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Networked Information Economy / Benkler

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PPT from a graduate course, summarizing concept's in Yochai Benkler's seminal book, The Wealth of Networks.

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Networked Information Economy / Benkler

  1. 1. The NetworkedInformation Economy The Wealth of Networks [ pages 1–90 ] Presentation by Mindy McAdams
  2. 2. Information Production► “Non-market” production – e.g., “Not for sale”; not Big Business► Peer production and sharing  Open source software – one example► “Less dependence on commercial mass media” (p. 9)► Why is this possible now? Why was it not possible earlier?
  3. 3. Information “Products”► Writing:Stories, novels, journalism, blogs► Music: Songs, recordings, MP3 files► Movies: On DVD, on film, as downloads► TV programs, news, entertainment► Radio programs► Photographs: All formats► Software: As downloads or on CDs► Graphics, illustrations, maps
  4. 4. Networked Information Economy►A system of production, distribution, and consumption of information goods► Characterized by:  Decentralized individual action  Wildly distributed, non-market means  Not dependent on market strategies► “The market” = capitalism, up to now
  5. 5. ► Division of labor leads to increased productivity ► Governments help progress best when they permit laissez-faire markets ► The “invisible hand” of the market moves toward theThe Wealth of Nations, good of everyoneAdam Smith (1776) ► What benefits those who reap large profits will benefit society as a whole
  6. 6. Non-market production ignorestraditional market motivations (i.e., profit)
  7. 7. Does a market economy require democracy?
  8. 8. Does democracy require a market economy?
  9. 9. Democratic CountriesOut of a total of 192 countries in the world …► 122 countries are electoral democracies► 89 countries are “free” (46 percent of the world’s population) Source: Annual “Freedom in the World” survey by Freedom House, 2005
  10. 10. Source: Annual “Freedom in the World” survey by FreedomHouse, 2005
  11. 11. What is this difference between “free” and “democratic”?
  12. 12. Liberal Democracy► “Ifa country holds competitive, multiparty elections, we call it democratic” (Zakaria, 1997)► “Constitutional liberalism … is not about the procedures for selecting government …”  Liberal: An emphasis on individual liberty  Constitutional: The rule of law► Nothing to do with Liberal vs. Conservative
  13. 13. If people depend on information productsfor their individual well-being, does a market economy for information products interfere with their rights as citizens in a democratic society?
  14. 14. Decentralization vs. the old mass media model► Production and distribution of --  Information  Culture  Knowledge► These have been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, over time► Giant multinational corporations own the majority of media companies
  15. 15. Economics (1)► Information is “non-rival”  You give it away to other people, and you still have it► Industrial goods (such as cars) are “rival”► To make profit from non-rival goods, a commercial entity puts constraints on them  E.g., copyrights and trademarks► Benefits not only the seller -- also the creator (such as a writer or musician)
  16. 16. A Balancing Act► Controllinginformation goods (such as books and videos) makes possible the production of more► Too much control, however, would lead to less production► Why? Because … existing information goods are used in the production of new ones -- “standing on the shoulders of giants” (Benkler, pp. 37-39)
  17. 17. When to Let Go► Innovation might be more profitable than repeated revenues from the same old stuff (e.g., Disney animated films)► Charging for custom work or consulting might be more profitable if you give some things away for free (e.g., lawyers)► Putting clips on YouTube might bring more people into the movie theater
  18. 18. Why would a movie studio order the removal of a movie trailer?
  19. 19. Economics (2)► Music business as an example: Huge expenses to produce and promote a new album► Costs associated with physical production (e.g., CDs) and physical distribution► In contrast, a band can produce an album cheaply, without a contract► Distribution online – very low costs
  20. 20. You might care moreabout low start-up costs and less about large outputs
  21. 21. Inputs to Information Production1. Existing information, culture, and knowledge (all are “non-rival” goods)2. Mechanical and physical means for capturing, processing, producing the new items3. Human communicative capacity: creativity, skill, experience, and cultural savvy (Benkler, p. 52)
  22. 22. Motivations► People create and share new information for many different reasons► Not all of these are material► Not all creative efforts are made for the sake of money … or even fame► “You have to play to win”? Maybe … you have to give to get
  23. 23. If the Internet is governedas a commons,will everything turn out okay?
  24. 24. Enclosure of the Commons► Middle Ages, Europe: “Commons” were shared lands► Villagers used them to hunt, plant crops, gather firewood► “Enclosure” in one sense is building fences► Enclosure is also private ownership► What once was free and open to all becomes property of one
  25. 25. “... Each man is locked into a systemthat compels him to increase his herd without limit -- in a worldthat is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.” (Hardin, 1968)
  26. 26. Open Source (1)► The creator retains copyright► But … the creator licenses the product for (re-)use by anyone► You can copy, distribute, and modify it► But … the copies you distribute MUST allow everyone else to do the same► You retain copyright on your own contributions
  27. 27. Open Source (2)► You can sell it, if you want to (e.g. Red Hat Linux)► No bosses, deadlines, or schedules► Unmanaged collaboration► As of July 2002, the Linux OS listed 418 contributors from 35 countries
  28. 28. 3 Functions in the Process► Utter (or create) content  Mark or classify craters on a map of Mars  Write a new Wikipedia article► Assess relevance and credibility  Rate or criticize the content  Allow it to pass through a filter or “gate”► Distribute the content; add value  Pass it on, e.g. by linking to it  Possibly enhance or improve the content
  29. 29. Peer-generated Relevance
  30. 30. Peer-generated Credibility
  31. 31. Who Can Play?► Benkler doesn’t ask this question in pp. 1-90► All this peer-produced information comes from whom? People who …  Have free time  Have computer access  Are literate and technology-literate► Who can benefit?  Anyone … who has access
  32. 32. The End The Wealth of Networks [ pages 1-90 ]All sources used are on the handout.
  33. 33. The NetworkedInformation Economy Mindy McAdams University of Florida 2006