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A New Yorker and Fortune Best Book of the Year Analyzing the strategic maneuvers of today’s great information powers–Apple, Google, and an eerily resurgent AT&T–Tim Wu uncovers a time-honored pattern in which invention begets industry and industry begets empire. It is easy to forget that every development in the history of the American information industry–from the telephone to radio to film–once existed in an open and chaotic marketplace inhabited by entrepreneurs and utopians, just as the Internet does today. Each of these, however, grew to be dominated by a monopolist or cartel. In this pathbreaking book, Tim Wu asks: will the Internet follow the same fate? Could the Web–the entire flow of American information–come to be ruled by a corporate leviathan in possession of "the master switch"? Here, Tim Wu shows how a battle royale for Internet’s future is brewing, and this is one war we dare not tune out.
A history of the industrial wars behind the rise and fall of the 20th century's leading information empires traces how such giants as Hollywood, the broadcast networks and AT&T introduced major new mediums that were eventually centralized in ways that profoundly shaped America's communications practices.
The Internet Age: on the face of it, an era of unprecedented freedom in both communication and culture. Yet in the past, each major new medium, from telephone to satellite television, has crested on a wave of similar idealistic optimism, before succumbing to the inevitable undertow of industrial consolidation. Every once free and open technology has, in time, become centralized and closed; as corporate power has taken control of the 'master switch.' Today a similar struggle looms over the Internet, and as it increasingly supersedes all other media the stakes have never been higher. Part industrial expos, part examination of freedom of expression, The Master Switch reveals a crucial drama - full of indelible characters - as it has played out over decades in the shadows of global communication.
One of the Best Books of the Year The San Francisco Chronicle * The Philadelphia Inquirer * Vox * The Globe and Mail (Toronto) From Tim Wu, author of the award-winning The Master Switch ( a New Yorker and Fortune Book of the Year) and who coined the term "net neutrality"--a revelatory, ambitious and urgent account of how the capture and re-sale of human attention became the defining industry of our time. Ours is often called an information economy, but at a moment when access to information is virtually unlimited, our attention has become the ultimate commodity. In nearly every moment of our waking lives, we face a barrage of efforts to harvest our attention. This condition is not simply the byproduct of recent technological innovations but the result of more than a century's growth and expansion in the industries that feed on human attention. Wu's narrative begins in the nineteenth century, when Benjamin Day discovered he could get rich selling newspapers for a penny. Since then, every new medium--from radio to television to Internet companies such as Google and Facebook--has attained commercial viability and immense riches by turning itself into an advertising platform. Since the early days, the basic business model of "attention merchants" has never changed: free diversion in exchange for a moment of your time, sold in turn to the highest-bidding advertiser. Full of lively, unexpected storytelling and piercing insight, The Attention Merchants lays bare the true nature of a ubiquitous reality we can no longer afford to accept at face value.
Is the Internet erasing national borders? Will the future of the Net be set by Internet engineers, rogue programmers, the United Nations, or powerful countries? Who's really in control of what's happening on the Net? In this provocative new book, Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu tell the fascinating story of the Internet's challenge to governmental rule in the 1990s, and the ensuing battles with governments around the world. It's a book about the fate of one idea--that the Internet might liberate us forever from government, borders, and even our physical selves. We learn of Google's struggles with the French government and Yahoo's capitulation to the Chinese regime; of how the European Union sets privacy standards on the Net for the entire world; and of eBay's struggles with fraud and how it slowly learned to trust the FBI. In a decade of events the original vision is uprooted, as governments time and time again assert their power to direct the future of the Internet. The destiny of the Internet over the next decades, argue Goldsmith and Wu, will reflect the interests of powerful nations and the conflicts within and between them. While acknowledging the many attractions of the earliest visions of the Internet, the authors describe the new order, and speaking to both its surprising virtues and unavoidable vices. Far from destroying the Internet, the experience of the last decade has lead to a quiet rediscovery of some of the oldest functions and justifications for territorial government. While territorial governments have unavoidable problems, it has proven hard to replace what legitimacy governments have, and harder yet to replace the system of rule of law that controls the unchecked evils of anarchy. While the Net will change some of the ways that territorial states govern, it will not diminish the oldest and most fundamental roles of government and challenges of governance. Well written and filled with fascinating examples, including colorful portraits of many key players in Internet history, this is a work that is bound to stir heated debate in the cyberspace community.
Thanks to inexpensive computers and data communications, the speed and volume of human communication are exponentially greater than they were even a quarter-century ago. Not since the advent of the telephone and telegraph in the nineteenth century has information technology changed daily life so radically. We are in the midst of what Gerald Brock calls a second information revolution. Brock traces the complex history of this revolution, from its roots in World War II through the bursting bubble of the Internet economy. As he explains, the revolution sprang from an interdependent series of technological advances, entrepreneurial innovations, and changes to public policy. Innovations in radar, computers, and electronic components for defense projects translated into rapid expansion in the private sector, but some opportunities were blocked by regulatory policies. The contentious political effort to accommodate new technology while protecting beneficiaries of the earlier regulated monopoly eventually resulted in a regulatory structure that facilitated the explosive growth in data communications. Brock synthesizes these complex factors into a readable economic history of the wholesale transformation of the way we exchange and process information. Table of Contents: Acknowledgments Abbreviations 1. Introduction The Promise of Regulation Conceptual Framework 2. The First Information Revolution The Development of Telegraph Services The Telephone and State Regulation Radio and Federal Regulation 3. Technological Origins of the Second Information Revolution, 1940-1950 Radar The Transistor Electronic Digital Computers 4. The SAGE Project I. THE SEPARATE WORLDS OF COMPUTERS AND COMMUNICATIONS, 1950-1968 5. The Early Semiconductor Industry The Creation of a Competitive Market Innovation and the Integrated Circuit Falling Prices, Rising Output 6. The Early Commercial Computer Industry Vacuum-Tube and Transistor Computers The System/360 and IBM Dominance Alternatives to IBM Computers 7. The Regulated Monopoly Telephone Industry Antitrust and the 1956 Consent Decree Microwave Technology and Potential Long Distance Competition Central Office Switches Terminal Equipment II. BOUNDARY DISPUTES AND LIMITED COMPETITION, 1969-1984 8. Data Communications Packet-Switching and the Arpanet Network Protocols and Interconnection Local Area Networks and Ethernet 9. From Mainframes to Microprocessors Intel and the Microprocessor Personal Computers and Workstations 10. The Computer-Communications Boundary Computer-Assisted Messages: Communications or Data Processing? Smart Terminals: Teletypewriters or Computers? Interconnection of Customer-Owned Equipment with the Telephone Network The Deregulation of Terminal Equipment The Deregulation of Enhanced Services 11. Fringe Competition in Long Distance Telephone Service Competition in Specialized Services Competition in Switched Services The Transition to Optical Fiber 12. Divestiture and Access Charges The Divestiture Access Charges The Enhanced Service Provider Exemption III. INTERCONNECTED COMPETITION AND INTEGRATED SERVICES, 1985-2002 13. Mobile Telephones and Spectrum Reform Early Land Mobile Telephones Cellular Spectrum Allocation Cellular Licensing Problems Spectrum Institutional Reform PCS and Auctions 14. Local Competition and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Competitive Access Providers Interconnection: CAP to CLEC The Telecommunications Act of 1996 Implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 15. The Internet and the World Wide Web The Commercial Internet and Backbone Interconnection The Development of the Web The New Economy Financial Boom and Bust Real Growth in Telecommunication and Price Benefits 16. Conclusion Technological Progress and Policy Evolution The Process of Institutional Change Final Comment References Index Reviews of this book: The Second Information Revolution is important reading for anyone who needs to understand the functioning of American telecommunications, either to be able to analyse today's financial markets or to understand or influence public policy in this area. --Wendy M. Grossman, Times Higher Education Supplement [UK] Reviews of this book: Brock traces a phenomenon he refers to as the 'second information revolution.' According to Brock, there have been two times in history when information technology has dramatically changed daily life. The first 'information revolution' occurred with the advent of the telephone and telegraph, which made communication less expensive and more readily available. The second information revolution is currently in progress...A concise, thorough, and well-written history of the transformation in exchanging and processing of information. --K. A. Coombs, Choice
From the man who coined the term "net neutrality" and who has made significant contributions to our understanding of antitrust policy and wireless communications, comes a call for tighter antitrust enforcement and an end to corporate bigness.

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