Does the Internet have an off switch?

In his new book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu argues that our increasing dependence on a single network (the internet) makes us more and more vulnerable to private interests bent on controlling the flow of information.

Much of the book is taken up with deep-focus histories of radio, telephone, film and television: Wu coins a Gladwellian phrase—”the Cycle”—to describe the trend toward media consolidation in each industry, and wonders how far away we really are from an internet that’s totally under corporate control. “Every other invention of its kind has had its period of openness, only to become the basis of yet another information empire,” he writes. “Is the internet really different?”

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