Gina Scioscia's Reviews > The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

The Master Switch by Tim Wu
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May 09, 11

Read from April 10 to May 01, 2011

I truly enjoyed this book. Wu presents clear evidence that we stand at a crucial crossroads, where we must choose between open and closed media. It is a choice between a messy, yet democratic, ideal and a well-regulated, predictable, and pleasant experience. Wu was the originator of the phrase and concept of 'net neutrality' although he moves beyond this in his book to address the idea of a "separation principle" that prohibits collusion between content and carrier, in much the same way that the US Constitution divides power among legislative, executive, and judiciary powers.
His argument is that all information empires rise and fall in a predictable cycle. His question is whether the Internet will succumb to this cycle or whether it is a new and unique case. Those players now on stage, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and the broadband companies who provide the infrastructue on which they depend: Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T are jockeying for position to control the Internet and your experience and perception of the culture to which you belong. The alignment of these companies through stategic partnerships will have consequences well into the future.
Wu reminds us that the future is not written, and that the power of united individuals can thwart the intentions, even the best of intentions, of these moguls. An engaging and extremely thought-provoking work.
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