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Ithiel de Sola Pool was a pioneering social scientist, a distinguished scholar of the political process, and one of the most original thinkers in the development of the social sciences. Passionately engaged in politics, he continued his role of leadership throughout his life, building the MIT Political Science Department into an outstanding group. He organized international teams of social scientists and collaborated widely to develop the understanding of social change. He was a frequent adviser to governments as consultant and in-house critic, and a successful advocate of limits on government regulation. Politics in Wired Nations presents his writings on the social and political impact of different communication systems and new telecommunications technology.
Included in this volume is the first study of trends in a global information society, and the first study of social networks and the "small world" phenomenon that creates new relationships and routes of informal influence and political power, both domestic and international. Pool's essays on the politics of foreign trade, the influence of American businessmen on Congress, and changeable "unnatural" institutions of the modern world (e.g., bureaucracies, mega-cities, and nation-states) are herein contained. Pool describes a nonviolent revolution in freedom and political control that is possible as the world changes from the era of one-way mass communications—targeted to national audiences—to a new era of abundant, high-capacity, low-cost, interactive, and user-controlled communications on a global scale. He discusses policy choices for freedom, the battlegrounds ahead, and the risks of government involvement in the regulation of new telecommunication technologies.