11/28/2010

History as insight to the future of the Internet

In The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Columbia law professor Tim Wu recounts the history of modern communications, from the telphone to the Internet. Why should anyone care to read this story? It's a question that Wu himself asks in the Introduction to his book. His answer: because earlier communication technologies all evolved from being decentralized and unregulated to being centralized and highly regulated; and now we need to know whether the same thing will happen to the Internet. The answer to that question, he says, is still "a matter of conjecture," for which, he argues, "our best basis is history."