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Dr Johnny Ryan

Former Researcher. Currently Research Associate


Cover of A history of the Internet and the Digital Future Johnny's new book A History of the Internet and the Digital Future (London: Reaktion; and Chicago: University of Chicago Press) examines the history of the Internet and its future implications for business, politics, and society. 

Johnny Ryan has written on digital issues in Fortune, Business Week, Ars Technica, OpenDemocracy, Europe's World, NATO Review, etc., and major reports for the European Commission among others. He speaks as a thought leader with the London Speakers' Bureau and has presented at the UN, European Commission, and Google Europlex.

Johnny has a PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he was an O'Reilly Foundation scholar at Magdalene, 2008-2010.

Related links:

personal blog Assorted Materials  LinkedIn profile  Twitter @johnnyryan 

Praise for A History of the Internet and the Digital Future due in September 2010 (Reaktion Books in the UK, University of Chicago Press in the US)

“Both an enormously useful work and great read.  Read it and understand what has made the Internet different.”

–Professor Tim Wu, Columbia Law School

“Thanks to the proliferation of cloud services, ubiquitous, low-cost bandwidth, and new devices like smartphones, and the iPad, there are fewer obstacles to innovation than ever before. In the next decade, the “office” need not be much more than an Internet connection. Johnny Ryan takes us through the history of the Internet to demonstrate how it has changed everything. But that’s not all; he also identifies what’s to come in the future. We are in a new era of transformation that has been powered by the Internet. Understanding the trends driving this revolution is pivotal to success. Consider this book your road map to getting there.”

–Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of salesforce.com

"an engrossing, well-written account of the Internet’s founding and the backstory of the underlying protocols and plumbing, which draws on that rich history to make predictions about the net’s future."

--Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“Johnny Ryan has admirably captured the sweep of the Internet’s development from its earliest days, showing us how its profound impact is in part an accident of history, a phenomenon whose most interesting and liberating aspects could fade without reinforcement of its core values.”

–Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and Kennedy School. 

“Ryan describes a fundamental shift and dispersion of power from traditional centres of power to the networked individual. This is a must-read for both governments and companies who need to fully understand this shift in power and the implications has on how they interact with the networked individuals who represent their citizens, customers, suppliers.”

–Susanne Dirks, Leader, Global Centre for Economic Development (IBM Institute for Business Value)

“Jesse Ventura shocked the world in 1998 with his internet-powered election victory. About the campaign organization, Johnny Ryan correctly states, ‘The centre was weak, but the periphery strong. Connecting the two was the Internet….’ Ryan understands the power shift that the Internet is. If you see the internet as Ryan does, you will understand how Craigslist kills newspapers, how Facebook rises from nothing and why everything is being invented anew.”

–Phil Madsen, pioneer of online politics (campaign manager of Jesse Ventura '98)

“Absolutely fascinating … If I had to pick one book about the Internet, this would be it!”

–Rebecca Johnson, Amazon top 10 reviewer


A History of the Internet and the Digital Future (UK: Reaktion Books; US: Chicago University Press).

Countering Militant Islamist Radicalisation on the Internet: A User Driven Strategy to Recover the Web  (IIEA, 2007)

Publications, chapters & papers:

Johnny Ryan, “Google's Android Paradox”, Business & Economy (India), forthcoming.

Johnny Ryan, “Manufacturing 2.0″, Fortune, May 2011.

Johnny Ryan, “Coming Changes to the World Wide Web“, Epoch Times, 4 April 2011

Johnny Ryan, “From the first e-mail through the WELL and USENET: a pre-history of social networking”, Ars Technnica, 27 May 2011

Johnny Ryan, “Mobile OS Wars – the new rules of the mobile ecology”, Business & Economy (India), April 2011.

Johnny Ryan, “The essence of the ‘Net: a history of the protocols that hold the network together“, Ars Technica, March 2011

Johnny Ryan, “How the atom bomb helped give birth to the Internet”, Ars Technica, February 2011

Johnny Ryan, “Digital media: death of the centre of media industry”, Business & Finance, November 2010

(with Dr Allègre Hadida) “One Way to Save the Music Industry“, Business Week, 29 July 2010

The Internet, the Perpetual Beta, and the State: The Long View of The New Medium”, Studies in Conflict and Terror, vol. 33, no. 8, August 2010  

(with Caitriona Heinl) “Internet access controls: Three Strikes ‘graduated response’ initiatives“, IIEA NLM study, 2 May 2010

(with Professor Stefan Halper) “Google vs China: capitalist model, virtual wall“, OpenDemocracy, 22 January 2010 

"The Promise and Practice of Two Way Politics", IIEA final report to the European Parliament DG Info, January 2010

“The Internet: empowering end users to seize the new high ground”, in Steve Tsang (ed.), Combating Transnational Terrorism: Searching for a New Paradigm, Praeger,  2009 

“The Next Leap: Competitive Ireland in the Digital Era”, IIEA strategic report presented to An Tanaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister), December 2008

(with Joseph Curtin), “The Lisbon treaty and the Irish voter: democratic deficits”OpenDemocracy, 16 June 2008

“Norms on the Net: Governing the Internet and the perils of failure”, NthPosition online magazine, 21/5/2008

“iWar: pirates, states and the internet”OpenDemocracy, 06/2/2008

“iWar: A new threat, its convenience, and our increasing vulnerability”NATO Review, Winter 2007

“Ideas at war: militant Islamist rhetoric”, Journal of Information Warfare, vol 6, issue 3.

“Islamist militants’ calls to violence: four P-words (Persecution, Precedent, Piety and Perseverance) in common with Irish Republicanism”Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, vol. 30, issue 11, November 2007

“iWar”, Technology, Commerce, Society Daily TCSDaily, 13 August 2007

“Web filtering is flawed terror response”, Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Services, 10 August 2007

“Countering militant radicalisation on the Internet”, RUSI/Jane’s Defence Homeland Security & Resilience Monitor, 8 August 2007

“The militant Islamist call and its echo”OpenDemocracy, 1 August 2007

“EU should take its anti-terrorism fight to the Internet”Europe’s World policy dossier on security and defence (Summer, issue 6, 2007)



Speaker: “Centrifugal Thinking for the public relations industry – PR for a world of plastic information”, Kommunikasjonsforeningen, Oslo, November 2011

Speaker: “A great adjustment: The Internet and the new pattern of business, communications, and politics”, Ignite Dublin, The Science Gallery, 8 June 2011

Speaker: “Centrifugal Thinking for the public sector”, Garter CIOs dinner, Belfast, 8 June 2011

Speaker: “Think Centrifugal: the perils of gunboat diplomacy on the new high seas of the Internet”, NATO and Cyber Security: Building on the Strategic Concept, Chatham House, London, 20 May 2011

Speaker: “The digital era and the changing rules of commerce”, AIB Merchant Services Payments Conference, London, 18 May 2011

Panel speaker: “Opensource: Open this Open that! Whats it all about?”, Mindfield International Festival of Ideas, 29 April 2011

Speaker: “Extruded media, social remix, and objects 2.0″, Publicis QMP, 25 January 2011

Speaker: “The conditions of the digital future and the need for legal reform”, Promoting Innovation – reshaping the law for the digital economy conference at Google EU HQ, 19 November 2010

Speaker: “The Internet, Intelligence, the Perpetual Beta, and the State: The Long View of The New Medium”, Study Group on Intelligence (SGI)@RUSI, 29 January 2010 [watch hi def video

Speaker: "The Internet and the State", Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, 26 January 2010 

Speaker: “Non-legislative measures against violent radical content on the Internet”, Public private dialogue to fight online illegal activities, European Commission, Brussels, 27 November 2009

Speaker: “The Internet & militant Islamist radicalisation: understanding the medium”, Club of Berne annual workshop, 5 June 2009

Speaker: “The Internet & militant Islamist radicalisation: Rethinking the medium (Metcalfe’s Law, the Long Tail and realistic, limited objectives)”, Corpus Christi Intelligence Seminar, University of Cambridge, 30 January 2009

Speaker: "The Internet & militant Islamist radicalisation”, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, 1 December 2008

Speaker: "An open Internet as a tool for countering violent extremism", UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Working Group on Countering the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes Stakeholders’ Meeting, New York, 11 November 2008

Speaker: “A strategy against online radicalisation: Respect the medium - challenge the message”, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, 21 July 2008

Speaker: “Internet governance - why openness is security!”, Swiss Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Counter Terror Conference, Geneva, 28-29 April 2008

Speaker: Police Service of Northern Ireland C3 Special Branch Conference, Belfast, 39 March-1 April 2008

Speaker: “The Internet: empowering end users to seize the new high ground”, Pluscarden Conference, St. Anthony’s, Oxford, 15 March 2008

Keynote speaker: OSCE Action Against Terrorism Unit Seminar on Incitement to Terror, Vienna, November 2007 [read transcript of remarks at the OSCE Experts Workshop]

Participant: Netherlands’ Counter terrorism Coordinator’s Conference, the Hague, October 2007

Irish Government’s National Expert: Euromed conference on “preventing incitement to terrorism and radicalisation: what role for the media?”, 21 May 2007

Lecture: “Key issues in European Union external relations”, the European Commission Representation in Ireland, December 2006

Guest chair: “Identity: Ireland within Europe”, Trinity College Dublin Historical Society, October 2006

Speaker: “The new justice & home affairs policy architecture”, Law Society Conference, University of Cork, December 2005

Oral Brief: “Themes of Islamist militant internet discussion”, Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, 2005