Summary of The Master Switch

The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

First Edition: 2010 more...

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The Master Switch book summary
Who will own the Internet?


9 Overall

9 Importance

9 Innovation

10 Style


Innovation has been a serial killer in the information industry since the advent of the telephone doomed the telegraph. Great advances in communications technology herald the start of new industries, but the corporate history of such breakthroughs shows a cycle of fragmentation followed by concentration, followed by another breakthrough and another splintered set of small companies chasing that innovation’s promise. The Internet may defy this cycle. Whether control of the web will consolidate or remain diffuse remains to be seen. However, historic patterns suggest that today’s major Internet companies may become part of larger media empires, thus centralizing control of online content. Columbia University professor Tim Wu offers a rich saga tracing the evolution of telecommunications industries, technology and regulations, and explains what these patterns portend. He says policy makers must limit corporate control of the web because open online information now is essential to society. getAbstract recommends Wu’s book to readers interested in the future of the information industry and its centerpiece, the Internet.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why telecommunications industries – telephony, radio, film, TV, cable and Internet – built on revolutionary new technology gradually consolidate
  • How the US government shapes the structure of these industries
  • Why history suggests commercial forces eventually could centralize control of online content


A Cycle of Revolution, Fragmentation and Consolidation
Revolutions in communications technology encourage the formation of new companies that outperform old businesses based on outdated technologies. The fragmented frenzy of these revolutions fades as dominant companies buy or bankrupt...
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About the Author

Tim Wu is an author, a policy advocate and a professor at Columbia University.

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