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Digital Phoenix: Why the Information Economy Collapsed and How it Will Rise Again Hardcover – 10 Jun 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (10 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262012170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262012171
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,189,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"It's the best non-technical account I've read of how network economies do and do not work in the information age. I'll be assigning it to my students - as far as I can see, it's the best and most complete account available." -- Crooked Timber "Abramson gives an intricate but lucid and engaging account of these controversies, illuminating the interplay of copyright and patent law, technology and marketing. He makes a case both for the government's role in policing abuses of intellectual property rights Microsoft, he believes, is indeed a monopolistand for a relaxed intellectual property regime that fosters competition and innovation." -- Publishers Weekly "...guides the reader step by step through key technological events, with particular attention to intellectual property law and the evolving concepts of network economics, producing a solid guide to the tech age." -- Bill S. Kowinski, San Francisco Chronicle "Digital Phoenix is a brilliant explanation of the law, economics, and technology behind the information technology revolution-- in my view, the best book on this topic on the market." --Robert Litan, Vice President, Research and Policy, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation "Bruce Abramson has produced a road map for the information revolution that nimbly weaves together insights about the relationships among technology, law, economics, and politics. He's a fantastic storyteller, capturing the details and significance of such important moments as the Microsoft antitrust case, the Napster phenomenon, and the battles over free software, while retaining the swashbuckling flavor of each of these digital adventures." --Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School "The Microsoft antitrust trial, the ascent of Linux, the rise and fall of Napster--Abramson not only masterfully retells each of these foundational stories of the digital economy, he explains why they mattered, how they fit into the 'New Economy,' and what they portend for the next information technology boom. This is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand what makes our digital economy tick." --Fred von Lohmann, Electronic Frontier Foundation "Bruce Abramson has written an interesting and highly accessible story of the information economy. He looks beyond the 1990s cycle of hype and disillusionment to explain what is really important in this story: the reconfiguring of the information flows that form the basis of social, political, and economic life. A revolution is in the making, and Abramson's book helps to clarify the stakes in how it turns out." --Steven Weber, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Success of Open Source

About the Author

Bruce Abramson received a PhD in computer science from Columbia University and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. He has held positions with the faculties of the University of Southern California and Carnegie Mellon. His consulting and legal practice, based in Washington, DC, focuses on issues related to the digital economy. Abramson is also the author of The Informationist blog, which chronicles "life during the transition from industrial age to information age."

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Format: Paperback
This is a masterful summary of many of the key recent episodes in the Information Economy - including the crash of the dot com bubble but the overall significant growth in value (to consumers) of the Information Economy. The author, unusually, seems fully at home in all three of the disciplines of computer science, IP law, and economics. That gives his comments real authority.

The book contains probably the best summary I've read of Microsoft's legal battles - and makes it clear why, with the present US laws, Microsoft is rational (and can be expected) to continue to seek to extend its market domination to adjacent industries, to the overall detriment of innovation and the consumer. The book also places Microsoft's behaviour (both the good and the bad) in a great theoretical perspective.

The author warns that entrenched interests (usually the current intermediaries and power brokers) will inevitably fight against the full economic benefits of new technologies, and he urges that governments seize the tough challenge of modifying legal frameworks to ensure that these full benefits have a proper chance of being realised, notwithstanding all the huffing and puffing from the entrenched interests. It would be interesting to see these ideas applied to the role that network operators currently seem to have as a blockage to certain kinds of mobile application innovation.

The epilogue ends the book by taking the main ideas of the book one step further, into the political arena, considering terrorism and totalitarianism. It's refreshing as well as educational, and shows real grounds of optimism - hence is well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
It's hard finding a text for a university-level economics course on the internet economy. There is a choice. One one hand, there are relatively technical texts with mathematical modelling (such as Shy's excellent Economics of Network Industries) but short on examples and up-to-date cases. On the other, there are management-style books that have plenty of examples and lists like "here's five generic strategies" without the sufficient theoretical basis or frameworking that makes economics so powerful. Shapiro and Varian's uneven Information Rules paradoxically (given the status of the authors) falls into that category. Abramson has the best of both worlds. He's up to date, uses what's powerful about economics without going overboard technically.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone in the Information Economy 7 Jun. 2005
By Babkah - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Finally, a book that explains what happened and where we're going. Abramson provides a lucid framework for understanding the dynamics of the information economy--a virtual theory of everything. Innovation isn't enough; bubble's are normal; a regulatory and legal framework is necessary for consistent advancement; most important, the choices we make now as a society will affect the direction and growth of the information economy. Read this book--then everything else you read about about the technology, law and economics of the information economy will make sense.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Crash Course in the Information Age 4 Aug. 2005
By Communications Prof - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Abramson is the ultimate story teller. This collection of essays provides a multi-disciplinary foundation to understanding how we became global citizens of the Information Age. Whether your interest lies in law, economics, politics or computer science, you will find the time invested in the book very worthwhile. Read it once for an overview; read it again to become truly knowledgeable. Keep it at hand as a reference.
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great storytelling 17 May 2005
By Critical Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Don't be scared...this is MIT press, but popular writing. Abramson nails it: why it happened, what's apt to happen in the future. But most of all, this is a great read--the stories are told with such panache that you hardly realize that you are tackling cutting edge issues in law, economics and, yes, politics. Worthy of reading twice: once for the stories, once for the underlying arguments.
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