[iDC] lambda lambda lamda

Brooke Singer brooke at bsing.net
Mon Feb 20 19:08:36 EST 2006

I don't know if people are familiar with Paul Garrin's latest project, 
WiFi-NY. He is building a wireless network in NYC using a 
user-stakeholder model in an attempt to bolster electronic privacy and 
network neutrality.

In his words:
"WiFi-NY is a subscriber-supported non-commercial alternative access 
provider whose mission is to provide affordable broadband access to 
local communities while building locally owned and operated 
communications infrastructure. We do not purchase bandwidth through 
Verizon nor Time Warner, and only use their infrastructure as mandated 
by the FCC where no other means exists to connect our network to the 
Internet. As WiFi-NY grows we seek to provide other "last mile" 
solutions that reduce our dependency on monopoly ownership of 
infrastructure both in interconnecting to the Internet and delivering 
service to our subscribers." http://wifiny.net/

Hopefully this won't come to the same conclusion as his NameSpace 
project in the late 1990s.

On Feb 20, 2006, at 12:03 PM, Martin Lucas wrote:

> Brian's suggestion that legal means may be a route to controlling the 
> net is quite intriguing.  It prompts me to think of how previous 
> systems of communication have been defined.  To look at the decimation 
> of the ecology  in the interest of the proprietary in radio for 
> instance.
> It is instructive to  remember that the radio acts of 1912 and 1927 
> took a medium, radio, which  had two-way potential, not to say 
> educational potential (e.g. in a non-profit universe) and defined it 
> as a one-way commercial medium built around a few large monopolies in 
> a clever way.  The effect was very thorough.  The 1911 Webster’s 
> defines ‘broadcasting’ as a method of throwing seeds with a flick of 
> the wrist, with no mention of radio, still seen as point-to-point.  By 
> the time of Brecht’s famous article on “The Radio  as a Method of 
> Communication” in 1932, the notion of radio as a two-way 
> communications tool has disappeared, and the heirarchical broadcast 
> model is reified in a combo of software, hardware, legislation and 
> financial arrangements.    The two-radio option was legislated into a 
> geek ghetto for ‘hams’, a move that has some analogies in terms of a 
> way of  culturally separating the politics from the technology in 
> newer communications forms.
> Brian goes on to suggest that the use of these legal means and  public 
> debate at least means the issues are discussed.  This is true.  It is 
> a difficult discussion that is seen as esoteric.  (I remember Ted 
> Byfield and DeeDee Halleck arguing at N5M4NYC about how useful popular 
> campaigns on these issues are.)  My own experience with cable access 
> legislation suggests that this kind of discussion is both difficult 
> and necessary.  And unlike radio and television there is both the more 
> utopian history and the larger weight of small players for the Net.
> best,
> Marty Lucas
> On Feb 20, 2006, at 5:44 AM, Brian Holmes wrote:
>> Ryan Griffis wrote:
>> What does decentralization really mean
>>> in a proprietary ecology? maybe i'm taking this somewhere way out in 
>>>  left field, but i guess i think this is important in relation to  
>>> potential crises (not unlike recent earthquakes and hurricanes, but 
>>> in  a more mundane way, economic problems as well).
>> I wish I understood the excursion into left field, because the 
>> question itself is great.
>> The idea provoking the question - Christian Sandvig's claim that the 
>> Internet is centrally controlled because each major piece of it 
>> represents an investment in routers and backbones - is partly true, 
>> and I think, partly a simplification.
>> The true side has to do with the specific agendas that have led to 
>> each piece of the hardware being built and maintained by its specific 
>> owner. This has been done partially on university research mandates 
>> (with complex calculations about the benefits of national and 
>> international cooperation), and partly on projections of commercial 
>> benefit (with equally complex questions of speculative investment for 
>> tomorrows that may not come). Of course all the parties involved 
>> expected specific payoffs, and they still run their systems for the 
>> benefits derived.
>> Which of course means that the cables go to certain places, for 
>> certain people, and all you have to do is look at a map of undersea 
>> cables or a map showing the intensity of Internet connections between 
>> the different areas of the globe, and you will see the geographical 
>> expression of these specific interests.
>> The ruse of history, however, seems to be that the university came 
>> before the market and bequeathed a basic set of protocols which don't 
>> involve control functions on what can be transmitted, accentuating 
>> the possibilities of cooperation and resource-sharing instead. Then 
>> the speculative boom meant that lots of hardware got installed very 
>> fast, for use with these initial protocols.
>> Now it seems that just technically blocking certain kinds of 
>> transmission (eg. mp3, torrent, etc.) isn't possible, indeed just 
>> turning off a website by remote control isn't possible either, and 
>> yet the Internet has proved so useful for so many things that just 
>> shutting the whole system down is out of the question. So the only 
>> recourse is to go after the authors of the contested transmissions 
>> using legal means. Which is a more interesting situation, because it 
>> at least requires a public debate about what knowledge, cooperation, 
>> sharing, use-value and freedom of expression are good for. In fact 
>> that public debate has been one of the more interesting aspects of 
>> life in neoliberal society in recent years.
>> That would be the way I understand the paradox of "decentralization 
>> in a proprietary ecology."
>> Now it is clear, with Digital Rights Management and many related 
>> initiatives, but also with Total Information Awareness, MATRIX and 
>> probably many other spy-programs we don't know about, that this 
>> element of partial decentralization is considered a big big problem 
>> by some very powerful forces, particularly but not only in American 
>> society. What will they do next?
>> The perennial interest of the content-producing industries in cables 
>> that can bring products right into peoples' homes, while also 
>> conveniently providing a payment system directly attached to the mode 
>> of delivery, was one of major commercial dreams initially driving 
>> speculation on the Internet, and of course it explains the interest 
>> these industries now show in "lambda lambda lambda," which sounds 
>> like the real open sesame of video-on-demand. But you can bet they 
>> want more control over transmission this time! Could that not be the 
>> magic formula of Internet2?
>> I'm afraid the ecology will get left in the dust by the proprietary. 
>> But maybe I never made it to left field where the really interesting 
>> part of the question lies.
>> best, Brian
>> _______________________________________________
>> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity 
>> (distributedcreativity.org)
>> iDC at bbs.thing.net
>> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
>> List Archive:
>> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity 
> (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at bbs.thing.net
> http://mailman.thing.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/

More information about the iDC mailing list