Ok…so I’m getting chills. Here’s the opening paragraph to Yochai Benkler’s new book, The Wealth of Networks, the one that Lawrence Lessig says is, and I quote, “by far — the most important and powerful book written in the fields that matter most to me in the last ten years.”
Information, knowledge, and culture are central to human freedom and human development. How they are produced and exchanged in our society critically affects the way we see the state of the world as it is and might be; who decides these questions; and how we, as societies and polities, come to understand what can and ought to be done. For more than 150 years, modern complex democracies have depended in large measure on an industrial information economy for these basic functions. In the past decade and a half, we have begun to see a radical change in the organization of information production. Enabled by technological change, we are beginning to see a series of economic, social, and cultural adaptations that make possible a radical transformation of how we make the information environment we occupy as autonomous individuals, citizens, and members of cultural and social groups. It seems passeÂ´ today to speak of â€œthe Internet revolution.â€ In some academic circles, it is positively naÄ±ve. But it should not be. The change brought about by the networked information environment is deep. It is structural. It goes to the very foundations of how liberal markets and liberal democracies have coevolved for almost two centuries.
I had the great fortune of meeting and listening to Professor Benkler at the two I-Law conferences I attended and in each instance, I was left greatly impressed. I’m really looking forward to this read (especially now that I have it in OneNote on my tablet so I can ink it all up digitally…)