Inverse Infrastructures
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Inverse Infrastructures

Disrupting Networks from Below

Edited by Tineke M. Egyedi and Donna C. Mehos

The notion of inverse infrastructures – that is, bottom-up, user-driven, self-organizing networks – gives us a fresh perspective on the omnipresent infrastructure systems that support our economy and structure our way of living. This fascinating book considers the emergence of inverse infrastructures as a new phenomenon that will have a vast impact on consumers, industry and policy. Using a wide range of theories, from institutional economics to complex adaptive systems, it explores the mechanisms and incentives for the rise of these alternatives to large-scale infrastructures and points to their potential disruptive effect on conventional markets and governance models.
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Chapter 13: Disruptive Inverse Infrastructures: Conclusions and Policy Recommendations

Tineke M. Egyedi


Tineke M. Egyedi INTRODUCTION Inverse infrastructures, that is, user-driven, self-organizing emergent infrastructures, disrupt the status quo. They do not blend in with institutions that were erected and matured in a historically different context, a context in which centrally governed and large-scale infrastructures dominated. As a result, a mismatch is becoming increasingly apparent. The gap between existing regulation and policies and the new inverse infrastructures is widening and questions arise such as: Must user-driven inverse infrastructures also comply with public network requirements specified for commercial parties? May citizen-owned information infrastructures (also) be tapped for national security? How should the tension between decentral energy generation and large scale electricity distribution be managed (e.g. issues of buy-back and universal service obligation)? In this final chapter I re-address the aims of this book, that is, to explore the recent emergence of inverse infrastructures, characterize this new mode of infrastructure development, and probe its implications for infrastructure policy. This book’s exploration follows from an interest in and recognition of the role citizens and home users play in technology development as well as the power of self-organization. It is inspired, first, by the movement that repositions users as a source of both active and unintentional innovation (e.g. Oudshoorn and Pinch 2008; Chesbrough 2003). Users matter, not only because they use technologies in unforeseen, innovative ways but also because they themselves develop new and innovative technologies, services, approaches, etc. A second, but equally inspiring source is the achievements of self-organizing communities, notably the open source communities (e.g....

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