status and aspiration. Subscriptions are the route away from the aisles of clickbait. <snip>admonition to read a book</snip> If the tech companies hope to absorb the totality of human existence, then reading on paper is one of the few slivers of life that they can’t fully integrate”, attributed to Franklin Foer.


  • Magnum Photos
    • founded 1947
    • Robert Capa
    • Henri Cartier-Bresson
    • and others.

Contra Getty Images and Corbis.


In The New Yorker


He’s at that awkward age—too old to be cute, but not dead yet.

“He’s at that awkward age—too old to be cute, but not dead yet.”


World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech | Franklin Foer

Franklin Foer; World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech; Penguin Press; 2017-09-12; 272 pages; ASIN:1101981113: Kindle: $14, paper: $18+SHT.

Franklin Foer
  • Staff, The Atlantic
  • Fellow, New America Foundation.
  • How Soccer Explains the World,; Harper Perennial; 2013; 288 pages; ASIN:0061978051: Kindle: $10, paper: $3+SHT.
  • Winner: National Jewish Book Award.
  • ex-editor The New Republic; duration: 7 years.

tl;dr → GFAA is bad. GFAA is Google, Facebook, Apple,, Amazon.
and → <shrill><quote>At stake is nothing less than who we are, and what we will become.</quote></shrill>


What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean | Book Forum

What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean; Staff; Book Forum; 2017-08-31.

tl;dr → It is all very bad. Others opined; they recite. Pointers are given (Book Forum actaully is a book review meta-site, after all)


  • You Are The Product; John Lanchester; In London Review of Books; WHEN?
    (book) promotion

    • Tim Wu; The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads From the Daily Newspaper to Social Media, How Our Time and Attention is Harvested and Sold; Vintage, reprint; 2017-08-19; 432 pages; ASIN:0804170045: Kindle: $14, paper: $12+SHT.
    • Antonio Garcia Martinez; Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine; Harper; 2016-06-28; 528 pages; ASIN:0062458191: Kindle: $15, paper: $7+SHT.
  • Who Owns The Internet: What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean for our culture; Elizabeth Kolbert; In The New Yorker; 2017-08-28; separately filled.
    (book) promotion

    • Jonathan Taplin; Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon have Cornered Culture and What It Means for All of Us; separately filled.
    • Franklin Foer; World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech; separately filled.
  • Will Amazon take over the world?; Frank Pasquale; In Boston Review; WHEN?
    (book) promotion

    • Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism, (series) Theory Redux, Polity; 2016-12-27; 120 pages; ASIN:1509504877: Kindle: $8, paper: $11+SHT.
    • Trebor Scholz, Nathan Schneider; Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet; OR Books; 2017-08-15; 252 pages; ASIN:1944869336: Kindle: $12, paper: $13+SHT.
  • On the kerfluffle at New America vs Google vs Open Markets;
    a.k.a. patronage is a wonderful thing when it is given; patronage is mean and nasty suckage when it is withdrawn
    <advice>Don’t bite the hand that feeds ya!<advice>

  • The hated ones: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google (AAFG)
    • Nationalise Google Facebook Amazon Data Monopoly Platform Public Interest; ; In The Guardian; 2017-08-13.
      Teaser: A crisis is looming. These monopoly platforms hoovering up our data have no competition: they’re too big to serve the public interest
      Riposte: let’s walk before we run; how about we nationalize The Guardian and see how that pans out before moving on to digest an organization that is run by adults?
      (book) promotion

      • Nick Smicek is a lecturer in digital economy, King’s College London.
      • Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism, Theory Redux, Polity; 2016-12-27; 120 pages; ASIN:1509504877: Kindle: $8, paper: $11+SHT.
    • Should America’s Tech Giant’s Be Broken Up?; Paula Dwyer; In Bloomberg; 2017-07-20.
      Teaser: Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook may be contributing to the U.S. economy’s most persistent ailments.
      tl;dr → Betteridge’s Law. Yes. Break ‘em up! Break ‘em up! Break ‘em up!
      (book&paper) promotions

      • Jonathan Taplin, age 70; Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy
      • David Autor (MIT) David Dorn (Zurich) Lawrence F. Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), John Van Reenen (MIT); The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms; In Some Venue Surely, <sour>or maybe this is one of those half-decade duration “working papers” that the social scientists meditate upon before reporting out a “completed work” long after the effect has dematerialized <advice>give it a DOI number and be done with it, everyone else has already used or ignored the implications for policymakers concepts in the remediatory nostrums</advice></sour>; 2017-05-01; 74 pages; separately filled.
  • Trump damaged democracy, Silicon Valley will finish it off; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In The Daily Beast; WHEN?
    Teaser: Donald Trump’s rise is, in a sense, just one symptom of the damage the are doing to America.