The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is Book Summary - The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro
00:00

The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is summary

Justin E.H. Smith

A History, A Philosophy, A Warning

4 (143 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

'The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is' by Justin E.H. Smith explores the philosophical, social, and historical implications of the internet, showing that it's much more complex than we've been led to believe.

Table of Contents

    The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    You’re the product.

    Social media is a new kind of exploitation. While companies or businesses used to capitalize on labor or natural resources to turn a profit, this new industry exploits a totally new resource to make money: personal data from its users. 

    Social media platforms invest in massive research projects to refine the algorithms they use to organize and show content. For platforms like YouTube or Instagram, their algorithms can use billions and billions of user data points to get better at showing you content they think you’d like to see based on what you’ve already seen. Oh, and as private corporations, they do all of this for profit, and without much government oversight or regulation.

    They do all of this for one simple reason: to keep you hooked, long past the time you swore you’d put down your phone and do something meaningful. Each tap or swipe is another nibble of useful data for them. At the same time, every “like” or “share” on your own TikTok or Insta posts sends a little hit of dopamine to your brain, and the cycle continues. You might even blame yourself and your lack of discipline for all that wasted screen time, too. You’ll vow never to mindlessly scroll again, but spoiler alert: you will. 

    The trend only got worse with the rise of portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Now users could offer up their data 24-7, wherever they went. So from attending a work meeting, paying bills, swiping on Tinder or calling your Mom, your participation in much of life now happens  through a single device. 

    Since everything is online these days – from job portals to dating sites – you’re encouraged to think of yourself along these same lines. No more applying for a position or wooing a love interest. Market yourself to employers or partners so they’ll smash that like button. Don’t have a personality, have a profile—without quirks, surprises, contradictions, or mysteries. 

    And so, given that life is more complicated than a hashtag, you have to diminish yourself to fit the algorithm. When this becomes easy, you might forget that there are other humans out there who interpret the me you put out online. While a heated Facebook debate might seem harmless, online arguments now spill over into the rest of life—dividing families, polarizing politics, and costing real lives. 

    As you watch the world through your device, your device can watch you, too. The internet also functions as a new form of global surveillance, with smart devices listening in to homes, cars, workplaces and schools. They can track where you go and who else is there, even how many steps you took along the way.

    So, next we’ll take on some of the biggest myths surrounding the internet, and a few of its dark realities. We’ll look for the roots of the online revolution in history, biology, philosophy and mathematics– in order to uncover how we got into this mess, and what we have to do to get out. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is?

    Key ideas in The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is about?

    The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is (2022) offers startlingly new ways of understanding the world wide web, and strongly challenges us to examine our long-held beliefs about the supremacy of human cognition. It confronts our most closely-held (and least examined) ideas about the internet and social media, and weaves together observations from centuries of philosophy, mathematics, science and history.

    The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is Review

    The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is (2021) is a thought-provoking exploration of the internet's impact on our lives and the misconceptions surrounding it. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It challenges our assumptions and provides eye-opening revelations about the internet, revealing the gap between reality and our perceptions.
    • With its engaging storytelling and deep analysis, the book offers a fresh perspective on how the internet shapes our identities, relationships, and society.
    • Through in-depth research and insightful anecdotes, the book unveils the hidden aspects of the internet, making it a captivating and enlightening read.

    Who should read The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is?

    • Those feeling overwhelmed by the pace of life in the information age 
    • Anyone worried about the addictive side of social media 
    • The Zoom-fatigued looking for better ways to connect.

    About the Author

    Justin E. H. Smith is an American-Canadian professor in philosophy of science and history at the University of Paris 7, Denis Diderot. He is the author of several books, including Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason and Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life. He is also  a contributor to The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, n+1, Slate, and Art in America.

    Categories with The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is

    Book summaries like The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    30 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is?

    The main message of The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is is that the internet is more complex and interconnected than we realize.

    How long does it take to read The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is?

    The reading time for The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is is a thought-provoking book that challenges our assumptions about the internet. It's worth reading for a fresh perspective.

    Who is the author of The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is?

    The author of The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is is Justin E.H. Smith.

    What to read after The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Maps of Meaning by Jordan B. Peterson
    • Great Thinkers by The School of Life
    • Power Questions by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas
    • How Highly Effective People Speak by Peter Andrei
    • The Age of AI by Henry Kissinger
    • AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan
    • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
    • Kaizen by Sarah Harvey
    • The AI Economy by Roger Bootle
    • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop