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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Filed Under: internet, lessons, lessons from the first internet ages, section 230


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  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 3:55pm

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:12pm

      Re:

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

      Ignore that spreading lies is a separate harm from telling lies.

      This post is not likely to appear here but it appears to those who see it being typed and then moderated. Never know who "those" might be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Nov 2021 @ 6:08am

        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?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:15pm

    Damn it Wyden, why do you have go sounding sane all the time? I'm pretty that can't be real. I mean it's probably illegal or something (other wise everyone would spend all their time being sane, and then where would we be).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:18pm

      Re:

      Where would we be? We'd be in the future promised by science-fiction books and movies rather than the hell-scape wherein we currently live.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:20pm

        Re: Re:

        And we can't have that now can we (though for the life of me, I have no clue why :(, other than some peoples "be a monster" fetishes).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 6:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You KNOW there's always a snake in an apparent utopia.

          Peoples is peoples. And that's why we can't have nice things.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:39pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:52pm

      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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:43pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 6:03pm

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

          The information wants to be free for all, free from all, and think for itself.

          While I admire your support for our Future AI Overlords...

          Cory Doctorow begs to differ.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 4:56pm

      Being edgy for the sake of being a contrarian isn’t a substitute for a personality, and it sure as hell isn’t funny.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:11pm

        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!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:40pm

          are you high or just stupid

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:51pm

            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?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 6:05pm

              Re: Re:

              So, high. :)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 6:12pm

                I’m leaning towards “both”, at this point.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2021 @ 1:08pm

                Re: Re: 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.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 2 Nov 2021 @ 5:17pm

                  Shiva Ayyadurai still didn’t invent email, Hamilton.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Nov 2021 @ 6:29am

                  Re: Re: Re: 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.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:07pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:13pm

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

        The majority was as we describe. You have forgotten paradise, and take a government tracker as your bride.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 5:41pm

          The majority was as we describe.

          Then go back to the majority and leave us, the sane minority, alone with each other. You’re neither wanted nor needed here, you discount store Discordian.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 7:56pm

            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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2021 @ 6:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: When you never left the basement

          The fuck is we? You got a mouse in your pocket son?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Nov 2021 @ 7:01am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 1 Nov 2021 @ 6:21pm

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

      I don't have the intellogence to wade through this.

      [Translated from trollian]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 2 Nov 2021 @ 1:59am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2021 @ 1:04pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Nov 2021 @ 6:21am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheen UAE (profile), 2 Nov 2021 @ 12:42am

    Is it ?

    In the start of internet days its like a dream.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 2 Nov 2021 @ 5:40am

    First, middle, and last lesson of the Internet age: people complain too much about what others are saying on the Internet. Hey, people: start living your own life and stop worrying so much about how other people are living theirs!

    Real life doesn't happen online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Nov 2021 @ 12:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    fairuse (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 3:54am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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