Professor Monroy, in his previous post, gave a great summary of Tim Wu’s argument in the Master Switch. Wu skillfully lays out the history of several key technologies through a series of stories that don’t necessarily have happy endings—each “technological path” ends in consolidation, commercialization, and centralized control.
As an aside, a critique that I have of the book is its “Great Man” view of history. Though the book is not staunchly based on technological determinism, I did find that it played much more on personalities than structural issues of political economy.
The concerns of monopolization and consolidation that Wu discusses in his book me seem way more threatening to me then spam, cyber-bullying, and other ills that Levinson discusses that that can be navigated as the internet matures.
As a student who has been somewhat involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I can definitely see that the Internet is still very much in its nascent phase—the stage in which the technology seems to liberate you from previous regulators and corporations. As I write this, I have a livestream of the OWS happenings humming in the background, and dozens of tweets inform me when something important is occurring—not just when something that is important to a Rupert Murdoch-type figure is occurring.
Reflecting on Wu’s book, however, I worry that it won’t be long until the Internet will no longer be ours, and social media networks and independent blogs will be co-opted by powerful corporations.
Thoughts? Looking forward to having an online conversation about this.
An example of the livestream I follow for OWS: http://www.livestream.com/owsnyc