The Internet most of us experience is not the World of Ends suggested by the end-to-end system design concepts around which the Net was originally architected and built.
Instead we have something that is faster-than-dialup, and faster-than-it-used-to-be; but is not The Net. Instead it is the part of the Net that's left in a pipe that's optimized for television, for one-way few-to-many "content delivery" and for locking users into client roles, while servers labor somewhere else.
I just had FTTH (fiber to the home) installed. And, while it's way cool in some ways, it's also uncool in the way it prevents far more business than it generates for itself. It would be great if the carriers made it easy for businesses to grow on the Net, and then suppoted those businesses with services that helped those businesses thrive and grow. But the carriers would rather serve "content" to mass quantities of "consumers" while chaging prohibitive prices for "business-class" services. Hey, it's a mass media mentality, and they have every right to it.
This coming Saturday (22 September) is OneWebDay, a project I'm proud to have been a part of since Susan Crawford thought it up many months before the first one last year. OneWebDay is meant as a day on which we celebrate the Web and what it does for each of us.* So I want to celebrate what the Web does, and continues to do, for me as a journalist.
The arc of my writing career is something of a parabola: a broad U-shaped valley between the time when I worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor and the time when I started writing on and about the Web, and everything that makes it good, including (and especially) Linux. more>>
I was looking at what my friend Stephen Lewis wrote in HakPakSak a few days ago specifically "...newspapers’ roles as public trusts and cornerstones of our informational infrastructure i.e. sources of solid information and independent commentary essential to informed citizenry, democratic government, effective public policy, and well-functioning economies".. What this brought up for me is the notion that human beings are themselves infrastructural; especially when they are constuctive contributors to the structure we call civilization. more>>
The problem isn't just silos and walled gardens our names for choiceless dependency on one company's goods and services. The problem is the defaulted belief system that gives us silos and walled gardens in the first place.
In that system suppliers believe that the best customers and users are captive ones. Customers and users believe that a free market naturally restricts choices to silos. It's a value sytem in which VCs like to ask "What's your lock-in?". Even in 2007, long after the Net has become established as an everyday necessity, we still take for granted the assumption that living in a "free market" is to choose among jail cells. May the best prison win. more>>
Two years ago, Bob Frankston wrote Why Settle for Just 1%? while in the midst of his ramp-up as a Verizon FiOS customer. The question is still on the table. I'd like us to help answer it by re-phrasing the question: What could we, as Linux developers and users, do with fiber to our homes and businesses? more>>
When we first started talking about LAMP, it stood for Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python... and other M and P projects, such as mod_perl, mod_python, PostgreSQL and so on. The letters were arranged horizontally, but many IT builders began talking about them vertically: as a "stack": Linux on the bottom, and a pile of other stuff on top.
So here's a simple question: how high (or wide) is that stack now? Put another way, how many open source projects sit on Linux today?
I just asked Ethan Zuckerman, who said the question was "interesting", and that one approach would be to subtract out the non-Linux projects from SourceForge. Right now there are 154,092 projects on SourceForge. I don't know how many run on Linux, though I'm sure it's a huge percentage. But SourceForge isn't the only place where open source development projects live.
Nobody in the "interim rankings" (.pdf) gets the top (green) mark for "Privacy-friendly and privacy enhancing". The bottom (black) mark, for "Comprehensive consumer surveillance & entrenched hostility to privacy", goes to just one company: Google. more>>
Christopher Lydon's RadioOpenSource is one of the best programs on radio. It's not about open source code, but about radio modeled on open source values and methods. As the show puts it, Open Source has become one of the most talked-about experiments in public media a civil union of online and on-air communities that trust each other to talk about pretty much anything.
Right now the project is The looking for funding directly from listeners and other participants. So the rescue ships are approaching the harbor, and still the wolf is at the door.
If you listen to the show, you're one of those ships. If you write code, you can float a lot more boats not just for one show, but for all of public media (a term that encompasses public radio, TV, podcasting and live online streaming).
What we need is an open source project, or code put together from a number of existing projects, to reduce the friction involved in paying for public media and at the same time to increase the opportunities for participation by listeners, producers and everybody else with something to contribute. more>>
The always provocative Brad Templeton, who hung out with a large cadre of geeks at the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW, or IIW2007) last week, has some cautions about new identity systems, even if they are all "user-centric". These cautions lie in a paradox: "The easier it is to give somebody ID information, the more often it will be done. And the easier it is to give ID information, the more palatable it is to ask for, or demand it." The italics are his.
Here he hits on the problem of market power asymmetries (vendors strong, customers weak) that have been with us for the whole Industrial Age, and are with us still. I think we have a way to overcome those, and that Brad's Paradox may provide exactly the conceptual hurdle we need to see before we can make progress.
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