July 28, 2004
The Internet Isn't Melting

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.

Posted by Wendy at 03:31 PM
Pyramids for Kerry

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.

Posted by Wendy at 02:57 PM
The 9/11 Report -- A Bestseller from the Public Domain

The New York Times reports that the the 9/11 Report has been "a royalty-free windfall" for publisher Norton.

"The 9/11 Commission Report," the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, has remained at the top of the best-seller lists at online bookstores since its release last Thursday.

The report is topping the 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.

Posted by Wendy at 12:23 PM