Doc Searls: The net could get flushed into the telco sewer system unless WE act. Now.

Summary:Doc Searls has authored his longest and perhaps most significant online entry ever. See Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes.

Doc Searls has authored his longest and perhaps most significant online entry ever. See Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes.  He claims he could have kept writing.  But he apparently had to stop somewhere because the more time he would have spent on it, the less time we would have to act on it. The clock is definitely ticking. Time is running out.  Though I haven't finished reading it yet, I can tell from what I've read already that it's critical reading if you think the Internet is important to you, your kids, their kids, freedom, democracy, and, well, the world.  So, I thought I'd get the word out as soon as possible. 

In what is practically a requiem to the Internet because of what it forecasts, Doc explains how our most beloved public technology is about to succumb to privitization and big business in ways that will destroy everything that it has ever stood for, and everything it has the potential to be. He very judiciously hyperlinks directly to all the backup you need to prove that he's not just some kook on a soapbox.  That sort of linking, copying and pasting, and formatting takes a huge amount of grunt work. I know from the times I've only done a tenth of what he just did.  Please reward him for that work by reading what he has compiled and doing as he asks in his blog: join the conversation and "change a rock we're pushing uphill to a snowball we're rolling downhill."

"If the paranoids are right," writes Doc, "then the Net's toast." I'm one of the paranoids. Clearly, Doc is concerned too or he wouldn't have taken the time to write the nearly 9,000 word anthem (see first entry, definition #2).  The Net will be toast unless we, the Davids do something about the Goliaths before it's too late.  Writes Doc in the first section of the story (Scenario 1: The Carriers Win): 

Be afraid.  Very afraid. --Kevin Werbach.

Are you ready to see the Net privatized from the bottom to the top? Are you ready to see the Net's free and open marketplace sucked into a pit of pipes built and fitted by the phone and cable companies and run according to rules lobbied by the carrier and content industries?

Do you believe a free and open market should be "Your choice of walled garden" or "Your choice of silo"? That's what the big carrier and content companies believe. That's why they're getting ready to fence off the frontiers.

And we're not stopping it.
Doc's right. We should be very afraid.  Not only that, as I've written before (see We the sheeple), most of us are doing nothing to stop it.  You could argue that I'm just pointing to Doc's piece because, near the end of it, he points back to the one I wrote yesterday on how Hollywood and Congress are trampling all over our rights and what you can do about it.  But the truth is that his piece is actually more important because it takes a much bigger picture look at how all sorts of "pipes" -- not just the Digital Restrictions Management ones that I've been railing against -- are ruining the future of technology, innovation, and widespread access to information.  He crosses over into the same territory that PC industry pioneer Bob Frankston covered when he wrote about Reality vs. the Regulatorium and about how the Baby Bells could be abusing their government granted right of way.   In the old Internet, we the users of it controlled the horizontal and the vertical.  In the new Internet, big business controls them.  Even worse, not only is our government endorsing this bleak future (typically done by turning a blind eye), it's going one step further by mandating it with laws. 

In the third section of his piece (Scenario III: Fight with Words and Not just Deeds), Doc issues a clarion call to action.  Wrote Doc:

Advocating and saving the Net is not a partisan issue. Lawmakers and regulators aren't screwing up the Net because they're "Friends of Bush" or "Friends of Hollywood" or liberals or conservatives. They're doing it because one way of framing the Net--as a transport system for content--is winning over another way of framing the Net--as a place where markets and business and culture and governance can all thrive.....We need to make clear that the Public Domain is the market's underlying geology--a place akin to the ownerless bulk of the Earth--rather than a public preserve in the midst of private holdings. This won't be easy, but it can be done.....We need to stress the fact that the primary "end" in the Net's end-to-end architecture is the individual. The Net's success is due far more to the freedoms enjoyed by individuals than to the advantages enjoyed by large companies whose existence predates the Net. 

While it echoes some of the very same recommendations I have made in terms of contacting your Congresspeople and taking advantage of certain open public comment periods that affect existing legislation (eg: the Digital Millenium Copyright Act), he goes where I shamefully did not by asking readers to support the revolutionaries at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons who have been leading the battle on your behalf.  By not supporting them, we're hanging the saviors of the Net out to dry against the likes of the Baby Bells, the entertainment cartel, and our government.  Davids. Goliaths.  Judging by the direction things are heading, the odds are not good Support them. Join them. Help them to protect your future and that of generations to come.  Act and act now before it's too late.

Topics: Browser

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David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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