John Quarterman compares the “meltdown” program with similar predictions Bob Metcalfe raised of “Internet collapse” eight years ago. This time, John says, the problems are further from the technical infrastructure, but problems we attribute to the Internet as we use it more widely.
As then, it’s unlikely that the Internet is truly “melting down.” Yet there are indeed many smaller-scale problems seriously degrading the Internet use experience. The group was at its most productive when we analyzed these, considering in the process how overreaction to threats can cause more harm. How can we reduce unwanted communications without cutting off anonymous speech? Can we apportion liability so as to reduce the number of machines vulnerable to being turned into zombies and used for malicious purposes? Answers to bigger questions, such as how we can put users or their chosen intermediaries in control of their Internet experiences, may come from starting with more concrete problems.
Picking up the thread danah got from a friend of hers, I’ve doubled my contribution to the Kerry-Edwards campaign. If ten of my friends and readers respond, I’ll double again.
Amazon charts despite being uncopyrightable and freely available on the web. It’s one of the of the few types of works left — works of government authorship — that enters the modern public domain.
According to the typical copyright story playing in Washington, this publication and its profits for the publisher shouldn’t have happened. What would be the incentive to publish a book that anyone else could freely read and even republish? Yet it seems that some people still want to read on bound paper, and a publisher can still make money by being first to market at a reasonable price. Of course the newsworthiness of the event and subject had plenty to do with this story, but it helps show, as do and
Lawrence Lessig’s experience with it, that total control isn’t the only workable business model for publishers.
I’m at PFIR’s “Preventing the Internet Meltdown”, where today kicked off with a discussion of intellectual property (the other IP). It was a happy surprise to share the stage with Thane Tierney, of Universal Music Group, who shared our horror at the Induce Act and joined a genuine dialogue about the collision between the Internet and the recording industry. I hope we’ll be able to continue that conversation with Thane and others in his business, to move toward a solution that leaves the Internet open to innovation and pays artists and copyright holders.
Also on the panel, Ed Felten commented on the one-way ratchet of copyright legislation; Michael Froomkin called on technologists to spec and build speech-enabling technologies (like Tor); and Carrie Lowe of the ALA called our attention to the copyright-driven inaccessibility of material to libraries and the public they serve. I talked about reclaiming the Internet from amid the copyright-dominated debate in Washington.
Scott Bradner noted that “the value of conference will be inversely proportional to time spent bashing ICANN.” By that standard (and others), the conference got off to a good start, raising bigger questions of governance and regulation: Who makes the rules? and Who says who makes the rules? Since much regulation is about protecting incumbents, watch the regulations (in laws and standards), as well as the regulators who don’t understand the technologies they’re regulating.
Like Ed Felten, I’m not going to try to summarize, but just to pick up a few points.
- Chokepoints. Many decisions now are made for us by intermediaries. Can we empower the end-users to make those choices for ourselves? Can we solve the information imperfections to allow market forces to help?
- Collateral damage of untargeted solutions. Do we really want to respond to spam by putting the government into the middle of end-to-end email? Will we let unwanted email kill off anonymity? The spammers will still break the law, and still find ways to be anonymous, while the innocent end-users’ experience is far worse. If we identify email senders to the endpoints, do we make those more attractive targets for zombie attacks?
More to come…
I’m in LA at PFIR’s “Preventing the Internet Meltdown” conference. I’ll report here (when the NATted Net isn’t melting down), and I’d also be watching Susan Crawford, Ed Felten, Mary Bridges, Karl Auerbach, and Michael Froomkin.
… I’d hate to see what confinement looks like. [Photo shows the "free speech zone" set up to enclose demonstrators at the
Republican Democratic National Convention. [Barriers for the RNC likely worse.]] Oh wait, we know how this administration treats and allows to be treated those it likes even less.
Free from patent impediments at last, the GD graphics library once again supports GIF images. I doubt that Unisys’s LZW patents promoted innovation — unless you count innovation in competing graphics formats such as PNG to work around the patent.
From the GD Library FAQ:
Does gd support GIF images?
Yes. Support for GIF was restored in gd 2.0.28 on July 21st, 2004.
I used GD and GDchart in one of my first web applications. Maybe now I’ll finally update that Amazon book-rank tracker. Funny, 1984 has been high on the charts for a while.
The New York Times runs a long piece on The Tech Lobby, Calling Again. Unfortunately, that lobbying seems to boil down to concern over stock option expensing. If the tech companies don’t keep their eyes on bad legislation like the proposed Induce Act, they won’t have stock options worth expensing.
As a bonus, the NYT quotes my high school classmate Auren Hoffman, who gets to the heart of Washington influence, the almighty dollar:
“I don’t think political staffers are saying, ‘You should be friends with well-known people in Silicon Valley because of the hipness factor.’ I think they’re saying, ‘You should reach out as a long-run strategy for raising funds.’”
I’m across the Bay at BlogOn
I just finished a panel on the so-called “darkside,” (which danah redefined wonderfully as Pink Floyd rather than Darth Vader). I talked on Chilling Effects and the Internet backlash against corporate stupidity (e.g., the McLawsuit C&D).