Cory Doctorow: The Internet Con (Hardcover, 2023, Verso) 4 stars

When the tech platforms promised a future of "connection," they were lying. They said their …

Essential, but rushed at the end

3 stars

(em português com links → )

"The Internet Con" (2023) is the latest non-fiction book by Cory Doctorow, who also writes great speculative fiction.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to call it "con". People are held hostage, abused and only the perpetrators win.

Cory was the one who coined a term that is now common to understand a central aspect of this scam: "enshittification". This suggestive language ended up having a lot of appeal to what many people already feel. For example, using Instagram or Twitter sucks, but people continue because there isn't much choice. Once everyone is a hostage, it becomes a kind of extortion.

The book details the context, the history and the ins and outs of the scam, including many recent illustrations of the antics of companies like Apple or Google, or the complicity of governments in the domination of monopoly trusts which, not limited to technology, dominate all industry.

The style is the charismatic way in which the author has made a name for himself, managing to portray even the most technical and administrative parts of technology in an engaging way. (I can't forget a captivating short story from 2007, about an apocalypse in the information age, full of technical details and hacker nerdiness, whose protagonists are system administrators!)

Cory has worked for many years at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a crucial NGO in the field, and examples of this kind of activism are another attraction of the book.

The second half of the book is the presentation of solutions, which don't have much escape from government regulation, being the "boring but necessary" part.

Another central theme is also discussed, the interoperability potentially inherent in any computing device, but which is blocked by big tech as a way of forcing their domination. Ensuring our freedom to put our devices and software to use is one of the key technical points in destroying this prison.

In the final third, which clarifies common doubts about the essential measures, I felt that the discussion started to become superficial, as if there was a rush to conclude, given that it's a short book, at 192 pages. But nothing that compromises the book too much.