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The Internet Businesses Technology

What The Internet Isn't 485

looseBits writes "Doc Searls and David Weinberger, co-authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, have put together a 10-part guide for how to stop mistaking the Internet for something it isn't. It contains some painfully obvious and often overlooked characteristics of the 'world of ends' we call the Internet."
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What The Internet Isn't

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  • for sale... (Score:5, Funny)

    by segment ( 695309 ) <(sil) (at) (> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:33PM (#8244414) Homepage Journal
    You know I saw an advertisement for a computer for sale...

    For sale Dell Computer Pentium II with the Internet

    I was shocked... First thing I thought was where the hell can I fit the entire Internet on my machine.

    • by DonGar ( 204570 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:27PM (#8244603) Homepage
      I worked for the computing center when I was in college. When the school was first being connected to the internet, and many people were having their desktops networked for the first time, one of the really common questions from non-technical types was "Where is the Internet?"

      A careful summary of world wide networking (this was before web browsers) would be met with a blank stare and "Yes, but where is it?"

      We finally decided to tell them it was at a secret location in a closet in Idaho. This seemed to make people feel better.

      I never really understood why the most confusing thing was.... "Where is it?"

      These people had already learned how to use their email programs and 3270 emulator (virtual mainframe terminal) with no problem.

      Thinking back on this.... it makes more sense that AOL had so much success. If AOL was installed you could tell the user that the internet in that little friendly icon right there on the desktop.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:46PM (#8244700)
        Funny, I live in Idaho. I even have a closet. There is web server in said closet. I am the internet.
      • by Saeger ( 456549 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:49PM (#8245266) Homepage
        "Where is the Internet?"

        Instead of being a condescending ass, why don't you just use the simple telephone system analogy? Once you've done that almost everyone will understand that the net isn't a thing in a central location, but a global network that computers plug into like their telephones plug into the telephone system. If an idiot follows up by asking, "but... where is the phone system?", THEN you can tell them it's in Idaho. :)


        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:28AM (#8247118)
          Instead of being a condescending ass, why don't you just use the simple telephone system analogy?

          But then you have to describe the telephone system and that's tough, even for someone like Einstein. Look.

          "You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."
      • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @12:06AM (#8245397)
        When I was a senior in high school and visiting colleges to decide which one to go to, I was at Indiana University taking the campus tour. A student was leading a group of us around campus and was talking about what the dorms are like. Someone in the group asked if the dorms were wired for high speed internet access, this being back in the day when not all schools had this yet. The girl said that they didn't have the internet, but they had the ethernet, which she said was just as good. Most of the people in the group had to try hard to suppress a laugh after that. I think she was a psych major, go figure.
    • Kinda similar story, but not really...

      I was helping a customer out with some tech support.

      My Question 1: Are you in front of your computer right now?
      His Answer 1: Yes.

      My Question 2: Okay. What operating system do you have?
      His answer 2: Dell

      Maybe it was the same guy?

      • by MattyCobb ( 695086 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:17AM (#8245960)
        yes. after working in internet tech support for 6 months, and getting this answer WAY to often, I realized 90% of computer problems have nothing to do with the computer. 80% of them dont even have anything to do with a Microsoft product... they have to do with the users. sad, but true.

        my other favorites include

        "i am having a problem with my LSD" (they ment DSL... i hope. to which I always wanted to reply, call your dealer or OEM)

        what version of windows is on your computer? "windows XP millenium edition" or "windows PLUS"

        and my alltime favorite was an old lady from FL
        "it says intercource explorer has encoumbered an error..."
        wow, i know what she uses HER dsl for...

      • by crayz ( 1056 )
        How about this one:

        me: So what browser are you using?
        customer: Browser? me: For the internet...
        customer: I'm using Yahoo me: You're using Yahoo as a browser?
        customer: I'm not sure I understand...
        me: What program are you using to view the internet?
        customer: What program? me: Are you using Internet Explorer?
        customer: Internet Explorer? I don't think I understand...
        me: How are you opening this webpage? Did you click on something to get to where you opened the webpage?
        customer: I just clicked it in Favorites.
    • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

      by gid13 ( 620803 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:50PM (#8244717)
      Oh, they have the internet on computers now?

      Also look at this: ml

      I sent that link to a friend and she thought something was actually downloading. Just perfect.
      • by Aero Leviathan ( 698882 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:03PM (#8244850) Journal
        Clickable: ml []

        Also, be sure to check out [] (turn your popup blocker off.. works best in IE6.. remember your Alt+Tab and Ctrl+Alt+Del.. it's nothing you can't get out of, don't worry). Funny trick to set up in a computer lab, for instance...
      • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 )
        Actually, that GIF shows the amount of data that's on Kazaa at any given moment, not the size of the Internet.

        The Internet encompasses infinity (especially in the number of pornographic files). How can we describe it, then? I quote Adams:

        "Infinite: Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that infact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real 'wow, that's big,' time. Infinity is just so big that, by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied
    • An english teacher of mine was fond of this question.
      Do you have the internet at home? I always wanted to burst out with something along the lines of "Yes, I have the inetrnet at my house, the whole fucking thing, it's in a shoebox under my bed".
      • Re:for sale... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by starm_ ( 573321 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:09PM (#8244935)
        I think your teacher wasn't aiming on being literal when she said that. English contains ton's of utterances that don't mean exactly what they mean litterally. Like when you ask: "Can you pass me the salt?" you are not actually asking if the person is able to pass you the salt, you are expressing your will the the person will pass it to you. This is a field called pragmatics. You get angry way too easely
        • Re:for sale... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by The Only Druid ( 587299 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:46AM (#8246126)
          Of course, to be properly anal, one should mention that its not appropriate at all to ask someone if they can do something. The proper means of request is "Would you " or "Please ", i.e. "Would you pass the salt" or "Please pass the salt". Thats the source of the old joke that gets passed around elementary schools:

          Student: "Teacher, can I go to the bathroom?" Teacher: "I certainly hope so! You may go to the bathroom, and find out!"

          Quite the asshole of a teacher, to be sure, but spot-on nonetheless.

          Incidentally, this isn't a 'feild', nor would pragmatics accurately describe it. Its poor grammar. Being pragmatic in your attempts to comprehend the bad grammar of other speakers of your language would lead you to figure out the probable meaning, but its not a 'field'.

          Of course, you shouldn't be angry at anyone for a mistake like this. Then again, you shouldn't be pleased that they speak improperly, either.
          • Re:for sale... (Score:3, Offtopic)

            by starm_ ( 573321 )
            FYI it is a field

            from Merriam Webster:

            Main Entry: pragmatics
            Pronunciation: prag-'ma-tiks
            Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
            1 : a branch of semiotic that deals with the relation between signs or linguistic expressions and their users
            2 : linguistics concerned with the relationship of sentences to the environment in which they occur
  • hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:35PM (#8244420)
    "It contains some painfully obvious and often overlooked characteristics"

    Yes, we already know - porn...
  • About a year ago... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeHackEd ( 159723 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:36PM (#8244424) Homepage 3
    • [smartass]
      Well, that just goes to show that /. has effectively reached critical mass where in order to post anything "new", the editors have to recycle previous posts. Sorta like the old arcade games where your score is reset to 000000 because of the player's mastery. Good job /. I look forward to re-reading more fine articles like this.

      Seriously though, I missed this the first time it was posted. It looks interesting, but I got distracted with making the text different sizes. By the ti
  • by JonSari ( 159879 ) * <jonsari&hotmail,com> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:37PM (#8244428)
    This describes what they want the Internet to be, not what it is or what it will be. The characteristics of the Internet they describe will change based on who uses it, as it molds itself to suit the people to use it as a TOOL.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:59PM (#8244516)
      Its not incorrect as much as simplistic. The author refers to "the internet" like "the government". What is the government? Its not congress or the president or even the dmv. Thats "A government". "The government" is simply an agreement between 2 people. I agree to give up some of my freedoms and in return you give up some of yours (or none of yours depending on what type of government we are talking about). Now that does not describe in any way what "A government" is or how it works but it is the meaning of "the government". In the same way "The internet" is just an agreement between two people where one agrees to send data to the other. This doesnt tell you what "an internet" does or how it works or what yopu can do with it but it is still accurate.
      "But wait!" you say.
      "What do you mean AN internet? Isnt there only one internet?"

      No there are many internets just like there are many governments. A LAN is a type of internet. It simply uses a different agreement just like in China you give up different rights then you do in the US.
      • by starm_ ( 573321 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:20PM (#8245034)
        I don't agree. The internet is well defined in what is called the "internet protocol". And this protocol is just an agreement on a way to communicate. It is not like a government. It isn't more than that. People use it for lots of things and different kinds of communications but that doesn't make more than an agreement.
        A government is much more than a simple agreement. It is define by more that one simple protocol. That people use the phone to talk about a lot of things does that mean the phone is more than a way to talk to each other?

        A LAN is not a type of internet. It can use a subset of the internet protocol, but to be an internet, you have to connect multiple LANs trough gateways.

        And usually when people refer to the internet, they mean the main one that most people connect to.
        • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @08:15AM (#8247411) Journal
          The internet is well defined in what is called the "internet protocol". And this protocol is just an agreement on a way to communicate.


          And usually when people refer to the internet, they mean the main one that most people connect to.

          Well, see, that's the point. Usually when people -- including the article's authors -- talk about the Internet, they mean many things: the applications, the ISP, the content providers, the content itself, etc.

          E.g., I'm going to take a wild guess that you too, at some point, said things like "I searched for it on the Internet" or "I found a tutorial on the Internet." Did you mean running a packet sniffer directly at IP protocol level? No. More likely you used an application (e.g., a browser) to connect to a content provider (e.g., Google.)

          So if the article authors really meant "the Internet is just an aggreement" (the IP protocol), they could have ended the article right there and then. And spared us the other 9 points of whining against change.

          But no, they go into things like IM applications talking to each other. There's nothing in the IP RFCs about IM, nor any special provisions for them. At that level, we're talking about applications (the IM clients) and content providers (the IM servers.)

          Or they talk about censorship and copying copyrighted bits, which again happen on a completely different level than the IP protocol.

          So no, they don't really mean that it's just a protocol, either. They mean the same lot of things that everyone else means.

          The only difference is that they use funny semantics tricks to use one meaning of the word in one sentence, and in the next one extend the conclusion over a totally different meaning of it.

          E.g., while the IP protocol is indeed about routing bits from X to Y, there is noting in it to say that two different content providers (the IM services) have to make their own data formats compatible to each other. Nor that they should share their login databases with each other.

          The falacy goes like this:

          - "The Internet is just the IP protocol"

          - Therefore all computers connected to it must use the same protocol (IP)

          - Now we stealthily change the meaning to something like "The Internet includes IM applications"

          - Therefore all IM applications must use the same IM protocol


          - "The Internet is just the IP protocol"

          - The IP protocol routes around obstructions

          - Now we stealthily change the meaning to something like "The Internet includes the content on it"

          - Trying to stop piracy of copyrighted material is a form of obstructing that content

          - Therefore the Internet should actively bypass and thwart any effort by the copyright owners to protect their IP

          The whole article is _based_ on such lame logic tricks.

          • I think you are misreading what the article say. They are not arguing that if you run IM over the internet then you must be able to interoperate with other IM programs.

            They are saying (section 8.c):

            Remember, though, that if you come up with a new agreement, for it to generate value as quickly as the Internet itself did, it needs to be open, unowned, and for everyone. That's exactly why Instant Messaging has failed to achieve its potential: The leading IM systems of today -- AOL's AIM and ICQ and Microsof

    • Although I think the Internet will always be "stupid" (as the article put it).
  • by CeleronXL ( 726844 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:38PM (#8244430) Homepage
    Anyone can make the Internet a better place to live, work and raise up kids. It takes a real blockhead with a will of iron to make it worse.

    So Bill Gates is a blockhead with a will of iron now?
  • FreeNET (Score:5, Informative)

    by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:39PM (#8244432) Homepage
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it," John Gilmore [] famously said.

    Indeed, and this is exactly what FreeNet is designed to do: []

    Perhaps the fear of every government everywhere, FreeNet allows for secure and anonymous communication.

    • Re:FreeNET (Score:3, Informative)

      I have a better idea. Let's build such a network [], but with the IPv4(/IPv6) we all know and love.

      Anyone and everyone is welcome, and you can actually ping people. ;)
    • Re:FreeNET (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Saeger ( 456549 )
      FreeNet allows for secure and anonymous communication.

      Sure does. At least until "Trusted Computing" comes along and takes control away [] from the individual at the hardware level. In such a scenario, subversive software like Freenet would never be "trusted" (by an authority other than YOU) to execute locally, and even if it could (like on chinese blackmarket hardware), its packets would be deemed "untrusted", and dropped, by the new breed of UN-approved "trusted" routers.


  • by whyde ( 123448 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:45PM (#8244465)
    AOL is not the internet.

    Neither is that "IE" icon on your windows desktop.

    The internet is also not just for pornography anymore.

  • by writertype ( 541679 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:47PM (#8244470)
    OK, everyone hold hands. Yes, that means you, Connect to Good. Now, let's all sing/IM/VOIP call/FTP/HTTP:

    We are the world
    We are the Internet
    We are the ones who make a better place
    We are the bloggers.

    (Take it away, Bob Metcalfe!)
    It's a choice we're making,
    We're changing our own lives...

    • You seem to have forgotten about the 39 outbound connections (from spyware) telling all sorts of E-marketing firms what your up to and also the 400 inbound pop-ups also tracking all your communicatins on the internet..

  • by Metallic Matty ( 579124 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:50PM (#8244481)
    Moe: "Well, if you're so sure what it ain't, why don't you tell us what it am."
  • by Ender77 ( 551980 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:51PM (#8244490)
    "The first correlation is with the unbalance between technological acceleration and political retrogression, which has proceeded earth-wide at ever widening danger levels since 1914 and especially since 1964. The breaking apart is fundamentally the schizoid and schismatic mental fugue of lawyer-politicians attempting to administrate a worldwide technology whose mechanisms they lack the education to comprehend and whose gestalt trend they frustrate by breaking apart into obsolete Renaissance nation-states." - The Illuminatus! Trilogy
  • by Danny Rathjens ( 8471 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:53PM (#8244497)
    > It's the largest equivalence class in the reflexive transitive
    > symmetric closure of the relationship "can be reached by an IP
    > packet from". --Seth Breidbart

    I think I got that from the nanog list a few years ago.
  • by The Terrorists ( 619137 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:56PM (#8244506)
    For me the internet has been:

    a device to prevent four Palestinians from committing suicide by talking them dowjn realtime

    a device to conduct career counseling of disadvantaged global youth in europe, africa and the middle east

    a device to teach myself html, php and css

    a device to advance my career through spontaneous, informal networking

    in fact, i basically live my business life and more and more of my personal life on the internet. and this is not a bad thing, in fact it has maximized my power and leveraged globalization for myself and millions of other members of the brown horde.

    • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:10PM (#8244940) Homepage Journal
      The internet is how you reach the people and sites at the other end of each of these interactions. What they're saying in this article is that the beauty of the internet is that it puts you in direct contact with four Palestinians, disadvantaged global youth, etc., and allows you to use the connection for whatever interaction you choose. You may feel like your interaction with the other ends is what the internet is, but that's just because the internet is so transparent that you think that the computers across the internet from you are the internet itself.

      The internet is not a tool. It's how you hold a tool. That's why it can enable you to use millions of different tools.
  • by pdaoust007 ( 258232 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @09:58PM (#8244513)
    "Adding value to the Internet lowers its value

    Sounds screwy, but it's true. If you optimize a network for one type of application, you de-optimize it for others. For example, if you let the network give priority to voice or video data on the grounds that they need to arrive faster, you are telling other applications that they will have to wait. And as soon as you do that, you have turned the Net from something simple for everybody into something complicated for just one purpose. It isn't the Internet anymore."

    The way I see this, prioritizing packets also ensures that a minority of users can't abuse the network ressources the everybody else want to use.

    Right in my home network I had to prioritze RTP packets (VoIP) so that other people in the house couldn't screw up my phone conversations when saturating my uplink or downlink. The same can be true on a national backbone, especially in failure conditions where you will get links that saturate.

    We can't stop the Internet from evolving either, it has probably turned out to be very different than what it's creators had envisioned...
    • Somehow I reminded of Full Metal Alchemist, in which the main law observed in the show is the law of equivilent trade, which says that no matter how much is gained, this gain comes at the cost of something equally precious.
    • Here, here. I think maximizing the routing of internet to return small packets of information with less lag (and less speed), large packets of information with more lag but more speed, and streams of information at a constant rate with constant lag would help everybody. So long as the trade off was enforced at all points, I think it would be honored by protocol developers.

      I'd also like to get a hold of that "broadcast" thing we were all promised for telecasts, internet radio, etc...
      • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:21AM (#8245986) Homepage
        I think maximizing the routing of internet to return small packets of information with less lag (and less speed), large packets of information with more lag but more speed, and streams of information at a constant rate with constant lag would help everybody. So long as the trade off was enforced at all points, I think it would be honored by protocol developers.

        The one problem is that such a system would require centrally-managed routing. How do you guarantee constant-rate packet flow unless there's a central authority monitoring traffic flow? Adding a priority control layer to IP communications will require someone telling us what priority our traffic may be given, else everyone will just set the checkbox labelled "all traffic priority 1" in their network settings and **poof** the utility is gone. It's bad enough with ICANN and Network Solutions pulling the bullshit they can now, without adding that to the mix. Do you really want those NS clowns (or a totally new bunch of clowns) telling you "Priority 3 is free, but if you want Priority 2 clearance, that'll be $5/megabit; Priority 1 is $25/megabit"?

    • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:17PM (#8245005) Homepage
      The way I see this, prioritizing packets also ensures that a minority of users can't abuse the network ressources the everybody else want to use.

      No, fair queueing ensures that a minority of users can't monopolize the network's capacity. Prioritizing packets based on applications hurts all other applications.

      Prioritizing packets within your own network is fine because you know what you want. The core of the Internet doesn't know what you want, so there's no way for it to provide reasonable prioritization.
  • by Raynach ( 713366 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:01PM (#8244528) Homepage
    Homer: Ahh, so the internet is on computers now...
  • illegal internet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by super_ogg ( 620337 )
    One day soon, the internet will become illegal to use or at least without consent of your government. Mark my words.
  • by Hobobo ( 231526 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:15PM (#8244570)
    "it's a bad thing for users to communicate between different kinds of instant messaging systems on the Net.

    But if you draw the game theory table for this yo quickly realize that blocking communication between them is the dominant strategy. Especially for the market leader.
  • by flikx ( 191915 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:20PM (#8244583) Homepage Journal

    He's completely wrong about advertising on the internet. Once advertisers treat it as a medium similar to television, that is exactly what it will become. The process has already started, and a majority of sites have flagrant advertising. The recent idea of television commercials displayed fullscreen between pages is yet another example.

    Junkbuster is a joke, like spam filters, most advertisements easily slip by. Want to subscribe to a site? How about a couple dozen. The small $5 - $15 fees can add up to well over $800 per month for an average internet user.

    I didn't bother to read the rest of the article, but this guy is clearly living in a fantasy world. A world with cave trolls, elves, magic goblins, and internet users with a clue.

    The only alternative at this point is to start a new internet, completely seperate from the existing network. Maybe the spammers and advertisers could be kept at bay for another decade or so.

    • by toasted_calamari ( 670180 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:01PM (#8244826) Homepage Journal
      I agree with you on all points except the accuracy of filtering systems.

      I use pithhelmet [] on safari to filter ads, and i find few if any that get by. Not only that, but it runs a javascript routine to adjust the layout so that you don't even know that they were there. This, combined with Safari's popup blocker mean that I see almost no advertisments online, EVER.

      I use a baysian email filter on all my computers, and would estimate that they filter close to 90% of spam with essentially no false positives.

      From where I stand, ad and spam filters work fine for me.
    • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @02:19AM (#8246318) Homepage Journal
      How about advertisers realize that the internet isn't the same as television and radio and actually work at creating compelling content such that the ads aren't annoying?

      Watching television and listening to radio are passive activities. An ad has to be sufficiently "disturbing" that you notice it but not so annoying that you change channels, hit mute, etc. That is the extent of the interaction. The internet is different. Think more along the lines of the ads that get run during the Superbowl. The advertisers go all out because they know they have a huge audience and they know there are other things to do besides watch their ad (biology break to let out last beer; get next beer). The interaction still isn't there but the companies who advertise realize that they need to do something different to keep your attention.

      The internet falls in between but is closer to the "Superbowl" model. If the ads are too obnoxious (e.g., pop-ups), people find a way to defeat them. If they are too bland (e.g., simple banner ads), people ignore them. Internet advertising will start to pay when the advertisers realize that they need to create ads that people will at least pay attention to and, preferably, will actually enjoy. This stands in marked contrast to the current generation of internet advertisements that simply are new ways to shove the ad in front of the content you were actually looking for.

      Before you say it will never happen, I will point out that every once in a while an ad firm actually manages to create a traditional media ad that people actually enjoy. As an example, there was a mini-soap opera coffee ad series a few years back that people actually enjoyed because they wanted to see how the plot turned out. The difference is that people actually wanted to see the ad to see what was going to happen next.

      Thus, the main thing that has to change is the advertiser's mind set of forcing people to hear their message since the internet will always come with a technological mute button. I'd guess you'll initially see some fumbling efforts as advertisers go with traditional techniques like product placement in exchange for what are currently pay services. The main thing advertisers will need to learn is that the internet isn't a tradition media (print or broadcast) and creating successful advertising will take a new way of conveying the message.
  • by dnahelix ( 598670 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:31PM (#8244614)
    Perhaps companies that think they can force us to listen to their messages -- their banners, their interruptive graphic crawls over the pages we're trying to read -- will realize that our ability to flit from site to site is built into the Web's architecture. They might as well just put up banners that say "Hi! We don't understand the Internet. Oh, and, by the way, we hate you."

    I'm no fan of popups or banner-ads, but if that pays for content
    that I otherwise would not be seeing, then so be it. I think
    commercials have made for a rather successful business model
    for television, which is as pervasive as ever, even after more
    than 50 years.

    I also think the slew of dot-bombs from the past few years
    proves that you can't give away something for free forever.
    I would much rather put up with ads than have to open an
    account with every website that provides quality content.
    (subjective, I know)

    I use the internet very very frequently to find information that
    I need. Outside of my monthly charge for internet access, this
    information is all free. It's free to me for one reason alone:
    Internet Advertising.

    The only thing people seem to be giving away for free on the
    internet is their opinions, which I'm up to my neck in!

    • It's free to me for one reason alone:
      Internet Advertising.

      False. Just because you think that everyone is greedy doesn't make it true. There are some people who are willing to give away information without bogging it down with ads. For instance, I run my own webserver [] with lots of documentation [] available for browsing. I pay for it - all of it - out of my own pocket. I have no banner ads, no corporate sponsorship, no government funding. I keep it up because it's useful to me and I like to think I'm

  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:37PM (#8244636) Homepage
    isn't a place for Geeks to feel superior

    isn't a place to find pornography

    isn't a place to talk sexually to a 50 year old man sitting half naked in his studio appartment.
  • by big-magic ( 695949 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:37PM (#8244638)

    These 10 points may sound obvious to the slashdot crowd, but to many people they are not. Unfortunately, the content owners are trying their best to turn the Internet into another channel on your television set. And the national governments do not have a reason to prevent it. And since many people are blissful in their ignorance of this issue, they will not even complain if the underlying freedom of the Internet is slowly taken away.

    The part about the Internet "routing around damage" is an important feature that will be central to the battle over the future of the Net. It has taken the content owners and the government awhile to realize this property of the Net. That's the reason for the increased push for DRM and tightening copyright laws. I believe it is also the reason for the increased push for governments to directly "govern" the Internet. The fact is that the Internet makes many governments uneasy. It's a very large, uncontrolled system.

    But the most important thing for us to fight to protect is the end to end connectivity. As long as I can connect to the person to which I want to communicate without going through an "approved" centralized server, the basic features of the Net will stay intact. It will be hard for the government to change this without completely destroying the value of the Internet. But I don't think that will prevent them from trying.

    My prediction is that we will see increasing talk about changing the Internet to "protect the children" and "stop the terrorist from using the Net" as entry points for stricter authentication, auditing, and control, as well as increased centralization of the structure of the Internet. As much as I hate the thought, I think it's inevitable. Now that I've depressed myself, I'll take off my tin foiled hat.

    • by ducomputergeek ( 595742 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:22AM (#8247102)
      I find this article to be accurate from a technical standpoint, but I think that it falls far short on many areas. This is more of a technical arguement rather than one that tries to approach the Internet from a social or political aspect.

      However, what the authors failed to either realize or mention is the dark side of net. Crackers, virus writers, SPAM kings, information pollution, etc. are all issues. Outside of the few webpages I still maintain for a few clients.

      What the internet really is is an innovation. There were many flawed models in the dotcom era. I run an online classified site where local hockey players can go and place used equipment for sale for $1.50 per listing. Does it make me rich? Hell no, but it bring in enough to jusify the time and effort to maintain it.

      I know many businesses that added a catalog or changed from a print catalog to an online store over the years and have grown quite large making millions per year. Its nothing more than mail order business that uses the internet to "print" their catalog instead of presses.

      The other thing that I have to laugh is, "No one owns the Internet". Someone owns something somewhere. Econ: 101 there is no free lunch. Someone owns the DNS servers, someone owns the fiberoptics that the datapackets travels, someone owns the DSL/Cable/Dial in connection you use to get online. Granted, its impossible for any single enity to control the entire Internet.

      And the "Free Market for innovation" thingy...I cannot agree entirely. What it has done is speed up the communication of ideas, which has led to many innovations, but still...someone has to pay the bandwidth bills some how. There is not zero barriers to entry here, but very low.

      Now I agree, we are going to see increased regulations. The days of the geeks regulating the Internet is over. This is because of issues like SPAM and these quick spreading viruses. The chance for geekdom to develop its own solution is quickly closing. Either the solution will be made by industry, at which point different "standards" may emerge that breaks the internet into smaller sub-net (ie Yahoo! mail won't talk to AOL or MSN, etc.) or one will see more carnivore like devices installed at a hardware level to monitor activities. Will total censorship be an option? No, but I think the homesteading days of the internet are over.

      Internet connectivity maybe come a commodity, but the connection without content is pretty lame. Now those with the conent are the ones providing a value added feature that they can charge for, such as subscription sites. Google indexes, stores, and brings massive amounts of data and those with the data are the ones with the edge. Why do you think their revenue as gone from almost nothing to something like a Billon dollars in the last 3 years? The control a means of accessing the information.

      RIAA Vs. Napster - I sum this up easily. The RIAA got blind sided by a new method of content distribution. So they responded like many respond with an unknown or strange new thing: they attacked it. Most people I knew would have never pirated a song if the RIAA had attempted to work with Napster to develop a win-win senerio. Well, we have today, its called iTunes et al. I think that proves that people are willing to pay for songs if priced correctly.

      And telecoms aren't going anywhere. We still have our analog phone lines into our business. I use a cell only and no home phone because I travel on business a lot. On a personal level, what happens when the power at your house goes out including taking the DSL/Cable modem with it and you have VoIP phone? This goes back to the 10 technologies that won't die.

      Anyway, I will go through tomorrow and write a more detailed arguement from a social/geopolicital standpoint on why on a technical level, they are write, but a social/political level are probably off the mark a bit.

  • by MichaelGCD ( 728279 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:42PM (#8244666) Homepage
    the internet isn't fun now that goatse's gone...
  • It's kind of interesting that the "The Real Nutshell" didn't even mention military.
  • Open Spectrum? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @10:50PM (#8244725)
    From the article:

    The federal agency responsible for allocating spectrum might notice that the value of open spectrum is the same as the true value of the Internet.

    I hope to god he isn't refering to the electro-magnetic spectrum.

    "Yeah, we used to brodcast on 109.5 FM, but then viacom put in a transmitter with twice the power of our station."
  • Please, god, no. No more Cliff Stolls-ish people telling us how cool stuff is. No more libertarians checking the stock market every three minutes. Not another jack-ass with a Plan!! Please

    What is this, 1997?

    Just shut up. The internet is a screwdriver.
    Turn shit.
  • by Stormie ( 708 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:01PM (#8244825) Homepage

    I do take issue with that particular writeup, although it is true in many senses.

    Today, many so-called internet users have their access mediated by firewalls and NAT. This reduces the set of internet services available to them.

    (I'd even say, as a slight exaggeration, that their ISPs had engaged in false advertising by calling it "Internet Access")

    By the original definition of the internet, anyone with access (control of one host) could send packets to any address:port combination, and open any port to inbound connections.

    This means that everyone with internet access should be able to run an HTTP, FTP, or UT server. But many people are prevented by their ISP's routing policies.

    Firewalls and NATs supposedly "add value" to the internet by making it safer for some users. But it's not made a lot safer (worms get through even today), and it has "lowered value", because creating new applications is more difficult. For example, today there is a movement towards SOAP []; XML-RPC. Unfortunately, one of the motivations to promote it is to allow arbitrary, application-specific traffic to travel over port 80. To work around firewalls which only permit HTTP, we're starting to see a legitimization of tunneling commands over HTTP.

    (I'm not saying that was the original goal of SOAP- but sneaking around firewalls is one reason that some developers are eager to try it)

    So there's an example of why "adding value to the Internet" is generally bad.

    However, there are cases where it may be good. We all know that IPv6 will be a postive (someday). Multicast extensions to the internet were developed well after it was first created, and are generally accepted as a good thing, although their deployment so far is well short of universal. Multicasting is a superset of existing internet functionality (assigning a single packet to be destined to multiple recipients).

    Multicasting may turn out to have downsides, depending on how it's implemented (and I haven't followed development closely enough to be sure what the direction is). If it creates an unfair environment, where large corporations (CBS, MTV, RIAA) can create multicast streams, but individual users cannot, then it will cement inequality and make internet use move closer to resembling traditional television viewing. I feel justified in hoping this won't happen, however.

    And QoS (quality of service) is a debatable issue, not a flat-out bad one like the article suggests. IP, the existing internet protocol (not to be confused with Intellectual Property), makes no guarantee that packets will arrive quickly or in order. It doesn't state that packets will travel at the same speed as each other. It doesn't even state that a packet which is sent will ever arrive, only that the network make a "best effort" at getting it through someday.

    Since IP makes no guarantees of transmission speed, adding an optional mechanism to request QoS efforts won't break the existing protocol definitions. Yes, it may disturb some people to consider that internet packets, which used to be fair and unbiased, may someday have preference given to them based on the sender's bank account- but look at the alternative:

    • Today, internet access is filtered by bank account- if your wealth is too low, you can't use the internet at all. Allowing some packets to be more expensive to send allows the rich to subsidize the poor, who might be able to afford some access instead of none.
    • Today, deploying applications like voice, moving video, and arcade games over the internet is difficult, because your packets have latency and jitter. That's because they are competing will all kinds of email, IM, HTTP, FTP, and NTTP protocols as they move accross the network. To make low-latency interaction work better, we can either invest a lot to make the entire internet super-fast, or invest a little to recognize which packets need high speed, and bump them ahead of the lines.
    • Someday, your ISP w
  • by ScottCanto ( 705723 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:08PM (#8244921)
    I'm an 18-year old kid and 13-year computer nerd. While I have had access to the internet for only 8 of those years, I slowly become increasingly disillusioned with my inital view of the internet now.

    Granted I was young, but when I first dialed with my 14.4, I was enamored by the sensible and meaningful content that dominated the internet. It was intelligent. As the internet has trickled down to the masses, we are now plagued by commercialism, ignorance and stupid people, spam, congestion, and far too much subscription-based content. The internet, IMHO, is now another outlet for the media and people who take advantage of the anonymity. Granted there are still hundreds of sites such as this and others that still offer that of value, but they are easily overwhelmed by the other garbage that's out there now. I used to come home from school every day and dial up. Now, with a few exceptions, I sit down and use the internet only when I have to, because it's just not worth it.
    • by tfoss ( 203340 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @12:25AM (#8245542)
      Oh come on, one of advantages of the net is that you are able to pick and choose where to go and what to do. It is perhaps the most interactive medium available, one in which you *can* ignore the crap if you want. I seriously doubt very much of the good content that you pine for is unavailable. The dilution effect certainly has had an effect, but that does not mean you can't still use the good stuff out there.

      You are far too young for the 'things used to be so much better when i was young' shtick. Yes the net is used for commercial endeavors, and for anonymous child porn trading, but it is also the greatest information resource in the history of the world. With google and little bit of creative searching, you can get by with a minimum of chaff in your wheat.


    • by segmond ( 34052 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @12:45AM (#8245712)
      The internet is more informative than it was in say 93,94,95, it is more informative than it has ever been. The problem is that the junk/noise has grown even much more faster than the useful data, the trick then becomes to learn how to find useful data. A lot of my friends have problems finding things with search engines, yet one or two tries and I will usually find what they want by carefully construction my queries. When I started using the net in 93-94. Text filez were the information then, to find a say 10 page text file on a technical subject was a God send, today, I can find complete books, we have come a long way.

    • Granted I was young...

      You claim to be 18. You are not old, although you do opine like an elderly pessimist. ...I was enamored by the sensible and meaningful content that dominated the internet. It was intelligent. As the internet has trickled down to the masses, we are now plagued by commercialism, ignorance and stupid people, spam, congestion, and far too much subscription-based content.

      This is the natural tendency when much larger crowd of people flock to something. This is how things evolve. It's
  • IMHO (Score:5, Funny)

    by mog007 ( 677810 ) <(Mog007) (at) (> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:24PM (#8245071)
    The internet isn't a lot of things, so I purpose that we improve it.

    Let's make a website where people can gather together, and quote (or misquote) various famous television shows. Such as The Simpsons, or South Park.

    We can also allow a certain sense of humor, and we'll offer news along with the humor. Everything will center around a penguin that has more power than the richest person on the planet.

    What?, huh? Well, I for one welcome our new slashdot overlords.
  • by NixLuver ( 693391 ) <stwhite AT kcheretic DOT com> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:25PM (#8245083) Homepage Journal
    Lots of cantankerous responses to the article, claiming variously that it's wrong, wishful thinking, whatever...

    The problem with the Internet as an advertising medium is that it works backwards from the mass media. We're used to having ads thrown in our face, and that's the only paradigm that MegaCorps are capable of dealing with right now. Fortunately, there are many tech savvy thinking individuals who are more than happy to build ad blocking infrastructures that render bulk advertising moot.

    Right now an internet presence is not necessarily a profit center, but a lack of one can certainly cost you money - more and more middle class (and up) people are turning to the internet first for information about what product they will buy or service they will use.

    In the end, the internet presents the nightmare of true value comparison; the advertising that it's ideal for is comparison research; backwards from the current model which resembles a firehose, this becomes "on demand" advertising.

    I research nearly every major purchase on the internet prior to spending money. It has saved me a lot of money, in the long run; whatever product I am considering, I can usually find posts somewhere on the web from someone who has one, and is either really happy, or really unhappy about that fact.

    Someone mentioned QOS and bandwidth hogs vs backbone bandwidth - network bandwidth will increase until there are essentially no bottlenecks. It's a fact. Eventually, our network connection will exceed our local bus speed now. QOS is a stopgap measure to shoehorn technologies onto the 'Net before it's grown to accomodate them.

  • by shubert1966 ( 739403 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:49PM (#8245259) Journal
    "The federal agency responsible for allocating spectrum might notice that the value of open spectrum is the same as the true value of the Internet."

    Sounds like some damn rant. The bloody FCC never did nothing right. Their cahooting diffusion with ICANN and the registrars, and phone companies . . . Then the audio/video hogs woke up and attacked . . . Soon a bunch of outta-loops was doing File->Save As->Web site. Heck I got some shovels to sell any prospector foolish enough to philosophize about protocol awareness.

    It's really all about the breaks. The break between content provider and audience. The wireless and wired networks. When the right people or products coalesce - will it be a monopoly? Open-Source wireless networks deployedtoday are the only way to ensure bandwidth for open-minded transmissions later. As TimeWarner if the offer Movies, VoIP and Broadband in uncompetitive markets . . . Who can stop them? Congress? Ha! Al Gore they ain't and that fool backed Howard Dean!

    I did not get much from the article at all - and think it was an esoteric sailing trip. But I too wrote a rant, so there was some stimulus. Like the style of Kurt Vonnegut my satire aims to ape:
    The encapsulation format and rendering of data and metadata of the sources and possible Endings of user input. Various handshakes and transfers as made available through the GUI. Not a sophmoric semaphore, but a protocol delivered by competition, at first empiracly academic, and now in the hands of any SK who wants to do something today."
    And a little child shalll lead them.
    [Context] x [Subject] x [Amplitude] x [Frequency] x [Time]
  • Dupe+1 (Score:3, Funny)

    by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @11:52PM (#8245292)
    If a dupe is two, then this is tripe:

    World of Ends Public Draft []
    Posted by Hemos on Saturday March 08, 2003@09:39PM
    from the and-i-feel-fine dept.
    Doc Searls sent me the link over to the newest work that he and fellow Cluetrain person David Weinberger haveput together. It's called "World of Ends" although I like the subtitle "What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else" better - but that's just me. In any case, some interesting reading, particular if you like/d The Cluetrain Manifesto. Update: 03/08 14:42 GMT by CN: Yeah, this is a dupe of yesterday's story. Everyone point at Hemos and laugh.

    World of Ends []
    Posted by michael on Saturday March 08, 2003 @01:41AM
    from the it-starts-with-an-earthquake,-birds-and-snakes dept.
    epeus writes "At World of Ends, Doc Searls and David Weinberger explain the End-to-End nature of the internet in terms so clear even your manager could understand them. 'The Internet isn't complicated. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement. The Internet is stupid. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.' and so forth."

    Maybe the date on the linked article "Last update: 4.28.03" might have been a clue that this wasn't hot news.

  • by ElliotLee ( 713376 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @12:20AM (#8245512) Homepage Journal
    ...of the Internet []
  • by laserone ( 107602 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:13AM (#8245932)
    I was talking to a lady once who told me that "the owner of the internet is in town". Turns out she meant Stephen Case, CEO? of AOL. It blew my mind that anyone could think that one guy owns the entire internet.
  • by akb ( 39826 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:54AM (#8246158)
    I was introduced to the 'net in a university, back before Netscape and popup ads. I sat around in a lab of computer geeks, we all procrastinated together and helped each other learn about how to be good netizens.

    Now the vast majority of people are introduced to the Internet they see AOL, MSN or whatever corporation has paid for placement on their start screen. They barely understand email and they can only navigate a web browser by the links laid out for them. They don't understand that the 'net can be a medium of social empowerment.

    Its frightening.
  • by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:43AM (#8246830)
    Excellent artical. This explains why the internet is so successful, while WAP flopped.
    The phone companies really killed WAP. Firstly, they made it too expensive - 30c to view just one WAP site (at least that's what it is here in Spain).
    Then, they restricted access to only their own internal WAP sites and a select few external pay-per-view sites. The artical says the internet is so successfull becuase it's free and unrestricted and not controlled by anyone.
  • by rixstep ( 611236 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:33AM (#8248373) Homepage
    The real problem with the Internet is that there are too many articles about the problem with the Internet.
  • Not toys, kibble (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hjalmar ( 7270 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @01:10PM (#8249991)

    Some mistakes we learn from. For example: Thinking that selling toys for pets on the Web is a great way to get rich. We're not going to do that again.

    This is clearly a reference to, and he got it wrong. Their mistake wasn't that they were trying to sell high margin, high markup, cheap to ship toys on the Internet. Their problem was that they were trying to sell low margin, low markup, expensive to ship dog food. It's easy to make money selling cheap to ship high margin items on the Internet - look at Amazon, or (more relavently)

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll