Economics Dictionary of Arguments

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Benkler I 215
E-mail/Public Sphere/Benkler: E-mail is the most popular application on the Net. It is cheap and trivially easy to use. Basic e-mail, as currently used, is not ideal for public communications. While it provides a cheap and efficient means of communicating with large numbers of individuals who are not part of one’s basic set of social associations, the presence of large amounts of commercial spam and the amount of mail flowing in and out of mailboxes make indiscriminate e-mail distributions a relatively poor mechanism for being heard. E-mails to smaller groups, preselected by the sender for having some interest in a subject or relationship to the sender, do, however, provide a rudimentary mechanism for communicating observations, ideas, and opinions to a significant circle, on an ad hoc basis. Mailing lists are more stable and self-selecting, and
I 216
therefore more significant as a basic tool for the networked public sphere. Some mailing lists are moderated or edited, and run by one or a small number of editors. Others are not edited in any significant way. Because of their attention limits, individuals restrict their subscriptions, so posting on a mailing list tends to be done by and for people who have self-selected as having a heightened degree of common interest, substantive or contextual. It therefore enhances the degree to which one is heard by those already interested in a topic.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Benkler I
Yochai Benkler
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom New Haven 2007


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