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Book Review: Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

The title of Jonathan Taplins 2017 book is a quote from the owner of Facebook Mark Zukerberg.

" Move fast and break things unless you are breaking stuff, you aren't moving fast enough"

The rest of the 288 pages are devoted to why the pirates of tech, and their 'take what you can give nothing back' ways, are destroying the online world for artists & consumers alike.

Jonathan Taplin has had an interesting career, former tour manager to Bob Dylan, and The Band, he has also been a film producer working with Martin Scorsese.

He now classes himself as a Digital Expert, and sits on various Technology and Arts taskforces and boards.

The internet

The internet as we know it was created by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web. Berners-Lee is an English engineer and computer scientist. You may be surprised to learn it didn't make him rich. It also bears little resemblance to his founding vision.

Who is to blame for that?

The competitive, restrictive behaviour of companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook has colonised and privatised a resource that should be enabling greater creativity than ever before globally.

Instead what they have done is to push the music industry to a near death situation, make advertisers king in deciding what is art and what isn't, & reward volume over craftsmanship in terms of articles & writing in general.

President Barak Obama said " We are living in a wild west world without privacy or security" in relation to the behaviours of these companies.

Johnathan Taplin notes that " the web has become critical to all our lives as well as the world economy and yet the decisions on how it is designed have never been voted on by anyone"

Piracy and the music industry

Taplin goes into a lot of detail on the demise of the traditional music industry model. Prior to reading, I didn't know that unless an artist has actually written the song they perform, they don't receive any money from that song being played on the radio or anywhere else.

Sites like Youtube and Napster have also pirated the industry into vast reductions in revenues globally.

This is why older musicians still tour, much as they love it, it is often a financial decision. Even when they become seriously ill as was the case with The Bands, Levan Helm, he still had to work because he couldn't pay his medical bills without the income. This was an artist with decades of award winning material behind him.

Creativity vs Corporation

Google is responsible for the publishing industry decline globally. First of all they killed the independent book shop by offering literature for next nothing on their platform. Taking money from small business owners and the authors who had to accept a lot less for their hard work.

Facebook has been accused of killing the newspaper industry because of the algorithms that sit between the press and their public. The Guardian claimed they lost 27 million in advertising revenue due to Facebook.

Youtube stands accused of upweighting funny cat videos and down weighting quality new music. Making it harder than ever for artists not chosen by the big corporations to break through.


I found this to be an excellent read, full of information, well written & you can't fail to learn about the state of play for creatives globally.

Having read a few other books on the 2016 US election and UK referendum such as 'What Happened' by Hilary Clinton, and in conjunction with excellent documentaries like The Great Hack (Netflix) this book provides the reader with more depth as to the roles and responsibilities of these big players in election fixing, and the movement of staff between Google and The White House.

Thanks for reading!

Shona Would you like more help with your marketing? My new book is out now

If you would like a book of 100 Marketing Tips written just for small business owners then do have a look here. I wrote this book to be easy to read cover to cover or to be kept as a reference to dip in and out of!

About Me

Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London.

Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.


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