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Technology & Innovation

Andrew Keen and the Original Sin of the Internet

The author of The Internet is Not the Answer decries the free business model that has brought so much success to companies like Google and Facebook.

Author Andrew Keen returns to Big Think with another of his trademark examinations of technology’s negative effects on society. This time Keen’s crosshairs are fixed not just on one single company, but an entire business model, one that’s turned companies like Google and Facebook into industry juggernauts.

You’ve never paid money to use Google search or Facebook. There is no price tag for those services. But are they really “free”? Keen doesn’t think so. We’re paying with our personal data, after all. Google is not a search company; it’s a data company. And the tech economy that has been constructed upon the data-for-service platform is, in Keen’s words, “creepy.”  

He explains, and more, in today’s featured Big Think interview:

Perhaps the most forceful indictment during the interview comes when Keen speaks of the “Original Sin” of the Internet:

Ethan [Zuckerman], who is a fellow at the Berkman Center and one of the most articulate sort of evangelists for the Internet at least at the beginning, argues now that the free business model was the original sin of the Internet. And I think Ethan’s choice of biblical language is appropriate. It was an original sin. It’s corrupted everything else.”

Keen says he’d prefer to see Google charge for its services. After all, he says, the money-for-service economic model has worked just fine for hundreds of years. Why replace it with something much creepier?

Andrew Keen’s latest book is titled The Internet is Not the Answer.


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