Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 2, 2014

Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman:  ”Almost a month into my new job, the fact that I’ve always been a “network guy” and an intrepid history buff should come as no surprise. Reading history has reinforced the central importance networks play and revealed the common themes in successive periods of network-driven change. Now, at the FCC, I find myself joining my colleagues in a position of both responsibility and authority over how the public is affected by and interfaces with the networks that connect us. Prior to my appointment by President Obama, I was doing research for a book about the history of networks. The new job stopped that project. However, I believe strongly that our future is informed by our past. While awaiting Senate confirmation, I tried to distill the project on which I had been working to connect what I had learned in my research to the challenges in my new job. The result is a short, free eBook, Net Effects: The Past, Present & Future Impact of Our Networks – History, Challenges and Opportunities.  It’s a look at the history of three network revolutions – the printing press, the railroad, and the telegraph and telephony – and how the fourth network revolution – digital communications – will be informed by those experiences.   It was this process that led me to what I’ve been describing as the “prisms” for looking at policy, or the “pillars” of communication policy: ensuring that our new networks promote economic growth, preserving the fundamental values that have traditionally been the foundation of our communications networks, and enabling public purpose benefits of our networks.”

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