In this review essay, Bartow concludes that The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler is a book well worth reading, but that 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.
Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law
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," 5 J. COMM & HIGH TECH L. 449 (2007).
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