Archive for the ‘Internet History’ Category

Aaron Swartz Prodigy

January 16, 2013 Comments off

Nelson Swartz Engelbart

Aaron Swartz deserves high credit for lots of things, not the least of which was, at age 14, being able to identify the other two guys in that photo, and their value as role models.

Much needs to be explored about Aaron’s commitment to the ethic of open source hypermedia. But, for now, here is some of the insightful content I’ve come across in the wake of his death.

This blog post and..




As we shall think

January 8, 2013 Comments off

Not quite what Vannevar Bush had in mind.

Measuring the Digital Space

August 31, 2011 Comments off

I’ve been half-monitoring CPSR’s Internet Governance list since my dissertation writing days. The activity of the conversation seems to be picking up recently. That often signals that something big and relevant is happening in realspace, but I’m not on top of current events in IG enough for intelligent speculation about what that might be.

In any case, Michael Gurstein started a very intriguing thread titled, “Re: [governance] MEASURING the digital space – whose MEASURES apply, and whose do not.” So I chimed in.

Michael Gurstein’s reflection on “what and whose measures apply in the digital space” strikes me as very productive. Having been curious for quite some time about the extent to which the advent of the Internet compares to the advent of the movable type printing technology, I’ll offer this conjecture about the implications.

Key measures of human agency in the pre-Westphalian era in Europe included concerns such as who could get into heaven and who could legitimately be crowned king, queen, prince, etc. The socially accepted chain of authority generally led up through officials of the Holy Roman Empire as the effective gatekeepers of such things. (Keeping in mind that any given Pope and his appointed agents claim to be acting as proxy for a divine gatekeeper.)

The Gutenberg revolution facilitated the emergence of sovereign royals — and ultimately sovereign nation-states — who were, among other things, gatekeepers of national citizenship, contractual regimes, and property rights within bounded territories.

In both cases, given this view of things, gatekeepers played an essential role conferring agency within a social structure. Gatekeeping roles will be no less important in the densely internetworked future. That why there was such a big fight over DNS administration… possessing one’s “name” was once considered essential to having an effective presence on the Web. Now we see battles between Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, other private operators, and also various state-controlled social networks, all vying to be the gatekeeper of one’s authentic presence on line.

In all of these spaces, pre-Westphalian, Westphalian, and post-Westphalian, there’s a consistent concerning with counting who is an agent and measuring the relative powers of those agents.

Jeff Jarvis on Publicness

August 23, 2011 Comments off

Publicness is a reasonably OK term for what I call hypersourcing. There was just a fairly long thread on Google+ about the video embedded below. I don’t know how to link the whole thread here, but here’s what I contributed.

When people all live in glass houses will they finally learn not to throw stones?

The shift we’re about to go through is likely to be even more significant then the one sparked by Gutenberg. As the modern practice of privacy collapses, humans will be forced to confront the extent to which our common security ultimately depends on fostering a culture of compassion and mercy.

Our species has confronted that challenge before. See Karen Armstrong’s “The Great Transformation.” The real question is whether we can master that lesson in an enduring way this time around.

Ray Tomlinson and the Origin of @ on the Internet

July 26, 2011 Comments off

Keith Houston writes about punctuation, which makes him exceptionally well qualified to consider the origin of @ on the Internet.

Of course, the operative nature of the @ symbol makes it difficult to include in a link.

Categories: Internet History