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Internet Architecture and Innovation


  • van Schewick, Barbara

    () (Stanford University)


The Internet's remarkable growth has been fueled by innovation. New applications continually enable new ways of using the Internet, and new physical networking technologies increase the range of networks over which the Internet can run. Questions about the relationship between innovation and the Internet's architecture have shaped the debates over open access to broadband networks, network neutrality, nondiscriminatory network management, and future Internet architecture. In Internet Architecture and Innovation, Barbara van Schewick explores the economic consequences of Internet architecture, offering a detailed analysis of how it affects the economic environment for innovation. Van Schewick describes the design principles on which the Internet's original architecture was based--modularity, layering, and the end-to-end arguments--and shows how they shaped the original architecture. She analyzes in detail how the original architecture affected innovation—in particular, the development of new applications—and how changing the architecture would affect this kind of innovation. Van Schewick concludes that the original architecture of the Internet fostered application innovation. Current changes that deviate from the Internet's original design principles reduce the amount and quality of application innovation, limit users' ability to use the Internet as they see fit, and threaten the Internet's ability to realize its economic, social, cultural, and political potential. If left to themselves, network providers will continue to change the internal structure of the Internet in ways that are good for them but not necessarily for the rest of us. Government intervention may be needed to save the social benefits associated with the Internet's original design principles.

Suggested Citation

  • van Schewick, Barbara, 2012. "Internet Architecture and Innovation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026251804x, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:026251804x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "The revived Bretton Woods system," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 307-313.
    2. Eichengreen, Barry, 2004. "Chinese Currency Controversies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4375, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
    4. Allan H. Meltzer, 1991. "U.S. policy in the Bretton Woods era," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 54-83.
    5. Peter M. Garber, 1993. "The Collapse of the Bretton Woods Fixed Exchange Rate System," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 461-494 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1998. "Implications of the Great Depression for the Development of the International Monetary System," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 403-454 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1993. "A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord93-1, January.
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    More about this item


    econometrics; internet studies; e-commerce; business & computing;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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