DQ: “Endism,” Regulation, and Politics

The reading by Verhulst talks about the assumptions underneath media regulations, taking a soft technological determinist view to explain a technological paradigm shift, marked by convergence and a need for a new regulatory regime. Some of the assumptions that Verhulst dispels reminded me of the idea of “endism,” discussed in The Social Life of Information by John Seeley Brown and Paul Duguid, a concept related to technological determinism, that new technology will end the press, end education, end intermediaries, end politics, end government, etc.

This seems similar to Verhulst’s discussion about differences between non-regulation and self-regulation, and the myth of having no intermediaries. Self-regulation still requires work, and communication between industry and government. And despite the end-to-end nature of the physical infrastructure of the internet, intermediaries do exist, whether they are search engines, ISPs, or other gateway actors.

What does it mean to build policy off of technological deterministic and  “endism” assumptions, versus a more nuanced view? What types of regulation regimes will take hold from these assumptions? Does it empower certain actors and stakeholders over others? What results may come about from Verhulst’s assumptions? How hidden are these practices that dispel the myths of technological determinism and the end of intermediaries, and what can be done to un-black-box them?


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