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.
Yochai Benkler is the Joseph M. Field ’55 Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Yale University.
"[An] ambitious attempt to understand how the internet is changing society. . . . The book draws on a staggering array of disciplines: from graph theory to economics, law to political science. But Benkler’s breadth is not at the expense of depth. . . . He never falls for easy, superficial conclusions. His writing is clear and readable . . . Keeping it as light as he does is a remarkable feat for a heavyweight piece of work. . . . This is an important book."—Paul Miller, Financial Times Magazine
"New networks offer a glimpse of the new polity and the ancient regime is struggling to prevent its birth. The Wealth of Networks is a reveille for netizens. . . . [It] is about the ‘transformation of the information and cultural production sector.’ Few are unaware that this sector is undergoing transformation, and Benkler’s identification of major forces at work is important and enlightening."—Paul Duguid, Times Literary Supplement
"Benkler excels . . . 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. . . . His defense of the Internet's power to enrich people's lives is often stirring."—Publishers Weekly
"That the internet is changing society is understood. Less appreciated is how society is changing the internet. In this respect, Benkler's work masterfully explains the political and economic forces at play, their promises and their threats. Ultimately, his contribution is to shift our view of the network from the individual to the ad-hoc group. For this, his book is of lasting significance."—New Statesman
"It is, without a doubt, the most important book I have read in years. It points to a future that is better for all of us, if we choose to grasp it. A future that is not just better for those of us in the developed world but better for the whole world. This is a great book and will amply reward your efforts to read and master it."—Tim Jones, Financial World
Winner of the 2006 Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research given by the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center at Fordham University, New York
Selected as a 2007 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries
Winner of the American Political Science Association's 2007 Don K. Price Award for the Best Book in Science and Technology Politics
Winner of the 2008 CITASA Book Award, given by the American Sociological Association section on Communication and Information Technologies
"In this book, Benkler establishes himself as the leading intellectual of the information age. Profoundly rich in its insight and truth, this work will be the central text for understanding how networks have changed how we understand the world. No work to date has more carefully or convincingly made the case for a fundamental change in how we understand the economy of society."—Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
"A lucid, powerful, and optimistic account of a revolution in the making."—Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Anarchist in the Library
"This deeply researched book documents the fundamental changes in the ways in which we produce and share ideas, information, and entertainment. Then, drawing widely on the literatures of philosophy, economics, and political theory, it shows why these changes should be welcomed, not resisted. The trends examined, if allowed to continue, will radically alter our lives—and no other scholar describes them so clearly or champions them more effectively than Benkler."—William W. Fisher III, Hale and Dorr Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Harvard University, Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
"At last a book that confronts the politics and economics of the Internet in a fundamental way, moving beyond the surface of policy debate to reveal the basic structure of the challenges we confront."—Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University
"A magnificent achievement. Yochai Benkler shows us how the Internet enables new commons-based methods for producing goods, remaking culture, and participating in public life. The Wealth of Networks is an indispensable guide to the political economy of our digitally networked world."—Jack M. Balkin, Professor of Law and Director of the Information Society Project, Yale University
Winner of the 2006 Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research Winner of the 2007 Don K. Price Award for the Best Book on Science, Technology, and Politics published in the past three years.
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