Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy
by Robert W. McChesney
Summary by Ellen Slavitz
Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo. We believe they exist to make our lives more convenient, more interesting, more fun. According to Robert W. McChesney, these Internet marvels are the products of carefully designed operations that enable a small number of corporations to earn huge profits, while providing the public with less and less value, service, and information essential in a democratic society.
McChesney, a media activist and professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy and dozens of other publications in which he describes how the growing concentration of media ownership has decreased variety, competition, public interest, access and content quality. McChesney is also co-founder of Free Press, a media activist organization based in Washington DC that “advocates for universal and affordable Internet access, diverse media ownership, vibrant public media and quality journalism” (Freepress.net).
In his latest book, Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, McChesney meticulously documents how the Internet went from a non-commercial, seemingly utopian and democratic technology to its current mega-profit maker dominated by a small number of major players. He applies theories of political economy, “an understanding of capitalism and its relationship to democracy” (p. 13) to the evolution and current state of internet ownership and control. Continue reading