Benklers “Wealth of Network” holds the same issue as Rifkins 5-Step-World-Redemption-System. Even Castells has failed to say something about it.
This one issue remains underwritten in the text: the story of the technology itself. Throughout the text, there seems to be an almost givenness about the technology. TCP/IP is just there. Even Cisco’s notorious discriminating servers, the source of so much tension over the end of network neutrality, just appear (p. 146-161) . We get no sense that particular technologies are malleable, adaptable, contingent, and socially shaped. We get no account of developer’s wishes or users’ adaptions. We only get cursory accounts of the conflicts over the future of these technologies that have unleashed (to choose a loaded term) so much creativity.
We give “the network” so much power without taking into consideration that we all depend on those who establish the network. So while there will only be a few “big ones” left (for instance: Google, a couple of ISPs, governments for sure), society will come to believe that there is no such thing as centralized power. That’s super scary.
Rifkin talks about decentralizing electricity and power. But why does nobody talk about cutting out the ISP and creating a stable internet connection that depends on the user? Why has the network not yet established itself OUTSIDE of the network?
I wish I had a 3D-Printer so I could print out “my own Internet”. Hahaha. But Rifkin says it himself in “The Third Industrial Revolution”:
The lateral scaling of the Third Industrial Revolution allows small and medium size enterprises to flourish. Still, global companies will not disappear. Rather, they will increasingly metamorphose from primary producers and distributors to aggregators. In the new economic era, their role will be to coordinate and manage the multiple networks that move commerce and trade across the value chain.