The Wealth of Networks:
How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
by Yochai Benkler, Yale University Press

Copyright 2006, Yochai Benkler.

Part I
The Networked Information Economy

This online version has been created under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike license - see - and has been reformatted and designated as recommended reading - with an accompanying Moodle course - for the NGO Committee on Education of CONGO - the Conference Of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations - in conjunction with the Committee's commitment to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World and related international Decades, agreements, conventions and treaties.


"Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing."

"Such are the differences among human beings in their sources of pleasure, their susceptibilities of pain, and the operation on them of different physical and moral agencies, that unless there is a corresponding diversity in their modes of life, they neither obtain their fair share of happiness, nor grow up to the mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is capable."

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

Part I
The Networked Information Economy

For more than 150 years, new communications technologies have tended to concentrate and commercialize the production and exchange of information, while extending the geographic and social reach of information distribution networks.

The Internet presents the possibility of a radical reversal of this long trend.

Technology alone does not, however, determine social structure.

A particular confluence of technical and economic changes is now altering the way we produce and exchange information, knowledge, and culture in ways that could redefine basic practices, first in the most advanced economies, and eventually around the globe.

Radical decentralization of intelligence in our communications network and the centrality of information, knowledge, culture, and ideas to advanced economic activity are leading to a new stage of the information economy - the networked information economy.

Two fundamental facts have changed in the economic ecology in which the industrial information enterprises have arisen.

A Google response to a query, which returns dozens or more sites with answers to an information question you may have, is an example of coordinate coexistence producing information.

The technical conditions of communication and information processing are enabling the emergence of new social and economic practices of information and knowledge production.

This part of the book is dedicated to explaining the technological-economic transformation that is making these practices possible.

Chapter 2: Some Basic Economics of Information Production and Innovation

Chapter 3: Peer Production and Sharing

Chapter 4: The Economics of Social Production


1. Elizabeth Eisenstein, Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).