A good listen, but unfortunately this book does not deliver a compelling overarching theory of technology development for the future. This is primarily due to Dr. Wu's limited analysis of global economic trends beyond the shores of America. The USA represents about 25% of the global GDP at present. However, the book fails to robustly analyze and account for the impact of the 'rest of the world' (i.e. the remaining 75% of global GDP) in his prescription for the future. This is a significant weakness in his analysis.
You sometimes get blindsided, either serendipitously, as with Newton and the Apple, or negatively as with Steve Jobs booting from Apple, Although he rose like the Phoenix from his own ashes to rule again.
This book details the cycle of open and free decentralization to closed and proprietary centralization in the information industry over the past century. My take-away: it all seems rather inevitable. Although the author holds the idealistic Google in high regard, I hold his breakdown of a powerful historical trend even higher. The system and the primal urge to monopolize via the FCC regulatory framework and otherwise is too powerful an incentive, in my opinion.
Ultimately, we will all have our opinions, and this book illustrates just how complex history is...but also how inevitable. Great read!
After a long and well described historical analysis, the author finds a most simplistic conclusion. Here he lacks the analytic precision of the first 80% of the book. Can this result in today's world be so simple? Everyone to reflect on this thesis, please.
If you want to understand the motives and powers behind the flow of history, read this book. I found that it opened my mind to a different way of looking at other histories as well and helped me read between the lines to see how power drives and manipulates the world.
Highly recommend for people with an interest in media history and the convergence of media, information, technology and the Internet. Much of the history covered isn't the boilerplate facts and figures many recite, but rather a detailed look at why things evolved the way they did, which many likely don't know. I learned more than I expected, which is great. And it raises issues about the the future of the Internet that need more awareness. I expected this book to possibly go off the rails getting hung up in net neutrality dogma, but it was anything but that. Tim Wu does a great job of not only being pragmatic but doing it in such a way where you realize just how much push and pull has happened to get us where we are now and what's at stake moving forward.
While the information presented here is fascinating in its own right, and the historical anecdotes will always be relevant, the second half of the book, increasingly dealing with more "current" events, is dated in 2016.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“The Master Switch” will flip some listeners off and some on.
Tim Wu writes about man’s drive to acquire a master switch that controls how the public receives information. The first section of the book sets a table for understanding 21st century communication technology. Wu doggedly recounts a history of the communication industry. It may turn some listeners off but stick with it, Wu has something to say.
Ignorance of communication technology is everywhere. Consumers are more interested in what they can get than what they can change. Consumers have no interest in understanding the ones and zeros of programming. The general public would rather let someone else make product decisions and vote with their pocketbook when they are dissatisfied. The public does understand technology and could care less. “Show me the product and what it can do” and “Show me the money” are mankind’s arbiters of who gets the “Master Switch”.
Wu opens one’s mind but fails to come up with a plan that will change the internet’s trajectory.