May 12, 2014
Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
Posted by Gordon Smith

I recently finished reading The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School. The book was released in 2010, and I can't believe it has taken me this long to read it. (Concurring Opinions did a symposium on the book in 2011.) Once I started, I found excuses to peel away from other responsibilities so that I could read the book, and I finished it in three days. If you are interested in law and entrepreneurship, this book is essential reading. 

Wu's proposed "Separations Principle" ("the creation of a salutary distance between each of the major functions or layers in the information economy") is nice example of a set of regulations designed to promote the "release of energy" that Darian Ibrahim and I discuss in Law and Entrepreneurial Opportunities. Wu argues that antitrust law alone cannot create an environment in which entrepreneurial action can flourish. He details the costs of monopoly with colorful stories, and shows how government sometimes enables entrepreneurship, but too often plays an abetting role in the supression of entrepreneurship. Of course, not everyone agrees with Wu on the effect of his policy prescription, but Wu has the frame exactly right.

By the way, on Saturday, Wu was the subject of a nice profile in the NYT, highlighting his role in the debates about net neutrality, a term he coined in 2003.

UPDATE: Speaking of net neutrality and entrepreneurship...

And this from today.

Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Internet, Law & Entrepreneurship | Bookmark

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