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Flushing the Net Down the Tubes 329

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-read-one-essay-this-year dept.
netcetra writes "From a post by on CircleID by Phillip J. Windley: 'Doc Searls has written a brilliant piece framing the battle for the Net at Linux Journal. ... if you take the time to read just one essay on the Net and the politics surround it this year, read this one.' Quote from Doc himself: 'This is a long essay. There is, however, no limit to how long I could have made it. The subjects covered here are no less enormous than the Net and its future. Even optimists agree that the Net's future as a free and open environment for business and culture is facing many threats. We can't begin to cover them all or cover all the ways we can fight them. I believe, however, that there is one sure way to fight all of these threats at once, and without doing it the bad guys will win. That's what this essay is about.' Also see additional background on the piece on Doc Searls blog."
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Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

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  • by Senes (928228) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:58AM (#14050104)
    In other media such as television and radio, it takes a great deal of resouces to be able to broadcast your information outward. Anyone can connect to the internet, and unless ISPs suddenly find the motivation and the money to start taking fine tuned control over what every user does, anyone can host their own information and data.
    • by Bonker (243350) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:05AM (#14050134)
      I have to disagree. The problem here is not that the ability is going away, but that the freedom is going away. Those who take the freedom, those who excercise the ability in the face of legislation, are more and more often having to do it at risk to themselves or those around them.

      How many companies can I badmouth before they shut me up by suing me?

      How longer can I criticize the government before I get sent to Guantanamo?

      Widespread lawbreaking indicates a problem with the laws, and not with the crime. This is why copyright law is so ineffective. It's also the reason that drug law doesn't really work.

      In this case, however, more power is moving away from inviduals faster than it's coming to them. Of those who take that power back, by whatever means, more and more of them will be made to suffer.
      • by aussie_a (778472) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:24AM (#14050184) Journal
        How many companies can I badmouth before they shut me up by suing me?

        How longer can I criticize the government before I get sent to Guantanamo?


        A hell of a lot of people do both EVERY DAY on the internet. The majority of people aren't getting sued or sent to Guantanamo Bay. It doesn't appear that there will be a large amount of people going to either place.

        Coercing people by threat of litigation or wrongful imprisonment IS wrong. But that doesn't really have anything to do with the internet. It's a problem in American society, that has moved onto the internet. You can't solve it for the internet only though, without solving it for the rest of society.
      • by BrynM (217883) * on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:54AM (#14050254) Homepage Journal
        Don't forget that most major broadband ISPs block known server ports and restrict you from running servers in their EULA. At first it was so businesses didn't just start using broadband in lieu of "premium" accounts. Too bad, because broadband is so common now that it's what most businesses use anyway. The only real "cost" the ISP incurrs by making them use a "premium" account is a higher bandwidth cap and un-blockings some ports. It's an anachronistic practice, but greed keeps it going.

        Running a personal wiki or having a photo-share server for friends seems like a technical imposibility to most lay people because of this. The truth is, most of it can be done with easy to use software today. It should be trivial for the end user. Run an installer and start going. I seem to remember dreams of this being what the internet was for - back in the day... Remember when having a webcam wasn't mainly just for IM?

        Yes I know that script kiddies have made this idea a playground for malware and things need to be blocked upstream for authentication-less ports sometimes. I do firmly believe that if everyone knew it was initially prety much their right to add their info to the internet, MS would have never been so lax and security would have had the focus by all of us that it should have gotten. The software that enables a home desktop to be a server would be way more mature due to popularity. In some ways, IM epitomizes this need to share with eachother.

        • Since you can host a blog for free in about a million places, I really don't see this as much of an infringement on anyone's right to speak. It's irksome for geeks, who want to play with their own software on their own computers, but the guy or girl on the street just wants to have her blog or web page, and she can, no fuss, no muss, no problem.

          She's a lot better off doing that, too, because the software requires maintenance that most people don't want to learn about or bother with.

          We should understand tha
    • by guardiangod (880192) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:17AM (#14050166)
      The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

      Are you vigilant?
    • by eln (21727) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:23AM (#14050180) Homepage
      Yes, it's cheaper to publish information on the Net than in almost any other media, but it's also cheaper and easier to block said content on the Net than almost any other media. It's not about ISPs finding motivation to block people, it's about governments and other organizations (through lawsuits and other means) providing ISPs the motivation to do so. It is then up to the ISPs to find the motivation to resist those efforts, and most ISPs don't care enough to bother.

      In the old days of mom and pop ISPs, when profit margins were (relatively) high, and the Internet was more of a wild frontier, the ISPs often fought tooth and nail to keep from giving away even the most innocuous of customer data to anyone. These days, however, the mom and pop ISP is virtually nonexistent, and the margins in the ISP business are not sufficient to allow any ISP to protect the rights of its clients.

      The Internet is still the most "free" of all available media, but that status is definitely under threat. As more powerful and wealthy interest groups bring more pressure on ISPs and other content publishers, the more difficult it will be for the average Joe to find a place where his voice can be freely expressed online.
      • Yes, it's cheaper to publish information on the Net than in almost any other media, but it's also cheaper and easier to block said content on the Net than almost any other media.

        Huh? Never has there been such a place with so little editorial responsibility. Unless you want to run around putting up posters, the simplest way to spread information that is too controversial, quaint or even illegal to end up at any publisher is to put it on a website, send it out by email, irc/dcc, post to newsgroups, whatever.
    • That cheap, easy, and free quality is purely accidental and is exactly what needs to be protected. The internet happens to be the way it is because of its history. It became indispensable before governments had time to take control. The Saudi government would have created an internet that sent an email to the police when a woman logs on, the US government would have created an internet that couldn't be used without paying a corporation, and every government would have created an internet that gave it com
    • unless ISPs suddenly find the motivation and the money to start taking fine tuned control over what every user does

      It's not difficult or expensive to stop people hosting their own stuff at home. Instead of an ISP blocking inbound port 25, 80, 443, etc, they could block *everything* inbound barring a few exceptions. The vast majority of people do what on the Internet?? Read email, surf the web and chat via IM. None of those need to allow an inbound SYN packet on *any* port. Well, maybe the IM client

    • So what if hte internet is free ?
      Informaiton only counts to the extent people hear it. If WalMart can spend 100 MM dollars telling people how happy employees are, and mistreated employees can spend 0.01, whoose message gets heard
  • by farker haiku (883529) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:02AM (#14050121) Journal
    as if millions of bytes of ram screamed in agony, and were suddenly silenced. /.ed before any comments isn't a good sign.
  • by cloudkj (685320) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:03AM (#14050128)
    Don't worry, guys. Even if we lose one Internet to the bad guys, there are still plenty of Internets to go around.
  • Yes, he could have made it longer, but probably would have made even less sense than it does now. Searls never seems to be able to write anything that is easily understandable except by the small group of people who think just like he does. Sorry, but one comment in a single article by an SBC flak does not the end of the Internet make.
  • Greed... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tp n o - c o .org> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:10AM (#14050147) Homepage
    ...still one of my favorite sins.

    That and pride are the two things causing the current dark ages of the internet.

    And make no mistake, we are in what future scholars will call the dark ages. We have this wonderful tool for communication which would enable vast networks of not just information, but concepts and ideas to be shared globally. And we are letting ( yes, letting ) big companies/governments take control and destroy this wonderful tool. All to satisfy some board of share holders, or some CEO's pride.

    Whether they see us as the depth of the dark ages, or the beginning is the question I worry about.
    • Re:Greed... (Score:2, Funny)

      by Basehart (633304)
      "And make no mistake, we are in what future scholars will call the dark ages."

      And those scholars will be in what future scholars will call the mauve ages.
    • Re:Greed... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shihar (153932) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:14AM (#14050294)
      Do you honestly think that we are in a 'dark ages'? We are accelerating so quickly technologically and connecting so fast that I don't think the average human comprehends it. Think back just 10 years ago. Most people were not connected to the Internet. Internet usage has sky rocketed up faster then anything in our wildest dreams. Further, it isn't even the Internet. Cell phones are another fine example. I remember being awed by my friends massive clunky cell phone in the mid 90's that got shit for reception. Now, it is easier to count the people I know who don't own a cell phone then it is to count the people that do. I got a jump drive I keep in my pocket the other day for $20 with more hard drive space then the computer I owned back in 95.

      Further, it isn't just technology that is interconnecting. The entire world is interconnecting. China, EU, and the US are all so dependent upon each other that any sort of conflict between them is unthinkable to the point that loss of one could lead to a collapsing (or at least crippled) society in the others.

      Look, I am not saying that everything is rosy colored and wonderful, but point to a time in history that was better. Do you long for the brutal dictatorships that existed almost exclusively up until the past few centuries? Do you miss the wonderful days of the industrial revolution when it was common place to die early and lose a hand in hazardous machinery? Maybe you miss the days of American expansion westward and European colonialism that chewed up the natives they got in the way. Do you long for the days when a married woman couldn't own property, much less vote? Maybe you miss the good old days of New Deal, complete with withering racism and World War. Maybe your nostalgia only reaches back a couple days and blindly forgets the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the ever present and very real threat of nuclear annihilation, and starvation in the millions that afflicted pretty much everyone on the Asian content. If this is the Dark Ages, what the hell exactly was everything that came before this time?

      This is only "The Dark Ages" is you are a jaded liberal who has some how managed to shrink his view of history down to the past 6 years or so. Stop, take a deep breath, and realize that 6 years is a hiccup in the grand scheme of things. Further, even in those 6 years things have gotten better despite Bush's ham fisted blundering. Further still, things are better now then they were at any other time in history.

      Honestly, take a deep breath and realize that the world isn't so bad. You can post angry rants on Slashdot, you clearly have an Internet connection, chances are you can vote, and I imagine you probably are not starving. Those four things alone make this time in history better then all the times before it. Relax and don't let today's day to day politics get you all worked up and taint your view of history in the long term.
      • Re:Greed... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by killjoe (766577)
        I would like to point out that it was the liberals who fought for womens rights, civil rights, clean air, and unions. They are still fighting for more and are still being resisted by the same forces.

        I suppose it all depends on whether you look at the glass as being half full or half empty. In this day and age we have the power and the technology to ensure that nobody is starving, that nobody has to die from poverty or war or famine. All it takes is a little money and little will.
        • Re:Greed... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shihar (153932) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:02AM (#14050753)
          I would like to point out that it was the liberals who fought for womens rights, civil rights, clean air, and unions. They are still fighting for more and are still being resisted by the same forces.

          Don't take my comment that liberals think the world is coming to an end as a statement against liberals. My point was more that liberals are more inclined to look for the doom and gloom over the past few years and declare that the world is about to come to an end. Pick a broad liberal ideal; civil rights, health care quality/coverage, infant mortality/life expectancy, hunger, tolerance, wages / hours, whatever, it is better today then it was 50 years ago. We are even more well off if you look a 100 years back. Look 200 years back and the difference is so stark that it isn't even a meaningful comparison. The liberals are winning.

          If anyone has reason to cry doom and gloom it is actually the right wing folks. All of their 'morality' issues are being hacked to pieces. There is more sex for non reproductive purposes, greater acceptance of homosexuals, proportionally fewer marriages, more broken homes, and all of the bread and butter of a conservative platform. Hell, the fact that we are at the point where we can even have a gay marriage debate is rocking conservatives to the core. Just 15 years back, talking about gay marriage would illicit roughly the response of talking about bestiality.

          I suppose it all depends on whether you look at the glass as being half full or half empty. In this day and age we have the power and the technology to ensure that nobody is starving, that nobody has to die from poverty or war or famine. All it takes is a little money and little will.

          There certainly is more that could be done, but the relics of the past do not easily die. There is no amount of money, technology, and will that could make North Korea a happy place unless by 'happy place' you mean 'war zone'. War and famine are political problems. No one in this world should starve. Not only do we have more then enough food for everyone, but we are trying to get that food to the people. Somalia is a perfect example of this. Somalians are not starving because the rest of the world is unwilling to feed them. Somalians are starving because short of going in guns blazing, we can't we can't keep our aid out of the hands of warlords. In fact, this very dilemma is what resulted in the US invading Somalia. We wanted to give them food. We had the food and the means to get it there; we just needed to keep warlords from taking it. If you recall, things didn't go so well when we tried to intervene (IE see Black Hawk Down).

          So sure, we could certainly do more, it just boils down to disagreement as to how to do more (does globalism hurt or help?), and the problems with humans some times sucking no matter how much power and technology you have. The larger point is that even though we certainly screw up, fail politically, and in general act like the imperfect humans that we are, we are still steam rolling forward. Things are getting better. A political charged look at the best 6 years might make you think differently, but the second you look at this era from a historical point of view, it quickly becomes clear which direction things are headed. Now is a great time to be alive.
          • Just 15 years back, talking about gay marriage would illicit roughly the response of talking about bestiality.

            You might want to google senator Rick "man on dog" Santorum. He made that exact comparison recently.

          • Re:Greed... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Malor (3658) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @10:35AM (#14052580) Journal
            Pick a broad liberal ideal; civil rights, health care quality/coverage, infant mortality/life expectancy, hunger, tolerance, wages / hours, whatever, it is better today then it was 50 years ago. We are even more well off if you look a 100 years back. Look 200 years back and the difference is so stark that it isn't even a meaningful comparison. The liberals are winning.


            On most of those fronts, we are in poorer shape than we were in 1970. Tolerance is a little better now. Health 'coverage' is up, but in 1970, you could afford routine care on just your wages.

            Literacy is down. Truth in government is down. Government spending has gone to the point of self destruction. The government asserts that it can lock you up forever without a trial and without even access to lawyers. The PATRIOT Act's effects still haven't been fully understood. Civil rights, in other words, have never been in worse shape in this country. Average wages and living standards in this country are WAY down.... a small segment of the population is doing very well, while most folks struggle harder and harder with each passing year. Infant mortality is way up. Hunger is way up.

            This country is broke, way past broke, and it's only the largesse of strangers(foreigners buying dollars, mostly) that allows us to continue functioning at all.
            • Re:Greed... (Score:3, Informative)

              by HardCase (14757)
              On most of those fronts, we are in poorer shape than we were in 1970.

              Were you alive in 1970? I was 8 years old and I remember it. Tricky Dick was president, Vietnam was in full swing. Inflation was at 6%, heading to 13% by mid-decade. If you were black and lived in the South in 1970, you'd have a different idea of the state of tolerance today. You might want to talk to somebody who was working in 1970 to find out about paying for health care. Routine care was covered by insurance - and we spend less o
      • Re:Greed... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by leomekenkamp (566309)

        I think both you and the grandparent are right: to me you seem to be discussing different things. Indeed we are seeing great advantage, but if mankind is still alive 750 years ahead in time, the humans living in that age will think we were a bit silly and 'medieval'.

        If grantparent would have made the same argument in the middle ages, you could have succesfully made the same sort of counter argument: "Look at the cities, our churches! We have the Word of our Lord now! And we have a justice system!"

        IMHO gra

      • we are certainly entering one.

        when people stop caring for their freedoms, handle more and more power to government/church/corporations without receiving it back, in other words, when people get tired of thinking for themselves, this is the beggining of a dark age.

        nobody, except a few, cares anymore if the reason for a war is the greed of a few corporations and their puppet-president, nobody cares if the consolidation of large corporations would hurt them by allowing price fixing and monopolistic pratices, n
      • Re:Greed... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smchris (464899)
        Talk of cell phones, flash drives, ghz, gigabytes, baud rate.

        Toys.

        Where is any mention of _culture_?

        Aren't we in a war right now on the excuse that our nation can march in and replace another nation's 4,000 years of culture with our own as easily as Epcot Center would replace one national exhibit with another? Barbarians. Our leaders don't have a clue what culture _is_ or that it exists as a force to recognize.

        And they hate science on top of it. Anyone with cable now has access to documentaries on the ma
    • But that doesn't seem to be happening on the Internet I use. Companies have a bigger presence than every and there is mroe and more commercial Internet, but I find that in no way interferes with any of the rest of it since you just access what you want. I haven't had anyone try to stop me from hosting free sites on the topics I want, I haven't had webservice get scarce, on the contrary, the barrier for entry seems to be lower than ever.

      So what's the dark age you are talking about? What is destroying the net
    • And we are letting ( yes, letting ) big companies/governments take control and destroy this wonderful tool.


      Where do you think this "wonderful tool" came from?
      • Taxpayer money. It's complete BS that we even have to pay for access at all. We, the taxpayers, created the Internet. The government and the companies should be paying us the licensing fees to use our technology.

        Oh, but no one remembers the finer points of whose money it was that got the whole thing started. That always seems to be the least relevant point for some reason. I wonder why...
  • this is just silly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kaan (88626) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:27AM (#14050191)
    I know all kinds of smart people try really hard to predict things like this, and they give all sorts of explanations that "support" their position. But here is why the Internet won't go away: it is useful, and people like it.

    If you look throughout history, in all cultures, if people find something to be useful, no amount of government or corporate intervention or regulation will dissuade those people from doing what they want. Despite most citizens not giving a shit about voting in government elections, very few people will stand by and allow a government or corporation to take away something they want. It just does not happen. This happens all over the world, in all cultures, and when this stand-off becomes a big enough event, it makes the news as a "revolution".

    So no, the internet isn't going to be flushed down the tubes by ISPs or whatever, because consumers will not allow it.
    • So no, the internet isn't going to be flushed down the tubes by ISPs or whatever, because consumers will not allow it.

      You know, statements like this illustrate exactly why this will happen. The problem is the "consumer" attitude people have these days. Newsflash: "consumers" are cattle. Make no mistake: the "consumers" will not only allow this, they'll let themselves be deluded into thinking they like it. Witness the people even here on Slashdot who talk about how the DRM on iTunes is "okay because it

      • Newsflash: "consumers" are cattle. Make no mistake: the "consumers" will not only allow this, they'll let themselves be deluded into thinking they like it. ... I, for one, am not a "consumer!" No, I am a customer, and more importantly, a citizen! I WILL NOT BE FUCKED WITH!

        Really? Aside from pounding your fist, shouting, and cursing on Slashdot, what have you actually done about it? Angry cattle are still cattle.

        • I've been boycotting Sony, Microsoft, and companies affiliated with the RIAA. I've also been emailing my Senators and Representatives, and will be joining the EFF and ACLU once I get some cash (I'm a poor college student). Finally, I try to educate everyone I can about this kind of thing (on and off Slashdot). How's about that, Mr. holier-than-thou?
      • If we want to get through to the people, one thing we need to do is banish "consumer" from the public vocabulary. I, for one, am not a "consumer!" No, I am a customer, and more importantly, a citizen! I WILL NOT BE FUCKED WITH!

        Big words. Too bad they don't mean anything.

        For starters, if they did, you wouldn't feel the need to pepper your statements with profanity.

        Then, there's your tacit request for support, ("Now, who's with me") and the utter lack of any specificity. If they don't treat you as a "customer
      • by shmlco (594907)
        Do I wish there was no DRM? Certainly. I also wish there was no NEED for DRM. Unfortunately, those two viewpoints are not easily reconciled.
        • shmlco writes:Do I wish there was no DRM? Certainly. I also wish there was no NEED for DRM. Unfortunately, those two viewpoints are not easily reconciled.

          Let's look at this as a logic problem:

          p1) copying copyrighted material costs copyright holders sales
          p2) massive copying causes massive costs
          c1) mass copying is bad

          p3) radio makes many copies
          p4) radio copying encourages sales
          c2) radio copying is not bad

          p5) commercial mass copiers make many copies
          p6) they do not encourage sales
          c3) commercial mass copier

      • If we want to get through to the people, one thing we need to do is banish "consumer" from the public vocabulary. I, for one, am not a "consumer!" No, I am a customer, and more importantly, a citizen! I WILL NOT BE FUCKED WITH!

        Now, who's with me?

        Oooooo.....

        Can I have your baby? :-)
    • by Bob9113 (14996)
      if people find something to be useful, no amount of government or corporate intervention or regulation will dissuade those people from doing what they want.

      Read some history books. Apartheid, Slavery, The War of The Northern Aggression (and its aftermath), Native Americans, The Strikebreakers (the early 1900s ones), The East India Trading Company, The Aborigines. Heck, I don't even know much history and I can rattle off that list of corporate backed and long-lived oppression. Those things lasted decades, ce
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:43AM (#14050230)
    Check out Tim Lee's lengthy response. He argues (and I suspect most Slashdotters will agree) that, "The Internet is a massive, chaotic, fiercely competitive ecosystem. No one carrier owns more than a tiny fraction of its capacity. No one company controls more than a tiny fraction of its content. In short, no one company is ever going to control the Internet." The complete rebuttal is available at http://www.techliberation.com/archives/027010.php [techliberation.com]
    • Thank God.

      Everyone knows that fiercely competitive ecosystems never get slaughtered down to the last species. The internet will survive!
    • Response-response, by Richard Tallent. [tallent.us] Choice quote:

      Once, we had DSL choice here in Southeast Texas. There were at least three companies with DSLAMs (DSL modems) around Beaumont. Then SBC went crying to the FCC, paid off both major parties, and got permission to block anyone else from using their facilities and to remove wholesale prices that local ISPs used to resell DSL services. So now, DSL service runs only about twice as fast as ISDN for about the same price as the RoadRunner service (avg. 6Mbps),
  • Can someone please post it.
  • You mean the **AA? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tadauphoenix (127728) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:55AM (#14050256)
    Only commenting on the article post... it's the "bad guys" that made the internet what it is, including raising the bar in bandwidth requirements and security. Balance without "bad guys" in any environment is impossible. If it weren't for RIAA smashing napster, we probably wouldn't have torrents (at least not yet). Balance.
    • ``If it weren't for RIAA smashing napster, we probably wouldn't have torrents (at least not yet).''

      Not true. Bittorrent was created to solve the problem of serving a single file to many users, without overloading the server the file resides on. It was used for perfectly legitimate purposes long before it started getting popular as a means to illegally distribute media. The RIAA had nothing to do with its creation.

      Your point is right, though. If it wasn't for the bad guys, we wouldn't have a lot of the good
  • City, Where Are You? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:39AM (#14050364) Homepage
    There's a book about this.

    It's called City Come a Walkin. [communitywiki.org] It was published in 1980. William Gibson had some nice things to say about it. [darkecho.com]

    The problem, in the book, is the problem we're seeing here. Some rich club mob wants to take over the Internet. They want to control the communications system, and they want to be the gatekeepers of what all will go over the wires. And they're using it to leech off of, and eventually control, society.

    Cities have a way of becoming self-aware. In the book, we meet San Fransisco: City. And we meet Sacramento, briefly. (She looks like a prostitute, apparently.) Chicago's also got a soul- in a living man. New York. Phoenix. The major cities- They start to take on a life of their own.

    And they fight as hard as they can against the network controllers. But... "When the city comes a walkin' we'll all be obsolete."

    I don't want to spoil it. :) Go read it yourself.
  • by crucini (98210) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:40AM (#14050372)
    This article is long; I read up to the quote from Edward Whiteacre, CEO of SBC. Whiteacre said obvious and sensible things:
    1. Google, Yahoo, etc. have to pay for transport. That money goes to the pipe owners.
    2. If a cable TV company can offer phone services without paying the city a franchise fee, AT&T should be able to offer TV service without paying the city a franchise fee.

    Somehow, Searls extracted some hideous meaning from these comments. He wants to ask Whiteacre a bunch of deep questions about the Net and freedom. I don't think Whiteacre could answer any of them; nor should he.
    • by eric76 (679787) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @03:18AM (#14050496)
      This article is long; I read up to the quote from Edward Whiteacre, CEO of SBC. Whiteacre said obvious and sensible things:

      We'll see about that.

      Google, Yahoo, etc. have to pay for transport. That money goes to the pipe owners.

      They pay for transport to their local provider. That it isn't SBC does not matter.

      What SBC seems to want to do is to require everyone to be their customer in order to carry their traffic on SBC's network.

      Look at it as if it were telephone traffic. In that case, it is as if they would not complete any telephone calls unless the calling party and the called party were both customers of theirs.

      Or, more accurately, they want to charge long distance tolls. I guess for your $30 per month, you will be able to connect to your local town without paying additional fees. If you want to connect to the next town, you're gong to have to pay more.

      If a cable TV company can offer phone services without paying the city a franchise fee, AT&T should be able to offer TV service without paying the city a franchise fee.

      I never understood the rationale for franchise fees other than just another way to stick it to the public.

      • What SBC seems to want to do is to require everyone to be their customer in order to carry their traffic on SBC's network.
        Look at it as if it were telephone traffic. In that case, it is as if they would not complete any telephone calls unless the calling party and the called party were both customers of theirs.

        Perhaps a better analogy is a road or highway. Imagine SBC owning a stretch of highway. Imagine they start tracking vehicles, so they can invoice couriers and other commercial users for a 'cut'

  • I Have ADD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bluethundr (562578) *
    Someone please read this for me and tell me what it means.
    • Re:I Have ADD (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      why in the name of all things holy is this modded insightful?
  • The obvious final outcome here is that people are going to start forming grassroots wireless networks on a metropolitan area level, and interconnecting these networks through encrypted tunnels through standard ISPs. It'll start by people getting access points to access metropolitan area services at high bandwidth, something like Mesh [oreillynet.com] would be used to provide the network infrastructure, and eventually, this will end up as an ad-hoc wireless internet. Obviously, the software is going to have to evolve to be v
  • I agree exactly with the thesis of the article. The Internet is being divided and debased by people who care only about avoiding knowledge of their own deficiencies, such as some of the leaders in China.

    The control freaks often get control. In the past, their power over the Internet has been limited by their extreme technical ignorance. Now, more and more, they are hiring technically knowledgeable people to corrupt and diminish the freedom.

    If the healthy people don't assert their authority, the corrupters will debase the Internet as they debase everything else they touch.

    The ceaseless activity of those whose only life is money and who want to make one more dollar has already caused limits to VOIP, for example. The communications companies want to protect their easy profits. They use VOIP, but they don't want us to do it without their permission or without their profit.
  • Is this about Microsoft's .Net software? Oh wait ... The Internet.
  • This article and the comments on /. are almost exclusively relevant for USA.

    1. Nobody else in the world worries about Freedom in the way Americans do - like it was something divine, more important than anything else. What we in the rest of the world think about freedom is simply that we can live our daily lives without too many restrictions and without fear. What I think about the American obsession with Freedom (TM) can be summed up thus: If you're starving, all you can think of is food; if you're thirstin
    • We're not starved for freedom in the USA. But people tend to become anxious and upset when something that they're accustomed to having is taken away. In the USA we have a lot of freedom, but a little less than we did, say, 30 years ago.

      We haven't lost much. . . yet. And many people haven't noticed or don't care because various issues don't appear to affect them personally. Our liberty has been nibbled away around the edges. But there are always some who are affected and some who do care. And they fi
  • The internet is TCP/IP. That is, a numbering system for nodes and routing rules so you can send small packets of information from A to B.

    Because it is so simple and basic, it is very close to the very definition of communication, and in order to stop it from working it would be neccesary to stop communication at all. I mean, you can inplement TCP/IP over pigeon transport or whatever means of communication is available to you (telephone , radio, messengers, snail mail, etc)

    At the minimum, this days bussiness
  • What tubes? Where do these tubes lead, and why do things tend to go down these so-called tubes? I'm sorry but this just doesn't sit well with me.
  • I started reading TFA, but it contains too much sensationalism and hyperboles for me to put up with. Could someone condense it a bit; summarize the actual arguments and reasoning?
    • Summary:
      The Internet may be forced to devolve into Cable TV, so we need to read George Lakoff's book and start talking about the Internet as a place in order to save it.

      (...tongue firmly in cheek. OK, so I agree about the devoling part.)
  • What a windbag (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FishandChips (695645) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:52AM (#14051032) Journal
    Just my two cents but I found this article poorly written and hard to follow. So many quotes and right-on allusions: is the writer worried we'll think he hasn't got much to say? And a pervasive sense that drama and crisis are being manufactured from materials that aren't really up to it. Other writers around, notably Robert X. Cringely, cover this territory with more style (and without an obsessive interest in hyperlinks).

    Maybe this guy should leave computers alone and go far away and do something completely different for a year. Great way of clearing the head. Perhaps he'd get some new perspectives on life and find he'd gotten a better writing style too.

    Bob Young, who recently stepped down at Red Hat, made a very important point the other day. The present generation of lawmakers may be clueless about IT, but they are reaching retirement age now. The next generation is a lot more knowledgeable about IT having grown up with it for most of their adult lives. Over the next 5-10 years, expect lawmakers to show a more sophisticated approach to IT legislation and a lot less indulgence towards big corporations and cartels trying to pull a fast one. If this is true - a big if but not unlikely - then Searl's dire predictions are not going to happen.
  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@keirste ... minus physicist> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:59AM (#14051055) Homepage

    I mean, he loses credibility in the first sentence.. "This is a long essay. There is, however, no limit to how long I could have made it.". Of course there is a limit!

    We all know that the number of computer bits that man could ever possibly compute [physicsweb.org] is 1.35x(10^20), so his essay could *never* be more than that long, or else it would neve rbe completed.

    Foolish!

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:10AM (#14051301) Journal
    The article is long, complex, and tends to hysteria. I'll try to summarize:

    The Internet is wonderful and useful, because it is free. It's freedom is a fragile thing. Forces of ignorance and outright evil are attempting to gain control so they can profit, at public expense of course. If they succeed, freedom will be a collateral casualty. The war is fought at the most elementary level, human language. Those who convincingly define the issues can frame the debate in a manner that assures victory. The other side has won victories by defining the Internet experience in terms of content = property = scarce resource. We have content providers, content carriers, and consumers. And this is the wrong way to view the Internet. The Internet is a commons, where everyone can have their place and publish anything they want. We have to change the debate now! Stop letting these forces define the issues by getting there first and defining them the way WE want, or we'll lose the Internet! Write your congressperson! Join the EFF today!!!

    That's how the article sounded to me. Very black and white. I think some of this is justified, but I object to several things here. First off, the tone of the thing: the article makes up a category with two pigoenholes, stuffs everyone into one or the other, declares one to be right and the other to be wrong, and exhorts the "right" side to go to war to defend us. It's as if the forces on the "wrong" side know very well they are in the wrong, but have made a conscious decision to be evil because evil is profitable. Except they don't know they're wrong, or evil. They are convinced they are right. The response is good intentions lead to hell, and they ought to know better, and therefore they are still evil. But we don't know all that. What seems dangerous to me is this "if you're not with the Internet, then you're against it" attitude that could push a lot of neutrals to the "wrong" side. Worse is singling out some and tarring them as evil-- could anger multifaceted entities with genuinely sympathetic views if this is done in error.

    Second is the presumption that the freedoms and Internet are fragile. The implication is that it wouldn't be so fragile if we weren't so dumb, and I don't buy that. There are simply too many people with too much at stake to allow the Internet to fail, or to be given over to a narrow consortium of interests, or turned into a morass of censorship and patronizing guidance of consumers to products. Many people are too smart to be hoodwinked into going along with such dastardly schemes, and too smart to swallow those lines about it being "for own own good". This illustrates a basic problem with liberals and democrats. They evidently don't see that most people can see these dangers too, and go way out trying to "educate", not realizing that they are actually insulting our intelligence. Most everyone who has experienced DRM quickly perceives what a bad deal it is, and if they don't, need only hear what would be possible if not for DRM and what used to be possible to conclude on their own that they've been had. Ironic that well meant but snobby and elitist efforts to save us from being turned into cattle and suckers talks down to us as if we already are. And ironic that their efforts to strengthen the freedoms and Internet through "better" govt regulation may actually be the greatest danger facing the Internet.

    So what should we be doing? Fighting evil, or educating, or inventing and debating? Or just relax because it'll all turn out all right in the end? Do no harm....

  • A very spirited piece of writing, I have to admit. It actually sounds more like a speech held in front of a crowd than an essay, and it shows:
    * lack of structure: half the time I don't know why he suddenly starts talking about something
    * biased semantics: calling us the chosen ones, the underdogs and the other guys sharks and goliaths is very florid, but when somebody aims for my ego, I usually assume that he doesn't have the arguments to aim for my mind
    * supposition: he talks a lot about what companies (ve
  • War (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jpauls104 (650945)
    What happens when a few rouges from one culture enter another culture against their will... War.

    I personally believe the internet is worth fighting for, perhaps not physically, but logically.
  • Mirror (Score:3, Informative)

    by John Jorsett (171560) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:14AM (#14051744)
    MirrorDot mirror [mirrordot.org] of the Slashdotted LinuxJournal page.
  • Can someone please let me know what content my ISP, RCN Cable is blocking me from seeing? I can view all the porn I want, view all the innacurate independent news sites that I want..... I don't see what I'm missing out on here.

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