The Wealth of Networks podcast

posted by Mike on May 23rd, 2007

Here’s a recording of myself reading Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks.

To listen, see the Internet Archive page, or download a zip of the mp3s (559MB).

For a taste, listen to Chapter 12 (the conclusion), which is the best reading of the bunch.

[Download Chapter 12 mp3 (17MB)]

I read most of this book under less-than-ideal circumstances, as documented below:

  • Chapter 1: valium
  • Part 1 intro: fasting, tired
  • Chapter 2: just woke up
  • Chapter 3: too much coffee
  • Chapter 4: caffeine withdrawal
  • Part 2 intro: fasting
  • Chapter 5: too much coffee, very tired
  • Chapter 6 : woke up in the middle of the night
  • Chapter 7: a few drinks
  • Chapter 8: hungry, skipped lunch
  • Chapter 9: too much melatonin
  • Chapter 10: trazodone
  • Part 3 intro: lots of coffee plus valium
  • Chapter 11: tea
  • Chapter 12: happy to be in the home stretch

I really gotta re-record Chapter 1 one of these days.

Thanks to Nick Nassar, Avera Morrison, and Doug Higgs for equipment solidarity.

Two comments on two quotes from Yochai Benkler

posted by Mike on February 9th, 2007

I’m starting a project on Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks, and already a couple quotes have caught my attention.

Benkler spends most of the book describing how our information, as opposed to material goods, often comes from non-profit/voluntary/ad hoc sources. In setting up this argument, he begins chapter 2 thus:

There are no noncommercial automobile manufacturers. There are no volunteer steel foundries. You would never have your primary source of bread depend on voluntary contributions from others.

Many people choose to depend on the kindness of strangers. At times, I myself have depended on voluntary contributions from others. A whole strand of itinerant Christianity is based on this model.

My nitpicking is irrelevant to the thrust of his argument, but still I wish he’d make a place for bums in his otherwise compulsively thorough world view.

Another quote:

If all copyright on newspapers were abolished, the revenues of newspapers would be little affected.

(See Note 6.)

When I look at the on-line versions of the Worcester papers, I see ample room for improvement. And in a world without newspaper copyright, someone could spend a couple days making a site that would grab content from the T&G and WoMag websites, import it into a decent Content Management System, and republish it on the web in a competent way. I would surely visit that site rather than the crappy ones that exist now. Trouble is, there’s probably not enough on-line ad revenue associate with this content, so nobody would take the time.

Does this argument about newspaper copyright hold in the virtual world because newspapers have no virtual future? Or is newspaper copyright key to that virtual future?

I shouldn’t think about these things before I’ve had my coffee.

NB: You can also read thought by people smarter than me about this book.