The second part of the book takes on the topic of speech and innovation, and how 'information empires' impact them. During the early 1900's there was an information monopoly, meaning one entity controlled phone and radio. In this case, the monopoly was sanctioned by the government. But, as we know, a monopoly doesn't allow for competition and without competition who is coming up with something better? Who is innovating?

If people aren't allowed to compete, all innovation is left up to the one company. If all innovation is left up to one company, they can essentially decide the future - what gets funded, what the next new product will be, who gets 'destroyed' before it can ever have a chance. An example of this is illustrated in part II of the book in regard to the invention of the answering machine. AT&T, the sanctioned monopoly, saw it as a threat to the phone. Therefore, it did all it could to ensure that others couldn't produce it and bring it to market, even its own inventors.

As the book states (page 107), "This is the essential weakness of a centralized approach to innovation; the notion that it can be a planned and systematic process, best directed by a kind of central intelligence; that it is simply a matter of assembling all the best minds and putting them to work in unison....we come to the second weakness that afflicts centralized systems of innovation: the necesity, by definition, of placing all control in a few hands." (page 110).

The book further dives into the next communication vehicle - movies - and how, if integrated within the current information technology monopoly would do injustice to free speech. Looking back at this time in history, many "believed that the aim of any cultural product should be an improving one: to inform and educate as well as to entertain." (page 115). But many also thought otherwise.

Few people controlled the message, what others could hear and see; and not everyone agreed with what they were hearing nor seeing. In saying that, part II of the book dives deep into "The CODE" that the movie industry had to follow and how that censorship was later destroyed due to the government seeing how the monopoly wasn't the best option for the economy. More details can be found in Time Wu's book, The Master Switch, Part II.

Share this:

No comment published yet.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *