[ironic note: the L.A. Times has gotten the idea that keeping articles available to the public for longer than a fortnight would be bad for business, so you should get it while it's hot (and "Save as" if you want to refer to it later). This is irony defined, if you don't have a dictionary handy.]
The article starts with a quote from CEO #1, who has given up on the Internet since he can't control it. Who, in deference to teen girls everywhere, summarizes his stance as follows.
"The Internet is, like, 'Who ya gonna call?' "
Ghostbusters? His problem is that the Internet in its current form offers him very few excuses for why his service doesn't work. Which makes passing the blame doubly difficult, something that should scare the pants off most CEOs.
Next we move on to the big business solution, which is of course, control.
By adding "intelligent" switches and other devices, they believe, the system could work faster, avoid traffic jams, distinguish between high-priority data and other material that can wait, and generally live up to its promise as a worldwide communications and entertainment medium.
The strange thing is, for those that understand how it works, the Internet as it stands is an outstanding worldwide communications and entertainment medium. Offering what most people would want out such a thing, openness, freedom, and a wide variety of weird shit (the entertainment). Personally I like the "intelligent" switches where they are, in geek's heads.
The business world's discontent has increased as the Internet economy has unraveled over the last year.
Yes, and much of the real world has been laughing at them for it. But where's the real blame here? Is it the Internet, or the people who tried to exploit it without understanding how it works? Let's see...
"The Internet is an important cultural phenomenon, but that doesn't excuse its failure to comply with basic economic laws," said Thomas Nolle, a New Jersey telecommunications consultant. "The problem is that it was devised by a bunch of hippie anarchists who didn't have a strong profit motive. But this is a business, not a government-sponsored network."
Well, goollly, you mean stuff doesn't have to follow laws just because they exist? I think one of the economic laws he's talking about here is Supply and Demand, which, yes, the Internet pretty much ignores. And yes, you Mr. Nolle, are a business and the Internet isn't. And before we continue, can everyone who's ever done anything without a strong profit motive please report to the re-education centers. Don't you people understand how human nature works? Hiparchists.
Others detect a hidden agenda: an attempt by big business to stifle some of the cultural empowerment that the Internet represents.
Oh, it's not hidden.
"This is the past trying to kill the future at a time when the future is down," said John Perry Barlow, a former Grateful Dead lyricist who is co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a defender of free speech online. "And it's happening in ways that are generally invisible to the public."
Grateful Dead?!? Hippie!!! Hippie!!! What's that smell? Oh, it's all the money they made by giving away their music. I thought it was grass.
Next we move on to a bit about AT&T and some instructional information about the nature of monopolies.
The phone company decided when and how to roll out new services and how much to charge. Innovative features had to pass muster with AT&T's engineers, who often rejected those they thought would encourage competition.
I wish I was a monopoly, then I could innovate at will. Or was that crush new ideas that aren't mine. Same difference, right?
Mindful of these consequences of a centralized intelligent network, the founding architects of the Internet built its antithesis.
And for that, I thank you. The ideas and values built into the core of the Internet are ones that I cherish. Freedom, chaos, multiple paths to the right destination, porn, defined rules you can break in creative ways, surviving nuclear war. All pasttimes that I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy as long as the packets of life travel through my veins.
But wait, all is not well. For this lifestyle does have its limitations.
If these bits are part of a Web page or an e-mail message, they can be easily re-sent. If they are part of a more complicated application, such as an Internet telephone call, the conversation will be reduced to gibberish.
Luckily you can still pick up a telephone and call the person to tell them what you said. But there are other difficulties.
"With bits on a dumb pipe, I can't do a major Webcast event," said Milo Medin, co-founder and chief technical officer of At Home Corp.'s Excite@Home, the leading provider of broadband Internet access over cable lines.
Luckily there was technology created that makes Webcasts a breeze, it's called television. To paraphrase "Square peg, round hole, whatever, it doesn't fit and my stockholders are getting pissed. Get a bigger hammer."
Yet, precisely because it is configured as a huge web of interconnecting pipelines, the Internet is almost universally accessible and resistant to local damage, political censorship or the designs of corporate landlords. In just over three decades, it has grown to serve more than 400 million users worldwide.
Damn, what a collosal failure. Bringing 400 million people together from all over the world without censorship or the profit motive. Hardline capitalists and communists are no doubt happy about this, since Hell just got a bit colder.
Explosively popular applications such as the instant messaging system ICQ and the music file-sharing service Napster were developed privately by amateurs and allowed to find their own audiences on the vast World Wide Web.
You guys hear of this Napster thing? My only comment here is that if you dropped the Wide Web part of that sentence (and fixed the grammar) it would be more accurate and informative.
Many communications executives complain, however, that as the Internet has evolved into a ubiquitous public utility, its shortcomings in service quality and reliability have lost their charm, which is evident to anyone who has waited a seeming eternity for a Web page to load or suffered through a weeklong outage in an e-mail account.
And don't we all know how ubiquitous public untilites are bad for...um...people who want to sell you the same stuff at a higher price. Slow internet "charm"? Did I miss some sarcasm here?
Whether the open model and the business model can comfortably coexist is debatable. As with any culture war, a wide spectrum of opinion lies between the two extremes.
Welcome to Kuro5hin, we do accept donations and you can buy a subcription, if you want.
Now we finally get to the point of the article, that people have differnet opinions about what to do with this thing. I'll skip most of this (since this is getting wicked long) but I though this quote was funny, so here ya go.
"We haven't fully explored the range of business models and opportunities here," he [John C. Klensin, chairman of the Internet Architecture Board] said. "That process will be significantly other than painless."
And speaking of pain. Here's the kicker.
"The existing open Net is so firmly implanted in education and research that it will continue there as an open Net indefinitely," said Michael Roberts, former chairman of the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, a public body that oversees the distribution of Internet addresses. But he added, "It's too big, too important, too political to be treated as something for only a band of talented engineers to preside over."
So thanks for building this wonderfully democratic, open, useful, international network of computers and keeping it running. Now shut the fuck up while we exploit it.
Wars have always been fought over resources and control of those resources. In a war over information, is sarcasm a suitable weapon?