Gaia Community

compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion

IS the title of the article published today by Larry Downes as his Ziff Davis "CIO INSIGHT"

"Ten years ago, two defining events occurred that altered the course of evolution—specifically, the evolution of the Internet from an academic experiment to the global infrastructure it has become" First posted by Michael Grove @zaadz on 21st May 2007 at 6.00 pm 

First, President Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which, on paper, radically deregulated the provisioning of telephone, data and other information services. A few days later, while attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, John Perry Barlow—a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and the cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among other things—dispatched a revolutionary document into the ether, a "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace."The two events were related. Added at the last minute, and tucked away in the 1996 Act was a provision titled the "Communications Decency Act," which made it a crime to use the Internet to transmit "indecent" materials to minors. The Congress that wrote the CDA and the President who signed it almost certainly knew this provision was unconstitutional,a violation of long-settled principles of First Amendment law. But telecom reform had been years in the making, and everyone was tired of negotiating. The CDA became law.

Barlow's declaration, addressed to the "Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel," represented one man's disgust with politicians who were trying not so much to legislate a new medium (about which they knew nothing), but rather to appear to be legislating. Barlow, paying homage to the ideals of Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, declared the Internet off-limits to the governments of the physical world, and promised not a violent revolution but a war of attrition.


"You have no moral right to rule us," Barlow wrote, "nor do you

possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear."

This last observation has proven prescient. In the ten years since the CDA was enacted (and, as expected, declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court a year later), governments at all levels and across geographies have tried with more or less effort, and more or less sincerity, to define, regulate, tax, constrain, ban, encourage or disparage (or all of the above) the thousands of new applications for transmitting information that have been released into the roiling waters of the Internet. In nearly every instance, those efforts have failed.

One thing all this legislating has succeeded in doing has been to solidify resistance among the increasingly numerous, wealthy and powerful residents of what Barlow called the "civilization of the Mind." The declaration, or rather the CDA, launched what we might think of as the other Information Revolution—the one that struggles to maintain the political independence of the internet.

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

Today's revolutionaries lobby against bad laws and bad judicial decisions through not-for-profit organizations including the EFF, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the ACLU.

They define and operate their own quasi-governments—the governments of open source, of peer-to-peer, of Creative Commons and the blogosphere. They stage acts of civil disobedience and sometimes outright revolt, ignoring threats of enforcement made against them by private and public
enforcers from the world of "flesh and steel." The information revolutionaries can't always hide in the bits, and when captured, many have been dealt with severely. Companies such as, Napster and Netscape are either gone or unrecognizable. Identity thieves, spammers, hackers and copyright pirates are picked off individually by governments and corporations. But even before their bodies are carried from the field, ten replacements, even more resistant to the antiviral agents of the physical world, appear, spread and take hold.

Well, here we go again. A few weeks ago, President Bush signed into law a reauthorization of the innocently named Violence Against Women Act, which, like the Telecommunications Act exactly ten years earlier, has hidden inside it an explosive device aimed at the First Amendment. Section 113 of VAWA, which claims to deal with the new crime of "cyberstalking," modifies the exact same section of U.S. telecommunications law, 47 U.S.C. § 223, the CDA tried and failed to change.

Where the CDA outlawed "indecency," the cyberstalking provision has made it a crime to use the Internet to communicate without disclosing your identity and with the "intent to annoy." Think of it as CDA II.

CDA II is one of the worst statutes I've ever read. It applies to any "device or software" that is capable of communicating over the Internet, but not necessarily one that is being used in that way. As one of my more devious students has pointed out, CDA II, in theory, would apply if he threw his PDA at me from the back row of class. Even if he missed me—even if I didn't realize he'd thrown it—he could be looking at two years in a federal prison.

And what does it mean to disclose one's identity in an electronic communication? (CDA II grafts itself onto an earlier provision that applies to obscene phone calls where the caller doesn't give his or her name.) Does my e-mail address identify me? My chat-profile name? Or, to avoid liability, do I need to include my name and address in every reply I post to your (dumb) blog?




The definition of "Internet" the new law uses may also have unintended consequences. It references an older law that limits "the Internet" to software and devices that use the TCP/IP protocol, or its successors or predecessors. Much of what today passes through electronic communications, and which the drafters probably intended to regulate, is arguably outside that definition.

It's important to understand what CDA II does not try to do. It does not criminalize communications that some recipient finds annoying, or which might annoy some hypothetical thin-skinned reader. The sender must intend to annoy (even if she fails), and as a criminal sanction that intent must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And so long as you identify yourself in the process, you may annoy with complete abandon.

Popular and trade media reports of CDA II have made some embarrassing mistakes of legal interpretation, but their basic message is right—this provision, poorly drafted and full of ambiguities as to its meaning, application and enforcement, attempts to criminalize what is almost assuredly protected speech. Just like the CDA.

But aside from some ranting on Web sites (some of it potentially violating the new law!), the revolutionaries have said almost nothing about CDA II. Ten years after "dumping some tea in the virtual harbor," Barlow hasn't issued a statement on the cyberstalking provision. When I asked him why, he told me, sounding a little weary himself, "All I can say is that some things never change."


Or maybe there's no need to rally the troops. No doubt lawsuits to void CDA II are already being drafted. More to the point, the "weary giants of flesh and steel" aren't the real threat anymore. The real threat to the Internet comes from within, from viruses and malicious hacking, and from foolish and greedy individuals and companies whose efforts to exploit the value-generating engine of the Internet sometimes distract and sometimes stall the machinery, though so far, at least, they haven't stopped it.


Congress, meanwhile, grows increasingly shrill and increasingly incoherent in its efforts to police the new world. It's the madness of King George. "

Larry Downes is Associate Dean of the UC-Berkeley School of Information Management and Systems. He is the author of Unleashing the Killer App - the ground-breaking E-commerce best seller for which Nicholas Negroponte wrote the fprward - and The Strategy Machine. His next column will appear in May.

Copyright (c) 2006 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

First posted by Michael Grove @zaadz on 21st May 2007 at 6.00 pm 


Access_public Access: Public



views (373)

Michael : catalyst-producer

about 1 year later
Michael said

In the emerging information-sharing, open-source culture of the Web, people expect to share what they know and be engaged in a conversation. They expect to learn from a huge range of sources, many informal and expert by experience, rather than by title.

Michael Skoler

Michael : catalyst-producer

over 2 years later
Michael said

Welcome to what is quickly becoming the Hyperconnected World - a new era in communications where anything that would benefit from being connected - WILL BE connected to the network - which has become the largest and most complex machine mankind has ever built.

Nortel - Hyperconnectivity: an unstoppable force of change

The other information revolution, based as it is on the gift of the world wide web to the people, to provide ALL of these stories of experience of cooperation and collaboration of ..., for the mutual benefit of the peoples, IS now established as a result of an infrastructure which has become the machine which IS US and using US to potentially establish the most appropriate new order environment.

As has always happened throughout history, however, those that control the infrastructure of our inter-network of networks want to make more profits from that infrastructure as a result of implementing their own translation of the old order model based on the infranet initiative. So be it. BUT this time around the very people who are about to start funding those increased profits, have the opportunity to establish from the outset, a promise from their masters that a proportion of the profits be directed to the new order environmentally sustainable future of their children and their children’s children, NOT just in line with the TAX SLAVE STATUS which the old order model requires of them.

WE SHALL ALL have to start rethinking LOVE, FAMILY and OURSELVES and that WE R NOT THE WEB … WE are the HUB of the WEB

Michael : catalyst-producer

over 2 years later
Michael said

ALL that WE KNOW - ALL that WE ARE
comes from the way our neurons are connected … said Tim Berners-Lee

“Research and education have become like motherhood and apple pie; harmless, wholesome and completely unobjectionable …

[therefore], behoves us to develop a more reflective and qualified
view about the value of knowledge

Nick Bostrum

Leave Your Wise and Insightful Comment

Views: 296

Comment by Michael Grove on January 7, 2013 at 7:51
Comment by Michael Grove on January 7, 2013 at 8:39

You can view it as a technology race or a joint venture in the common interest. It hardly matters whichIf the Chinese can crack thoriumthe world will need less oil, coal, and gas than feared. Wind turbines will vanish from our landscape. There will less risk of a global energy crunch, less risk of resource wars, and less risk of a climate tipping point.

Who can object to that?

Comment by Michael Grove on January 7, 2013 at 16:43

BECAUSE of its lightness and relatively large surface area, aerographite could enable the creation of much lighter lithium-ion batteries -

These would be especially useful to the transportation sector as well as mobile devices!!!

Comment by Michael Grove on January 9, 2013 at 11:18
Comment by Michael Grove on January 12, 2013 at 9:56

Tim Cook told the Xinhua news agency: China is currently our second largest market.

I believe it will become our first. I believe strongly that it will.

Mr Cook, who was in Beijing to meet regulators and telecoms companies, did not give any indication of when China was likely to surpass America as the company’s biggest revenue source, but his comments illuminate how important China has become to the iPad and iPhone maker.

Apple’s devices are hugely popular in China, and the company’s sales in the country doubled in 2010 and 2011. However, growth has slowed over the last year sparking concern amongst investors.

Comment by Michael Grove on January 12, 2013 at 12:37
Comment by Michael Grove on February 8, 2013 at 13:20
But for some of us, the lure of remaining in the tech world was a poisoned chalice, a constant reminder of failed expectations, a world of pigeonholes and strictures. Many of my friends, who had the talent and inclination to become musicians, artists, poets, or writers, were never encouraged to pursue those paths; instead they were admonished for their lack of rigor and levity, and they never developed the courage to follow their passions.
Comment by Michael Grove on April 12, 2013 at 9:46

PC sales fall off a cliff - steepest quarterly decline on record reported

The full extent of the decline of the PC industry has been made clear in the latest quarterly analysis from IDC, which revealed a near 14pc drop in the number of PCs sold in the first quarter of this year compared with last year.

AS reported above Steve Jobs said - LESS PEOPLE WILL NEED THEM

Comment by Michael Grove on June 5, 2013 at 6:39

Analysts are going to have to change the way they account for serve....

The very definition of "server" is changing from "box" to "node." Google, Facebook and

AWS don't buy boxes; they buy nodes, and they buy them by the truckload. 

                                                                                                              Robert Cathey

Comment by Michael Grove on July 20, 2013 at 12:04

What will the future PC look like and what hardware will

dominate computer development over the coming years?”

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Gaia Community to add comments!

Join Gaia Community

© 2023   Created by Michael Grove.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service