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About the Author

Franklin Foer is the editor of The New Republic. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Slate, and New York magazine. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Image credit: reading at Politics and Prose, Union Market, Washington, D.C. By slowking4 - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72723146

Works by Franklin Foer

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Common Knowledge



I still think about this book sometimes, 10 years on. Ripe for a reread.
caedocyon | 35 other reviews | Feb 23, 2024 |
As an American I grew up with a intense passion for baseball. I've always loved the game and consequently have always been curious about the love & passion the rest of the world feels for soccer. I felt this book would be a good way to answer some of my questions and I wasn't disappointed. There are sections involving all corners of the world, and after reading this book I now have a much better understanding of the passion soccer invokes.
kevinkevbo | 35 other reviews | Jul 14, 2023 |
While I confess that I didn't agree with much of this book, I found it to be fascinating.

Foer basically argues that companies that are dominating data collection (namely Facebook, Google, and Amazon) are monopolies because they are able to use that data to (unfairly) compete. He is critical of the fact that government has allowed these monopolies to evolve and that consumers are making a bargain with the devil, trading off freedom for efficiency.

What he fails to do, to my satisfaction, is indicate what we should do about it. He seems to have some vague ideas about the government's ability to protect privacy and that if the upper echelons of society would all just elevate reading on paper (newspapers, magazines, books) to the level it deserves, it would somehow permeate the rest of society. He has a lot more faith in the political machine than I do.

Personally, it seems to me that the horse is out of the barn, and there's going to be no reining it in. Foer seems to imply that no company will ever compete with the Google, Facebook, and Amazon triad because only they have the computing power necessary to crunch all the data, and they are the only ones who have collected all the data to crunch. While right now, the latter may be true, I am pretty sure computing power will continue to get cheaper and more accessible. Perhaps companies will form data conglomerates to pool their data for better leverage. I believe a lot of this data is already available for sale, so not sure it's as proprietary as Foer implies.

However, I loved the way Foer makes his case. The book is filled with passages that make you think and interwoven with historical comparisons that provide context. He strikes me as pretty biased in his thought process (the guy was an editor), but if you take it as a long opinion piece, it's a good read.
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Anita_Pomerantz | 10 other reviews | Mar 23, 2023 |
This is a reasonably quick survey of the effects of internet technology on journalism. It's so new and pervasive, it's hard to wrap one's mind around the topic. Foer does a good job of reviewing the angles. Stewart Brand and the utopian 1960s... I don't think Steve Jobs got much discussion here, but anyway... there really was a kind of starry-eyed idealism at the beginning, and even still. The wisdom of crowds, indeed! The situation has hardly improved in the few years since the book was written... polarizing misinformation is more rampant than ever!

To what extent government regulation can steer culture... well, it certainly seems to! I don't think Foer discussed cable TV and FCC deregulation. He does discuss monopolies and some of the nuances involved in drawing bounds.... efficiency vs fairness, for example.

Stepping back a bit... authoritarianism seems on the rise all around the world. Cornucopians seem undeterred, but there sure does seem to be a growing snowball of environmental stress. The internet could topple under its own weight.. not just some big data breach as Foer envisions, but more like getting drowned in its own sludge: so much noise from advertising and garbage information that the thing becomes useless, just not worth the bother. But look e.g. at Brexit and Russian gas... folks in the U.K. ... yeah, paying your smart phone monthly service is one thing, but devices don't last forever and get fancier and more expensive... hard to say.

Anyway, this is a perfectly good stroll around one of the most crucial battlefields of our time.
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1 vote
kukulaj | 10 other reviews | Oct 7, 2022 |



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