Research Paper Number



James Brink

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



internet regulation; networked economy; peer production


Benkler argues that the West is engaged in an escalating culture war between the industrial information economy - a one-way, capital-intensive, and professionally-produced model that has held sway for 150 years - and the networked information economy (NIE) - many-to-many, low-capital, and cooperative model that has been emerging in the last 15 years. The NIE is built on the infrastructure of the internet and is characterized by characterized by (1) non-proprietary strategies, (2) rising non-market production, and (3) more effective, large-scale cooperative efforts, in other words, peer production of information, knowledge, and culture. These aspects challenge our economies and our polities, and hold significant promise for enhancing personal autonomy, however, Benkler, in writing what amounts to a manifesto for the internet, pays little attention to the way in which the NIE is vulnerable to technical capture in the same way the industrial information economy is vulnerable to capital capture, taking a wait-and-see approach to regulatory intervention. Still, Wealth of Networks is a comprehensive and readable survey of the arguments for a commons-based approach to the development of the NIE.