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This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2006 (Index of presentations)

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

Author Yochai Benkler
Track Free Knowledge & Access to Information
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About the author
Yochai Benkler is Professor of Law at the Yale Law School. His research focuses on commons-based approaches to managing resources in networked environments. His publications include The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom and Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm.
With the radical changes in information production that the Internet has introduced, we stand at an important moment of transition. The phenomenon he describes as social production is reshaping markets, while at the same time offering new opportunities to enhance individual freedom, cultural diversity, political discourse, and justice. Alongside free and open source software, Wikipedia stands as a paradigmatic instance of these changes. But these results are by no means inevitable: a systematic campaign to protect the entrenched industrial information economy of the last century threatens the promise of today's emerging networked information environment. Benkler describes how patterns of information, knowledge, and cultural production are changing ­ and shows that the way information and knowledge are made available can either limit or enlarge the ways people can create and express themselves. He describes the range of legal and policy choices that confront us and maintains that there is much to be gained ­ or lost ­ by the decisions we make today.
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