On one side, trying to maintain control of information, are corporations, judges, the military, and global institutions. On the other side, trying to liberate information, are educators, hackers, civil libertarians, artists, consumers, and political dissidents. The Anarchist in the Library, by the rising young academic star Siva Vaidhyanathan, is a radically original look at how this battle will define one of the major fault lines of twenty-first century civilization.
The recording industry has sued the music downloaders into submission, but as a model of communication, their effects still echo around the world. The proliferation of such peer-to-peer networks may appear to threaten many established institutions, and the backlash against them could be even worse than the problems they create. Their effects--good and bad--resonate far beyond markets for music. They are altering our sense of the possible, extending our cultural and political imaginations.
Unregulated networks of communication have existed as long as gossip has. But with the rise of electronic communication, they are exponentially more important. And they are drawing the outlines of a battle for information that will determine much of the culture and politics of our century, from unauthorized fan edits of Star Wars to terrorist organizations' reliance on "leaderless resistance." The Anarchist in the Library is the first guide to one of the most important cultural and economic battlegrounds of the twenty-first century.