09 August 2012

Consent of the Networked; Rebecca MacKinnon

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet FreedomConsent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom by Rebecca MacKinnon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's not surprising that some of this book is already dated, or that additional examples of how we, the networked, are giving over consent to the ISPs and companies. It's also not surprising that Ms. MacKinnon, a reporter formerly based in China, would go into much detail about how the Chinese regime controls the network and access. The result, however, is a book that is starting to feel a little dated (nothing about Google's new "one policy/one login serves all" policy or about Salman Rushdie's Facebook fight to be known by that name as opposed to his "real" name) and where the reader may wonder about how countries other than those in the Middle East, America or China are dealing with some of these issues. A more concrete plan or suggestions on how we can help form and affect policy would also have been helpful.

Once you get past those problems, however, this is a good snapshot of how our desire to be networked and to communicate with friends, colleagues and strangers via all the social media tools (and old-fashioned tools like e-mail) has been affected by our government's censorship and the corporate leadership at places like Cisco, Google, Yahoo and Facebook. I did wonder how (if) Facebook will change as Mark Zuckerberg ages and has children, or if anyone has pressured him to be in a room with some of the people who are most at risk thanks to the "use your real name" transparency push.

This is the sort of book that should be excerpted as required reading for high school students, to help them start to think about the implications of how and where they're interacting with others on-line. It also works as a way to show teacher and professors why these tools are such powerful primary sources when dealing with current events, in addition to being a cautionary tale about power elites and their control of the masses.

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