Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 25 Apr 01 15:04
They must wait til they get a challenge before the block something, which makes sense.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 25 Apr 01 17:53
Declan McCullagh just published a Wired News article about the Cato Institute's Clyde Crews' concept of 'splinternets,' parallel Internets that would be run as distinct, private, and autonomous universes. The idea is more internets, not more regulations. "'When you have a public resource where anarchy reigns, there's basically two things you can do -- either regulate it, which (libertarians) hate to see happen, or further privatize it, so companies could set their own rules,' he [Crews] said." This is kind of interesting, no? Does the Internet support parallel universes?
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Thu 26 Apr 01 05:17
Well, that's what FreeNet is. It's like driving through a town you thought you know, but through only the back alleys, or using the streets of an old town beneath it. It's really weird -- looks just like the Web of 1993, when there were no search engines. wg
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Thu 26 Apr 01 05:20
But yes, I've always thought there was plenty of room for parallel universes. We have them already -- the IRC's culture and that of the Web in tersect relatively little. I think I remmeber saying earnestly to a publisher before net.wars that there would be many nets. Niche is what the Net is good at. People talk about the network externalities effect as though it's the only one -- that a communications network is *only* useful if it connects as many people as possible. But it's silly. Lots of corporations run internal nets now ()and their own telecoms infrastructures) that have nothing to do with the Internet itself,a nd they're still of value. We have mailing lists *and* Usenet... wg
Andrew Brown (jonl) Thu 26 Apr 01 06:40
Email from Andrew Brown: I hesitate to contradict an accredited Dizzy Broad, but why should musicnet fail just becasue it's available in North America only? After all, the criterion for success is not whether it does Napster's job; it's whether it lets the record companies that own it make a profit. Having different musicnets for different copyright regimes will let them run DVD-typescams with differential pricing, too. I agree that this is a failure from the consumers' point of view but that just makes it a greater success from the pov of Big Digits. (I shall copyright the phrase Big Digits and live off the ropyalties forever)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 26 Apr 01 06:50
I guess the real question re. parallel universes is whether you can segregate them, i.e. create a universe in which spammers can live and do their thing without intruding on the universe of rabid anti-spammers. Probably a bad example, since the spam wouldn't be spam if it wasn't intrusive. What I was thinking about was a reality where you fool people into thinking they're on the Internet, but they're not. Spammers go about their business wondering why they're getting no responses from their tacky little emails... it's because their mail is contained in an alternate universe. We talked about doing something like that on the WELL - create a shell for a particular obnoxious user so that he think's he's participating, because in his version of the WELL, his posts appear etc. But nobody response because his presence is invisible to anyone but him. This parallel universe thing also reminds me of FidoNet... which takes us back to anarchy... here's something Tom Jennings said about Fido in '93" "Tom: FidoNet is more importantly a social mechanism. It was pretty obvious from the start that it was going to be a social monster, almost more so than a technical thing. And it had to do with the original environment of bulletin boards, which were around for quite a while by the time I got around to doing Fido. Every bulletin board was completely different, run by some cantankerous person who ran their board the way that they saw fit, period. So FidoNet had to fit in that environment. "Interviewer: A very anarchic environment. "Tom: Yes, explicitly anarchic. Most people just ran them for their own reasons, and they were just separated by large distances of time and space, so they remained locally oriented. I just ran across old interviews and old documentation from '83 - '84, and we were saying it then. It was just'c9 people didn't hear it, it just went in one ear and out the other. They think 'Oh, anarchism, that means throwing rocks at the cops!' Well sometimes, I suppose, but that's mostly a cop's definition of it."
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Thu 26 Apr 01 14:18
Yes, I suppose <andrewb> is right. I just *want* it to fail...but by "fail" of course I meant that it will not stop Napster and its horde of successors, which is part of what the record companies want it to do. The Fido thing sounds like the folk scene... I love the idea of isolating someone in a parallel universe. But I want to make it into an sf novel. I think you'd have to be completely socially unaware not to eventuallky notice that no one ever responds to anything you say. wg
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 26 Apr 01 14:50
Heh... the one guy in particular we were considering for that fate was that socially unaware, I think! Of course, there's always the temptation to think you can do anything with technology, 'til you meet the devil, who was hanging out in the details. Don't you think many of the dotcoms failed because their principles didn't understand the technology well enough to discern its limits?
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Thu 26 Apr 01 15:03
Do you mean principles as in moral guidelines or principals as in founders/entrepreneurs? I think many of the dotcoms failed for the same reason that many new businesses in every new technology fail: people are experimenting to find out what will work. There are also the scam artists who just want the money and don't have much in the way of ethics. Uh, I guess that first sentence actually agrees with you to some extent. In a later chapter in the book, on ecommerce, I talk about the speculative bubble (bear in mind I wrote that chapter in December 1999, when the market wwas still zooming upwards, wondering whether I was going to be hideously embarrassed). One of the things I predicted was that ecommerce would plateau the way mail order did; one of the things I was looking at that led jme to that conclusion was Amazon.com's quarterly results, which showed a decreasing average spend per customer, which suggested to me that the new customers the service were getting were spending a lot less than the old ones. Thin evidence, perhaps -- but Amazon.com has now stopped publishing that particular metric, or at least they didn't mention it in the last 10-Q of theirs I looked at. But many of the dot-com businesses should never have been taken public; in that sense wealth was not created but redistributed. The ones that IPO'd and then promptly failed (eg, was it pets.com that went public and then bankrupt in the same year?) certainly made plenty of cash for the vcs and bankers, less perhaps for the owners in some cases, but at the expense of other investors. I remember listening to a phone-in on CNBC in 1999 and hearing some grandmother ask about bu8ying shares in Red Hat, and I just wanted to shout at her not to be silly... Oh, well. wg
tally (tally) Fri 27 Apr 01 07:03
(I just want to say, Wendy, that I've been reading the chapters online -- NYU has the introduction, chapters 1, 2 and 9 up -- and they're great. I'm looking forward to the book itself!)
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Fri 27 Apr 01 07:51
Thanks...what's the URL? wg
tally (tally) Fri 27 Apr 01 07:54
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 27 Apr 01 09:38
Ah, that's great! For those of you who may be reading this from outside the WELL, if you have a question or comment you'd like to post here, just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. That first chapter contains some pretty effective myth-busting, especially the piece about Drudge. I know people (myself included!) who look at Drudge's page before they look at the "real" news, because he'll break stories without applying journalistic filters or checking facts. Isn't that what's great about the Internet, though, as an information conduit? You can pick up so much ragged data and refine it yourself, according to your own perception of credibility....
tally (tally) Fri 27 Apr 01 10:43
Well, that's good and that's bad. Cass Sunstein's book _Republic.com_ suggests that some controversial sites be required to include links to opposing viewpoints in the interests of "equal time." Now, how Sunstein proposes to do this I have no idea, having not read the book. However, it is interesting to see this excerpt from the book posted in a /. review: "We might easily imagine a situation in which textual references to organizations or institutions are hyperlinks, so that if, for example, a conservative magazine such as the National Review refers to the World Wildlife Fund or Environmental Defence, it also allows readers instant access to their sites." Sunstein continues: "To the extent that sites do not do this, voluntary self regulation through cooperative agreements might do the job. If these routes do not work, it would be worthwhile considering content-neutral regulation, designed to ensure more in the way of both links and hyperlinks." This could be easily if its author were not a respected law professor at the University of Chicago who clerked for Thurgood Marshall, worked for the DOJ, and has some standing as a respectable Internet pundit. Wendy, are you familiar with this book? Is regulation of this sort a real possibility or is it just paranoia?
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Fri 27 Apr 01 16:29
No, I haven't seen the book, though it sounds like I should. I would have thought rules like that would be unenforceable. I assume he's thinking of the equal time rules for political candidates on broadcast media, but we don't require the National Review in print to reference The Nation, and we don't insist that Reason magazine include the liberal point of view in all its articles. Now, if he wants to build a directory called something like counterpoint.com and let you enter a Web address and get back a list of opposing viewpoint sites, that's another matter. That might even be a terrifically useful resource. wg
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 30 Apr 01 15:01
RL law doesn't carve things isomorphically with our networks; that's why MusicNet is supposed to be NA only, that's why DVD's are flowing across space with the aid of Ebay. At the same time, sociology doesn't carve things up isomorphically with our networks. Consequently, you've gotcher IRC and Usenet and various lists alongside your Web (or webs?) and all these more-or-less gated places like the Well. So, the MusicNet / many nets / accident of residential geography issues all load on the same factors, I think. I'm looking forward to reading your book, Wendy.
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Mon 30 Apr 01 16:05
Thanks. Not sure I've understood what you mean by isomorphically in that context. Actually, I'm beginning to wonder if DVD will be the death of the movie industry. Unlike video tapes, they're mostly indestructible. They are therefore spawning a *much* more active 2nd hand market. The quality is good enough that they are a more than adequate substitute for going to theaters -- and in London, given the availability of US pricing, hacked players, and 2nd hand discs, it's actually cheaper even just for one person to buy a 2nd hand DVD and watch it at home (cinema tix are up to $14 here, plus transport, which in my case is $6.50 to the West End), especially if you resell it afterwards. Does anyone know much about Div-X or MPEG4 (not DIV/X as in Circuit City)? I suppose MusicNet will be the opiate of the masses and the rest of us will use Gnutella and other such geek things. Napster, btw, has banned the use of pig latin and other simple disguises for song titles. wg
George Hunka (tally) Mon 30 Apr 01 16:27
That's what they used to say about CD's. I've had to replace a few of them over the past ten years from overuse, and I'm not a particularly obsessive music fan. I've also come across flawed and broken DVDs. Not as indestructable as I'd like them to be.
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 30 Apr 01 18:45
(just meant that they don't have the same structure, Wendy.) As for opiate of the masses . . . AOL has a Nielsen-sized body of users now. (The Year September Never Ended is also a great concept, <wendyg>, thanks.) But even with AOL being that large, Internet penetration is far from that of TV, even in the US (let alone elsewhere). Does this indicate a limit? Or is there more to come, with the scene in ten years, say, looking greatly different--maybe no AOL, but something else bigger?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 1 May 01 04:55
Divx development appears to be truckin' along as a grassroots, open-source kind of project (there's a new version, in fact, called OpenDivX). MPEG-4 is like MPEG-2 but with better compression...not sure whetehr the quality's better. Wendy, I'm not sure I agree that high-quality digital reproduction will replace the experience of a movie in a theatre with a big screen - though it may result in development of ways to add value to the theatre experience. George Lucas et al are already talking about going full-digital with movies - i.e. storing them on disc, not film. It'll be interesting to see whether you can produce the same quality on the big, wide screen with that kind of medium. Generally I think theatres will survive and thrive so long as they can offer an experience that's 'bigger' than you can reproduce at home. For instance, I have a great surround audio system in my home, but I still like the experience of a theatre with huge speakers and refined acoustics.
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Tue 1 May 01 11:15
I would like to believe so, but a number of the offline trends are against it -- theaters should be beefing up their sound systems and enlarging their scvreens and making the visit to the cinema the best-ever way to see a movie. instead, they are carving up theaters into little segments and shrinking the screens, and many theaters are unpleasant to sit in (I've been in some where the screens are at the wrong angle, and one of the most expensive theaters in London has built its seven screens in such a way that it is impossible for the entire picture to be in focus on any of them). Movie theaters are driving me out as surely as offline stores are. The Year september Never Ended was a Usenet phrase; the originator is I think credited in net.wars. What worries me about the size of AOL and its ownership of so much "content" is in a way back to MusicNet -- the worry that the big content owners etc. will turn the Net into just another form of broadcasting. Or at least try. (And yes, I know this contradicts my saying that MusicNet will fail!) I also worry about the "thought police" type possible consequences of AOL's being able to track everything its members do and look at when it owns so much IP... AOL is big enough that it will probably be able to change as the Net changes. Butthe question of a limit to online penetration is an interesting one. My suspicion is that just about everyone will eventually be connected to or use the Net in some way -- but it may not be through the ISP accounts we know today. Eg, a homeless person getting information via a kiosk might not think of himself as using the Net, but he might still be. One thing that's interesting that I wanted to write about but haven't is the development of so many public access options outside the US. eg, you can hardly go 25 feet in central London without passing an Internet cafe where you can sit down and pay #1 to access the Net. Yet, I trudged around SF for hours trying to find someplace like that... (was only told later I should have tried Kinkos). (That #1 buys you different amounts of time according to how busy the place is; usually it's about an hour.) wg
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 1 May 01 11:33
Re. movie theatres, I guess it depends where you are. They seem to be building them bigger, and with better sound, in Texas and Colorado, my two recent states-of-residence, in the U.S. They're still building multiscreen complexes, but the screens are larger, and there's better seats in the newer theatres around Denver and Austin. It's hard to say, though. I know a guy named Brian Park in Austin who's designed what he calls the Flogiston Chair - it's built to support the human anatomy so perfectly that it's like floating. Brian's also created a rear-projection dome to go with the chair, and I can envision theatres filled with these chairs, and films that are projected on the dome, for more immersive environments. Re. AOL: you can see the impact with AOL/Time Warner's acquisition of CNN. They dumped Ted Turner and his people, and they seem to be moving in the direction of news-as-entertainment. And given the prominence of CNN as an international news source, they have significant power to manage consensus about what's real.
someone who just sucked on a dill pickle (wendyg) Tue 1 May 01 11:40
In the UK, of course, CNN has competition in the form of Murdoch's Sky News. Which has managed reality today so far well enough that I haven't wanted to go anywhere near central London (protesters being heavily controlled by police). I guess it's long been a staple of sf, but how far are we from made-up news on TV to dictate people's movements? wg
James Howard (howardjp) Tue 1 May 01 11:45
Watch how you phrase that. Time-Warner bought CNN some time ago.
George Hunka (tally) Tue 1 May 01 11:48
Well, in the late 1960s, when they were showing the riots on the streets of Los Angeles, I wouldn't have gone to Watts, either. And CNN was merely a gleam in the eye of little Teddy Turner in those days. One person's objective truth is another person's propaganda. Can't blame media moguls for that. In the US, CNN has competition from FoxNews, MSNBC, C-SPAN and (in some areas of the country, including Manhattan) BBCAmerica, and that's only cable TV. On the radio there are several competing all-news stations on the AM dial, and Pacifica and NPR continue to engage public affairs matters over on the FM side. The United States has always been a media-rich culture. I'm not sure if the Internet has changed that in any way, except perhaps in the quantity of information available. The truth generally will out, sometimes not in the mainstream press, but often enough there as well. The VILLAGE VOICE didn't publish the Pentagon Papers, the NEW YORK TIMES did; similarly, Watergate was broken by the WASHINGTON POST, not the EAST VILLAGE OTHER. Not to mention the role that CNN and broadcast media played in the fall of the Berlin Wall. It ain't all bad news.
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