Posted by cadsmith on October 18, 2007
Reviewed The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Benkler, 2006. Social production is an invisible though ubiquitous factor of economics. The notion of commons as applied to the information space also has political ramifications. The internet democratizes. Authority is decentralized so that the public can act on its own behalf, as individuals and groups, without capital contraints or state control. This results in enhancing peer production without a limiting price mechanism. Technological determinism was never proven; results have depended upon where and when it was introduced. The question of how to measure wealth includes the technology, social relations, and freedom of action. The economy is centered on information and the internet. There is a shift from mass-media to public sphere, from reliance on authority to forming provisional judgements individually. Decentralization allowed SETI@home to flourish based on scale of small systems beyond what IBM & NEC did while competing for supercomputers. The law adds control-based models while, in practice, society and markets push back toward freedom and productivity. For example, media copyright protection requirements for hardware enforcement have been met by countervailing forces including self-configuring devices and networks, and free software or content. Security concerns can be an issue with the latter. Current network topologies are discussed and their results observed in various industries or in academics. Many web phenomena are reviewed. Various business models are compared. Major topics also include autonomy, cultural freedom, justice, development, social ties, and institutional ecology. The author’s site has further articles, videos, reviews and a wiki.