Yochai Benkler (; 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. In academia he is best known for coining the term commons-based peer production and his widely cited 2006 book The Wealth of Networks.
From 1984 to 1987, Benkler was a member and treasurer of the Kibbutz Shizafon
[ Benkler bio]
He received his LL.B. from Tel-Aviv University in 1991 and Juris Doctor
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.
[ Board and Advisory Board Sunlight Foundation, February 14, 2011] In 2011, his research led him to receive the $100,000 Ford Foundation Social Change Visionaries Award. [ Yochai Benkler receives Ford Foundation Visionaries Award on cyber.law.harvard.edu] He is also one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.
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
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."
The Wealth of Networks
Benkler's 2006 book The Wealth of Networks
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.
( 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
law, since the marginal cost of re-producing most information is effectively nothing.
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
In 2011, Benkler published The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest.
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 2)
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