I’m always about three years behind – be it films, fashions or books. And I’m not all that interested in the latest “technological breakthroughs” (such as the driverless car). My blog records do, however, tell me that I did, last October, read Morozov’s critical To Save Everything, Click Here (2013) and, some years’ earlier, Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do? (2010)
The last couple of days I’ve been reading John Naughton’s What you really need to know about the internet (2012) which I found an excellent overview – using the structure of the 9 assertions of this 2010 article of his which contained this useful statement -
As an analytical framework, economics can come unstuck when dealing with the net. Because while economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources, the online world is distinguished by abundance. Similarly, ecology (the study of natural systems) specialises in abundance, and it can be useful to look at what's happening in the media through the eyes of an ecologist.
Since the web went mainstream in 1993, our media "ecosystem", if you like, has become immeasurably more complex. The old, industrialised, mass-media ecosystem was characterised by declining rates of growth; relatively small numbers of powerful, profitable, slow-moving publishers and broadcasters; mass audiences consisting mainly of passive consumers of centrally produced content; relatively few communication channels, and a slow pace of change. The new ecosystem is expanding rapidly: it has millions of publishers; billions of active, web-savvy, highly informed readers, listeners and viewers; innumerable communication channels, and a dizzying rate of change.
Despite my “old-fogey” image, I’m apparently fairly typical of the modern age – Internet and PC savvy; blogger (1000 posts) which contain a lot of quotes and hyperlinks; owner of 2 websites; user of Flickr; and publisher of about a dozen E-books
In Naughton’s terms I am an interactive, “Read-Write” citizen – as distinct from the passive “Read-only” consumer of monopoly suppliers.
The question, however, is how this will all play out? Naughton quotes the “long-tail” statistics which show that in 2011 73.5% of internet users used the services of just one company – Google and its subsidiary Youtube. And also Tim Wu’s analysis of the history of other communications systems which demonstrate that, after the initial flush of freedom, they descend to monopoly control….
Just last month Naughton delivered this lecture - You can’t always get what you want which suggests that he has hardened his analysis.
Those wanting to read the views of others in this field could usefully have a look at Naughton’s top internet books of 2012 which gives us access to two free books The Wealth of Networks; and The Future of the Internet
One subject which gets only passing reference in Naughton’s book is that of “net neutrality” which got reaffirmed support from America’s Supreme Court very recently. Tim Wu had a piece on it