An Internet for the People
The Politics and Promise of craigslist
Aims and Scope
How craigslist champions openness, democracy, and other vanishing principles of the early web
Begun by Craig Newmark as an e-mail to some friends about cool events happening around San Francisco, craigslist is now the leading classifieds service on the planet. It is also a throwback to the early internet. The website has barely seen an upgrade since it launched in 1996. There are no banner ads. The company doesn't profit off your data. An Internet for the People explores how people use craigslist to buy and sell, find work, and find love—and reveals why craigslist is becoming a lonely outpost in an increasingly corporatized web.
Drawing on interviews with craigslist insiders and ordinary users, Jessa Lingel looks at the site's history and values, showing how it has mostly stayed the same while the web around it has become more commercial and far less open. She examines craigslist's legal history, describing the company's courtroom battles over issues of freedom of expression and data privacy, and explains the importance of locality in the social relationships fostered by the site. More than an online garage sale, job board, or dating site, craigslist hold vital lessons for the rest of the web. It is a website that values user privacy over profits, ease of use over slick design, and an ethos of the early web that might just hold the key to a more open, transparent, and democratic internet.
- 6 b/w illus.
- PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;
"Lingel astutely reveals the visions and values at the heart of an influential yet understudied platform that has pursued a different path than the data-aggregating, advertising-oriented giants that get almost all the attention these days. The book will change how we think about internet platforms in general."—Thomas Streeter, author of The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet
"Lingel fills a gap in current scholarship by providing both a historical and ethnographic account of craigslist, a site that has attained almost mythological status in the popular history of the web. This comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and lucid book is a model for how internet research should be done."—Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy