Ann Bartow, “Some Peer-to-Peer, Democratically and Voluntarily Produced Thoughts About ‘The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom,’ By Yochai Benkler”

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As my friend Siva Vaidhyanathan did before me, I wrote a review of Benkler’s (relatively) new book, which can be downloaded here. In fact, I mention Siva’s review in my review, so feel free to offer your review of my review of his review in the comments. Here’s the abstract of my review:

“The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom” by Yochai Benkler is a book well worth reading, but Benkler still has a bit more work to do before his Grand Unifying Theory of Life, The Internet, and Everything is satisfactorily complete. It isn’t enough to concede that the Internet won’t benefit everyone. He needs to more thoroughly consider the ways in which the lives of poor people actually worsen when previously accessible information, goods and services are rendered less convenient or completely unattainable by their migration online.

Additionally, the Internet is easy enough to be optimistic enough as a technological achievement, but just as nuclear fission can be harnessed both for electrical power generation and annihilating destruction, the raw communicative capabilities can’t be qualitatively assessed without reference to specific content. Pornography and its symbiotic relationship to the Internet require thoughtful scrutiny. Astroturf and other targeted attempts to instrumentally distort democratic discourse need to be analyzed and possibly also rechanneled or contained. The impact of moving resources online upon people who substantially live in an offline, analog world, needs to be contemplated more fully.

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Picture of book cover taken from Amazon.com, which ostentatiously claims trademark rights in the phrase “Search Inside!” Instead of buying the book from Amazon, send Benkler a few dollars (or at least a nice thank-you note, especially if you are Southern) and download it at no cost here in pdf format.

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0 Responses to Ann Bartow, “Some Peer-to-Peer, Democratically and Voluntarily Produced Thoughts About ‘The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom,’ By Yochai Benkler”

  1. bob coley jr says:

    as with any( and maybe all) technology, it is the uses that humans apply it to that are at the core of this discussion. In the movie Conan the Barberian, Conan’s farher forges a super fine sword. Conan’s mother creates an awsome handle. During a ” talk ” with Conan the father says to him on the area of trust ” not much in this world can you trust. Not man nor woman nor beast.” Then with a knowing look, he taps the sword and says” this you can trust!” Conan is then told he must learn “the riddle of steel” We all learn that the steel will obey it’s user without question, be that use for good or bad. This seems to be what Proffesor Bartow and others are telling us. The Net and the technology that created and advance it are are awsome but benign. It is our purposes and uses that will determine it’s place in human evolution. And for each advance we must be aware of the good, the bad and the ugly! Soooo…a high mark for Ann’s review. I love and use the Net exstensively but am aware that I could be used also. We need better technogy in place that allows the good yet gives us more protection from the bad and ugly!

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Thanks bobc! You obviously totally got what I was saying, which is altogether way too unusual an experience :>)