Ben Tarnoff at Harvard Book Store

presents

Internet for the People:
The Fight for Our Digital Future

in conversation with  SASHA COSTANZA-CHOCK

Date

Jun
14
Tuesday
June 14, 2022
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes BEN TARNOFF—author Voices from the Valley and The Bohemians—for a discussion of his new book Internet for the People: The Fight for Our Digital Future. He will be joined in conversation by SASHA COSTANZA-CHOCK—researcher, designer, and author of Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need.

A Return to In-Person Events

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  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Internet for the People

In Internet for the People, leading tech writer Ben Tarnoff offers an answer. The internet is broken, he argues, because it is owned by private firms and run for profit. Google annihilates your privacy and Facebook amplifies right-wing propaganda because it is profitable to do so. But the internet wasn't always like this—it had to be remade for the purposes of profit maximization, through a years-long process of privatization that turned a small research network into a powerhouse of global capitalism. Tarnoff tells the story of the privatization that made the modern internet, and which set in motion the crises that consume it today.

The solution to those crises is straightforward: deprivatize the internet. Deprivatization aims at creating an internet where people, and not profit, rule. It calls for shrinking the space of the market and diminishing the power of the profit motive. It calls for abolishing the walled gardens of Google, Facebook, and the other giants that dominate our digital lives and developing publicly and cooperatively owned alternatives that encode real democratic control. To build a better internet, we need to change how it is owned and organized. Not with an eye towards making markets work better, but towards making them less dominant. Not in order to create a more competitive or more rule-bound version of privatization, but to overturn it. Otherwise, a small number of executives and investors will continue to make choices on everyone’s behalf, and these choices will remain tightly bound by the demands of the market. It's time to demand an internet by, and for, the people now.

Praise for Internet for the People

“Ben Tarnoff is the best kind of visionary: deeply knowledgeable, intensely practical, and utterly committed to the transformation of an abusive and corrupt status quo. We are profoundly fortunate to have his fine mind focussed on reimagining the tools that have remade our lives. An extraordinary and urgent book.” —Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough

“The privacy-invading, throttled, and ad-filled Internet we have is not the Internet we deserve. But as Ben Tarnoff lucidly lays out, if we want to manifest the latent democratic potential of our communications infrastructure, we will have to wrest control from the privatizers and profiteers and transform the underlying political economy. Internet for the People provides an engaging and enraging account of how the online world was hijacked by corporate interests, excavating the past so we can envision and organize for a better future. Ben Tarnoff has done a public service writing this book. Now we need to get busy building the movements and popular power that can fight for an Internet in the public interest.” —Astra Taylor, author of Democracy May Not Exist But We’ll Miss it When It’s Gone

“Tarnoff offers not only an eloquent and essential guide to the history of our capitalist internet, he also charts the myriad ways in which alternatives are emerging. A key book for imagining a better digital future.” —Nick Srnicek, author of Platform Capitalism

Ben Tarnoff
Ben Tarnoff

Ben Tarnoff

Ben Tarnoff is a tech worker, writer, and co-founder of Logic Magazine. His most recent book is Voices from the Valley: Tech Workers Talk About What They Do—and How They Do It, co-authored with Moira Weigel. He has written for the New York Times, the Guardian, the New Republic, and Jacobin.

Photo Credit: Simon Simard

Sasha Costanza-Chock
Sasha Costanza-Chock

Sasha Costanza-Chock

Sasha Costanza-Chock (they/she/elle/ella) is a researcher and designer who works to support community-led processes that build shared power, dismantle the matrix of domination, and advance ecological survival. They are a nonbinary trans* femme. Sasha is the Director of Research & Design at the Algorithmic Justice League (ajlunited.org), a Faculty Associate with the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Design Justice Network. Sasha’s latest book, Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need, was published by the MIT Press in 2020.

Photo Credit: Cadie McCumber

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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