The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom is a book by Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler published by Yale University Press on April 3, 2006. [1]

A PDF of the book is downloadable under a Creative Commons License Noncommercial Sharealike. [2] Benkler has published a book on the subject of “how to write books”. [3]


Part 1: The Networked Information Economy

Benkler Describes the current epoch as a “moment of opportunity” due to the emergence of what he terms the Networked Information Economy (NIE), a “technological-economic feasibility space” [4] That is the result of the moyen de Producing Media Becoming More socially accessible. Benkler states that his methodology in the text is to look at social relations using economics, liberal political theory, and focuses on individual actions in nonmarket relations.

Benkler sees communication and information as the most important cultural and economic outputs of advanced economies. He traces the emergence and development of various communications (radio, newspapers, television) through the 19th and 20th centuries as functions of increasingly centralized control due to the high cost factor of production. Benkler’s term for this is the Industrial information economy .

With the emergence of computers, networks, and increasingly affordable media production outlets, Benkler introduces the concept of the NIE, which sees media access as a form of power, and recognizes decentralized Economic constraints to the creation of media. To Benkler, this is due to a new feasibility space: lowered costs of access via digital production and radical decentralization rather than centralized messaging (“coordinate coexistence”, 30).

This results in emerging productions of Information That uses non-proprietry strategies (Such As GNU licenses and collaborative production formats).


The forms of cultural productions are often rival or nonrival . Rival products as they are used (eg pounds of flour), the use of nonrival products (eg listening to a song) does not decrease their availability for further use.

Static vs. Dynamic Efficiency: The Right to Participate in Information Production Benkler argues that in an age where computers reduce the cost of production, that equation of innovation-to-rights shifts as well.

The declining cost of communication means that in the networked society there are fewer barriers for individual cultural production that are “meaningful” to other users. Thus, “human capacity becomes primary scarce resource”. [5]

Peer production

To close this section, Benkler argues that the networked environment makes possible a new modality of organizing production: that of commons-based peer production . FLOSS Free / Free / Open / Source / Software . He discusses shared acts of communication (utterances, reviews, distribution of information) and goods. Lastly, he draws a contrast to the regulation and rival resource of radio spectrum bandwidth and the sharability of space in a digital commons.

The economics of social production

Benkler argues here that the networked society allows the emergence of non-hierarchical groups that are committed to information production. Open software is one of the ways we can view the emergence of this new form of information production. “Commons-based” peer production eschews traditional rational choice models offered by economists. Benkler details some of the key components of this new economy based on financial remuneration but on user-involvement, accreditation, and tools that promote collaboration between individuals.

In order to understand why people engage in production aside from financial incentives, Benkler argues that we can distinguish two types of motivation:

  1. Extrinsic motivation: motivation that comes from outside in the form of financial reward, punishment, etc.
  2. Intrinsic motivation: motivation which derives from within oneself, such as the pleasure involved in completing a task.

Part 2: The Political Economy of Property and Commons

In this section, Benkler examines the relationship of individual access to participation in the dissemination and creation of information via communication systems, building on his earlier ideas of commons-based peer production .

He examines the historical emergence of the mass media , looking at the relationship between print and radio and ever-broadening. The criticisms of mass media which Benkler brings up include:

  • Its commercialism, because he sees that support the development of programs that appeal to broad audiences rather than specific interests, in the name of mass broadcasting;
  • Limited intake of information, due to the relative small amount of people gathering information;
  • Too much power assigned to too few people.

Benkler is the author of this book,

“Better access to knowledge and the emergence of less capital-dependent forms of productive social organization offer the possibility of the emergence of the networked information economy. [6]

From passive to active

For Benkler, another key component of the network society is more active in producing their education and cultural production. Online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.

Part 3: Policies of Freedom at a Moment of Transformation

Benkler begins chapter 10 stating two pre-emptive social impacts on the internet:

Firstly, the internet removed the user from society and allowed the individual to lead a life that was not magnetized by the interactions and experiences of a physical tangible civilization with others. The second view was that the internet would widen the field of a user’s community by providing a novel system of communication and interaction.

He observes that users show enhanced relationships with their close contacts while increasing numbers of close contacts with relationships maintained through internet mediated interaction. He believes that this change is the stems from the shift from the one-to-many model of media distribution to a many-to-many model.

Benkler, who is the author of the book ” He introduces the idea of ​​the networked-individual who govern their own interactions and microcommunity roles in both real and virtual space and dynamically switch between when needed, nostalgic and somewhat fatuous.

A definition is offered whereby cultural freedom occupies a position that both political and individual autonomy, but is synonymous with neither. [7] Benkler is the most important part of our work.


2011-08 Haifa Wikimania Yochai Benkler DSCF6547

When Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks was released in 2006, Lawrence Lessig announced the release of the book on his blog, stating: “This is by far-the most important and powerful book written in the fields that matter most to me in the last Ten years. If there is one book you read this year, it shoulds be this. ” [8] The Wealth of Networks has-been reviewed by Many other blogs in addition to the Lessig blog, Including Rough Type , [9] Dreams in Digital , [10 ] Denoer , [11] and Reading Media Under The Tree . [12] The book has been reviewed in the German Law Journal [13] and The Independent Review . [14] Book reviews of The Wealth of Networks -have-been featured by aussi Several news publications, Including The Financial Times , The Times , and the New Statesmen . In addition to book reviews, interviews with about Yochai Benkler The Wealth of Networks -have-been Conducted and published by , [15] , [16] and Public Knowledge ,

Less than a month after-icts release in 2006, The Wealth of Networks est devenu the focus of intense year read and review seminar on the famous political blog Crooked Timber. After reading the book, six well-respected scholars (several of them founding members of posted their reactions to the book, and at the end of the seminar, Yochai Benkler was given the opportunity to respond to the comments.

Writing style

In terms of Benkler’s writing style, criticism on Crooked Timber targeted two main points: 1) that the book is written in a style that is too dense for the average reader, and 2) that it attempts to cover too many topics. As Dan Hunter Points Out In His review titled “A General Theory of Information Policy,” The Wealth of Networks is an attempt to articulate year recurring items; grander “whole” that ties together the myriad issues Involved in information policy and the Internet. Hunter states: ” Benkler provides a close-to-a-generation approach to the problem-solving,

” I’m worried that too many of the peer-producers-the blog writers, the open source software gurus, the amateurs who create for the love of it; In the hope of understanding how their creativity fits into the great scheme of innovation, and what their role will be in the amateur production sphere that promises to change the way that we see information in society. ” [19]

Physical hardware and infrastructure

Another criticism of Benkler’s theory is that it is a question of the potential of the peer-production and innovation in the networked information economy, but the Benkler’s theories rely on Up and running. In a review of the book by Siva Vaidhyanathan, Benkler’s “soft technological determinism” is brought under fire. Vaidhyanathan states:

” Cisco’s notorious discriminating servers,” the source of so much ” We have a set of constraints that can be solved in the context of a given set of constraints. Over the future of these technologies that have unleashed so much creativity. ” [20]

Benkler in this response to Vaidhyanathan’s review, conceding that may give more attention to the physical elements of the networked information could have been given:

” His [Vaidhyanathan’s] complaint … is that I wrote a book about how the dynamics of technology, society, economy, and law intersect to fundamentally alter how information, knowledge, and culture are produced, Perhaps Vaidhyanathan is the only one in the world that has been able to make a difference. the networked information environment needs a chapter on the technology Itself: where it originates and what are the dynamics and Pressures, Historically and today, That led to past and ict icts That affect future. ” [20]

In a review of the book by Ben Peters, a similar sentiment to Vaidhyanathan’s criticism is expressed: “It may also be very good for the information infrastructure infrastructure, the fiber optic cables, the wifi, and the laptops that the Benkler’s optimism depends on upon in the international development scene “. [21] in The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy , Peter G. Klein Stated:

” Although information may not be owned,” the tangible media in which information is embedded and transmitted are scarce economic goods. ” [22] Such innovations do not come from nowhere; they are the creations of profit-seeking entrepreneurs that consumers or other entrepreneurs purchase to use as they see fit.


Derek Belt, who has written a book on “Dreaming in Digital”, is the author of the book “The Dreaming in Digital”. Which we have in mind. He states:

” His unwavering belief in the great good fortune of the future,” he said. Activity, holds all of the cards. Would our future look so cheery then? ” [10]

In contrast to these attacks on Benkler’s optimism, a review by Debora Halbert suggested that:

” Although he is generally pro-technology, especially regarding the Internet, Benkler is not a techno-utopianist. He argues that techno-utopianists who see the Internet as a perfect public platform are incorrect, but are the technophobes ” [23] In this paper, we present the results of the study of the “

Jack Balkin, a participant is in the Crooked Timber read and review Took a similar stance in His interpretation of Benkler’s optimism, Stating:

” Benkler’s book wavers between an optimal description of what the digitally networked economy has produced and will produce and a warning that these bounties will be squandered if the legal regime goes in the wrong direction. Benkler is the world’s leading producer of high-quality, high-performance, high-quality, high-quality, Achieve, but it is up to us to realize it. “

The future of information policy and network development

Although the Wealth of Networks has been the target of pointed criticism, the vast majority of published reviews are very emphatic about the fact that some criticisms, the Wealth of Networks is an incredibly important book, and brings to the table many issues that are relevant To the future of information policy and network development. Benkler is credited with bringing forth new perspectives related to social production, the role of the commons, how society is using and interacting with the internet, and how the internet is transforming the way people interact, create, and exchange goods and information. As Siva Vaidhyanathan stated in the opening of his review, ” There is no better place to turn for an account of the processes of creativity and commerce relating to digital networks and the work that people do with them. ” [20] More specifically, The Wealth of Networks is also an incredibly important piece of writing for those advocating for greater protection of the cultural commons and open access models on the Internet. For the German Law Review , James Brink wrote:

” The Wealth of Networks is a worthwhile outward- and forward-looking manifesto for an information infrastructure that has come of age. And to work hard to fulfill his vision of a true commons-based and nonproprietary ecology within the networked information economy. ” [13]

See also

  • Information ecology
  • Carr-Benkler wager


  1. Jump up^ Benkler, Yochai (2006), The Wealth of Networks: how social production transforms markets and freedom (1st ed.), New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, p. 528, ISBN  0-300-11056-1 , archived from the original on 2013-11-08
  2. Jump up^ Wealth of Networks wiki. Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Last accessed 16 Feb 2012.
  3. Jump up^ Motoko, Rich (5 June 2006). “Digital Publishing Scrambles The Rules”. The New York Times .
  4. Jump up^ Benkler 2006, p. 31.
  5. Jump up^ Benkler 2006, pp. 50-52.
  6. Jump up^ Benkler 2006, p. 131.
  7. Jump up^ Benkler 2006, p. 274.
  8. Jump up^ Lessig, Lawrence (15 April 2006). “Benkler’s Book is Out” . Lessig (Blog) .
  9. Jump up^ “Calacanis’s wallet and the Web 2.0 dream” . July 2006.
  10. ^ Jump up to:b Belt, Derek (16 November 2009). “Book Review: Yochai Benkler’s” The Wealth of Networks ” ” .
  11. Jump up^ “07.29.07 Benkler: Wealth” . 29 July 2007.
  12. Jump up^ “Networked Information Economy” . 29 July 2007.
  13. ^ Jump up to:b Brink, James (2006). “Book Review – Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Transforms Markets and Freedom (2006)”. The German Law Review . 17 : 862.
  14. Jump up^ Klein, Peter G. (2009). “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Transforms Markets and Freedom” . The Independent Review . Winter: 515.
  15. Jump up^ Ahlert, Christina; Yochai Benkler (26 April 2006). “Mining the wealth of networks with Yochai Benkler” . openDemocracy.
  16. Jump up^ “The Wealth of Networks” . OpenBusiness. 24 April 2006.
  17. Jump up^ Sohn, Gigi (3 October 2006). “The Wealth of Networks” . Public Knowledge.
  18. Jump up^ “Yochai Benkler: The Wealth of Networks” . The Internet Archive.
  19. ^ Jump up to:b Hunter, Dan (30 May 2006). “A General Theory of Information Policy” . The Crooked Timber (Blog) .
  20. ^ Jump up to:c Vaidhyanathan, Siva; Benkler, Yochai (30 May 2006). “The Dialectic of Technology” . The Crooked Timbre (Blog).
  21. Jump up^ Peters, Ben (18 March 2008). “Anna Schwartz on Benkler’s Wealth of Networks” . Working Notes: Ben Peters’ Work Blog.
  22. Jump up^ Klein, Peter G. (2009). “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Transforms Markets and Freedoms”. The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy . 13 : 515.
  23. Jump up^ Halbert, Debra (August 2006). “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Productions Transforms Markets and Freedoms, by Yochai Benkler”. The Law and Politics Book Review . 16 : 573-574.

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