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Information Infrastructure Project at Harvard University

The Economics of Digital Information and Intellectual Property

The rapid growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web is transforming the way information is accessed and used. New models for distributing, sharing, linking, and marketing information are appearing. This volume examines emerging economic and business models for global publishing and information access, as well as the attendant transformation of international information markets, institutions, and businesses. It provides those in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors with a practical framework for dealing with the new information markets.

Options for Internet and Broadband Access

The growth of the Internet has been propelled in significant part by user investment in infrastructure: computers, internal wiring, and the connection to the Internet provider. This "bottom-up" investment minimizes the investment burden facing providers. New technologies such as wireless and data transmission over power lines, as well as deregulation of telecommunications and electric utilities, will provide new opportunities for user investment in intelligent infrastructure as leverage points for Internet and broadband access.

For years, the world saw the Internet as a creature of theU.S. Department of Defense. Now some claim that the Internet is aself-governing organism controlled by no one and needing nooversight. Although the National Science Foundation and othergovernment agencies continue to support and oversee criticaladministrative and coordinating functions, the Internet is remarkablydecentralized and uninstitutionalized.

Information Policy and the Global Information Infrastructure

Today millions of technologically empowered individuals are able to participate freely in international transactions and enterprises, social and economic. These activities are governed by national and local laws designed for simpler times and now challenged by a new technological and market environment as well as by the practicalities and politics of enforcement across national boundaries.

Despite the global nature of the Information Revolution, most policies for information infrastructure are developed at the national level. These national policies reflect local economic, social, historical, and political circumstances and exhibit remarkable differences in vision, policy design, and implementation strategy. In general, they reflect the reality that private sector will play the leading role in developing the new infrastructure.

This collection explores the opportunities for and possible implications of coordination between two of the major pieces of emerging infrastructure in the United States: Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the National Information Infrastructure (NII). Based on a recent workshop that was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, MIT, and Harvard, Converging Infrastructures frames the programmatic, organizational, and technical issues involved.


Although there are many competing visions of information infrastructure, there is universal agreement that standards will play a critical role. The history of OSI, the Internet, and industry consortia shows that standards development has become a rich, multifaceted process, critically linked to market strategy and major issues of public policy.

This well-balanced collection takes up the important issues in enabling widely available access to the Internet at a time of rapid commercialization and growth.