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.”


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.

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy | Jonathan Taplin

Jonathan Taplin; Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy; Little, Brown and Company; 2017-04-18; 320 pages; Amazon:0316275778: Kindle: $16, paper: $16+SHT.

tl;dr → AAFGM is bad. “A radical remedy.” assessed by (the staff of) The Economist.

Jonathan Taplin
  • the Director Emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.
  • ex- tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band.
  • film producer credit for Martin Scorsese.
  • An expert, in the domain of digital media entertainment.
  • Member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Member, California Broadband Taskforce
  • Member, Council on Technology and Innovation, representing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft


How the Personal Data Extraction Industry Ends | Doc Searls

Doc Searls; How the Personal Data Extraction Industry Ends; In His Blog, centrally hosted on Medium; 2017-08-28; originally tracked as bitly:dtxtrcn inbound to His Blog; 2017-08-27.

tl;dr → The advertising industry has been outlawed by GDPR.


Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture; Elizabeth Kolbert (bio); In The New Yorker; 2017-08-28; separately filled.
Teaser: What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean for our culture.
tl;dr → promotes the books


  • Use of Google Trends,to highlight interest in the terms
    • GDPR.
    • Big Data
    • IBM
    • McKinsey
    • SAP
    • Hewlett-Packard (HP);
      which? HPE or HPQ?
    • Oracle
    • Microsoft
    • Gartner
  • Vendor-defined terms
  • Customer-defined terms.


  • Amazon, is good
  • Apple, is good
  • Facebook, is bad
  • Google, is bad.
  • Netflix, is bad.


  • B2B
  • B2C
  • C2B
  • C2C, a.k.a. a stich-N-bitch, a coffee klatch, a tailgate;
    supplied for completeness; of course that’s a thing.
  • egology, a neologism
    defined as an amplification of monopoly; frustration is expressed.
  • epiphenomenal, is a word.




Centrally hosted on Medium, and elsewhere…


separately noted

Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped? | WSJ

Can the Tech Giants Be Stopped?; Jonathan Taplin; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2017-07-14.
Teaser: Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech behemoths are transforming the U.S. economy and labor market, with scant public debate or scrutiny. Changing course won’t be easy.

tl;dr → No, via Betteridge’s Law. Regulation is indicated. See book, nearby. 2200 words.

Jonathan Taplin is

  • the director emeritus, Annenberg Innovation Lab, University of Southern California
  • Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy; Little, Brown and Company; 2017-04-18; 320 pages; Amazon:0316275778: Kindle: $15, paper: $16+SHT; separately filled.
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft


  • The creative economy
  • Something about job loss unto the mid- hundreds-of-thousands.
  • Flying cars self-driving cars.
  • <paraphrase>calm down</paraphrase>, attributed to Marc Andreessen at Code Conference, CA, WHEN?,
  • <trite>Who will win<snip/>only time will tell.</trite>
  • Claim: 2004-08 started the problem.
    Google raised $1.9 billion in its initial public offering.
    A tale of search market share increase for Google, decline for everyone else follows.
  • Recording Industry Association of America
  • News Media Alliance
    • newspapers
    • U.S. and Canada
    • 2017-07
    • wants an anti-trust exemption
  • Viewability.
  • Fake News
  • voice-activated “personal assistants”
  • Silicon Valley areis considering the moral framework of the digital revolution.

Product Lines

Almost all of these aren’t even yet lines of business, not really. They are research or vanity hobbies of interest to the founders.


Are they still a going concern?


  • Instagram
  • Messenger
  • “optical neuroimaging systems,” a brain-computer interface, type-by-thinking.
  • WhatsApp

Google Alphabet

  • AdSense
  • Android (Phone)
  • Android Wear
  • Assistant
  • Home
  • Mail (Gmail)
  • Verily (ex- Google Life Sciences)
  • Waymo


“There is a role for government here”
<quote>The astonishing technological revolution of the past half-century would never have occurred without the impetus of three seminal antitrust prosecutions. </quote>

1956 → AT&T, a consent decree to patent license against Bell Labs

  • Comsat,
  • Fairchild Semiconductor,
  • Intel,
  • Motorola,
  • Texas Instruments.
1970s → Justice Department versus IBM
The government did not prevail in 13-years. IBM consented to software portability. IBM created Microsoft.
1998 → Justice Department, versus Microsoft
Question: must the Windows product design require consumers to use Internet Explorer?
Settlement: allowed Google to exist.


  • Mike Allen, reporter, Axios, “thinkpieces”
  • Paul Allen
  • Marc Andreessen
  • Bill Gates
  • Robert Gorwa
    • staff, Project on Computational Propaganda, University of Oxford.
  • Philip N. Howard
    • staff, Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute
    • professor, Balliol College at the University of Oxford
  • Kevin Kelly,
    the founding editor, Wired
  • Kai-Fu Lee,
    attributed as “AI venture capitalist”
  • Steven Mnuchin,
    Secretary of the Treasury
  • Ayn Rand,
    theorist, libertarianism; a scrivener, the ghost of.


In archaeological order…


In arbitrary order…

Related Reading

More Saturday Essays

Social Passivity Resulting in Current Invasive/Spying Technology | Jon Taplin @ USC

The Technology Revolution Impacts and Reduces the Workforce | Jon Taplin @ USC editor; In Some Blog, entitled The Trichordist; 2015-08-21.

Original Sources

  • Jonathan Taplin; The Technology Revolution Impacts and Reduces the Workforce; On YouTube; 2015-03-10; 5:06.
  • Jonathan Taplin; Sleeping Through a Revolution; on Vimeo; 2015-03-10; 44:10.
  • Jonathan Taplin (USC); Sleeping Through a Revolution; In Medium; 2015-04-22.
    Teaser: Letter to the Millennials 2


Playing Whac-a-Mole With Piracy Sites | Ben Sisario, Tanzina Vega | NYT

Works through the Annenberg Innovation Lab presser.


“Brands make sure that their ads never show up on porn sites, so we’re basically saying, why not do the same with piracy sites?” said Jonathan Taplin, the director of the Innovation Lab, which is part of U.S.C.’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


“To grossly overcalculate our network, you’re also grossly overcalculating how many of these sites we are funding,” said Andrea Faville, a Google spokeswoman. Mitch Stoltz, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was more aggressive, calling the U.S.C. report “a little bit of analysis resting on false premises.”