Some notes and recommendations.

To answer a recurring question: although I am happy for RRE's wonderful
subscribers to send me potential items for the list, I absolutely do not
want any commercial press releases.  I am not opposed to commerce -- just
the other day, after all, I passed along Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt's
advertisement for their contextual design course.  It has simply been my
experience that commercial press releases are invariably useless.  I mean
really, they must be trying to make them that way, or else some useful
content would sneak in occasionally.  The truth, more likely, is that they
are designed for a completely different purpose than circulation among a
general audience on the Internet.

Marc Rotenberg and I have just edited a book called Technology and Privacy:
The New Landscape (MIT Press, 1997).  It collects chapters by ten authors,
each providing a new conceptual framework for understanding the interactions
among technology, economics, and policy.  One theme is the changing role
of technology: social thought has always associated technology with social
control and surveillance, but new technologies of privacy protection hold
the promise of reversing that association, and the Internet is helping to
create a new public sphere for debate and organizing around privacy issues.
Another theme is the maturation of the traditional data protection model
of privacy policy: this model originated in a sort of lawyer's folk theory
of how computers work, back when computers were large, centralized, and
unnetworked, but the world has changed since then.  The data protection
model isn't obsolete, but it has clearly come time to rethink the issues
from the ground up.  And what's what we've tried to do.  It's a great book,
it's cheap, and most of the online bookstores have it on sale.  So check
it out.  I'll send an advertisement to RRE soon; in the meantime, you can
read excerpts from the introduction by following the link from my home page:

In addition I've put some more of my papers online in the last few weeks, so
maybe you'll find something of interest there.

Mostly, though, I have a whole lot of recommendations to offer.

The most interesting book I've read in years is Michael Allen Gillespie,
Nihilism Before Nietzsche, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Building on the observation of Weber and others that much modern thought
is secularized religion, Gillespie argues that an important tradition of
philosophy is based on a view of God as thoroughly arbitrary and capricious.
In the middle ages, the basic problem was how to reconcile reason and
faith, and the basic solution was to derive both from the elaborate order
that God Himself had instituted in the world.  The serial upheavals of the
Black Death, the Reformation, and the Thirty Years' War made that approach
considerably less plausible, however.  Philosophers accordingly began
drawing much more on the previously marginal tradition of nominalism,
which emphasized the tension between man's reason and God's radical
freedom.  This approach can be found in Descartes, who, Gillespie argues,
founds a tradition in which man himself must take over many or all of God's
functions.  Gillespie then traces a downward slide through Fichte, the
romantic movement, the Russian nihilists, Schopenhauer, and many others,
finally down to Nietzsche.  Although I doubt that Gillespie and I would
agree about many things, I think that he is basically right about this.
The basic pattern is widespread; in fact, you can see it clearly in AI
research, which has long opposed the heroic and (in practice) almost futile
rationality of the individual agent to an "uncertain, unpredictable, and
changing environment".  Gillespie is one conservative dude, a product of
the followers of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago.  His political
polemics sometimes get in the way, for example when he treats people's
enemies as authorities on them, or when he goes whole-hog into guilt-by-
association tactics in recounting the beliefs of the Russian nihilists that
Turgenev wrote about.  Nonetheless, I think that Gillespie's variety of
conservatism will become more important in coming years.  The conservative
movement has much to gain by reactivating an awareness of the theological
sources of modern social and philosophical thought, thereby shifting the
whole of public intellectual discourse back onto religious terrain.  This
is why I keep saying that we're returning to the middle ages, and why I
expect the institutional system of the United States to continue its rapid
convergence with that of Iran.

Also immensely recommended is David F. Noble, The Religion of Technology:
The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention, New York: Knopf, 1997.
Although Noble's politics could not be any more different from Gillespie's,
his thesis is remarkably parallel, to wit, that technology is, and always
has been, primarily a religious enterprise.  It has long been known that
important technologists for a thousand years have also written religious
works, but Noble is just about the first person to go and read them all,
taking them seriously as an integral part of the technological tradition.
Indeed, from the beginning of technology with the Benedictine monks down
to the present day, one finds technologists suggesting with remarkable
consistency that technology will cause man to resemble God.  In some
cases this suggestion is part of an overtly elaborated theology; in other
cases the theological ideas have been translated into secular terms, but
with religious language reappearing from time to time as if the author had
discovered the analogy afresh.  NASA, for example, is largely a religious
organization, run by religious people for quite openly admitted religious
purposes.  Babbage and Wiener, likewise, were explicit about the religious
nature of their work in computing, and (as I suggest in a column coming
out in the November issue of Technology Review) the discourse of cyberspace
is full of classical millenarian themes.  For Noble, all of this is reason
to reject technology.  Of course, the word "technology" can mean a lot of
different things, so that rejecting technology can amount to a wide variety
of different positions.  In other work, Noble vociferously resists those
false friends who would water down the memory of the Luddites, making their
attitude toward machinery seem fancier than it really was.  My own view is
that technology is capable of taking many different directions, and that
technologies embody ideas, and that those ideas are frequently fouled up.
Noble's objection to the religion of technology is that it is a religion;
my objection is that it is a lousy religion.  As with Gillespie's genealogy
of nihilism, reactivating an awareness of the religious ideas and practices
that became technology -- that is, recognizing which religion technology
is -- shifts the debate about technology onto religious grounds.  Gillespie
wants to undermine poststructuralism and communism, Noble wants to undermine
industrial automation, and they're both right.  This is a serious situation.
Does it mean that we should rewind society back to the middle ages?  No,
I don't think so.  Does it mean that we probably will rewind society back
to the middle ages?  There I'm not so sure.

Also highly recommended, though seemingly completely unrelated to theology:
C. Edwin Baker, Giving the audience what it wants, Ohio State Law Journal
58(2), 1997, pages 311-417.  We too often hear the catechism of the market
applied uncritically to information.  The problem is that information works
quite differently from physical commodities such as sandwiches and trucks.
Information, in short, is a public good.  This is well-known, but nobody has
catalogued all of its consequences.  Ed Baker is a First Amendment scholar
who couldn't care less about cyberspace.  You may recall my recommendation
of his book about the influence of advertisers on the news.  He tells me
that he wrote this paper because he simply needed a citation for various
observations about the public good nature of information but couldn't
find one.  The result is an interminable catalog of the amazing economic
pecularities of information.  Unless you've gotten used to all of these
facts, you're simply not in a position to talk about the economic issues
(and therefore the policy issues) associated with information technology.

While we're reading law reviews, here are a few more useful references:

Mark A. Lemley, Antitrust and the Internet standardization problem,
Connecticut Law Review 28, 1996, pages 1041-1094.  This paper and the next
are required reading now that the Justice Department has moved on Microsoft.
Basically they explain why this is the probably best shot that Justice will
ever have.

James J. Anton and Dennis A. Yao, Standard-setting consortia, antitrust, and
high-technology industries, Antitrust Law Journal 64, 1995, pages 247-265.

Julie E. Cohen, A right to read anonymously: A closer look at "copyright
management" in cyberspace, Connecticut Law Review 28, 1996, pages 981-1039.
The title says it.  One counterargument against information-as-public-good
arguments like Ed Baker's is that information is excludable, meaning that
an information vendor can use "copyright management" technologies to control
who uses it and who doesn't.  This would be great from the point of view of
neoclassical economics, but it would be a catastrophe from the point of view
of privacy if publishers could know just exactly what you read, and when.

Marcel Kahan and Michael Klausner, Path dependence in corporate contracting:
Increasing returns, herd behavior and cognitive biases, Washington University
Law Quarterly 74, 1996, pages 347-366.  Even though this paper doesn't seem
like it's relevant to information technology on the surface, I include it
because it's highly relevant to the idea that privacy can be treated as a
good to be allocated by the market.  The idea is that different companies
can compete in the marketplace on their handling of personal information,
and that the market would thereby reveal just how much privacy people really
want, and exactly what they're willing to give up to get it.  This is one
more example of the mechanical application of market language to matters
involving information, and as with all the other examples, serious analysis
of the proposal doesn't begin until we take seriously the particularities of
the market.  If the market doesn't work right then it won't allocate goods
in the right way.  If we think about privacy markets as markets in contract
terms -- privacy, after all, isn't a separate and discrete good, but rather
a set of terms incorporated in the contract governing the sale of some other
good or service -- then we need to understand the properties of markets in
contract terms that relate to the handling of personal information.  Kahan
and Klausner suggest that markets in contract terms exhibit network effects,
meaning that market participants benefit from using the same contract terms
that others have used before them.  That means that a firm that wishes to
offer innovative contract terms will have to make a potentially substantial
investment that other firms using more commonplace terms won't have to make.
The result could be to restrict the diversity of terms that are available to
consumers in the marketplace.  Nobody has proven whether this really happens
-- indeed, it is a characteristic of debate in this area that neither the
proponents nor opponents of market mechanisms have the slightest empirical
evidence one way or the other.  But the argument is plausible enough that we
shouldn't buy the privacy-market story without considerable investigation.

I also recommend ACM's StandardView, a crudely produced but intellectually
serious magazine about standards and standardization.  I have long said that
standards dynamics are the key to understanding the evolution of information
infrastructure, and StandardView provides some concrete detail on the (often
strange) standardization process.

A tremendous number of books have been published in the last couple years on
the subjects covered on RRE.  No mortal could possibly review them all, but
here at least is a partial list of them:

Stephen A. Brown, Revolution at the Checkout Counter: The Explosion of the Bar
Code, Harvard University Press, 1997.

Thomas H. Davenport and Laurence Prusak, Information Ecology: Mastering the
Information and Knowledge Environment, Oxford University Press, 1997.

William Dutton, ed, Information and Communication Technologies: Visions and
Realities, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Mike Featherstone and Roger Burrows, eds, Cyberspace/Cyberbodies/Cyberpunk:
Cultures of Technological Embodiment, Sage, 1996.

Ruth Garner and Mark G. Gillingham, Internet Communication in Six Classrooms:
Conversations Across Time, Space, and Culture, Erlbaum, 1996.

Laura J. Gurak, Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace: The Online Protests
over Lotus Marketplace and the Clipper Chip, New Haven: Yale University Press,

Richard Hawkins, Robin Mansell, and Jim Skea, eds, Standards, Innovation
and Competitiveness: The Politics and Economics of Standards in Natural and
Technical Environments, Edward Elgar, 1995.

Marco Iansiti, Technology Integration: Making Critical Choices in a Dynamic
World, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1997.

Brian Kahin and Charles Nesson, eds, Borders in Cyberspace: Information Policy
and the Global Information Infrastructure, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.

Brian Kahin and James H. Keller, eds, Coordinating the Internet, Cambridge:
MIT Press, 1997.

Brian Kahin and Ernest Wilson, eds, National Information Infrastructure
Initiatives, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.

Ravi Kalakota and Andrew B. Whinston, Frontiers of Electronic Commerce,
Addison-Wesley, 1996.

Samuel Krislov, How Nations Choose Product Standards and Standards Change
Nations, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997.

Donald M. Lamberton, ed, The Economics of Communication and Information,
Cheltenham, UK: Elgar, 1996.

Pierre Levy, Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace,
translated by Robert Bononno, Plenum Press, 1997.

Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps, Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space,
Time, and Organizations With Technology, Wiley, 1997.

Brian D. Loader, ed, The Governance of Cyberspace: Politics, Technology and
Global Restructuring, Routledge, 1997.

Lee W. McKnight and Joseph P. Bailey, eds, Internet Economics, Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1997.

Alberto Melucci, Challenging Codes: Collective Action in the Information Age,
Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Marc H. Meyer and Alvin P. Lehnerd, The Power of Product Platforms: Building
Value and Cost Leadership, Free Press, 1997.

W. Russell Neuman, Lee McKnight and Richard Jay Soloman, The Gordian Knot:
Political Gridlock on the Information Highway, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.

Arthur L. Norberg and Judy E. O'Neill, Transforming Computer Technology:
Information Processing for the Pentagon, 1962-1986, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1996.

Wanda Orlikowski et al, eds, Information Technology and Changes in
Organizational Work, London: Chapman and Hall, 1996.

David Porter, Internet Culture, Routledge, 1996.

Gene I. Rochlin, Trapped in The Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of
Computerization, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Ziauddin Sardar and Jerome R. Ravetz, eds, Cyberfutures: Culture and Politics
on the Information Superhighway, New York University Press, 1996.

Susanne K. Schmidt and Raymund Werle, Coordinating Technology: Studies in the
International Standardization of Telecommunications, Cambridge: MIT Press,

Karen A. Schriver, Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Texts for Readers,
Wiley, 1996.

Werner Sichel and Donald L. Alexander, eds, Networks, Infrastructure, and the
New Task for Regulation, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Mark Stefik, Internet Dreams, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.

John Tiffin and Lalita Rajasingham, In Search of the Virtual Class: Education
in an Information Society, London: Routledge, 1995.

Andrew B. Whinston, Dale O. Stahl, and Soon-Yong Choi, The Economics of
Electronic Commerce, MacMillan, 1997.

Rolf Wigand, Arnold Picot, and Ralf Reichwald, Information, Organization and
Management: Expanding Markets and Corporate Boundaries, Wiley, 1997.

Michael R. Williams, A History of Computing Technology, second edition, IEEE
Computer Society, 1997.

David B. Yoffie, ed, Competing in the Age of Digital Convergence, Boston:
Harvard Business School Press, 1997.

Mark W. Zacher and Brent A. Sutton, Governing Global Networks: International
Regimes for Transportation and Communications, Cambridge University Press,