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


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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. And maybe I still hate it a little bit too, but now it's in my brain and it won't go away.

Mar 27, Indra rated it it was amazing. I legal and economic critique of copyright and patents. It changed my mind entirely on intellectual property. Aug 14, Alix rated it liked it. 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 , though Benkler never Phewf. This view reads as wildly optimistic in , 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: The internet is yet to make us reasonable. Nov 17, Ken-ichi rated it really liked it Shelves: 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: 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. 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: 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.


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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. 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. How free are you if your every information transaction e. Goodreads advertisers or Goodreads' parent company, Amazon who then use that preference profile to present you with other information to consume e.

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.

Does it matter if freedom exists if no one has the will to exercise it? There's also the issue of economic freedom.

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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. 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. 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: 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.

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.

Aug 07, Nikhil Kumar rated it it was amazing. 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.

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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. 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.

Aug 22, Dmitry Boichenko rated it really liked it. Benkler knows how to write classic non-fiction: Dec 07, Jeremy rated it it was amazing Shelves: 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! 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. 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.

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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. Aug 08, Simon Hampton rated it did not like it. 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".

Content providers and consumers are free to terminate their agreements if they are unhappy. Moreover, if one takes into account the problems of collective ownership, about which Benkler is largely silent, the case for the commons becomes even more problematic. Second, Benkler appears to adopt the Frankfurt school view of consumers as passive recipients of culture, easily manipulated by powerful corporate interests.

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

Far from being passive consumers of culture, individuals have played an active role in shaping the plays, books, songs, and shows made available to them simply by deciding to buy or not to buy, to patronize or not to patronize, to support or reject particular producers and particular products. Is this difference one of degree or kind? Moreover, in any model of social and cultural production, opinion makers play an important role. Yes, a great deal of user-generated content exists, but most of it is ignored and is unlikely to have any lasting influence.

In this sense, Benkler seems influenced, ironically, by the perfectly competitive general equilibrium model of neoclassical economics, with its assumption that all agents possess complete, perfect information. In a world of subjective knowledge and beliefs and of dispersed, tacit knowledge, how can everyone have the same perceived options? But he undertakes little comparative institutional analysis. What are the transaction costs associated with commons-based peer production?

Here, as elsewhere, I find the treatment of government failure much too glib. Information itself is not scarce, but rather, as noted earlier, is embodied in tangible resources that are subject to the usual economic laws of supply and demand.

Public ownership implies that a host of agency, information, and calculation problems need to be treated in an appropriately comparative manner, and Benkler does not do so. The Wealth of Networks: Yale University Press, Rival products decrease as they are used e. Benkler argues that in an age where computers reduce the cost of production, that the equation of innovation-to-rights shifts as well.

The declining cost of communication means that in the networked society there are fewer barriers for individual cultural production that are "meaningful" to other users. Thus, in network economy, "human capacity becomes primary scarce resource". To close this section, Benkler argues that the networked environment makes possible a new modality of organizing production: He discusses shared acts of communication utterances, reviews, distribution of information and goods like server space.

Lastly, he draws a contrast to the regulation and rival resource of radio spectrum bandwidth and the sharability of space in a digital commons.

The Wealth of Networks

Benkler argues here that the networked society allows for the emergence of non-hierarchical groups that are committed to information production. Open software is one of the ways we can view the emergence of this new form of information production. Benkler details some of the key components of this new economy based not on financial remuneration but on user-involvement, accreditation, and tools that promote collaboration between individuals. In order to understand why people engage in production aside from financial incentives, Benkler argues that we can distinguish two types of motivation:.

In this section, Benkler examines the relationship of individual access to participation in the dissemination and creation of information via communication systems, building on his earlier ideas of commons-based peer production. He examines the historical emergence of the mass media , looking at the relationship between print and radio and ever-broadening, industrial broadcast models of production which became supported by advertising. The criticisms of mass media which Benkler brings up include:.

Benkler moves from this overview and criticism to exploring what this text describes as the potential for networked communications to do:. For Benkler, another key component of the network society is that individuals are more active in producing their education and cultural production. Online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia allow for users to create rather than just consume knowledge and information.

Benkler begins chapter 10 stating two early views on the anticipated social impact the internet would have on the users and their community:. Firstly, the internet removed the user from society and allowed the individual to lead a life that was no longer molded by the interactions and experiences of a physical tangible civilisation with others. He observes that users show enhanced relationships with their close contacts while increasing the numbers of less close contacts with relationships maintained through internet mediated interaction.

He believes this latter change stems from the shift from the one-to-many model of media distribution to a many-to-many model where it is more user centered and controlled.

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

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