Book review: Pax Technica

paxtechnicaI was looking forward to a book that would tackle the complex technology policy challenges to come with the advent of the internet of things. I was bitterly disappointed by Pax Technica („How the Internet of Things may set us free or lock us up“), written by Philip Howard. The under 300 page book is misleading, shallow and repetitive. Misleading because it is not at all about the internet of things. The author mentions IoT on every page, but never really writes about it. In fact he never even bothers to come up with his working definition of it. No wonder then, the rest of the book is mostly about “the internet” or “social media” and a series of examples from Ushahidi to connected coffee machines. In school, when we had to write essays and missed the given topic assignment, we would get an F, the same should go for book authors. It is shallow, because the degree of analysis and level of reflection is mediocre. Most parts of the book read like lacklustre series of sentences about one or other aspect of digital technology. There is little consistency, depth, or accuracy. True, it is written for novices, but that’s no excuse to play 300 page bullshit bingo. It is repetitive in as much as it repeats the same tropes over and over again over the course of the book. This entire book could have fit into one (introductory) chapter about the internet, and it would have been fine.
All in all, I really cannot recommend he book to anyone. If you’re looking for a book about the internet of things and technology policy, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for an introductory book on internet policy, it’s not this one. I don’t know what it is then. A few wasted hours of my life. Stay away from it.

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