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Yochai Benkler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of law in 2006
Yochai Benkler speaking at UC Berkeley School of law in 2006

Yochai Benkler (/ˈjx/; born 1964) is an Israeli-American author and the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is also a faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.


From 1984 to 1987, Benkler was a member and treasurer of the Kibbutz Shizafon.[1] He received his LL.B. from Tel-Aviv University in 1991 and J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1994. He worked at the law firm Ropes & Gray from 1994 to 1995. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer from 1995 to 1996.

He was a professor at New York University School of Law from 1996 to 2003, and visited at Yale Law School and Harvard Law School (during 2002–2003), before joining the Yale Law School faculty in 2003. In 2007, Benkler joined Harvard Law School, where he teaches and is a faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Benkler is on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation.[2] In 2011, his research led him to receive the $100,000 Ford Foundation Social Change Visionaries Award.[3] He is also one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.[4]


Benkler's research focuses on commons-based approaches to managing resources in networked environments. He coined the term commons-based peer production to describe collaborative efforts based on sharing information, such as free and open source software and Wikipedia.[5] He also uses the term 'networked information economy' to describe a "system of production, distribution, and consumption of information goods characterized by decentralized individual action carried out through widely distributed, nonmarket means that do not depend on market strategies."[6]

The Wealth of Networks

Benkler's 2006 book The Wealth of Networks[7] examines the ways in which information technology permits extensive forms of collaboration that have potentially transformative consequences for economy and society. Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Open Source Software and the blogosphere are among the examples that Benkler draws upon.[8] (The Wealth of Networks is itself published under a Creative Commons license.) For example, Benkler argues that blogs and other modes of participatory communication can lead to "a more critical and self-reflective culture", where citizens are empowered by the ability to publicize their own opinions on a range of issues, which enables them to move from passive recipients of "received wisdom" to active participants. Much of The Wealth of Networks is presented in economic terms, and Benkler raises the possibility that a culture in which information is shared freely could prove more economically efficient than one in which innovation is encumbered by patent or copyright law, since the marginal cost of re-producing most information is effectively nothing.

Network Propaganda

Benkler in 2009
Benkler in 2009

Along with Robert Faris, Research Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and Hal Roberts, a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Benkler co-authored the October 2018 Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics.[9]

Contributions to industrial information economy

According to Benkler, the emergence of the networked information economy "has the potential to increase individual autonomy",[10] which he means would provide individuals with a richer basis from which they can form critical judgement concerning how they should live their life. Benkler coined the term 'Jalt' as a contraction of jealousy and altruism, to describe the dynamic in commons-based peer production where some participants get paid while others do not, or "whether people get paid differentially for participating." The term was first introduced in his seminal paper "Coase's Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm." It is described in more technical terms as "social-psychological component of the reward to support monetary appropriation by others or... where one agent is jealous of the rewards of another."[11]

Benkler appeared in the documentary film Steal This Film, which is available through Creative Commons. He discussed various issues, including: how the changing cost structures in film and music production are enabling new stratums of society to create.[12]

Benkler is a strong proponent of WikiLeaks, characterizing it as a prime example of non-traditional media filling a public watchdog role left vacant by traditional news outlets.[13] In a draft paper written for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review in February 2011, he uses governmental vilification and prosecution of Wikileaks as a case study demonstrating the need for more robust legal protection for independent media.[14]

In August 2011, Benkler was a keynote speaker at the Wikimania conference in Haifa, Israel.[15] That same August,[16] Benkler's latest book on social cooperation online and off, titled The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest, was published. Benkler discussed this book at a lecture given at Harvard on October 18, 2011.[17]

Benkler contributed the essay "Complexity and Humanity" to the Freesouls book project, which discusses the human element in production and technology.[18]


See also


  1. ^ Benkler bio
  2. ^ Board and Advisory Board Archived 2010-10-16 at the Wayback Machine Sunlight Foundation, February 14, 2011
  3. ^ Yochai Benkler receives Ford Foundation Visionaries Award on
  4. ^
  5. ^ Steven Johnson (September 21, 2012). "The Internet? We Built That". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-24. The Harvard legal scholar Yochai Benkler has called this phenomenon 'commons-based peer production'.
  6. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-300-11056-1.
  7. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11056-1.
  8. ^ Benkler, Y. (2011). "The unselfish gene". Harvard Business Review. 89 (7–8): 76–85, 164. Bibcode:2011NewSc.211Q..32H. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(11)62212-4. PMID 21800472.
  9. ^ Benkler, Yochai; Faris, Robert; Roberts, Hal (October 15, 2018). Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0190923631.
  10. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11056-1.
  11. ^ Benkler, Yochai (2002) Coase's Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm. Archived 2010-10-10 at the Wayback Machine The Yale Law Journal 112(3): 429
  12. ^ Conflicts in cultural production
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Israel hosts Wikimania 2011 
  16. ^ "The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest".
  17. ^ The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest on (October 8, 2011)
  18. ^ Complexity and Humanity, Yochai Benkler
  19. ^ Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research from The McGannon Center
  20. ^ IP3 Awards Winners Announced from Public Knowledge
  21. ^ Press release March 2007 of Electronic Frontier Foundation
  22. ^ CITASA Book Award Archived 2012-11-24 at the Wayback Machine from American Sociological Association
  23. ^ Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics Section Don K. Price Award Winners from American Political Science Association
  24. ^ Twelve Social Change Visionaries Are Honored by the Ford Foundation Archived 2011-11-02 at the Wayback Machine on

External links

This page was last edited on 16 March 2021, at 06:31
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