Review: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism. How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism. by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Doctorow delivers another great exploration and distillation of the challenges, problems, and issues that are embedded in technological and economic systems in our world today. In particular, he looks at the complexities and misunderstandings about how surveillance capitalism thrives in the 21st century but not as a new threat but as an extension of corporate attempts at monopolies that have long been a threat to democracy and any meaningful and reasonable forms of capitalism.  Doctorow's at his best when breaking down these relationships and offering an insightful critique of those who think surveillance capitalism is acceptable or inevitable. It's clear he's drawing on both his own experience, as an author who has made a living writing and not being as restrictive about intellectual property as many of the software companies are (and the problems with how they patent vague things in order to have further control over things they have no business controlling) as well as his frustration with the limitations that companies put on the things that we buy and own.  It's a great book for folks trying to wrap their head around surveillance capitalism and the problems that it creates for any given society both in terms of consumer choice and also, a political choice.  Where he seems to flail a little bit is connecting his argument with his title, how to destroy surveillance capitalism. One does not walk away with a stronger sense of what to do, how to do it, or what might it look light, rather, readers walk away with a sense that this is already a giant problem with no firm or easy solutions. In that way, it can feel frustrating to get to the end, feel the depth of Doctorow's argument and begin to see it in one's everyday life but not have a clear means to act.  Still, it's worth the read or the listen for all of us.

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