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Publisher's Summary

Move Fast and Break Things tells the story of how a small group of libertarian entrepreneurs began in the 1990s to hijack the original decentralized vision of the Internet, in the process creating three monopoly firms - Facebook, Amazon, and Google - that now determine the future of the music, film, television, publishing, and news industries.

Taplin offers a succinct and powerful history of how online life began to be shaped around the values of the men who founded these companies, including Peter Thiel and Larry Page: tolerating piracy of books, music and film while at the same time promoting opaque business practices and subordinating privacy of individual users to create the surveillance marketing monoculture in which we now live.

The enormous profits that have come with this concentration of power tell their own story. Since 2001, newspaper and music revenues have fallen by 70 percent; book publishing, film, and television profits have also fallen dramatically. Revenues at Google in this same period grew from $400 million to $74.5 billion. Google's YouTube today controls 60 percent of the streaming audio business and pays only 11 percent of the streaming audio revenues. More creative content is being consumed than ever before, but less revenue is flowing to creators and owners of the content.

With the reallocation of money to monopoly platforms comes a shift in power. Google, Facebook, and Amazon now enjoy political power on par with Big Oil and Big Pharma, which in part explains how such a tremendous shift in revenues from artists to platforms could have been achieved and why it has gone unchallenged for so long.

The stakes in this story go far beyond the livelihood of any one musician or journalist. As Taplin observes, the fact that more and more Americans receive their news, music, and other forms of entertainment from a small group of companies poses a real threat to democracy. Move Fast and Break Things offers a vital, forward-thinking prescription for how artists can reclaim their audiences using knowledge of the past and a determination to work together. Using his own half-century career as a music and film producer and early pioneer of streaming video online, Taplin offers new ways to think about the design of the World Wide Web and specifically the way we live with the firms that dominate it.

©2017 Jonathan Taplin (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Move Fast and Break Things goes on my bookshelf beside a few other indispensable signposts in the maze of the 21st century - The Technological Society and The Medium Is the Message by Marshall McLuhan. I pray the deepest and highest prayer I can get to that this clarion warning is heeded. The survival of our species is at stake." (T Bone Burnett, Grammy-winning producer and musician)
"A powerful argument for reducing inequality and revolutionizing how we use the Web for the benefit of the many rather than the few." (Kirkus)
"Jonathan Taplin's Move Fast and Break Things, a rock and roll memoir cum Internet history cum artists' manifesto, provides a bracing antidote to corporate triumphalism - and a reminder that writers and musicians need a place at the tech table and, more to the point, a way to make a decent living." (Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Against progress and libertarians.

Propaganda, pure and simple. The author is hell bent on proving how evil libertarians are, and anyone who has a goal of making money (except for artists who in his eyes should still make ungodly amounts). I quit the story when he said, the guys who started PayPal, also made bombs... Every generation laments the changes they see in the next.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Expected a tale of modern development culture

What would have made Move Fast and Break Things better?

I wanted to understand the development process of newer companies. What I got was someone complaint about change and blaming the collapse of his life and others around him on digital culture. Written by a dying dinosaur unable to understand what is happening around him.

Has Move Fast and Break Things turned you off from other books in this genre?

Luckily there are great books like Creativity, Inc. which tell a tale of drive and success.

Which scene was your favorite?

The description of how ARPA created the internet. Even moreso, the one where I decided to stop listening.

What character would you cut from Move Fast and Break Things?

The author.

Any additional comments?

This was a tale of the difficulty of clinging to old ways, process, and expectation during a time of rapid evolution and iteration. It reads like a barfly's lamentation of what the world did to him and those around him.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

The first and last chapters were interesting. He provided insight into problems these companies were creating and started discussing solutions. The middle of the book turned into a rant about how this generation's music and film were not as good as when he was younger, claiming the 60's and 70's era were the equivalent to the Renaissance. And finally he will let you know in every chapter that libertarians are bad, no reasoning, just they are bad.

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Repair what the plutocracy has broken.

The time for plutocracy is over. I came to this book from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. I was surprised at the position the author was thinking from but decided to continue with an open mind. This book challenged many of my preconceptions about market capitalism and libertarianism in the age of digital overlords. I was stretched and grew from absorbing this material.

Lovers of privacy, freedom, thinking, and artistic creation, please consider this book carefully. Allow it to disturb and motivate you. It certainly did me.

The author's voice is pleasant to listen to as well, although I chose the speed of 1.25x. It's a well mixed production. Good job!

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Great book, okay performance

The book was amazing, sometimes strayed a bit too far into baby boomer reminiscing through rose-colored glasses, but overall great.
The performance, however, was not so great. The gentleman reading the book sounded as if he had just swallowed a handful of sedatives and then filled his mouth with meatballs. He was difficult to understand at times, and I had to rewind and relisten to certain parts.