This compelling book focuses on the global formation of the Internet system. It contests the common belief that the Internet’s adoption was inevitable and instead examines the social and economic processes that allowed to it to prevail over competing standards and methods for achieving a global information infrastructure.
The author demonstrates how the current Internet system was not the only possible choice, nor the best data network in terms of technological and economic performance. It is therefore vital, he argues, to understand the way in which different political and economic interests have helped shaped the Internet and allowed it to overcome rival technologies. Issues of particular importance include the role of negotiations among different social groups in the design of the Internet as well as the influence of US promotion. The author also examines patterns of growth and pervasiveness of the Internet between different regions and countries, providing new evidence on the factors influencing the extent of the ‘digital divide’. Using econometric models, he goes on to identify the features of the co-evolution of the Internet and other sub-systems within countries, and highlights the most interesting features of their local and global interplay.
Researchers and academics involved with science and technology policy, industrial and corporate change, and the information society will welcome this insightful, original and highly pertinent book. It will also be of value for anyone with an interest in how the backbone of the digital economy was formed.