New Book by INESS: Progress without Permission


If you are one of those fascinated by the Internet and its influence on the society, this is the book for you. Progress without Permission is a complete guide to the world where Airbnb rescues the dead capital and it competes with the state in the regulation making process, where Kickstarter replaces the tax collection and helps with financing the public services, and where Bitcoin enables building of a parallel society where there are no “chiefs” and we all have the keys to the kingdom.

People look at the arrival of Internet technologies with outdated, archaic logic. They focus on small battles between new companies and their analog predecessors while missing the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, as the journalists are writing columns on “the sharing economy taking taxi drivers’ jobs”, Uber is working on improvements of its own private regulations in an effort to protect consumers. Uber is not competing with taxi drivers, but the Ministry of Transportation.

While analysts complain about eBay and Amazon phasing out physical stores, these internet platforms operate like the largest arbitrage courts in the world resolving thousands of disputes every day. The progress of the Internet not only competes with analogue entrepreneurs and physical stores, but moreover with the world of laws, bureaucrats and politicians.

And that is the theme of Progress without Permission: How the Role of Government and Market Changes after the Arrival of the Internet. On the following pages you’ll learn that Airbnb is able to protect guests and hosts better than state inspectors; Bitcoin bringing the first digital cash to the area of state controlled fiat currencies helps build parallel societies where there are no masters but everyone is a member of the board of directors ; whether it’s possible to raise funds for public utilities through Kickstarter and crowdfund private police and army; that in a world where everyone can act as a judge on the internet it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Briefly, the book is about how the internet and entrepreneurs helped to debunk many of the so called textbook “market failures” in real world situations. They had no other choice but to make things work, unlike bureaucrats.

Writing this book was kind a little adventure. I kept testing, researching and discovering new ecosystems that arose around Internet technologies. A few times I felt like a modern anthropologist who had the opportunity to look into the busy lives of digital communities. Sometimes they were smaller group of people who wanted to finance public benches in parks, many times the digital community was more like an internet empire that stretches across several continents. 

The results of the research are hundreds of pages on which you will find a complete guide on Internet technologies through the eyes of an economist. But the book is not futuristic. I do not know how things will turn out and what exactly will come from the co-evolution between new technologies and social institutions.

This book is not a prediction, but the confession of an economist – researcher (who is not judging but rather observing).

On Monday, November 25, in 2019, the book Progress without Permission was officially released. The book launch took place in Café Berlinka, Bratislava. Richard Durana, Director of INESS, opened the evening by his welcome speech. Afterwards, the well-known stand-up comedian Jan Gordulic led the discussion with the author of the book Robert Chovanculiak, and the ethical hacker Pavel Luptak.

They covered several topics mentioned in the book. The discussion was followed by a short reading short passage from the book about how coffee was forbidden by kings, churches, and politicians in history. At the end of the evening, the very act of book launch took place. The “godfather” was Jan Gordulic, who launched the book with coffee beans.

Robert Chovanculiak