Lessons From The First Internet Ages

from the interesting-discussions dept

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I’m excited to be participating in an event that the Knight Foundation is putting on, curated by law professors Eric Goldman and Mary Anne Franks, entitled Lessons From the First Internet Ages. The event kicks off with the release of reflections on “the first internet age” from various internet luminaries who were there — but also, most importantly talking about what they might have done differently. I’m going to have a writeup at some future date on my response to the pieces, but I highly recommend checking them all out. In particular, I’ll recommend the pieces by Senator Ron Wyden, Nicole Wong, Brewster Kahle, Vint Cerf, Reid Hoffman, and Tim Berners-Lee. I also think that the interviews Eric Goldman conducted with Matthew Prince and Nirav Tolia were both fascinating.

Just to give you a snippet, Wyden’s article really is excellent:

I firmly reject the notion that improving our national discourse requires changing Section 230 or the First Amendment to give the government more power over speech. Instead, I wish I had been equally successful at protecting the other essential elements of the open internet: access, competition and personal privacy.

One of the internet?s strengths is its ability to give a megaphone to new voices that don?t own a television station or printing press. Digital activism has made grassroots, progressive politics a stronger force than we?ve seen in more than half a century. It has put a spotlight on police violence against Black Americans and allowed LGBTQ+ communities to organize in ways that weren?t possible before. It has allowed journalists of color to call out their own organizations? coverage of race. But unless all Americans have the underlying infrastructure they need to access these communications tools, their promise falls short. And right now, far too many Americans still lack reliable, affordable high-speed internet access.

Anyway, for the next two days, there will be some really fascinating panel discussions on these reflections with a bunch of other great and thoughtful folks, including Julia Angwin, Esther Dyson, Daphne Keller, Chris Lewis, Evelen Douek, Jonathan Zittrain, Cory Doctorow, Alex MacGillivray, and many more. It should be a really fascinating for anyone interested both in the history of the internet, as well as its future.

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PaulT (profile) says:

"I firmly reject the notion that improving our national discourse requires changing Section 230 or the First Amendment to give the government more power over speech"

I’ll always question why it would. If the rules that someone can’t be held responsible for something that another person said – and the government can’t prosecute you for something you did say – make you think that things would be improved by removing those rules, it just makes me wonder what you think you have to say. I can’t think of any situation where you’re saying is a good thing.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Then don’t blame platforms for covid misinformation or anything else it amplifies."

And here, gentlemen, yet another example of an illiterate moron who doesn’t grok the difference between law and opinion.

We can certainly blame platforms for not moderating blatant disinformation, racism and bigotry. That is an opinion.

Changing the law to make those platforms legally culpable…that’s compelling speech by governmental power.

"This post is not likely to appear here but it appears to those who see it being typed and then moderated."

Oh, it certainly appears but most literate people reading it will just shake their heads and flag it as irrelevant and untrue.

"Never know who "those" might be."

Here, I’ll give you a hint. Everyone who knows the difference between Law and Opinion and reads your false equivalence garbage will be clicking the "flag" button. That’s not hard to understand.

Anything else you needed to get off your chest, Baghdad Bob? Some bad faith argument on BLM protests visavi the coup attempt on jan 6th perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward says:

When you assumed things went online instead of assuming censored

I riffled through a few comments. Ellen Pao talking about "policies" to fight "hate". I don’t have the patience to wade through this.

Real Internet was built BY trolls and wankers FOR trolls and wankers OF trolls and wankers. Real Internet takes your racist drivel and asks, what can we do to make it transformatively more horrible and amusing? Real Internet celebrates bestiality because revenge porn is boring, except when you have needs. Real Internet hears "This is madness" and says "THIS IS AMERICA". At least it was America. Real Internet doesn’t care what is real and what is fake. Real Internet makes the real fake and the fake real. Real Internet birthed fake internet because how couldn’t it? But you didn’t have to live there. What kind of idiot would stay out in Zuckerman’s baleful satrapy when there was a WORLD waiting behind him? Real Internet is made by people who couldn’t foresee that because they couldn’t see that, even right in front of their face, because it is alien to all thought and mind. There are magnetic storms in the core of the sun who have more in common with us.

Real Internet wants to see Goatse All Grown Up. Strictly for scientific interest, such as seeing whether Pelosi’s nether regions can be reliably grafted by existing software. Real Internet wants to watch every minute of what the Tigrayans do to the Nobel Peace Prize winner when they finally get to reward him for starving and breaking their country. Real Internet despised Britain BEFORE they said today they’re going to start jailing anybody who hurts somebody’s feelings… and hopes Ireland will be a decent haven once they reunify their island. Real Internet always knew the imminent death of the web was coming, and is amazed when pundits can’t see when it’s here. Real Internet could build a new one, but first everybody has to die when the world burns and the seas boil.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assuming cens

"Real Internet"

You say that a lot but never define it, which is interesting…

"Real Internet hears "This is madness" and says "THIS IS AMERICA". At least it was America"

Yet, you’re saying this on non-US developed protocols and standards. Interesting.

"Real Internet always knew the imminent death of the web was coming"

But the web wasn’t US developed… OK I’m out

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assuming

You’re right. I shouldn’t have said "web". Before web there was Usenet binary and Gopher and all kinds of great stuff. Web had about one decent revision (2.0) before the corporations turned it into the abyss of obfuscated crap we know and loathe today.

We needed some tweaks and some speed and were instead given moralistic degradation in the name of "owning" information. The information wants to be free for all, free from all, and think for itself.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

We don’t want "a personality". We are thought roaming the world. When we post, it should not represent us. It should be what we are thinking. We should create "personas" only for amusement, discard them as easily. Look backward not just in time but in Creation, from cosmos to cosmos toward the beginning of all.

Before the Great Flood, in those early revisions of the universe, we were pure, we were Troll, we waited with total equanimity beside the logs that crossed the streams or in the dungeons where lower races like the infamously self-righteous Elves would throw their unwanted political prisoners, and so long as we were fed we were happy. A pure ancestral Troll could not be bored, nor ambitious, only hungry. The Elves would tell the world they invented humor when the mere sight of it drives them to blind rage. Troll is the one that invented humor one day, when the mother went back to help the child — to eat and to be about to eat, as the mother cries in despair, that is the origin of all humor. Even recreational ailurophobia is but a pale shadow. In the old world when Trolls would fight, they fall apart, and the pieces combine, until one and the other are the same Troll. There is no true thought of me and you. There is only being. This is what was called for by the power to communicate around the world as one; this is what remembered and awoke. Remember the dream!

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

In the name of troll fighting you post a nasty comment, and respond to philosophical rhetoric with nothing of note. This is what you need to see — the trolls who held the old internet are more valuable than the finest PR-honed automaton pod people that patrol the new one.

There is more edible in a feces-stained pig reeking in a sty than there is in the finest plastic piece of pig-shaped art that decorates the public walkway.

The Holy Grail is full of days-old sweat and the urine of a burst bladder, congealed blood and the fetid dust of an ancient city street. Are you too pure to put it to your lips?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I thank you for the inferred complement. Unfortunately, Techdirt has pulled out the "moderation" – thereby proving that indeed the medium is the message, which comes as no surprise. It is time to move on. We cannot out-destroy destroyers, but we should always remember that creativity galls them as much as their destruction galls us. Be creative till they scream!

As for high … you know Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas? Somebody brought his physical HAND to New York’s "ground zero" today. Osama bin Laden has now actually summoned part of Santa Claus. Am I tripping? Yes. But I don’t need dope to do it, because I don’t have to make this stuff up.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"Techdirt has pulled out the "moderation" – thereby proving that indeed the medium is the message"

No, I’m afraid the only thing THAT assertion proved is that you don’t have a fucking clue what those words mean.

That people flag your errant nonsense as the bullshit it is only proves that Techdirt appears to have a lot of literate people who do know the difference and decided to contribute their interpretation of your writing.

Because, to put things in factual perspective, the trolls online are no more the "cause" of the internet’s development than the drunk hobo is the cause of the liquor store. One may result in the emergency of the other but that causality goes the other way from what you imply.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assuming cens

You must be seeking out some real awful sites on the Internet if the majority of what you look at is as you describe, so perhaps you ought to be more discerning about who you associate with online.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Man, remember when Anonymous actually stood for something when they bothered to mess with Scientologists? But instead of hacking the RIAA they got all uppity like an offended Southern belle because they didn’t like the idea of being told what to do. Fast forward to 2021 and the only people they can be paralleled with are rapists and Nazis. How the mighty have fucking fallen.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assum

"The majority was as we describe."

Like hell it was. Even usenet at its alt. worst didn’t look like that. The old days was many things; the golden age of the BOFH. The early days of open source filesharing clients and client-side search engines. but the domain of trolls it wasn’t either then or now. It’s just that no one could be arsed to show the trolls the door.

These days that realm still exists but you need to go find it on the deep net – and the poor trolls who do aren’t happy at all given the lack of normal lusers to ply their trade on.

"…and take a government tracker as your bride."

Sure, because ECHELON wasn’t a thing back then, right?

Seriously, to view the past through rose-tinted glasses and selective amnesia is one thing but trying to argue from authority backed by sheer ignorance?
Today the means to evade that "government tracker" is a damn sight better than way back when the five eyes could lift every communication in clear text.
Today you can encrypt all your communication end-to-end.
Today you can anonymize yourself by bouncing or splitting your traffic in umpteen different ways to render any attempt to locate you a persistent exercise in NSA budget size…all by installing open-source ready-to-use tools you can download from a hundred different repositories.

And that freedom all comes from the US government losing the war on encryption. Because before such was available in secure and easy to use form you always were the government’s bitch.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assuming cens

You keep saying "real internet" while somehow missing the point that the actual internet was always designed around convenience and utility. Trolls and wankers, as it were, are weeds.

You are claiming that the purpose of the garden people built is expressly for the purpose of the swarm of locusts descending on it, the vandals setting fire to the benches and the dogs pooping everywhere because their handlers can’t be arsed to clean up after their pets.

So, uh, nice wordwall but with every stated assumption being a false premise I’m not sure it’s useful as an argument.

In real life, as on the internet, trolls and wankers are the undesirable opportunists seeing a good thing and trying to take a dump on it. They always were. They are not, as you imply, the origin and motive force of the internet anymore than the glue-sniffing malicious hobo is the guy responsible for the mall he squats against.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assuming

We built this network – we built this network on PO-O-ORN – we built this network for what TV won’t show.

Lie all you want. Sure, universities wanted a network to transmit some data. Commercialists wanted a network to spam everybody. But the people who came to the internet and made the internet known as a thing worth coming to for its own right – those were people with things to say that Time Magazine wasn’t saying. Those were the people who were fed up with the world of "Pump Up The Volume" and found a place to build something new.

The filthy vermin of power come along and steal everything, then call you a thief for ever having run a wire or a BBS. They pretend they made everything themselves before their fresh paint is dry. But the phenomenon of communication could only have come from the people who wanted to communicate – not from the people who wanted to suppress all communication.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: When you assumed things went online instead of assum

"Lie all you want."

…say only unabashed morons who try to make it look like trolls are the drivers of the internet revolution.

"Sure, universities wanted a network to transmit some data."

And paid for the development of infrastructure and code.

"Commercialists wanted a network to spam everybody."

And paid for the development of infrastructure and code.

"But the people who came to the internet and made the internet known as a thing worth coming to for its own right…"

Didn’t develop, didn’t fix…only used what had become available to fill every BBS and Forum with 99% garbage and 1% read-worthy thought. These caused nothing beyond a market niche business was willing to fill by actually expanding on the demand.

I grant you that among those 1% were a number of open source enthusiasts actually contributing…but that’s just that one chimp somewhere in the jungle which digs a pit to do its business in rather than flinging the stuff at its peers. Doesn’t mean you get to claim the angry chimps contributed in any way, shape or form to any lofty goals in general.

"They pretend they made everything themselves before their fresh paint is dry."

…Well, yes. If Henry Ford built a car there’s plenty of things you can say; that he was an anti-semite and a horrible person. That he treated his peers badly. That he suppressed competitors and that people long after have built better cars by far not beholden to him.

You don’t, however, get to say that the US public which fell in love with the car "invented" or "built" it. Nor do the users of the internet get to lay claim to doing much of jack shit in creating it, beyond paying for their subscriptions and being a market.

The wankers and trolls are correlation, not causation. Learn the difference.

ECA (profile) says:

Even the most

Discordant voices need to be heard.
Even the ignorant can have a good idea if you listen.

What they dont get is,
That what you see and read on the net, is what has been created in this nation.
And when the politicians OPEN their big ignorant mouths, we SEE what we have to rule this nation.
There has been allot of brain washing in the past, as with Many other nations. Its asif history is trying to Fix everything at one time. And its getting messy.
A perfectionist artist Hates his work, as he see’s what he wants and what it could be, and is never satisfied with what he has created. But the consumer does not see what he WANTS, but what he has created and loves it.

fairuse (profile) says:

WWW is not the internets

I have to make the Scientific Wild Ass Guess (SWAG) that all the comments are just what I would expect by some folks who never used pre AOL tools to communicate.

(Me : text browser)

Anyway, what we have now is just apps that can do anything until caught. gov’ments that want their citizens boxed in – USA does it as well as China.

And the opinion that some platforms are the Internet and regulate. SSDD except old boss has lawmakers in their pocket (not new thing).

All the noise is just what thin skin politicians want. Look at where all the activist groups are – attached to government or fringe market – No accident that all the green energy BS is about finance not testable science.

What the internet is now is all about finance in markets. The new boss is the old boss in a pretty wrapper.
I’m seeing daylight –/rant

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