MediaFilter on Sun, 7 Jan 96 21:58 MET

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Re: The Disappearance of Public Space on the Net

>At 8:17 PM 1/6/96, MediaFilter wrote:

>>The Disappearance of Public Space on the Net
>>The Internet was started in the 1970's by the U.S. Defense Department
>>as a communications tool and is now being bought out by I.B.M., M.C.I. and
>>other megaCorporations.  April, 1995 marked the closing of the National
>>Science Foundation's part of the internet, and signaled the beginning of
>>the end of the publicly funded computer network infrastructure.

At Sun, 7 Jan 1996 01:49:56 John Perry Barlow <> wrote:

>This is a misinterpretation of events. IBM, MCI, and Merit created a
>not-for-profit consortium called ANS during the waning days of the NSFNet
>which essentially ran it under contract to the NSF. They had nothing but
>trouble with it and sank about a hundred million into it before getting the
>hell out. ANS ceased to exist before NSFNet did.
>Since then, the Net has been as it has always been, a wild conglomeration
>of public, private, and academic networks, trending slightly toward the
>private and small. There are a few larger enterprises involved, like
>Alternet and PSI, but both of them got big doing what they're doing now.
>And neither could be called a megaCorporation. I know of nothing of that
>description which is a major presence in the Net right now. Nothing.

The condition described in "Disappearance..." is about a future trend.  The
ANS consortium was not what I was referring to--perhaps it would have been
more correct to name Time-Warner, Microsoft and the like whose conception
of the future "development" of the internet is closer to the description in

The "wild conglameration of public, private, and academic networks" is the
net we all _now_ know and love, but the future consumers who make up the
developing market tend more toward the mainstream commercial
culture--that's why AOL, etc are so popular.  If more (average) people are
to experience the net as we know it, it is going to take a lot of education
and public awareness, and a healthy degree of persuasion to break the trend
of the devolution of the net toward a medium of consumption, as the mega
media corporations would have it, and steer it back toward the medium of
communication, production and distribution that it is.  That is why it is
important to act now before the bandwidth is gobbled up
by movies on demand and home shopping, and insulated by censorship--exiling
us to the fringes of low bandwidth ghettoNets which may be little known to
the mainstream or at worse, inaccessable to the corporate nets of the

Next time, I will be more precise when naming names.

Paul Garrin