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SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2015 FINANCIAL TIMES AND MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR
A New York Times technology and business reporter charts the dramatic rise of Bitcoin and the fascinating personalities who are striving to create a new global money for the Internet age.
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Celebrants and skeptics alike have produced valuable analyses of the Internet’s effect on us and our world, oscillating between utopian bliss and dystopian hell. But according to Robert W. McChesney, arguments on both sides fail to address the relationship between economic power and the digital world.
McChesney’s award-winning Rich Media, Poor Democracy skewered the assumption that a society drenched in commercial information is a democratic one. In Digital Disconnect McChesney returns to this provocative thesis in light of the advances of the digital age, incorporating capitalism into the heart of his analysis. He argues that the sharp decline in the enforcement of antitrust violations, the increase in patents on digital technology and proprietary systems, and other policies and massive indirect subsidies have made the Internet a place of numbing commercialism. A small handful of monopolies now dominate the political economy, from Google, which garners an astonishing 97 percent share of the mobile search market, to Microsoft, whose operating system is used by over 90 percent of the world’s computers. This capitalistic colonization of the Internet has spurred the collapse of credible journalism, and made the Internet an unparalleled apparatus for government and corporate surveillance, and a disturbingly anti-democratic force.
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In Ruling the Root, Milton Mueller uses the theoretical framework of institutional
economics to analyze the global policy and governance problems created by the assignment of Internet
domain names and addresses. "The root" is the top of the domain name hierarchy and the Internet
address space. It is the only point of centralized control in what is otherwise a distributed and
voluntaristic network of networks. Both domain names and IP numbers are valuable resources, and
their assignment on a coordinated basis is essential to the technical operation of the Internet.
Mueller explains how control of the root is being leveraged to control the Internet itself in such
key areas as trademark and copyright protection, surveillance of users, content regulation, and
regulation of the domain name supply industry.Control of the root originally resided in an
informally organized technical elite comprised mostly of American computer scientists. As the
Internet became commercialized and domain name registration became a profitable business, a six-year
struggle over property rights and the control of the root broke out among Internet technologists,
business and intellectual property interests, international organizations, national governments, and
advocates of individual rights. By the late 1990s, it was apparent that only a new international
institution could resolve conflicts among the factions in the domain name wars. Mueller recounts the
fascinating process that led to the formation of a new international regime around ICANN, the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. In the process, he shows how the vaunted
freedom and openness of the Internet is being diminished by the institutionalization of the
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An Independent and New Statesman Book of the Year
Beyond the familiar online world that most of us inhabit—a world of Google, Facebook, and Twitter—lies a vast and often hidden network of sites, communities, and cultures where freedom is pushed to its limits, and where people can be anyone, or do anything, they want. This is the world of Bitcoin and Silk Road, of radicalism and pornography. This is the Dark Net.
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Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you've probably heard of Bitcoin—the game-changing digital currency used by millions worldwide.
But Bitcoin isn't just another way to buy stuff. It's an anonymous, revolutionary, cryptographically secure currency that functions without the oversight of a central authority or government. If you want to get into the Bitcoin game but find yourself a little confused, Bitcoin for the Befuddled may be just what you're looking for. Learn what Bitcoin is; how it works; and how to acquire, store, and spend bitcoins safely and securely.
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