Who Runs the Internet? A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast
This week’s podcast is a rebroadcast of our episode called “Who Runs the Internet?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
Does virtual mayhem — from online ranting to videogame violence — help reduce mayhem in the real world? Though Steve Levitt says there is no solid data on this, in the episode he and Stephen Dubner hypothesize:
LEVITT: Maybe the biggest effect of all of having these violent video games is that they’re super fun for people to play, especially adolescent boys, maybe even adolescent boys who are prone to real violence. And so if you can make video games fun enough, then kids will stop doing everything else. They’ll stop watching TV, they’ll stop doing homework, and they’ll stop going out and creating mayhem on the street.
This episode then moves on to a bigger question about the Internet itself: who runs it? As Dubner asks: “Who’s in charge of the gazillions of conversations and transactions and character assassinations that happen online every day?”
Internet scholar Clay Shirky, author of HereComes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, tells us that 60 percent of adults around the world are now connected to the same communications grid. And this global connectivity is interesting, he says, because it’s not like there is an international body governing what’s online.