This book arose from three strands of research that I found myself involved in over the last decade, by my extreme good fortune. They are a European research project on Internet self-regulation at Oxford in 2004; research conducted with Jonathan Cave, Ian Brown, Colin Blackman, Jon Crowcroft and others in Cambridge in 2005–7; an ongoing intellectual engagement with a group of brilliant US lawyers and economists enabled by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kevin Werbach (as well as the Telecoms Policy Research Conference) over a ten-year period.
First, Oxford. I had spent 2003 on self-reinforced sabbatical in Barcelona following the dot-com meltdown (specifically my video-on-demand start-up ShortMedia, with inspirational co-founders Doug Laughlen and Ivan Croxford) and more particularly the grotesque fraud at MCI WorldCom, following which I had resigned on principle in July 2002. The lack of consumer broadband in the period 2000–2 ended the hopes of many for a rich multimedia Internet at that point – there was capital, but no users to consume or help create mash-ups from licit or illicitly distributed content. The chance dropped out of the blue to help Damian Tambini to complete research and write the final report of selfregulation.info, as well as investigate the groundbreaking mobile content Code of Conduct, and help write up the results of ‘Losing Liberty in Cyberspace’ with Christian Ahlert. My thanks to Damian and Christian, to Danilo Leonardi, Marcus Alexander and Louise Scott. That project put me into a short-term research position at the Oxford Internet Institute, thanks to Bill Dutton and Vicki Nash, and from there I met the brilliant Jon Crowcroft, who helped introduce me to the extraordinary work being created at Cambridge. I also thank my colleagues and friends on frequent visits to Tokyo, Adam Peake, Ken Cukier, Motohiro Tsuchiya, Keisuke Kamimura, Izumi Aizu, and others in business and government, as well as those in Seoul, who helped me on my visits to the Far East to understand what leapfrogging is really about.
Second then, Cambridge. There are three strands to this connection. First, Colin Blackman and I had known each other since the late 1990s, and Colin had been very supportive of my early work, publishing in ‘info’, himself publishing a conference review in my start-up journal International Journal of Communications Law and Policy (ijclp.net), and latterly making me Associate Editor of ‘info’ from 2007. This is a good moment to also thank Martin Sims, editor of Intermedia who published my most ‘progressive’ articles in 2003–4. Second, I had met the ‘brilliant mind’ game theorist Jonathan Cave, and had jumped at the chance to work with him at RAND Corporation’s European operation in Cambridge (which itself had a traumatic year after I joined, closing its Leiden headquarters and satellite Berlin offices, and shutting down my Information Society team with the loss of my two line managers!). By 2006, Jonathan and I had carved out of the chaos a thriving little Internet regulation practice, conducting ground-breaking research on content regulation for Ofcom, for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! (disappointingly unpublished), the UK Cabinet Office, British Telecom, governments of Japan, Netherlands and Ireland, and the European Commission. In all cases, we investigated net neutrality and explained the cost-benefit trade-offs of regulated ‘walled gardens’ and the open Internet, even though it was never in the brief! Third, Jon Crowcroft re-established my contacts with David Clark and Bill Lehr, to whom I had presented local video-on-demand strategies in 2000 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, their home base. Dave asked me the implausibly optimistic question: ‘Where are the Internet-literate social scientists with whom we can conduct trans-disciplinary trans-Atlantic research?’ I found a few, self-servingly including myself, and we did some good work in the Cambridge-MIT Institute Communications Research Network (CMI CRN!), led by the ebullient David Cleevely, with Ian Brown coming on board to conduct critical coordination work on information security. What I know of the link between content regulation and information security I learnt at Cambridge and MIT, and more importantly the bars in-between. I should add thanks to Dave Reed, Mark Handley, Frank Kelly, Emanuele Giovannetti and Eddie Murphy.
Third, the United States, or actually five places: Los Angeles, New York, Harvard, Philadelphia and Rueschlikon, Switzerland. On my ‘exile’ in Barcelona (the best place to be exiled!), I had paid visits to Jon Aronson’s research group at University of Southern California Annenberg School, including Hernan Galperin, Francois Bar and Manuel Castells. There we talked about WiFi deployment and telco and mobile resistance to the prospect of open decentralized Internet models at low cost. Side trips from Los Angeles had previously given me rich experiences at workshops at Stanford (on WiFi and spectrum commons organized by Larry Lessig), and at Berkeley several times (thanks to Mark Lemley and Pam Samuelson). I also paid several visits to Eli Noam and the Columbia Business School, for conferences of the Columbia Institute on Tele-Information. Eli is undoubtedly the most coruscatingly insightful and diverse mind in telecoms policy, and I have always been inspired by his gatherings and conversations. I should add the equally diverse and superb Alex Wolfson, who was at this point at Nokia applying research to reality, and Bruce Egan, who applied himself vigorously in all things. Tom Hazlett, Eli’s long-time sparring partner on the FT New Technology Policy Forum and elsewhere, has been a constant wise source on the ways of the Bells and of the Beltway (whether we agree or especially not). Though it has been a while since heard of, a further member of this eclectic group is the legendary Dennis Gilhooly.
That’s Los Angeles and New York, but mention of Dennis brings me to my formal link to the United States, my residential fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School in 1999–2000 (yes, nine years is a long gestation for a book), for which I must thank Deborah Hurley. Fortuitously I was there the same academic year as Dennis (working with Jeffrey Sachs) and Herbert Ungerer (at the Weatherhead Center), and between us we put the world of telecoms regulation to rights, and have continued to do so since. I could not mention the Kennedy School without mentioning Jean Camp, a straight-talking colleague and pioneering Internet security researcher, as well as Tony Oettinger and John LeGates at the Programme on Information Resources Policy. As with Eli at Columbia and Herbert at the EC, it helps to have opinions from wise people who knew the Internet way back when, and AT&T when it was still Ma Bell: history matters. Harvard, like Oxford, is the most political of intellectual environments, and I learnt of the secret tunnel that runs from the Kennedy School atrium directly underground to the White House, 100 m away (if you don’t believe me, consider how else they could pull rank on so many White House staff and Secretaries?). Oxford also has one, under the Bodleian …
So on to Philadelphia, where Kevin Werbach and Andrea Matwyshyn were such great hosts for formidable workshops in 2005–8. Kevin has been a special influence on my telecoms research, with his combination of startling insight and practical application, at Supernova conferences and FCC, an example of how a policy-influencing academic can make a difference. These workshops proved excellent venues to watch spirited discussions of net neutrality between Tim Wu, Chris Yoo, Rob Frieden, Phil Weiser, Rick Whitt, Joe Waz, Susan Crawford, Monroe Price, Ed Baker and others. Note the media law influence of the latter three, and I should mention that Monroe and also Monica Arino were excellent reference points on the connection between global media and Internet policy.
Finally, Rueschlikon. Those of you who have kept awake this far will notice that the Zurichersee is not in the United States. That’s true, but Fritz Gutbrodt of Swiss Reinsurance and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Lew Branscomb from Harvard put on spectacular discussions around a variety of innovation and risk issues there for seven years from 2001. As the website tells you: ‘The host and sponsor is Swiss Re’s Rueschlikon Centre for Global Dialogue. The conferences forge a transatlantic bridge to advance dialogue on the central issues of the information economy.’ I don’t know what good things I did in a past life to deserve it, but I was always invited, and had wonderful conversations (almost all after dinner outside their wonderful bar, the best bar in my world) with an incredible list of telecoms and Internet luminaries, including (in no particular order) John Gage, Mike Nelson, Sacchio Semmoto, Niklas Zennstrom, Cory Ondrejka, Brian Thompson, Olaf Lundberg, Yochai Benkler, Larry Lessig, Hal Varian, Philip Evans, Steve Abernathy, Gilles Bregant, Ed Felten, John Seeley Brown, Craig Mundie, Peter Siepel, Thomas Hoeren, John Browning, Peter Cowhey, Takeshi Natsuno, Jonathan Sallet, Ron Burt, Urs Gasser, Joi Ito, Andrew McLaughlin, Kathryn Brown, Tren Griffin, Lauren Hall, Tim Kelly, Clay Shirky, Hans Peter Brondmo, Dave Farber, Brian Snow, as well as Eli, Herbert, Dave Clark, Kevin et al. (and I’m not even counting one-time attendees!) on subjects such as 2007 ‘Governance of Information’, 2006 ‘Innovative Entrepreneurship’, 2005 ‘Critical Information Infrastructure’, 2004 ‘Openness, Trust, and Sovereignty’, 2003 ‘Network Rising’, 2002 ‘Information, Ownership & Control’, 2001 ‘Convergence’. I have to thank Tom Aust, Kenn Cukier, Bernard Benhamou, as well as Margaritte and Rick Murray for being perfect hosts. Now again, the subject of net neutrality comes up vicariously, interwoven into every subject, and it is this that gives the power to the debate: net neutrality affects and changes everything, it has impact on all other communications policy discussions.
All this travelling brings me back to home, and those I must thank here. First, my colleagues present and past, whose indulgence let me find the time and space to write and think. In no particular order, they include Lorna Woods, Jane Wright, Bob Watt, Sabine Michalowski, Kevin Boyle, Steve Anderman, Audrey Guinchard, Yvonne Cattrall, Hayley Milburn and Liz Harvey at Essex; Martin Botterman, Neil Robinson, Lorenzo Valeri and Constantijn van Oranje at RAND; Damian Tambini at Oxford. I must thank my various co-authors over the years on publications relevant to this work: Damian, Danilo, Marcus, Christian and Vicki at Oxford; Jonathan, Neil, Constantine, Edwin Horlings, Stijn Hoorens, Lisa Klautzer, Bill Lehr, Colin Blackman and Simon Forge, Lorna and Ian Brown when at RAND; Campbell Cowie now of Ofcom; Ivan and Doug at ShortMedia/Re:Think!, Lilian Edwards at Sheffield; Stefaan Verhulst at Markle Foundation. I also have to thank the brave souls who commissioned my consulting reports, including Peter Johnston, Reka Bernat, Alex Blowers, Jonathan Mosedale, Tim Cowen, Jean-Jacques Sahel and Emma Ashcroft. Particular thanks are due to those who know the inside of Ofcom and the European Commission better than I am able: Martin Cave, Tom Kiedrowski, Nico van Eijk, Philip Graf, Peggy Valcke, Herbert and Damian of course, Filomena Chirico, Pierre Larouche, David Levy, Nigel Hickson, Ken Ducatel and Monica Arino. The policymaker perspective on academic debate (and hopefully, vice versa) is absolutely critical to this subject.
It’s a truism, but I could not have done this without all of the above. That said, they’re not to blame for my work, and any errors and omissions are mine alone.
I should also thank the readers of my net neutrality blog, chrismarsden.blogspot.com, for their comments, including Michael Geist, Simon Dean-Johns, Jasper Sliujs, Andres Guadamuz, Monica Horten, Lilian and Ian, as well as uber-mega-platinum blogger James Enck. I am bound to have forgotten someone so integral to my work that they cannot be overlooked, so apologies to whomever that person is! In fact, remind me and I will post your name(s) on the blog.
The final word goes to those whose personal lives have been affected by my appeals for hermetically sealed peace during the write-up! They include particularly my parents and Kenza (plus the entire gang in Montreal), who coped with my writers’ block, frenzied blogging and final editing with more good grace than anyone has the right to expect. My dedication for this book is to them.
Chris Marsden Colchester and Montreal 22 June 2009