It’s an academic tome that reminds me of stuff I read in
college, and didn’t understand (Habermas, Durkheim, Foucault). But Benkler resonates
with me in ways that those 20th-century stalwarts didn’t –- maybe because
I’m living through the changes he’s describing.
Most of all, he makes me optimistic. Take this passage I came across last night:
Writing a free operating system or publishing a free encyclopedia may have seemed quixotic a mere few years ago, but these are now far from delusional. Human beings who live in a material and social context that lets them aspire to such things as possible for them to do, in their own lives, by themselves and in loose affiliation with others, are human beings who have a greater realm for their agency. We can live a life more authored by our own will and imagination than by the material and social conditions in which we find ourselves. At least we can do so more effectively than we could until the last decade of the twentieth century.
This is one of the wonderful themes of change in the news business. As individuals we are empowered to be journalists –- whether we report on events we’ve witnessed, a community we’re a part of or an issue we're investigating.
Who knows what this does for businesses. That will work itself out. The great news is that these changes can create more productive, fulfilled individuals, and a stronger, better-functioning society.