Shane Greenstein: The Mythology of Networks (and Other Lessons from the Commercial Internet)

Tullock Lecture by Shane Greenstein
Thursday, April 7, 2011

4 PM @ Room 120 Hazel Hall
The Tullock Lecture presenting Big Ideas About Information
George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, Virginia

Advanced data networks arose under government sponsorship in the 1970s and 1980s; they were commercialized in the 1990s.  As the “network of networks” has evolved, it has touched a wide range of economic activities and revolutionized large areas of social life.  Which economic metaphors contribute to understanding — or confusion — as to how the Internet grew to its present size, structure, and importance?

Six myths about the Internet frame the presentation.  It will explain why the US government funded the R&D that led to the Internet, why the Internet was neither cheap nor easy to invent, and why government funding had consequences for the direction of commercial innovation.  The presentation also will discuss why common claims for more innovation in open networks are not true in general but were in this historical instance, why the commercial Internet did not resemble a highway (and still does not), and why the Internet has not led to the death of distance.  Overall, the presentation illustrates several useful government-sponsored arrangements for encouraging innovation.  It also illustrates a potential drawback to government sponsorship – in this instance, truncation of exploratory activity.  Lastly, it also aims to illustrate the power of market experimentation to foster new directions of innovative activity.

The Tullock Lecture presenting Big Ideas About Information is proud to host Professor Greenstein, the Elinor and H. Wendell Hobbs Professor of Management and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.  Professor Greenstein is a leading academic in the business economics of computing, communications and Internet infrastructure.  He writes on the industrial economics of platforms, and changes in communications policy.  Room 120 at 4 p.m.  Please email to reserve your seat.

From the Lecture

Listen to the Lecture [50:06:87] [ShaneGreenstein_MythologyofNetworks_040711.mp3]

Download Presentation Slides [74 pages] [ShaneGreenstein.MythologyofNetworks.Slides.pdf]

Download (PDF, Unknown)



Download Event Flyer [BigIdeas_ShaneGreensteinFlyer.pdf]

Professor Greenstein’s blog

The Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law is proud to host the Tullock Lecture presenting Big Ideas About Information. This lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Gordon Tullock, Professor of Law and Economics, emeritus. Professor Tullock is best known for inventing the concept of rent-seeking: the use of political or institutional power to extract wealth transfers from the rest of the economy. His book, The Calculus of Consent (1962), co-written with George Mason University’s James Buchanan, is a founding text of the public choice movement.  World-class thinkers have lectured at the Information Economy Project. The work of the Project sits at the intersection of academic research and public policy. Its research enterprise assists established experts and promising young scholars analyzing the most challenging regulatory questions of our day. 

Series Navigation<< Stan Liebowitz: Sometimes it is a Wolf: Piracy, Fairy Tale Business Models & Intellectual Property on the InternetMultimedia from Shane Greenstein’s Tullock Lecture >>

Related posts:

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Tullock Lecture Big Ideas About Information Series