NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad

NNSquad Home Page

NNSquad Mailing List Information


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ NNSquad ] The Un-Internet and the war on general purpose computing

This is also related to the war on general computation
(http://events.ccc.de/congress/2011/Fahrplan/events/4848.en.html) that Cory
Doctorow has spoken of and battle over SOPA. Part of the problem is that we
do have a tendency to focus merely on risks (http://rmf.vc/RisksRisks).

In trying to explain to people why we need connectivity rather than
telecommunications I've come to realize that a big part of the problem is
the difficulty of seeing past discontinuities. Our tools for assessing risk
tend to project from the present rather -- what else can they do? If you
think about the Innovator's Dilemma the real message in the book is not that
the featured disk drive company succeeded but that it was entirely unlikely
-- but the number of pages devoted to success were out of proportion to the
scope of the book. But then we don't want to read discouraging news and tend
to focus on success as if it were fated.

We tend to underestimate our ability to find success in chaos because we
measure success in terms of what we want rather than having a wider
definition of success based on tolerating a wide variety of possibilities.
Though, often, you require a new generation of thinking to accept the new
kind of success.

It's hard to defend creating opportunity because that new constituency
doesn't exist in the present (AKA, the near-past) and because the current
measures of success are indeed threatened by creative destruction. Trying to
explain to a local member of Congress why the DMCA was problematic. I
couldn't get past his "how will the artists get paid" (even though few
artists actually get paid and those that do typically are in the business of

The worries are exacerbated by the nature of digital systems -- not only do
we have the discontinuities of paradigm shifts, digital systems in general
tend to not respond according to our analog intuition.

What opportunities we've had have tended to be accidental as in separating
the software from the hardware business thanks to an accidental legacy of a
1950's antitrust suit. IP's separation of application from transport was in
response to a pragmatic problem in extending LANs to the wider world. It's
not clear if the CYCLADES datagram idea would have gotten widespread
adoption without that need.

Sometimes a good idea just gets through on its own because the incumbents do
not have sufficient clout to prevent it as in the case of container
shipping. And when we do try to engineer change we can get it very wrong as
in the ATT Divesture that didn't address the fundamental shift from services
to bits -- we didn't have the experience or understanding at the time.

One of the biggest accidental wins was the ability of search engines to
discover so much "content" due to what I think of as a design flaw in
today's Internet which violates the end-to-end argument by depending on
central address assignments and naming (IP address and the DNS). We're also
fortunate that HTML could be processed by spiders and other tools - unlike
Flash sites.

While HTML5 has many benefits I worry that my bank will be able to prevent
me from scraping my own data from their website. We've also had minimal
success even where information sharing seems to be an accepted good as with
micro-formats. Calendar and contact information lacks basic mechanisms like
GUIDs (Globally Unique IDs) and instead rely on various hacks. Those with
the resources to implement these protocols tend to want to control the value
chain rather than share.

Despite the lessons of the Internet, government research still focus on the
network rather than empowering markets and applications as I wrote in

What happens when we do have distributed connectivity without a center? What
will happen to search engines when discoverability is not the default. We
already see some hints of it to the extent that those who want to be
discovered are gaming the system and greatly reducing the value of searching
for the information that we most care about.

I don't have simple answers but, for now, we need an understanding of
opportunity and an appreciation for the limits on assessing risk and value
across discontinuities. We need approaches that embrace reasonable risk
rather than try to avoid it and ones that aren't just concerned about
near-term ROI. We can't simply focus on innovation in the absence of
creating opportunity.

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Lauren Weinstein
Sent: Sunday, January 01, 2012 14:35
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Subject: [ NNSquad ] "The Un-Internet"

"The Un-Internet"

http://j.mp/uuL20r  (Scripting)

  "This time around, Apple has been the leader in the push to control
   users. They say they're protecting users, and to some extent that is
   true. I can download software onto my iPad feeling fairly sure that
   it's not going to harm the computer. I wouldn't mind what Apple was
   doing if that's all they did, keep the nasty bits off my computer. But
   of course, that's not all they do. Nor could it be all they do. Once
   they took the power to decide what software could be distributed on
   their platform, it was inevitable that speech would be restricted too.
   I think of the iPad platform as Disneyfied. You wouldn't see anything
   there that you wouldn't see in a Disney theme park or in a Pixar

 - - -

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance:
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com

nnsquad mailing list

nnsquad mailing list