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The Gordian Knot - political gridlock on the information highway

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The Gordian Knot - political gridlock on the information highway


Author: W. Russell Neuman

Synopsis: Winner of the 1997 McGannon Center Research Award Veterans of the high-definition TV wars of the 1980s, the authors, social scientists as well as technologists, came to see themselves as "chroniclers and students of an intriguing and serious techno-economic conflict." Why, they asked, did so few understand the rules of the game? In a broad account accessible to generalist and specialist alike, they address the current national debate about the development of a national information infrastructure, locating the debate in a broad historical narrative that illuminates how we got here and where we may be going, and outlining a bold vision of an open communications infrastructure that will cut through the political gridlock that threatens this "information highway." Technical change the authors argue is creating a new paradigm that fits neither the free market nor regulatory control models currently in play. They detail what is wrong with the political process of the national information infrastructure policy-making and assess how different media systems (telecommunications, radio, television broadcasting,) were originally established, spelling out the technological assumptions and organizational interests on which they were based and showing why the old policy models are now breaking down. The new digital networks are not analogous to railways and highways or their electronic forebears in telephony and broadcasting; they are inherently unfriendly to centralized control of any sort, so the old traditions of common carriage and public trustee regulation and regulatory gamesmanship no longer apply. The authors' technological and historical analysis leads logically toward a policy proposal for a reformed regulatory structure that builds and protects meaningful competition, but that abandons its role as arbiter of tariffs and definer of public service and public interest. Review&colon As social, political, and business forces struggle to come to terms with new communications technology, innovation doesn't progress--it freezes up. This sociopolitical and economic gridlock is what Neuman, McKnight, and Solomon are calling the "Gordian Knot." The authors examine how similar gridlock has happened in the past with other new technologies; for example, during the development of the railroad, among the telephone companies, and, more recently, with the international and inter-industrial wrestling matches over High Definition Television. The introduction of each of these technologies has involved a clash of economic interests among industrial giants or would-be giants--all of which have struggled to control access, standards, and proprietary technology in the emerging industry. Meanwhile, government has tried to contend with the issue of how much control to exert over standards, technology, and rate structures in order to protect both the industries and the consumers. As the book explains, the resulting gridlock has often resulted in new industries taking decades to become mature, efficient, and able to operate profitably without unfairly exploiting their customers. In the minds of the authors, with modern telecommunications becoming an increasingly vital part of our daily lives and businesses, we can't afford such a tangled knot. Neuman, McKnight, and Solomon propose cutting the Gordian Knot of gridlock with Open Communications Infrastructure (OCI), a system that they feel best combines the benefits of government oversight with those of laissez-faire. OCI is a system of largely free-market competition with just enough governmental oversight to ensure that competitors stay within bounds. Those bounds are described by the four essential qualities of the infrastructure: open architecture, open access, universal access, and flexible access.The authors present their arguments in a clear, precise style and with a dry sense of humor. The many case histories illustrate the ironies of human folly and help you take a second look at our technological progress of the past 150 years, clearly stating that we could have progressed much further by now. Neuman, McKnight, and Solomon conclude by showing that this gridlock will have to change if we wish for the cybercultural revolution to proceed according to our dreams. "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.


Very Good - This is a preloved book, but it is in pristine condition. There should be no yellowing, no foxing, and no writings of any kind on the pages. This book is good as new — lucky you!

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