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Re: <nettime> After nettime-bold, the Internet (Andrew Orlowski)
Ian Dickson on Mon, 2 Jun 2003 14:04:54 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> After nettime-bold, the Internet (Andrew Orlowski)

>Lessig is more subtle, but points us the same way.
>"When the content layer, the logical layer, and the physical layer are all
>effectively owned by a handful of companies, free of any requirements of
>neutrality or openness, what will you ask then?"

This is no different to any other media. Provided that anyone can set up a
server, the fact that MOST material might be controlled by a few is
neither here nor there. MOST of everything has always been pretty much
effectively controlled by a few. (People talk about the demise of the
local family shop, but for people who lived in that village, without a
car, they didn't have any choice, so the fact that there were thousands of
family shops made no effective difference to their lives).

>It represents a perfect tragedy of the commons. Email is all but unusable
>because of spam. Even if our Bayesian filters win the arms race against the
>spammers, in terms of quantity as well as quality of communications, email
>has been a disaster.

I get hundreds of emails a day. It takes me as long to kill the 70-80%
that are spam or not important as it does for me to open and bin three or
four bits of postal junk.

>(An architect friend tells me that email has become the biggest productivity
>drain in his organization: not just the quantity of attachments, but the
>mindless round-robin communications, requesting comments that get ignored.
>Email has become a corporate displacement activity.)

This is a real problem. Recipients can't treat it as spam, they have to
open and read. This wastes LOTS of time.

This simply reflects the fact that the technology is being asked to do
things that it was never designed to do. In this case mailing lists, which
are ideal if focussed on those who need to be involved, are delivering too
much non relevant stuff to too many non relevant people, because there is
no effective management system that allows people to control their in box.

This is one of the issues that we have solved with CommKit.

>Google has its own spam problems: a tiny number of webloggers and
>list-makers whose mindless hyperlinks degrade the value of its search
>results, and create the Web equivalent of TV static.

But did you ever try to find things BEFORE the Net? Remember the days of
the inter library loan, and for me that would mean a round trip of 80
miles, AND paying an annual fee of a couple of hundred quid to even join
such a library.

And a lot of time you had to order up lots of documents in the hope of
landing the right ones.

No doubt new technologies will allow user feedback to refine relevance ( a
real implementation of "the network is the computer")

>What's dying is the idea that the Internet
>would be a tool of universal liberation, and the argument that "freedom" in
>itself is a justification for this information pollution. It's probably
>reached a tipping point: the signal to noise ratio is now too low.

Did anyone ever actually believe that the Internet would ever be such a
tool? I've been on it since 94, and while many loved the prospect of
freedom of access to communicate with others, I don't recall any but the
dreamers confusing that with the ability to then take action and change
the world.

Mainly because when you think about it, actions to have impact require 
the following:-

- broad material support from a society.

The anti war protesters might have used the net to organise, but their 
cause didn't have the required resonance.

Dictators will need only fear the Net if it is likely to bring out men 
with guns and bombs to try and overthrow them.
The Internet is not dying, but it is changing.

Just like UK financial services started off with a bunch of guys drinking
chocolate and coffee together and no rules other than etiquette and
reputation, and has changed into a big formal industry with rules,
regulations and controls, so the Net has changed, and will keep on

The Net that I discovered in 1994 was a community. By 1999 that had pretty
much vanished. The Net was a publishing and sales medium, with small
communities scattered across it, largely inhabited by the early adopters.
This change had been driven by the invention of the Web.

In 2001 I decided to bring community back to the Net, but realised that it
would need a revolutionary new toolkit. Two years later we have CommKit.

We may succeed, we may fail. But others will do other things, and the Net
will continue.


ian dickson                                  www.commkit.com
phone +44 (0) 1452 862637                    fax +44 (0) 1452 862670
PO Box 240, Gloucester, GL3 4YE, England

           "for building communities that work"

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