Synopses & Reviews
With the radical changes in information production that the Internet has introduced, we stand at an important moment of transition, says Yochai Benkler in this thought-provoking book. The phenomenon he describes as social production is reshaping markets, while at the same time offering new opportunities to enhance individual freedom, cultural diversity, political discourse, and justice. But these results are by no means inevitable: a systematic campaign to protect the entrenched industrial information economy of the last century threatens the promise of today's emerging networked information environment.
In this comprehensive social theory of the Internet and the networked information economy, Benkler describes how patterns of information, knowledge, and cultural production are changing, and shows that the way information and knowledge are made available can either limit or enlarge the ways people can create and express themselves. He describes the range of legal and policy choices that confront us and maintains that there is much to be gained, or lost, by the decisions we make today.
"In this thick academic book, Yale law professor Benkler offers a comprehensive catalog of flashpoints in the conflict between old and new information creators. In Benkler's view, the new 'networked information economy' allows individuals and groups to be more productive than profit-seeking ventures. New types of collaboration, such as Wikipedia or SETI@Home, 'offer defined improvements in autonomy, democratic discourse, cultural creation, and justice'-as long as government regulation aimed at protecting old-school information monoliths (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) doesn't succeed. Non-market innovation is a good thing in itself and doesn't even have to threaten entrenched interests, Benkler argues; rather, 'social production' can use resources that the industrial information economy leaves behind. Where Benkler excels is in bringing together disparate strands of the new information economy, from the democratization of the newsmedia via blogs to the online effort publicizing weaknesses in Diebold voting machines. Though Benkler doesn't really present any new ideas here, and sometimes draws simplistic distinctions, his defense of the Internet's power to enrich people's lives is often stirring." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Yochai Benkler is the Joseph M. Field 55 Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Yale University.