Organizing and governing cyberspace is a lot like herding cats. Even the concept of governance itself is a source of frenzied debate. Some see the online world as a nascent utopia that should be free of regulation, where the only rule should be the rule of technology itself. Others view the present state of online anarchy with alarm, as a threat to either vested power or perceived morality. And there are the so-called neo-Luddites who see humanity itself threatened by this new mode of interaction.
The essays in The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and Global Restructuring attempt to steer a reasonable course between these extremes. A repeated premise is that governance is not necessarily a matter of imposed regulatory control but that it can arise naturally out of long-term interactions among groups and individuals.
Contributors to this book include political theorists, computer scientists, social theorists, science fiction writers, psychologists, and sociologists. There are no attempts at easy answers here. Instead, the writers examine tradeoffs involved in difficult issues: the right to privacy versus protection from criminal activity; freedom of speech versus use of the Internet by hate groups; and the use of individually controlled technology versus the increase in cost that such solutions could mean for large numbers of Internet users. Given the increasing size, commercialization, and polarization of the Net, this careful exploration of the ramifications of governance is a welcome contribution.
A fascinating and provocative volume which raises all the relevant questions relating to the awesome problem of social control in cyberspace. Impressively coherent in its argument, it tackles theory, the problem of boundaries and the question of surveillance.
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Mike Gane, Loughborough University