Photo of 'Deserting the Digital Utopia' front cover

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The Internet has often been compared to the Wild West: a largely unregulated space rich in opportunities, in which people may experiment with new relations. Most commentators miss the full implications of this metaphor. The Wild West was the final frontier of colonization, where the last zones of ungoverned territory were mapped, stripped of resources, and integrated into state control. Many who fled to the Wild West in search of freedom only accelerated this process of colonization. Similarly, those who champion the Internet as the new frontier of freedom may inadvertently hasten the enclosure of the last aspects of human life that remain outside the economy.