Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EVENT: The Mythology of Networks (and Other Lessons from the Commercial Internet) April 7 Arlington, VA

Shane Greenstein: Elinor and H. Wendell Hobbs Professor of Management
and Strategy Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Thursday, April 7, 2011
4:00 pm in Room 120, George Mason University School of Law
3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va.
(Orange Line: Virginia Square-GMU Metro)

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.

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. Thursday, April 7, 2011, 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.,
reception to follow. Admission is free, but seating is limited. *To
reserve your spot, please respond via email: iep.gmu@gmail.com.

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