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Internet Architecture and Innovation Hardcover – Jun 18 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; New edition (June 18 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262013975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262013970
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 930 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #439,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Parsons on Dec 1 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I want to very highly recommend this book. Various authors, advocates, scholars, and businesses have spoken about the economic impacts of the Internet, but to date there hasn't been a detailed economic accounting of what may happen if/when ISPs monitor and control the flow of data across their networks. van Schewick has filled this gap.

Her book traces economic impacts associated with changing the Internet's structure from one enabling any innovator to design an application or share content online to a structure where ISPs must first authorize access to content and design key applications (e.g. P2P, email, etc) in house. Barbara draws heavily from Internet history literatures and economic theory to buttress her position that a closed or highly controlled Internet not only constitutes a massive change in the architecture of the 'net, but that this change would be damaging to society's economic, cultural, and political interests. She argues that an increasingly controlled Internet is the future that many ISPs prefer, and supports this conclusion with economic theory and the historical actions of American telecommunications corporations.

van Schewick begins by outlining two notions of the end-to-end principle undergirding the 'net, a narrow and broad conception, and argues (successfully, in my mind) that ISPs and their interrogators often rely on different end-to-end understandings in making their respective arguments to the public, regulators, and each other. This reliance on differing notions of end-to-end have led the defenders of these differing shades of the end-to-end principle to speak past one another.
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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
One of the most important books in tech policy in a decade Aug. 13 2010
By Marvin Ammori - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an important and brilliant book, which I consider required reading for anyone interested in or serious about the Internet or innovation.

I have written a review of this book on my blog ([...]) and on the Huffington Post.

As I say there, this book is one of the very few books in the field of Internet policy that is in the same league as Larry Lessig's Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0, in 2000, and Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, in 2006, in terms of its originality, depth, and importance to Internet policy and other disciplines. I expect the book to affect how people think about the Internet; about the interactions between law and technical architectures in all areas of law; about entrepreneurship in general. I also think her insights on innovation economics, which strike me as far more persuasive than lawyers' usual assumptions, should influence "law and economics" thinking for the better.

Books this good don't come along every day--or even every year-and I'm already late to the praise-party. Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig (the trail-blazing cyberlaw champion) recommended it in the New York Times this week; Susan Crawford (a law professor who served as a top White House advisor) recommended it in an op-ed in Salon/GigaOm yesterday; Brad Burnham, the venture capitalist who was featured earlier this week in the NYT's Room for Debate, also posted an endorsing review on his blog. MIT engineering professor David Reed (one of the key architects of the IP protocol, inventor of the UDP protocol) praises it on the book jacket.

It is not easy material--the Internet's technologies and how innovation actually evolves--but she writes for a general audience, not a technologist or lawyer, and you will learn a lot from, and be challenged by, the ideas in this book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Run, don't walk, to buy this book April 14 2011
By Christopher Parsons - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I want to very highly recommend this book. Various authors, advocates, scholars, and businesses have spoken about the economic impacts of the Internet, but to date there hasn't been a detailed economic accounting of what may happen if/when ISPs monitor and control the flow of data across their networks. van Schewick has filled this gap.

Her book traces economic impacts associated with changing the Internet's structure from one enabling any innovator to design an application or share content online to a structure where ISPs must first authorize access to content and design key applications (e.g. P2P, email, etc) in house. Barbara draws heavily from Internet history literatures and economic theory to buttress her position that a closed or highly controlled Internet not only constitutes a massive change in the architecture of the 'net, but that this change would be damaging to society's economic, cultural, and political interests. She argues that an increasingly controlled Internet is the future that many ISPs prefer, and supports this conclusion with economic theory and the historical actions of American telecommunications corporations.

van Schewick begins by outlining two notions of the end-to-end principle undergirding the 'net, a narrow and broad conception, and argues (successfully, in my mind) that ISPs and their interrogators often rely on different end-to-end understandings in making their respective arguments to the public, regulators, and each other. This reliance on differing notions of end-to-end have led the defenders of these differing shades of the end-to-end principle to speak past one another. Further, divergent understandings of the end-to-end architectural discussion has created, and continues to create, rifts between engineers, between those who were (and remain) central to the development of the 'net more generally, and between those publishing technically informed economic writings about the Internet.

After differentiating between the narrow and broad approaches to end-to-end, van Schewick identifies the impacts of different Internet architectures on the costs of innovation, the resulting organizational makeup of innovating parties, and the effects architecture has on the competition of complementary goods (e.g. VoIP, filesharing, email, etc as opposed to the actual hardware composing the Internet). After laying this groundwork, van Schewick works through how deviations from the 'broad' end-to-end argument affect innovation and the consequences of centralized versus decentralized application development and content distribution. The book concludes with an analysis of the public versus private interests in network architectures, with the author asserting that citizens and their public representatives must understand the impacts of architecture on the Internet's future. ISPs are attempting to better control and monetize their networks, and these attempts may undermine the possibilities of innovation while sacrificing the long-term evolution of the 'net so that companies can realize short-term profits. Such sacrifices must be critically interrogated by a public that is increasingly relying on digital communications in all facets of life and business.

This is a heavy read, a read made heavier if you haven't spent some time reading economic theory, elements of the network neutrality debates of the past decade, and a little on the evolution of American telecommunications in the past two decades. This said, the author generally does a terrific job in walking the reader through every facet of her argument, using examples and sidenotes to expand and clarify more troublesome sections of the book (especially as it relates to economic theory and approaches to innovation). I highly recommend this book - it's worth every penny that it will cost you. It also includes an extensive set of citations and reference list (about 160 pages worth) that will be helpful for any subsequent research or reading beyond the text itself.

If I have a criticism of the book it's that it tends to be very American-centric. While the principles contained in the book remain general enough that readers can lay the theoretical model she traces upon the telecommunications landscape of non-US states, this is a bit of work that non-American readers will have to do when examining their own telecommunications landscape through her lens. This may somewhat limit the book's immediate guidance to policy makers, policy analysts, economists, Internet governance scholars, and concerned/interested citizens more generally, but not so much that any of these readers should stay away.

I have a suspicion that this book will become one of the centrepieces for Internet governance literatures in coming years, and likely to be as influential Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom with regards to the economics of the Internet. If issues around Internet governance, innovation, and control are your cup of tea then consider this book an absolute must buy.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Important May 11 2011
By Tim Wu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is the most comprehensive study of the issues surrounding Internet Innovation, Net Neutrality, and related issues. It lays the intellectual foundation for Internet policy over the next decade. In particular, this book offers powerful non-market power based reasons to favor non-discrimination policies for internet traffic. Highly recommended.
Excellent April 22 2014
By Soldado - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book on Internet architecture and particularly on the end-to-end principle. Anyone interested in learning more about net neutrality should pick this up.
Didn't understand the book Sept. 9 2013
By Eric Morrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book on Fred Wilson's recommendation. I found it academic and confusing. Which doesn't mean that it isn't a good or important book. But it was inaccessible to me. I work in the internet space as a digital marketer and I was hoping to learn more about the technical underpinnings of the net and how that relates to innovation (the title of the book after all).

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