Internet Architecture and Innovation is a really good book by Barbara van Schewick, twitter handle @vanschewick, (Law Professor, Stanford Law School. Director, Stanford Center for Internet and Society). In the book, Barbara explains how a software/hardware architecture shapes the type, quality and quantity of innovation that can be created on top of it. The specific case described is the Internet, its architecture is described and the consequences analyzed. Thanks to the layered and end-to-end design pattern, the Internet has been able to evolve and give the ability to innovate to many people and end-users of the system. Whereas, an architecture where the network was the center of the intelligence would have limited the innovation to the owners of those inner nodes and eventually excluded or limited applications and services from outside. The network neutrality principle that is debated a lot, has to do with the Internet architecture and how it should evolve. Examples are, should a network provider, or ISP able to discriminate against applications and services? This topic can be complex, but the book sets the theory and the framework to understand the implications of all of that.
The analysis framework is general and it can be applied to other situations where it is important to understand the links and dependencies between an architecture and its evolution and innovation paths, within the constraints of technology, laws and economy.
An excellent book that I highly recommend. I read this book thanks to Fred Wilson.
Other relevant and interesting books on the topic:
- The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu
- Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian
- Lawrence Lessig‘s books