Reflection – Benkler, Anderson, Hoskins, et al

It seems that much of the economics discussion in Media Economics is focused on mass media and the definitions of these media as used by Benkler. This is visually noted by the continued use of “standard” Supply-Demand graphs instead of more power law-looking graphs. Also, chapter thirteen’s discussion of government intervention didn’t touch upon the particular challenges of Internet regulation and “Net neutrality”.

Benkler and Anderson both allude to the “public good” aspect of treating the Internet as base infrastructure, much like the United States’ interstate highway system, rather than as a slightly less widely provided service. Hoskins, et al supply national defense, lighthouses and viewing of public broadcasting programs as examples of “public good”. While these fulfill that definition, they look more like highly orchestrated end products or services, of the kind Benkler decries, while leaving the networked information economy and peer production shunted off to the side.

Another obvious point of contention between the texts is the governmental approach to IP and copyrights. The quote that throws this in high relief is on page 295 of Media Economics: “The diffusion of knowledge to competitors reduces the incentive to invent and innovate. To restore this incentive, most governments provide intellectual property rights through patents and copyright.” The proprietary rights given by this system, now up to 150 years in length, do nothing to enhance or encourage innovation, per se. If indeed more radically diffuse, non-market innovation and production is at the heart of the network information economy, then tying up IP so that others may not “stand upon the shoulders of giants” is anti-productive. I won’t go into all of the cases in the texts read to date that prove this point; however, I feel that the subtitle of the Media Economics book, “Applying Economics to New and Traditional Media” is not thoroughly true. Nonetheless, I appreciate the balance of the texts chosen for this course, since Media Economics provides a succinct economics background from which to launch into the rest of the canon of work we read in this area of study.

One thought on “Reflection – Benkler, Anderson, Hoskins, et al

  1. Pingback: TWoN - Part 2 « Net-Centric Economics

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