Van Schewick’s “Internet Architecture and Innovation” Out in Paperback
Barbara van Schewick has impeccable timing.
Her seminal book on network neutrality –Internet Architecture and Innovation (2010)–has just come out in paperback and Kindle in the midst of the D.C. Circuit litigation about the FCC’s Open Internet rules and the same exact week that the three most prominent network neutrality organizations–Free Press, New America Foundation, and Public Knowledge–announced they would file the first Open-Internet complaint against AT&T for its treatment of FaceTime for the iPhone 5.
For those unfamiliar with Barbara van Schewick, she is a law professor at Stanford Law School. Her work was cited repeatedly in the FCC’s Open Internet order and has shaped how all of us think about network neutrality, whether we oppose or support it, whether we’re mere civilians or government officials. Her work hasn’t just influenced the American debate and American law; European regulators are intimately familiar with her work. She is a super thoughtful scholar, driven by analytical theory and evidence, looking at the issues from every angle. You have to grapple with her objections.
This is one of those rare books where every chapter is full of novel and important ideas. But I’ll tell you about my very favorite part. In the eighth chapter, beginning with “The Value of Many Innovators,” van Schewick presents the stories of how several major technologies were born: Google, Flickr, EBay, 37Signals, Twitter, and even the World Wide Web, email, and web-based email. I had always suspected that the “accidental” beginnings and unexpected successes of these technologies were a series flukes, one fluke after another. Rather, van Schewick explains, it’s a pattern. Her models actually predict the pattern accurately–unlike other academic models like the efficient market hypothesis and theories on valuing derivatives. These entrepreneurial stories (or case studies, to academics) are eye-opening; they’re also counter-intuitive unless you consider the management science and evolutionary economics van Schewick applies to analyze them. So if you wondered what the invention of Flickr, Google, Twitter, and the World Wide Web had in common, van Schewick answers the question.