Last week, I talked a bit about the history of the Internet and its original goal of enabling the free flow of information. I also talked about the fact that moneyed interests the world over are scrambling to turn the Internet into something closer to cable TV than the open network we currently enjoy.
The past few weeks have shown that public outcry can still somehow influence legislation: SOPA and PIPA are down, if not quite out. Yet the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is coming on fast. Plus, who knows what the next year will bring in the form of odious legislation intended to collapse the free and open Internet while masquerading as some pious "save the children" nonsense? The battle may have been won for the moment, but this is going to be a never-ending war.
[ Read the prequel to this post, "Building the next Internet." | Find out why Paul Venezia thinks politicians should never make laws about technology. | Also see Paul's recent investigative project, "Fundamental Oracle flaw revealed." ]
In my last post, I also talked about the next Internet. Not necessarily in terms of a separate, new network -- that's not possible at this point -- but a new Internet that would continue to promote the free exchange of ideas and information without the shackles of corporate control. It's a network that already exists and has for some time, but the vast majority of Internet users don't know about it and have never needed to know about it until now.
If the baboons succeed in constraining speech and information flow on the broader Internet, the new Internet will emerge quickly. For an analogy, consider the iPhone and the efforts of a few smart hackers who have allowed anyone to jailbreak an iPhone with only a small downloaded app and a few minutes. Though these apps couldn't be simpler to use, their easy and colorful UIs mask a massive quantity of research and reverse-engineering by a group of determined software and hardware geeks. It's all wrapped up in a nice, accessible package, but the underlying concepts are well beyond what 99 percent of those who jailbreak their phones can truly understand.