World of Ends

Posted 13 Mar 2003 at 07:57 UTC by jbucata Share This

Two members of the other Gang of Four are at it again: Doc Searls and David Weinberger have teamed up to produce World of Ends, another manifesto on the Internet and how to relate to it.

It's subtitled, "What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else". If you're not familiar with their seminal work, The Cluetrain Manifesto, check out this quote from the current work:

The government types who have confused the value of the Internet with the value of its contents could realize that in tinkering with the Internet's core, they're actually driving down its value. In fact, they maybe could see that having a system that transports all bits equally, without government or industry censorship, is the single most powerful force for democracy and open markets in history.

One of the main thrusts of this treatise is that the Internet is ultimately completely free of control by any one organization or cartel (point #8a). Until recently I was relatively skeptical about how free (as in speech) the Internet could ultimately be, since some corporation is ultimately paying to keep the power on in each of the network centers that our precious packets must traverse, and to run the cables that snake into our homes and businesses (telephone UTP or CATV for the majority of us). Even a rudimentary network like the store-and-forward FidoNet of yesterdecade still required the maligned telephone network to operate. That intermediary is a choke point for various organizations to impose their misunderstanding of the Internet (see point #9) upon the rest of us, in the form of DMCA/DRM-esque restrictions on the kinds of traffic that are allowed to flow--point #8a notwithstanding.

But now that 802.11b is the hip technology to get, it's quite possible for groups of neighbors to band together (no pun intended) and connect themselves as one of the networks that the Internet joins together. There's still the problem of connecting that network to the wired Internet at some point, but if cooperative wireless networking gains enough critical mass, it can be used to route around the damage.

Oh, and the other articles that this one cites are even more edutaining than this one.

Unimpressive, posted 13 Mar 2003 at 09:35 UTC by dan » (Master)

"if cooperative wireless networking gains enough critical mass, it can be used to route around the damage"

"If we replace all the actual bits of deployed internet with wireless hookups run by libertarian hippies who have no interest in filtering or censoring content, we'll have a network which does not filter or censor content". It's not actually saying much about how things are, just how they conceivably could be - which, really, is the same problem as the World of Ends manifesto itself suffers from. I often enjoy reading Doc Searls stuff, but this is just going nowhere.

The Gluetrain Manifesto was a welcome antidote to Cluetrain mania at the time that came out.

Don't forget, posted 17 Mar 2003 at 15:04 UTC by chalst » (Master)

One can also network through the power supply...

energy companies, posted 18 Mar 2003 at 01:37 UTC by voltron » (Journeyer)

chalst: i hope you aren't advocating handing control to the energy companies as a means of getting out from under evil corporations...

Let's you and him fight, posted 18 Mar 2003 at 10:24 UTC by chalst » (Master)

voltron: why not let the telecoms and electricty oligopolies compete?

manifestly self-promoting, posted 19 Mar 2003 at 04:14 UTC by imbe » (Journeyer)

Folks need to be a bit stingier about issuing licenses to write manifestos (manifesti?). I have poked around The Cluetrain Manifesto a bit, and it just seems to beg the question "Who is the intended audience?". It is not unique among the product of Doc Searles in this respect.

That said, what is the internet to the user? I will narrow my focus to the class of more sophisticated user's who are capable of offering content given the means to do it.

If the user can afford a DSL connection with a static IP and good uptime, the experience of the internet is comfortable, engaging, and empowering. Considerable resources for self-establishment within an international social structure (, for example) exist, and by linking these in with personal resources an impressive amount of legitimacy can be accrued and made use of for good or ill.
If the user can only afford a DSL connection with a dynamically assigned IP, possibly further degraded by an ISP that interferes with outgoing traffic, then the experience of the internet is significantly degraded since the user is now dependent on a hierarchy of possibly unreliable intermediaries who mat exercise mediation on his expression (slashdot, for example).
Then there are the lower circles of hell.
A whole world of differences, of class distinction, of opportunities for self promotion... all defined within the range of 25-75 USD per month!

What does this have to do with this discussion? Hell if I know. I'm just nervous about the war and need to babble, and there is just something uncanny about people getting paid to write manifestos.

Besides, wouldn't the world be a happier place if all the energy spent writing manifestos (manifesti?) was spent writing code?


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