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The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natali

    Finishing this book was like pulling teeth. I really did not enjoy it. I only forced myself through all 500+ pages because it is considered an important part of the canon on social media research. Benkler attempts a compendium of how the Internet is changing the information economy but he does not make new or bold assertions. In fact, there is very little in terms of theory or anecdote that I have not already read in works such as Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, Convergence Culture by Henr Finishing this book was like pulling teeth. I really did not enjoy it. I only forced myself through all 500+ pages because it is considered an important part of the canon on social media research. Benkler attempts a compendium of how the Internet is changing the information economy but he does not make new or bold assertions. In fact, there is very little in terms of theory or anecdote that I have not already read in works such as Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, Convergence Culture by Henry Jenkins, and Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte. And those books are actually engaging. I wish that Benkler had broken this book into two volumes and made stronger conjectures. For instance, a chapter about the philanthropic power of the Internet was a complete non sequitur. And I actually liked the part about "technological determinism" but there was little development on that theory. I hate that I spent three weeks reading a book that didn't really teach me very much.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Morten Blaabjerg

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book when it came out, as an audio book - it's a well considered and well researched, carefully laid out argument, in Benkler's rock solid but charming style. I enjoyed it so much I bought the hardcopy, despite the fact that there's a downloadable pdf-version available for free online too. But I had to own it and have it on my shelf for future reference. Can recommend Benkler's many conference performances as well in an audio or video format - the first one I heard was on Thoroughly enjoyed this book when it came out, as an audio book - it's a well considered and well researched, carefully laid out argument, in Benkler's rock solid but charming style. I enjoyed it so much I bought the hardcopy, despite the fact that there's a downloadable pdf-version available for free online too. But I had to own it and have it on my shelf for future reference. Can recommend Benkler's many conference performances as well in an audio or video format - the first one I heard was one from WikiMania, which spurred my interest in reading his book and argument in full.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dirk

    The book is quite long but I haven't seen any better analysis of the relationship between current technological, economic, legal developments, and how the relationship of production and consumption is changing in the process. I find the book a bit weak on sociological insights. But still very worthwhile read. The book is quite long but I haven't seen any better analysis of the relationship between current technological, economic, legal developments, and how the relationship of production and consumption is changing in the process. I find the book a bit weak on sociological insights. But still very worthwhile read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    The book is split in three parts, and broadly speaking the purpose of each section is as follows. Part 1 provides the analytic basis for social / nonmarket means of production; part 2 explores normative conceptions of freedom as they relate to emerging modalities of economic production and social communication; and part 3 catalogs various policy responses to the ways in which technology is fundamentally changing how humans interact and transact. Stylistically, the book is incredibly, painstaking The book is split in three parts, and broadly speaking the purpose of each section is as follows. Part 1 provides the analytic basis for social / nonmarket means of production; part 2 explores normative conceptions of freedom as they relate to emerging modalities of economic production and social communication; and part 3 catalogs various policy responses to the ways in which technology is fundamentally changing how humans interact and transact. Stylistically, the book is incredibly, painstakingly dense. It was a thoroughly unenjoyable slog to get through all 500 pages. The substance of the content is more redeeming, though not by very much. To Benkler's credit, the book does a phenomenal job articulating the analytic basis for nonmarket incentives (in an era when free market capitalism is the hammer that makes every problem look a nail) and what ought to be common-sense normative arguments for the freedom and distribution of information. Written in 2004, Benkler's book was far ahead of his time; Facebook was founded in 2004 and the blockchain hype of 2017 highlighted the transformative potential of decentralized, open-source technologies. However, the vision of the future described in the book is comically techno-utopian. As the geopolitics that began in 2016 have shown, the Internet and its communication technologies have not in fact led to a more open and equitable society. Fake news abounds as foreign governments use social media to threaten the foundations of democracy itself. Distributed technologies have not displaced leviathan firms in cultural and economic dominance; rather, they have increasingly shifted wealth towards the few who can leverage these technologies for their own gain. Disappointingly, these firms have also shown themselves to be poor stewards of personal data and privacy. Despite the optimism, Benkler was right about one thing. A better future is not inevitable, and is largely society's responsibility to understand and deploy these technologies conscientiously, and hopefully in ways that enable collective flourishing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Hart

    This book is required reading for all who want to understand the broader implications of the Internet. Benkler argues that the Internet and related technologies “have increased the role of nonmarket and nonproprietary production, both by individuals alone and by cooperative efforts…” [p. 2] Many of the laws, institutions, rules, and procedures developed to govern societies during the industrial era may need to be revised to reflect the growing importance of nonmarket and nonproprietary productio This book is required reading for all who want to understand the broader implications of the Internet. Benkler argues that the Internet and related technologies “have increased the role of nonmarket and nonproprietary production, both by individuals alone and by cooperative efforts…” [p. 2] Many of the laws, institutions, rules, and procedures developed to govern societies during the industrial era may need to be revised to reflect the growing importance of nonmarket and nonproprietary production, so that the true potential of the information economy can be realized. For example, current intellectual property laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are not properly aligned with the realities of the information economy because they give too much power to corporate rights holders and do not leave enough room for creative sharing activities. Many specific examples of nonmarket and nonproprietary production are cited in support of this argument. Journalism, cultural production, and educational systems are particularly important, not just for the economy but also for underpinning our democratic institutions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Rolph

    My recommendation is that you stay as far away from this book as possible. Not because it's bad, actually it's really good, but it's dense and long and covers fourteen million different subjects, which is why the last two weeks of class we all kept saying hey, Benkler talked about that! It's one of those books that I read and hated and then everyone discussed it and I didn't hate it as much, but it still made my brain hurt. And maybe I still hate it a little bit too, but now it's in my brain and My recommendation is that you stay as far away from this book as possible. Not because it's bad, actually it's really good, but it's dense and long and covers fourteen million different subjects, which is why the last two weeks of class we all kept saying hey, Benkler talked about that! It's one of those books that I read and hated and then everyone discussed it and I didn't hate it as much, but it still made my brain hurt. And maybe I still hate it a little bit too, but now it's in my brain and it won't go away.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    I trudged through Yochai Benkler’s “The Wealth of Networks”, his award winning treatise on how social production is transforming societies. Benkler, the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard, writes that mankind is on the cusp of a shift in cultural and personal practices due to the multitude of cheap and easy to use communication tools. At the core of Benkler's story is the emergence of new information sharing methods in which individuals are able to take an active role I trudged through Yochai Benkler’s “The Wealth of Networks”, his award winning treatise on how social production is transforming societies. Benkler, the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard, writes that mankind is on the cusp of a shift in cultural and personal practices due to the multitude of cheap and easy to use communication tools. At the core of Benkler's story is the emergence of new information sharing methods in which individuals are able to take an active role in the larger world. See the full review on my blog.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Indra

    I legal and economic critique of copyright and patents. It changed my mind entirely on intellectual property

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Smith

    The primary value of this book for a social scientist is in part 1. There are topics in parts 2 and 3 worth looking at, however for those who have read about Internet policy and law, these are arguments that have existed since the early 90s. A historical look at the past two regimes of telecomm law and policy covers a great deal of the arguments made in this text. The valuable part, is part 1 which, in summary, suggests that the "hackers" of the 70s and 80s are the developers of a political econ The primary value of this book for a social scientist is in part 1. There are topics in parts 2 and 3 worth looking at, however for those who have read about Internet policy and law, these are arguments that have existed since the early 90s. A historical look at the past two regimes of telecomm law and policy covers a great deal of the arguments made in this text. The valuable part, is part 1 which, in summary, suggests that the "hackers" of the 70s and 80s are the developers of a political economy neither exactly capitalist or socialist, but yet still gives us all the incentives, and material possibilities of capitalism and meet the needs of individualized labor freedoms that socialists demand for. Although this is not exactly a new argument, this is probably the first place I've read it in such a concise and applied manner. Certainly, Hayek's "Use of Knowledge in Society" theoretically summarizes this point, but it has no real context outside of the documents it is responding to. This is very situated and important in its historical context of which, today, we are much more aware. That said, there's a lot here that will be very outdated in less than a decade. That's not very good for a book that suggests itself as a historic follow-up to The Wealth of Nations. This is not quite as resonant, and historically transcendent as Adam Smith's work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alix

    Phewf. This is a bit of a chaotic read. Benkler presents an optimistic vision of how he thinks the internet could reshape the production of knowledge. He argues that the internet decreases the capital costs of producing information and democratizes content creation and consumption. As a result, he thinks people will be freer to form their own opinions, learn, and utilize information for both economic advantage and social justice. This view reads as wildly optimistic in 2017, though Benkler never Phewf. This is a bit of a chaotic read. Benkler presents an optimistic vision of how he thinks the internet could reshape the production of knowledge. He argues that the internet decreases the capital costs of producing information and democratizes content creation and consumption. As a result, he thinks people will be freer to form their own opinions, learn, and utilize information for both economic advantage and social justice. This view reads as wildly optimistic in 2017, though Benkler never argues that this is the inevitable outcome of the internet - he's no determinist. Benkler's analysis of the ways industrial liberal democracies protect the interests of big corporate powers and hinder the advancement of more equal access to information still seems relevant. That said, Benkler does not acknowledge some of the troubles we experience with the wealth of online content: people can be misled and can find themselves in small echo chambers, instead of being exposed to a wider variety of valuable information and opinions. The internet is yet to make us reasonable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ken-ichi

    This book is too big to fit in my brain, and I read it too slowly to have any kind of coherent response. On the whole, I agree: peer production is both righteous and effective for a lot of things, a networked information economy is generally better than the mass media information economy, and we should be very afraid of legal actions that threaten these things (e.g. erosion of net neutrality, increased intellectual property rights, etc). I already believed in those things (I am, after all, both This book is too big to fit in my brain, and I read it too slowly to have any kind of coherent response. On the whole, I agree: peer production is both righteous and effective for a lot of things, a networked information economy is generally better than the mass media information economy, and we should be very afraid of legal actions that threaten these things (e.g. erosion of net neutrality, increased intellectual property rights, etc). I already believed in those things (I am, after all, both a participant in and purveyor of peer-production systems), but it was nice to hear them echoed back to me in excruciatingly deliberate academic prose. And by nice I mean gratifying in the way that dentistry is gratifying. Certain neural pathways now feel free of plaque. I think the most important underlying theme is the same that I've been struggling to derive from other current movements: there are no absolute improvements, only net gains. The Internet didn't suddenly create the techno-utopia many people thought it would, where everyone exchanges information freely and no is subject to centralized control, but it did push us in that direction. Occupy didn't end income inequality and usher in an anarchic utopia (in fact things have only gotten worse), but at least people talk about income inequality. Ok, onto the collection of vague complaints that I shall call a review. One of Benkler's main arguments is that a networked information economy yields a net increase in freedom. As he writes on p. 130, "The networked information economy makes individuals better able to do things for and by themselves, and makes them less susceptible to manipulation by others than they were in the mass-media culture." To re-iterate my point about incremental gains, it's important to emphasize that his point is about a relative improvement over mass media, since I think Benkler would admit that a networked information economy mediated by the likes of Facebook and Google is very, very susceptible to manipulation, though perhaps less susceptible than one mediated by NBC and Comcast. I think there are a couple problems with this, even if it's accurate. First of all, those with the knowledge and ability to manipulate information (e.g. geeks) will always be more free in this scenario than those who can't. How free are you if your every information transaction (e.g. looking at this review) is being tracked by third parties (e.g. Goodreads advertisers or Goodreads' parent company, Amazon) who then use that preference profile to present you with other information to consume (e.g. other reviews, other books to read), thereby limiting your choices? And what if you aren't savvy enough to know that this is happening, or don't know how to circumvent this kind of profiling? You could argue that combating this is just a matter of education, but in my experience the sharing economy is not providing that education, and most people are just as blithely unaware of how their networked information consumption is being manipulated as they were under the mass media. Or, like me, they *are* aware but just accept it because it's too inconvenient to disable cookies or whatever. Does it matter if freedom exists if no one has the will to exercise it? There's also the issue of economic freedom. Benkler argues heavily against intellectual property for most information goods, arguing persuasively that in a lot of industries, like software, property rights over information are actually detrimental, not just to the greater good of making better things from these goods that everyone can benefit from (e.g. better software), but at the level of firms and individuals, who can reap more profit by creating, customizing, and configuring information goods for special needs than they can by licensing information property. Fine, but... what if you don't want to do that? What if you're a coder and you don't like working with clients. You make cool things, but you don't want to deal with people and their endless stupid ideas on how to change your cool things to suit their needs? If you can't sympathize with a techie view on this, imagine a musician who makes great music, but hates to perform. If she cannot make money off selling the right to listen to her music (i.e. via exercising intellectual property rights), then she *has* to perform, or work another job. This actually seems like a net decrease in economic freedom, since the musician can't just make music like she used to in the old economy. This extends beyond intellectual property into peer production: the more goods that get produced via peer-production, the less ways there are to make a living. Taxi driver, bed-and-breakfast operator, encyclopedia editor / researcher, anything-other-than-wedding photographer, these are all jobs that are vanishing or gone thanks to "disruption" via peer production and/or the sharing economy, whatever you want to call it. Ostensibly the new alternatives create better goods, or are more efficient, but they create some freedoms (free access to encyclopedic knowledge, freedom to work when you want to) at the expense of others (freedom to work the job you can or want to). Has freedom increased if you are no longer free to take photographs *for a living*? Also, just to give you a taste of the academicese: I claim that the modalities of cultural production and exchange are a proper subject for normative evaluation within a broad range of liberal political theory. Culture is a social-psychological-cognitive fact of human existence. Ignoring it, as rights-based and utilitarian versions of liberalism tend to do, disables political theory from commenting on central characteristics of a society and its institutional frameworks. That's not typical, but certainly not exceptional either.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nikhil Kumar

    This is a lucid and prescient thesis that examines the social-economic-political implications of emerging technological trends in information and communications systems. It incisively questions the socio-economic assumptions of the old, centralized industrial production model while presenting the emerging new, decentralized networked information production model. While optimistic about the impacts of this change for freedom, justice and equity, this book is also foresees the policy challenges th This is a lucid and prescient thesis that examines the social-economic-political implications of emerging technological trends in information and communications systems. It incisively questions the socio-economic assumptions of the old, centralized industrial production model while presenting the emerging new, decentralized networked information production model. While optimistic about the impacts of this change for freedom, justice and equity, this book is also foresees the policy challenges that we face from the powerful forces of incumbents - human, industrial, institutional and conceptual - that have ruled these old production chains.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zhenia Vasiliev

    Agreed with opinions expressed by others that the book is simply too big. It is almost always that every sentence repeats at least twice, and all the ideas are diluted - the volume could easily be boiled down to a 150-page brochure. It also has an air of ageing, maybe because the industry changes so much, and the hopes for Google expressed here are hard to agreed with today? In any case, if you're interested in the short version of Benkler's ideas about "commons-based peer production", go straig Agreed with opinions expressed by others that the book is simply too big. It is almost always that every sentence repeats at least twice, and all the ideas are diluted - the volume could easily be boiled down to a 150-page brochure. It also has an air of ageing, maybe because the industry changes so much, and the hopes for Google expressed here are hard to agreed with today? In any case, if you're interested in the short version of Benkler's ideas about "commons-based peer production", go straight to his 2002 paper "Coase's Penguin, or, Linux and "The Nature of the Firm"" - that one is short and sweet.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anjar Priandoyo

    I get the idea of this book, that social production will change the market and freedom. Changing the market part is interesting, however when discussing the impact on freedom, law, and society, I think this book is not for me. Its a difficult and complex concept. I will visit this book later, as a reference in social media, this book is basic and a canon in social media research.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    What a wonderful book! Benkler provides an incredibly insightful and well-reasoned look into the reality and potential of means of production that are outside of the financial system. He argues that these have always been a major part of production (parents swapping babysitting, friends giving rides, etc), but that the new networked information economy (primarily the Internet) is dramatically increasing the scale and scope of opportunities for this sort of production. One main argument is that we What a wonderful book! Benkler provides an incredibly insightful and well-reasoned look into the reality and potential of means of production that are outside of the financial system. He argues that these have always been a major part of production (parents swapping babysitting, friends giving rides, etc), but that the new networked information economy (primarily the Internet) is dramatically increasing the scale and scope of opportunities for this sort of production. One main argument is that we are now able to produce and distribute information and culture without the need for large amounts of capital (e.g., radio broadcast towers, TV stations, film studios), and that this has the potential to make our culture much more democratic and inclusive. It also makes possible large-scale "commons-based peer production" projects like Wikipedia and open source software - projects which produce incredibly valuable artifacts, for free. This is a long book, and a dense book. I've slowly been working my way through it literally for years. Benkler's "The Penguin and the Leviathan" is a more accessible introduction to some of these ideas.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Simon Hampton

    I agree with David - this book does not live up to billing. I totally subscribe to the thesis that the world of content production is changing, and that social production is a vital part of the future of the "knowledge economy". But the policy conclusion I think Benkler was trying to get to was that today's regulation - geared to proprietary content production - inhibits social production. However, his evidence of the success of social production and no compelling economic arguments in favour le I agree with David - this book does not live up to billing. I totally subscribe to the thesis that the world of content production is changing, and that social production is a vital part of the future of the "knowledge economy". But the policy conclusion I think Benkler was trying to get to was that today's regulation - geared to proprietary content production - inhibits social production. However, his evidence of the success of social production and no compelling economic arguments in favour left me unimpressed. Towards the end he makes the case for change because tomorrow's cultural creators need unfettered access to 20th century proprietary content in order to create anything new! If real change, rather than mere accommodation, is needed, then a stronger case is needed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ross Perlin

    Building on Lessig’s insights, but generalizing them for a wider range of internet-related phenomena, Benkler champions the networked society, especially the free software movement, peer-to-peer sharing networks, and the internet’s influence on social relations and justice in the developing world. He puts together a detailed argument with attention to both technical and legal questions, though it gets repetitive at times. Historical insights help too: he sees our regulatory environment as still Building on Lessig’s insights, but generalizing them for a wider range of internet-related phenomena, Benkler champions the networked society, especially the free software movement, peer-to-peer sharing networks, and the internet’s influence on social relations and justice in the developing world. He puts together a detailed argument with attention to both technical and legal questions, though it gets repetitive at times. Historical insights help too: he sees our regulatory environment as still operating on a 20th century industrial mass media model when the happenstance of internet computing has radically distributed the power to create and process information.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Biroscak

    REALLY dense book. I don't think I've ever read a book where the author himself actually notes that it's hard to read. That said... I'd recommend it. If you're interested in the "wealth" that networks have within them, this is a must-read. It is a genuinely hard, super-academic book that WILL take you a long time to read. Benefits far outweigh the costs. 3 Stars because it didn't have to be so difficult to read. I think when a fantastically complex topic like networks can be made easier to diges REALLY dense book. I don't think I've ever read a book where the author himself actually notes that it's hard to read. That said... I'd recommend it. If you're interested in the "wealth" that networks have within them, this is a must-read. It is a genuinely hard, super-academic book that WILL take you a long time to read. Benefits far outweigh the costs. 3 Stars because it didn't have to be so difficult to read. I think when a fantastically complex topic like networks can be made easier to digest, that's when a non-fiction author is really stellar. Benkler is brilliant, but not a brilliant author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric Mccoy

    Previous comments that the book is too general are accurate. This generality makes it difficult to "see the forest through the trees" and results in the manuscript reading more as a collection of essays about topics regarding the information economy. Despite its generality the book was thoroughly researched and worthwhile to parse for choice information. For example, I am interested in information economics' effect on law and policy, and the penultimate chapter helpfully reinforced known informa Previous comments that the book is too general are accurate. This generality makes it difficult to "see the forest through the trees" and results in the manuscript reading more as a collection of essays about topics regarding the information economy. Despite its generality the book was thoroughly researched and worthwhile to parse for choice information. For example, I am interested in information economics' effect on law and policy, and the penultimate chapter helpfully reinforced known information and provided a much needed explanation of trusted computing. In short, beneficial to cherry-pick chapters, difficult to trudge through as a whole.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Benkler breaks down motivation into three separate reward types: monetary rewards, instrinsic-hedonistic rewards, and social-psychological rewards. In some cases a monetary reward could be inversely related to social-psychological satisfaction. For example (Benkler’s example), a friend who invites you to dinner might be offended if you tried to pay him/her. Realizing these differing motivations, a prospective project might focus its efforts on setting up non-monetary benefits. Interesting read.. Benkler breaks down motivation into three separate reward types: monetary rewards, instrinsic-hedonistic rewards, and social-psychological rewards. In some cases a monetary reward could be inversely related to social-psychological satisfaction. For example (Benkler’s example), a friend who invites you to dinner might be offended if you tried to pay him/her. Realizing these differing motivations, a prospective project might focus its efforts on setting up non-monetary benefits. Interesting read...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex Hoekstra

    Poignant and provoking - Benkler explores the opportunities we face, as well as scrutinizing the biggest threats to their emergence. We stand on the verge of a new age, but our evolution is not guaranteed. We have every reason to fear for progress and if we don't account for the threats and address them thoroughly and with great zeal, the incumbent powers that be will rob us of the potential we have in order to maintain their dominance (even if at the expense of the creative and productive capac Poignant and provoking - Benkler explores the opportunities we face, as well as scrutinizing the biggest threats to their emergence. We stand on the verge of a new age, but our evolution is not guaranteed. We have every reason to fear for progress and if we don't account for the threats and address them thoroughly and with great zeal, the incumbent powers that be will rob us of the potential we have in order to maintain their dominance (even if at the expense of the creative and productive capacity of an open, networked future).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    There are some great ideas buried deep within rather wordy prose. Benkler is more engaging is person (i.e. watch the various presentations of the ideas in this book available through you tube). He seems to have a habit of fearing that you are not appreciating what he is conveying so he tends to come at the same point from a variety of perspectives in each chapter. The trick I suppose is to click to this mode of operation and when you feel that he has made his point skip along to the next major p There are some great ideas buried deep within rather wordy prose. Benkler is more engaging is person (i.e. watch the various presentations of the ideas in this book available through you tube). He seems to have a habit of fearing that you are not appreciating what he is conveying so he tends to come at the same point from a variety of perspectives in each chapter. The trick I suppose is to click to this mode of operation and when you feel that he has made his point skip along to the next major point.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nick Doty

    I suspect it would be quicker and more satisfying just to read the Coase's Penguin paper and skip this more extended version. Still, the exploration of economic analysis of non-market motivations for information contribution is pretty fascinating and really important. While Benkler alludes to standards bodies, open source hierarchies and the general importance of institutional ecology, that part is handwaving, when it's clear those details are essential. I didn't realize the title/allusion until I suspect it would be quicker and more satisfying just to read the Coase's Penguin paper and skip this more extended version. Still, the exploration of economic analysis of non-market motivations for information contribution is pretty fascinating and really important. While Benkler alludes to standards bodies, open source hierarchies and the general importance of institutional ecology, that part is handwaving, when it's clear those details are essential. I didn't realize the title/allusion until our reading group was discussing it; not sure how I misses it, really.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Monumental undertaking that did mostly everything it set out to do. While it may appear a little dated at this point, I think the larger, structural arguments that Benkler is making reasonably stand up. One could fault him for being a bit too optimistic about the transformative potential of the Networked Information Economy while being a bit too unrealistic about industrial capitalism's staying power, but that is a minor quibble. This pairs well with another densely researched work on networks, Monumental undertaking that did mostly everything it set out to do. While it may appear a little dated at this point, I think the larger, structural arguments that Benkler is making reasonably stand up. One could fault him for being a bit too optimistic about the transformative potential of the Networked Information Economy while being a bit too unrealistic about industrial capitalism's staying power, but that is a minor quibble. This pairs well with another densely researched work on networks, Manuel Castells' Rise of The Network Society.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This is another important book for people interested in the Internet or Web culture. Spanning cultural ownership, mass amateurization, crowdsourcing, and other Web phenomena, this book paints an important portrait of how the world is changing as a result of low transaction costs and group-formation. A dense but pleasant read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patadave

    Tremendous work delving into the role and importance of open source philosophy and the social networking influence of the internet. Definitely an academic work. It suffers from occasional obtuse passages, and some overwriting, but it a comprehensive resource for liberty-loving geeks everywhere.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John

    Authoritative and scholarly analysis of the social, political and economic impacts of online networks. Unlike almost every other book on the subject, this was not out of date before it was even published. An antidote to the giddiness that still attends commentary of the internet.

  28. 5 out of 5

    ACRL

    Read by ACRL Member of the Week Stephen Francoeur. Learn more about Stephen on the ACRL Insider blog. Read by ACRL Member of the Week Stephen Francoeur. Learn more about Stephen on the ACRL Insider blog.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Heller

    I think I've been reading this for 6 months. I finally finished reading the whole thing all the way through. And now I know what the word "orthogonal" means. Look for a more scholarly discussion of this book's message in an article coming to you... soonish. I think I've been reading this for 6 months. I finally finished reading the whole thing all the way through. And now I know what the word "orthogonal" means. Look for a more scholarly discussion of this book's message in an article coming to you... soonish.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nigel Street

    A thorough and well presented insight into the social and legal ramifications of the internet. Of particular interest is the arguments for a less copyright and patent driven world to drive innovation and ultimately wealth in all corners of the world.

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