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Astra Taylor is the author of The People's Platform (winner of the American Book Award) and made three documentary films, What Is Democracy? Zizek! and Examined Life. Taylor's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, n+1, and The Baffler, where she is a contributing editor. mostra'n més She lives in New York City. mostra'n menys

Obres de Astra Taylor

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Goslings (1913) — Introducció, algunes edicions; Introducció, algunes edicions32 exemplars


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Data de naixement
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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
New School for Social Research
Biografia breu
Astra Taylor is a documentary filmmaker, writer and political organizer born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Athens, Ga. In 2006, Filmmaker Magazine named Astra one of the 25 new faces to watch in independent cinema. Her feature documentaries, Zizek! and Examined Life, both premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and were screened around the world.

Astra is also the editor of Examined Life: Excursions With Contemporary Thinkers, the co-editor of Occupy! Scenes from Occupied America and the author of the Kindle single Unschooling. Astra has also contributed to the Baffler, BOMB Magazine, the London Review of Books, n + 1, the Nation, Salon and other outlets. Her forthcoming book, The People’s Platform: And Other Digital Delusions, will be published in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in 2013.

One of the founders and co-editors of the Occupy! Gazette, a five-issue movement broadsheet that was distributed for free in print and online, Astra has recently been active in the Occupy Wall Street offshoot Strike Debt. She is also one of the instigators of the Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that buys debt for pennies on the dollar and then abolishes it. The Rolling Jubilee launched in November 2012 and went viral, raising almost $600,000 and garnering attention in major media outlets.



Excellent synthesis of social history with commentary on our current capitalist system. This is one of the better Massey Lectures published by the CBC and House of Anansi Press. My favourites are Payback by Margaret Atwood and A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. The Age of Insecurity by Astra Taylor ranks just below those two.
2 vota
Neil_Luvs_Books | Dec 20, 2023 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
I quite enjoy reading political theory, but Taylor puts too few ideas into too many pages. It is by no means a long book, but reading its pages leaves the reader wishing for more. What is posited is not new and has been put better elsewhere. If you want an easy evening read, this may work for you, but if you want rigorous political theory, other avenues may be preferable.
Absurdia | Hi ha 13 ressenyes més | Apr 9, 2023 |
When it comes to the production, distribution, and consumption of information, is the Internet a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing? In some ways, the Internet allows small producers to make a living while allowing for greater consumer choice; in other ways, it allows big producers to become ever more dominant, while quietly reducing the number of options consumers have. Everyone agrees that the Internet has dramatically changed the ways that businesses operate and content is created, yet the forces of centralization and monopolization continue to exert themselves in very familiar ways. The impact of the Internet on professions such as journalist, filmmaker, or author is extremely visible, yet it's surprisingly difficult to quantify exactly what happens to workers in those fields, much less find well-reasoned analyses of how to mitigate or ameliorate these tectonic shifts.

This is one of those works that's primarily negative, in that its critiques of existing attitudes towards its subject are much clearer than its "solutions". In this case, the effects that digital sharing technologies have had on existing high-tech industries have been subject to a lot of discussion but no clear proscriptions have emerged. Commentators like Clay Shirky have made lucrative careers for themselves as cheerleaders for the forces of "disruption", that ubiquitous buzzword that's usually wielded by people who aren't being disrupted - Taylor wants the reader to step back and consider the distributional impact of sharing technologies. A recurring theme is the ability of disruptive technologies to topple one existing power structure, at the (usually hidden) cost of entrenching a new one. An example is a company like Amazon and its battles with book publishers over royalties and pricing structures; who wins here - Amazon, publishers, authors, or readers? What about taxi companies vs Uber? Taylor Swift vs her record label vs Spotify? Everyone cheers when an old monopoly is toppled, but often a new monopoly is constructed, just one level off in the food chain.

The Taylor Swift analogy is probably the most relevant, since Taylor is most concerned with the economics of production. Does the existence of Spotify help or hurt Taylor Swift? Should audiences be on the side of the new distribution channels (whatever that means), the record companies, or simply the artists? Are artists like Taylor Swift better off with Spotify, traditional record labels, or some combination of the two? How about the next Taylor Swift, who is living in her shade, so to speak? The Internet famously facilitates "long tails", which allows for otherwise niche or marginal producers to find a voice and an audience. However, it also allows for network effects to exert their power as well, reinforcing the momentary ubiquity of Taylor Swift. Another famous example is the "Charlie bit my finger" video, which racked up huge numbers of hits on its way to becoming the most-viewed video of all time. This could be considered a triumph of the democratizing power of the Internet; unfortunately, for every truly viral video such as that one there are legions of more traditional corporate products, and today the list is thoroughly dominated by music videos, though "Charlie bit my finger" is still a top contender.

All of this is noteworthy. However, one prominent weakness of the book, aside from its paucity of solutions other than the expected vague outlines of motions towards copyright reform or general calls for more regulation, is that at times it feels like Taylor is just asking too much out of the Internet (a similar problem affected Tim Wu's otherwise thoughtful The Master Switch). If the Internet is just a platform, then blaming it for monopolies that use it is like blaming the ocean for the dominance of the Greek shipping industry, or blaming the electromagnetic spectrum for the Big Three TV studios in the pre-cable era. Additionally, in many ways it's hard to see how regulation, no matter how well-designed, would necessarily ameliorate the downsides of disruption - net neutrality might help companies like Netflix fight Comcast's attempts to charge it more for using so much bandwidth (and whether Netflix is actually in the right to demand that it be treated the same as anyone is of course an open question), but it doesn't help Hulu or Amazon Prime fight Netflix. Regulation is complicated, and in the case of media companies, which can simultaneously occupy several places in the chain of production and distribution, great care should be taken to avoid inadvertently stifling competition under the guise of assisting it.

Though Jean Tirole's reception of the 2014 Economics Nobel occurred after this book was published, his work on two-sided markets, particularly in the telecom field, would have given this book some more rigor. Her criticisms of claims that the Internet is inherently democratizing are on point, even if it's hard to tell from this book what the best way to resolve that issue might be. It seems like Taylor's heart is in the right place in terms of hoping for a more equitable distribution of power in these newly networked fields, but her work, though thoughtful, doesn't do much to get us there.
… (més)
aaronarnold | Hi ha 15 ressenyes més | May 11, 2021 |
Astra Taylor has spent the past few years in inquiry around the nature of democracy. She has documented this inquiry in two media—documentary film, in the case of her recent “What Is Democracy?,” and book, in the form of this text.

The book is structured around the dynamic polarities encompassed within democracy:
* Freedom/Equality
* Conflict/Consensus
* Inclusion/Exclusion
* Coercion/Choice
* Spontaneity/Structure
* Expertise/Mass Opinion
* Local/Global
* Present/Future

Democracy is often pitted against other dogmas—capitalism, communism, etc. In this book, Taylor explodes the sphere of democracy to bring the reader to understanding that democracy isn’t a monolith, and that it is very much alive and emergent, as opposed to codified and dead. With this vivacity comes a lot of nuance, complexity, and tension.

Taylor draws on at least three eras for her inquiry—ancient Athens, pre-Colonial Native America, and Colonial times. There were many surprises in what she discovered.

In Athens, political positions were drawn by lot. Voting was considered plutocratic, as naturally people are more likely to vote for those with the most privileged background, as they are often the most educated and most confident. So in order to maintain democracy, posts were randomly assigned to anyone in the populace. In modern times, the United States still retains a vestige of this philosophy with the institution of jury duty—and yet, as John Oliver has pointed out, jury selection is nowhere close to random (and tends to preference those with racial privilege). What would it be like if the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency were the same? First of all, we would likely have a much better educational system.

In Colonial times, there was extensive discussion around protecting minority rights. The term as more aptly applied during that era: minorities referred to the wealthy elite, the owning class. Much of the Constitution was developed specifically to protect the rights of minorities, such as the electoral college, which gives a greater weight to the vote of slave owners (or, in modern times, rural communities). Our modern use of the term “minority” is misleading, in that often times women, people of color, and poor people represent a significant percentage of a given population, if not a majority. The Occupy Wall Street demographic designation of the 99% more aptly reflects our situation.

In an era where more Americans that ever are asking themselves the question, “do we live in a democracy?” this is a timely and pragmatic text.
… (més)
willszal | Hi ha 13 ressenyes més | Sep 1, 2020 |



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