The overlapping but not synonymous categories of expertise and authority have been tied up with the concepts of access to canonical information and the right to certain forms of public speech. Who can see what information, and who can talk about it in sanctioned ways, have co-evolved with the mechanisms of access and speech themselves.

As the digital revolution alters the cost of ubiquitous access to information, and provides the material basis for every consumer of information to be a producer, the practical possibilities inherent in the current media landscape are now at odds with decades (and in some cases centuries) of assumptions about how expertise and authority interact.

Clay Shirky, Writer, Consultant, and Teacher on New Technology and Social Media at NYU, delivered this keynote address at the 2012 Law Via the Internet Conference on October 9, 2012. Shirky is today's leading voice on the social and economic impact of internet technologies.

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