Philip Galanter on Sun, 6 Mar 2005 01:48:41 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Internet2: Orchestrating the End of the Internet?

A few days ago Jon Ippolito posted a sort of manifesto positing 
Internet2 as a threat to the kind of internet artists and academics 
would like to continue to use.

I know Jon a bit from my MARCEL involvement and elsewhere.  Jon's a 
really smart guy with a keen gift for deft rhetoric, and I am sure he 
means well.

Unfortunately Jon's post invokes several basic misunderstandings of 
the related technologies.  These confusions are no mere technical 
quibbles.  They are fundamental to the central thesis that somehow 
the Internet2 effort may bring about the death of the internet.

This couldn't be more wrong.

I'll let the basic facts, as corrected in the following, speak for themselves.

>By this July, every DVD player and TiVo box will sniff for a 
>"broadcast flag" that prevents it from copying digital TV 
>broadcasts. This hardware intervention effectively destroys even the 
>possibility of fair use, since artists and educators cannot 
>transform, parody, or criticize what they cannot record.* .

This is simply not true.  There are hairs to be split, but basically 
(1) the broadcast flag only applies to over-the-air broadcasts (not 
cable, satellite, or internet streaming), and (2) it will not prevent 
copying for fair use.  For example, you will still be able to record 
over-the-air broadcast TV shows at home for later use.

The broadcast flag system *will* prevent large scale redistribution, 
i.e. massive piracy.  But this has always been illegal...even in the 
era of videotape.

>The technology behind Internet2 *breaks* anything remotely 
>resembling a broadcast business model, which is why the MPAA will do 
>its best to disarm the technology by installing Digital Rights 
>Management directly in its routers to stop interesting content from 
>ever getting into the pipeline.

Again, this is simply not true.  Router level digital rights 
management is not being considered by any of the internet standards 
bodies.  It's not even over the horizon.  However, the current 
worldwide internet upgrade from IPv4 to IPv6 *does* make multicast an 
intrinsic part of the protocol rather than an add-on.  And multicast 
is *exactly* the technology a broadcast model needs.

But multicast also benefits "the little guy" because in principle 
independent artists will no longer have to pay for increased server 
capacity as their audience grows.  The shared network, rather than 
the server, will distribute the stream to as many viewers as are 

So if anything, "broadcast" related technical changes in Internet2 
(and eventually other networks) will serve as a democratizing 

And by the way, IPv6 multicast has *no* built-in Digital Rights 
Management.  None. And routers under IPv6 remain "dumb" contrary to 
implications otherwise.

(As a footnote, multicast is also the enabling protocol technology 
that makes the Access Grid, MARCEL's current platform of choice, 

>For all its talk of community and access, Internet2 seems to be 
>offering a backwards-thinking hierarchic model of culture, a sort of 
>Great Performances meets Reality TV.

Again...not true.  Reasonable people can disagree when it comes to 
matters of esthetic taste, but contrary to Jon's central thesis 
Internet2 technology remains both content and application agnostic.

Elsewhere he mentions "privileged" isochronous channels.  But 
isochronous channels don't, and can't, even exist under either IPv4 
or IPv6 or on either Internet2 or "internet1".

The ability to quickly create improvised collaborative groups was 
recognized as being among the highest application priorities in the 
earliest pre-planning of Internet2.  Application level efforts such 
as the Internet2 Commons, VRVS, and indeed the very Access Grid 
technology that MARCEL depends on, are some of the fruit of this 
early vision.

Today on Internet2 non-hiearchical social interaction isn't's already well established standard practice.

And when it comes to Internet2 *content* people are free to do what 
they will.  If one finds the current crop of artistic efforts to be 
wanting the best, and entirely invited, response is to go out and 
create something better.

To sum up, there is simply no factual basis for any Internet2 vrs 
MARCEL conflict.

And I personally look forward to working further with both!

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