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The Internet Is Dead


I’ve always wanted to write something really counterintuitive; something so ‘whacked‘ it probably shouldn’t even be set to print. Then I remember that nothing I write is set to print--writing is now just streams of light sent out using TCP/IP network protocols and reassembled elsewhere. Any apprehension I may have had about being ‘published‘ evaporates. There, I feel better. So here goes.

There is little doubt smart phones have made us more productive and efficient creatures. As entertainment and work aides our wonderfully pixelated digital devices are gently making us over into cyborgs, with few complaints and fewer protests. The burgeoning ‘social connectedness’ offered us through Facebook and Twitter, however, come at the expense of ‘social caregiving’: that all-so-important human warmth we all need to thrive cannot be provided by a cell phone, no matter how often you Skype your estranged loved one. It can only be facilitated, or impeded, by the device. Strange, how as screens proliferate and we become more ‘connected’ we are also more socially detached from one another. But that is the flexible ethical dimension inherent to all technology, none more so than ‘dual-use’ technology. Nothing is so emblematic of that dimension than the internet, originally a project of the Pentagon, or so the story goes.

A signature genius of the internet is its ability to reproduce the entirety of its network within any given node, sort of like a fractal in geometry or a rhizome in biology. A fractal is a ‘self-same’ pattern repeated at different scales, while a rhizome functions such that if any piece of a root system is cut from the whole, each piece may give rise to a new plant which will reproduce the organism from whence it came. Contrast this network model (can you imagine the hand wringing that must have gone on within the Pentagon over early versions of the internet?) with that of broadcast television, print media or radio--you can take out a station or tower and the whole network goes down. The internet is horizontal and reflexive; old media unidirectional and vertical. Any unit of the internet is self-sufficient and can exist independently, although full expression is only achieved through connection--being a part of the network. That’s the original genius of the internet preserved in such projects as Wikipedia, WikiLeaks and Open Source Software. It does not reside in Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Apple.

The freedom of the internet has been under constant attack since its inception; in my opinion we have lost too many battles--the war appears to be largely over. Metastasizing corporations have won. The hierarchy so anathema to the genius of the internet has triumphed through pricing people out of the market, political censorship, and monopoly of content. There is a certain poetic injustice in the iconic image of a slum dweller with nothing to eat, clutching a cell phone. The very spread of an inegalitarian internet and its offspring (cell phones) requires the immiseration of human beings.

The original genius of the internet is dead, sacrificed on the alter of the profit motive. You can argue that the profit motive (or the Cold War) produced the internet, but you can just as easily argue it will be its undoing.

Recently I picked up my 10-year-old from middle school. As we were making our way home with hundreds of other guardians and their charges, slowly snaking our way through mid-day traffic, I had Max note how many people were ‘dumb driving’ with their ‘smart phones’. The anecdotal evidence suggests that, at least in Marin County, California, we have reached the tipping point. The majority of drivers appeared to be ‘texting while driving’. The use of this technology is now impinging upon our ability to safely conduct our children to and from school.

There they were, heads down squinting into their screens, one hand up on the steering wheel, the other hunting and pecking, all the while operating a ‘loaded weapon’. Something has to give here--and it won’t be our screen time. Perhaps you sit up, excited and ask, does this behavior prefigure coming driverless cars? The Cult of Innovation says we will have such futuristic and cool stuff soon enough and that the rough edges of inequality will be smoothed over. I say we should be mindful not to drive right into such logical cul-de-sacs where we end up forgetting that all technological inventions and innovations are not just defined by their usefulness, but by an ethical dimension that is constantly in flux. When we uncritically celebrate an invention or innovation, an inventor or innovator, we become incapable of evaluating the role such technology plays in our lives. And that suits those among us who thrive on hierarchy, inequality, monopoly and violence.

There is no more instructive example of an uncritically passed-down history of a technological invention than the shorthand story of Thomas Edison vs. Nicolai Tesla and how they each were innovators of electricity. Edison, whose name is synonymous with American ingenuity, was also a ruthless businessman. He developed Direct Current (DC) electricity and the massive industrial outlay needed to deliver it to homes and businesses. Because of the nature of DC power a labor and capital intensive system of sub-stations had to be built every few hundred yards in order to deliver the electricity to paying customers. Moreover, DC, on it’s own, was more dangerous than AC. Edison deliberately thwarted the development of Alternating Current (AC) so as to undermine his main business rival, Westinghouse and AC’s inventor, Nicolai Tesla. Tesla, as the story goes, tried to bring to market AC current instead of Edison’s DC. In most respects Tesla’s version was superior to that of Edison. Edison’s fixation on the business aspects of his endeavor extended to an early negative publicity campaign where he arranged for the public electrocution of animals--a carnival show bait and switch melodrama--which he blamed on AC power. Aside from being an early example of public relations, Edison’s obsession with profit would extend the life of his ‘steampunk’ industrial substation network far beyond its usefulness, an effort to preserve profit that actually thwarted technological progress and extended and deepened inequality. A more contemporary example is the well-documented FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) campaigns waged against Open Source Software, Wikipedia and Wikileaks--collaborative, not-for-profit ventures that contain within them a more egalitarian, and dare I say so, efficient means of organizing information.

When most people think of Apple, Microsoft and Google, they think of 21st Century paragons of innovation. I think of what damage--social and ecological--has come with that progress, and how much of that was unnecessary, and how much of that we have yet to uncover.


Originally posted to Giovanathan on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 11:29 PM PST.

Also republished by Wikileaks Informationthread and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And yet, here we both are. Able to interact (8+ / 0-)

    more easily and (hypothetically) more cogently than scholars at the finest universities could ever dream of.

    I'm not really sure why I'm reccing and tipping this diary - perhaps simply because it is so counterintuitive.

    Yes, the damage being caused is only slowly being uncovered. Likewise, the positive changes. If you posit one, the other slides in on its coattails, fortunately.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 12:08:26 AM PST

  •  Its not Dead! But It start of new era!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OooSillyMe, scott5js, pengiep

    I don't think so. Internet is growing and I can see so many new company totally relay on net only. So its new era of the technology now..

  •  Richard Stallman is a good gadfly on these issues. (7+ / 0-)

    (Don't be put off by his recommendation to support the Green Party rather than the Democrats. Set that aside, if you will, and consider his ideas.)

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 02:38:48 AM PST

  •  It was never alive. It's a web of electrons, which (7+ / 0-)

    are unreliable quanta, to boot. If you want permanence, chisle your message in stone and hope somebody remembers the meaning of symbols. :)

    Humans are into permanence, despite the knowledge that they are destined to expire and turn to dust. Perhaps it is memory that prompts for permanence. After all, if change is all, then remembering isn't worth a bit.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 02:58:04 AM PST

    •  Life itself is into permanence. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, zaka1, ladybug53, rsmpdx, koNko

      Acorns never forget how to be oak trees.

    •  any sufficiently complex integrated system (0+ / 0-)

      is conscious, according to at least one neuroscientist:

      Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he might know the answer. According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.
      Not sure one wants to be too quick to say the internet is not alive because it's just a web of electrons.

      " 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." Elwood P. Dowd

      by paulbkk on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 12:23:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A provocative piece. (21+ / 0-)

    I'm getting three separate takeaways from it:
    1.  Digital communication is replacing real-time 3D social connection, at our loss.
    2.  There is an ethical dimension to technology.
    3.  The internet of 2013 is much more centralized and corporate controlled than the internet of 1998.

    All three are good points, but I think the relationship between them needs to be expanded on, and it is a lot to pack in one short piece.

    To address the corporatization of the internet, which is what came to mind when I saw the title, I put out the question:

    What would it take to reclaim the internet as a decentralized commons?  I ask that on several levels.  One is what can we each personally do to reduce our dependency on (and feeding personal data to) the big internet giants?  What choices do we have in the operating systems we install, browsers we use, email, social networking, and search resources we use, etc. that are user friendly and powerful?

    The second question is what can we do collectively, what systems can we put into place, that are truly "horizontal and reflexive", as you put it, uncensorable and unsnoopable.  Back in 2010, a bill was introduced that would have authorized an internet kill switch under authority of the president in an emergency.  Can we create an internet for which there could be no kill switch?

    •  the original Internet had no "kill switch" (10+ / 0-)

      That is why it was built in the first place--it was intended to be a multi-nodal system that had no central hub, and therefore could not be knocked out in the event of nuclear war.

      It moved away from that back when the corporados started putting up their own nodes and routing everyone's traffic through them, making them in effect "central hubs".

      There is only one solution to that . . . . . .

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 07:53:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

        •  no central hub /nt (0+ / 0-)

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 01:18:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Build a fiber optic superhighway (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            This is something on the list of progressive programs many would like to see once we can capture revenues due our nation by the wealthy and large corporations. Start sending data streams through a public fire hose rather than mostly private garden hoses and in the short run at least the need for ISP's will mostly be reduced if not eliminated. If corporations can afford to construct their own private fiber optic networks then there will be ever more data streams.

            •  Perhaps starting with public fiber in California (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Or if not statewide, perhaps a local node first in San Francisco, or Oakland and/or Berkeley and ultimately an alliance of local nodes, a Bay-Area-Wide-Municipal-Fiber (BAWMF) perhaps stretching from Napa to Santa Cruz; and hyper-activating our local info circuits and tying the Bay into a non-car high speed net.

              Then corporate control would be somewhat mediated and offset by a more transparent. local,  democratic, control:
              a CEO from Comcast could no longer change a communities viewing choices, on a whim or personal bias. I hope there would be a strong tilt towards tolerance even of edgy stuff,
              and particularly for opinions that challenge our assumptions.

              Unfortunately our communities total viewing options would  still be less than ideal at first, but more original and bold artists would be enticed by the more open door awaiting them. Many new graduates from local schools, and people with under-used artistic/web talents, would be encouraged to try sharing their art and point of view.

      •  Interestingly, capitalism may be moving it back... (9+ / 0-)

        Internet Service Providers (ISPs) meet at network centers known as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) to...well, exchange traffic. This is why you can secure Internet access from Comcast and still reach Google, MSN, or your cousin in Kentucky whose Internet service is provided by Windstream.

        (As an example, the Big Apple Peering Exchange (BigApe) in NYC is used as a common peering point by 20 or so ISPs, including Google and MSN. Atlanta's TIE hosts over 140 participating ISPs.)

        Now, back in the NSFNET days, there were only four such exchange points (then known as NAPs) in the US; now there are dozens of US IXPs and hundreds around the world.

        Even still isn't sufficient.

        Individual ISPs still experiece congestion issues and high latency (delay) routing traffic through IXPs, so they often enter into private peering arrangements with other ISPs. For instance, Windstream may observe that a great deal of its traffic goes to Google's networks and decide to set up a private peering point with Google, thus eliminating the need to send all of its Google-destined traffic to an IXP.

        So, we've gone from four centralized NAPs in the NSFNET era to dozens of IXPs across the US (with many ISPs participating in multiple IXPs - we're back to that redundancy/survivability design again!) and additional decentralization through private peering - all of which has been driven by consumers and business models.

        Behind the scenes, I would suggest that the Internet is more decentralized than it has ever been.  Now, how do we push that to the edges - in other words, to consumers?

        Today, my choices among ISPs are effectively limited by the local monopolies granted to telephone companies (for DSL service) and cable providers (for cable modem).  Satellite and wireless services are available in some areas, but do not yet approach a satisfactory coverage area at an affordable price. Let's get rid of those roadblocks.

        Imagine a municipal IXP - a city that has chosen to host/fund its own IXP, to which all providers are welcome to connect.  If the municipality were to run its own fiber network (a MAN, perhaps - a Metropolitan Area Network), then it would be a trivial matter for consumers to choose from a wide range of ISPs (or even multiple ISPs for their own residential redundancy - I'd pay for that!).

        The technology already exists - all it takes is the political will.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 03:45:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for writing this. (0+ / 0-)

          I was hoping someone more technically knowledgeable would weigh in.

        •  the city of St Pete drew up a plan in 2009 to (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, organicus, OHdog, etbnc, dksbook

          use stimulus funds to set up a free citywide wifi network, to give everyone in the city access.

          It was squelched by the local large cable providers.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 03:54:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cities that have tried this (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, DRo, OHdog

          have been thwarted by either the government or the courts.

          They have successfully argued that municipalities setting up effectively a "free ISP" has constituted unfair competition.

          It's both a baseless and immoral argument, but their money is winning.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 03:56:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's why I didn't say "free ISP"... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            twigg, organicus, dksbook

            I said "municipal IXP". The city would basically take responsibility for the "last mile"--the network lines/links to individual households--but being an IXP means that any number of competing ISPs could gain the business from those households.

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 06:08:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Great, but... municipal kill switch??? (0+ / 0-)

              On one hand citiwide wi-fi or municipal IXP does democratize the internet economically, but if President Cruz ordered the internet killed because the sheeples were getting too rowdy, what mayor would refuse?

              •  There is no solution without a kill switch. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                It's only a question of whether the kill switch resides in the private or public sector.

                Any service provider has, for all intents and purposes, a kill switch.  When it comes to the "last mile"--the physical connectivity to the home/business/whatever--we're all locked into a specific, limited set of providers. Your electrical feed is controlled by BigEnergyCorp, your telephone line is owned by YourLocalTelco, and your cable television feed is controlled by MegaCablePlexCo.

                One might argue that putting the "kill switch" in the hands of local public officials would result in greater transparency and accountability. (That's one big difference between local governments and their State and Federal counterparts, especially outside the larger cities; there's MUCH more accountability when one sees the Mayor and City Council at the grocery store, sits next to them in church, or sees them in their usual spot at the high school basketball game...)

                The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                by wesmorgan1 on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 06:37:17 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What about meshes? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  It took me a while to find the article I had seen earlier at Mother Jones about creating parallel internet systems using meshed wifi systems.  One has already been put into place in Athens.  It looks like there can be no kill switch for a system like this, and privacy can be as good as your encryption.

                  I encourage all interested parties to read this article, and I welcome your informed perspective, Wes.

                  •  Well, keep in mind that... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    ...there's a difference between "internet" and "Internet."  The former refers to any collection of networks that choose to share data; if my neighbor and I connect our home networks, we have created an internet.  Local internets may, or may not, connect to the greater "Internet." (The Mother Jones article mentions that point in passing, but doesn't really dig into it.)

                    You're absolutely correct to note that it's a simple matter to create a fairly extensive wireless mesh, given the relatively small cost of the necessary gear.  (I've known folks in the same building, for instance, who pooled their monies for a single Internet connection and shared it across 5-6 families through a wireless mesh.)

                    The big question in wireless meshes is coverage area.  Wireless access points usually operate in omnidirectional mode; they simply radiate their signal in all directions. To build an effective mesh, you want the coverage area of each access point to overlap those of at least two others. (Take a look at the geek/nerd/dork Venn diagram and imgaine expanding it in all directions.)  This isn't a difficult thing in urban areas, but can get rather tricky in suburban and (especially) rural areas; as Mother Jones mentioned, some participants have to use the directional antennas (as mentioned in the article) to reach the mesh, because they aren't within the coverage area of their "mesh neighbor."

                    The "kill switch" question arises if/when that wireless mesh is connected to the Internet.  If I were to set up a local mesh, I'd include at least two Internet connections from different providers; for instance, a mesh of 10 locations might have one Internet connection through a telco DSL line and one via cable modem.

                    So, yes, it's a good idea for a local internet, but it can't join the greater Internet without raising many of the same privacy and security concerns.

                    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                    by wesmorgan1 on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 07:09:13 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thanks, Wes (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      I was kind of wondering about how well this would work in rural or suburban areas, although I hear this technology is being used in isolated Third World areas as a low-cost substitute for expensive cell and internet.

                      Although, it seems a mesh network encompassing a mid-size or large city would have a pretty good critical mass on its own for many resources.

                  •  Meshes do sound good (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Mesh sections could also be used in conjunction with The Internet to provide arterial pipes for regular updating between them.  Not as secure as a truly private internet—but ready to go.  I checked the cost of wifi antennas and routers—not expensive.  And as the article suggests, the meshes are great for fostering communities not over ran with commercials and vertical pyramid schemes.  Thanks for the link!

                    "It's only a movie"--1960's era PR Man for B-grade Hollywood flicks

                    by williamjustin on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 10:33:36 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed. See my comment/link re ARPANET (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        client/server nodes connected by analog telephone lines with no central server infrastructure.

        Not the best model for cheap universal service for the people.

        Strictly for elites.

        People seem to forget or weren't born yet.

        Dude, Sir, I salute you for your knowledge and longevity.

    •  A provocative Piece (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, maggid, dksbook, melo

      Thanks for a really thoughtful reply. I was despairing of any followup that didn't involve nitpicking...
      Point 1 is fascinating to me, and my reference to cyborgs was meant to be highlighted by the 'dumb driving on one's smart phone' example. How do these new technologies mesh with biology is the upshot.
      Point 2: The ethical dimension of technology is obscured through celebrity worship and the equation of market share, growth and size with progress--none of those things necessarily impact social inequality.
      Point 3: The Internet is more corporate controlled today than ever. Not only the internet, of course, but every aspect of our lives. The hagiographies of Jobs, Venter, Zuckerberg, all feed into a general post-Citizens United World of a further emasculation of the citizenry.

      If I had a response such as yours to everything I write, I would perhaps write more.


      •  See my remark elsewhere (0+ / 0-)

        You are mistaking first world consumerism with global usefulness.

        And we would not be having this productive discussion without it.

        People can get their souls back by turning off the device occasionally.
        Personal choice.

    •  Governments in various (0+ / 0-)

      parts of the world have attempted to control the internet.

      They have used firewalls and software that tries to block non-approved content.

      At best they have only partially succeeded. At worst, the attempts have been a complete failure.

      In America politicians get off on making noises about copyright protection, internet porn, internet terrorism .... and that is all they are ... noises.

      They can slow things down, but the interests are so entrenched that even the might of the US government cannot stop the internet. They can try, and in the process they could disadvantage American companies and citizens. All they would accomplish is slowing down our prosperity and making the US an industrial and cultural backwater.

      That would serve the short term profit interests of a few ISPs and content providors, so they will push for it and they should be fiercely resisted.

      In the end we simply need to learn how to use it effectively; attempts at censorship or control are doomed to failure ... a bit like Edison and AC.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 03:49:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And their societies are still ever more open (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In the end you can't do big international business without the web. Sometimes just a single new app like Twitter can be a global disrupted. By the time they quell that three new apps may spring in its place.

        And just wait until 3 D printers and cheap robotics become ubiquitous and create physical consequences from the digital stream.

      •  I'm sooo glad (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sk4p, twigg, mkor7, melo

        we here in the most exceptional US of A do not have IT oligolopies squelching innovation and competition like in socialist Europe where cell service costs half as much and the internet runs twice as fast.

        I'm sooo glad we are not on the way to becoming an industrial and cultural backwater.

        •  Only twice as fast? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maggid, mkor7

          100 mbit speeds are common. Fibre optic cables are everywhere.

          Even on Cox Preferred service, my speed is capped at 20 mbit, and rarely gets there.

          When I use my VPN to connect to the UK, the speed drops often as low as 3 mbit, and sometimes to 1 mbit. The bottlenecks are all here in the US.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:25:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  One of the biggest mistakes the creators (19+ / 0-)

    of the Internet made was in assuming that it was going to be used by noble people with altruistic intentions.  After it's military inception, it was further developed by academics and researchers who wanted to freely share ideas and information.  They never envisioned things like email spam, pop up ads, and malware infections, let alone the NSA spying on the world.  In a word, it was never built around the idea of security because the creators never envisioned the need for it.

    The Internet needs a reboot and it needs to incorporate both engineering solutions to these technical problems as well as social solutions to the social problems.

    •  I thought the Net would be replaced 25 years ago (15+ / 0-)

      In the late 80s I was in grad school, one of those academics and researchers. (Class discussion the morning after the Morris worm was interesting.)

      In my department our attitude was that the Internet was a first draft and a prototype. I fully expected that the academic prototype would be replaced by The Real Thing, and that would be my career.

      I (and my profs and mentors, it seems) totally underestimated the inertia of the installed base.

      Now I can't even remember the name of the protocol suite that was supposed to replace TCP/IP in the early 90s.

      As you noted, a number of the software technologies in use now come from a more innocent and trusting era. It wouldn't hurt to replace them. The installed base presents a pretty significant challenge to the reboot you describe.

      Sometimes it's difficult to replace an existing idea, even though the replacement would be measurably better. See also: energy and environment, for example.

      I'm glad to see you mentioned social solutions as well as engineering solutions. That's an attitude that I find helpful in thinking about fixing what seems broken in our human culture.


    •  not quite (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LookingUp, ladybug53

      my brother was involved with 3 of the first RFCs by the IETF, before DARPA, the academics had it first (SRI, 1968, the 'mother of all demos'), and their altruistic intent still bears a role (personally I found to be useful, quite recently)

      Lenny's right it's the ultimate in distributed systems, at it's root design

      So twit away, the incessant need to 'chat' to a remote thing is weird, though, sociologically and psychologically, my first reaction was 'Good' (we could all use a break)

      So thanks for the proclamation~long live the internet, cheers

    •  Misguided Elites (0+ / 0-)

      Often make faulty assumptions about the Great Unwashed.

      History is so full of this it's maddeningly repetitive.

  •  will not be long before we have self-driving cars (4+ / 0-)

    Then we can text and drive (or drink and drive) all we want.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 07:48:54 AM PST

    •  so who is at fault when two self-driven cars (7+ / 0-)

      coming towards each other try to avoid an obstacle and both of them zig instead of zag and create an accident?
          Personally I think phones belong on the desk at home and the driver should have both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.

      We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

      by nuclear winter solstice on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:40:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, obviously... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nuclear winter solstice, pengiep

        they'll need the ability to communicate with each other. You know, like Furbies.

        I'm with you, though. It would take a lot to get me to trust a fully automated system like that.

        One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

        by Darwinian Detritus on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:52:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well at least one Sci Fi writer... (4+ / 0-)

          ....has cars ALL being auto-driven, capable of being overridden by a human driver-but as soon as you do it you get an auto-summons to traffic court where you get to explain why you hadda drive the car instead of letting the safer autodrive system control the car...

          They already got gadgets that let airplanes know there are other airplanes headed at them and suggest a direction to go to avoid the traffic...

          "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

          by leftykook on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:59:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  that's a story i'd like to read (2+ / 0-)

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 10:11:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The stories I'm referring to... (0+ / 0-)

              ...are written by Kristin Kathryn Rusch, they're police procedure/mysteries set in a completely settled and developed Moon...

              The stories have a weird premise, that there's a large interstellar civilization that in order to be a part of, we've got to enforce the strange laws and customs of a thousand different races, leading to a sophisticated crime wave of disappearance firms, who are in turn countered by sophisticated "Retrieval Artists" who figure out how to find those who've Disappeared....

              Just gugl "retrieval artist" and the author's name...

              She's a great writer. Another story line she writes in has specialized salvage crews that enter dangerous wrecked ships, a bit like terrestrial wreck diving only crazier, because there's some residue of a previous civilization littering the galactic arm with ancient vessels that are still very dangerous because of technology we don't begin to understand is still semi-operative....Some of these stories were published in Asimov's Science Fiction....

              "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

              by leftykook on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 05:09:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  computer-controlled cars were kind of a trope (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It was an easy way to signal "This Is the Future!".

            I don't recognize the one you describe, and I couldn't come up with search terms specific enough to find it.

            Self-driving Nissans were just one element of a longish short story by James Patrick Kelly quite a while back, in 1990 or so: "Mr. Boy".  It was reprinted in one of Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction from that era. I seem to recall his description of the story was that it illustrated how "the rich are different from you and me."

            I often refer to one of my cats as "Mr. Boy".


      •  that will, I think, be an interesting legal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nuclear winter solstice

        issue . . .


        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:05:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I already have one (0+ / 0-)

      Shanghai M7. We even have a user blog so we can complain in real time.

  •  ..., or what we have left to undo. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, CJB2012, Lujane, linkage

    I think teh profits are a bit like a strong stimulant, like caffeine, or cocaine. Great for getting you up in the morning, not so great for your recommended 8 hours. And extreme lack of sleep can kill.

    If I could meet any two people, one of them would be Nicolai Tesla.


    "Every book is like a door"

    by Hammerhand on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:26:49 AM PST

  •  Freedom of or freedom from? (6+ / 0-)

    The free Internet is a scary place for a lot of people. Governments don't like the sharing of ideas unless they can censor what's shared. Average people are clutch their pearls because of crime which usually boils down to the catch-all, Child Pornography. Businesses see it as uncontrolled wilderness where their intellectual property changes hands without their consent and without compensation to them. It's a dangerous place.

    Freedom is dangerous. Bad people will use it for their own purposes and to the detriment of others. The streets are only as safe as the people walking along them. A lunatic with a gun or a knife is not stoppable, only apprehendable after the fact. There are too many people who see the world the way Ronald Reagan touted his "Star Wars" defense shield. They think that bad people can be stopped before they do something wrong. This might be true some of the time but it will never be a universal. Child pornography, fraud and other crimes have existed for a long, long time and will never go away. Thinking that censorship or strict control of the Internet will stop these things is a fools endeavor. Freedom means accepting that bad things happen because they do.

    The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:35:15 AM PST

  •  I thought it was running slow today. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, scott5js, linkage

    An interesting diary, but I will disagree with your theses. The Internet is the same as it ever was, conceptually speaking, i.e. moving IP packets through routers. The technology is whatever it is, it has been built out to handle streaming media, obviously for a profit motive. If the technology has been coopted for spying or the use of the Internet has become overly commercialized, it has nothing to do with the Internet. It is an empowering, neutral technology (as opposed to landmines). Edison brought a failed DC transmission to market and was able to "power" an implementation through due to his reputation and his money. But it was a bad technology, and like all bad technologies, goes away. So what we do with the Internet has to do with the government we elect and what we demand from its providers. Before Google pulled together the Internet searching, it was impossible to get your web pages to a mass audience. I don't see Google stifling innovation at this point. Google is huge because they have empowered people and their technology works.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:40:16 AM PST

    •  The Internet Is Dead (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      by Shmuelman: "So what we do with the Internet has to do with the government we elect and what we demand from its providers. Before Google pulled together the Internet searching, it was impossible to get your web pages to a mass audience. I don't see Google stifling innovation at this point. Google is huge because they have empowered people and their technology works."

      That point about the Citizens United ruling is my refutation to your first point. My point about Google, et. al., is that we tend to 'worship' their innovations without critically reflecting on their negative aspects. You disagree? Is Google really that force for liberation you suggest? These questions go beyond whether they 'stifle' innovation. Thanks for you thoughtfulness. --Jonathan

  •  I'm not dead yet... (5+ / 0-)

    I want to go for a walk.....

  •  The only problem with great inventions... (2+ / 0-)

    ... Are the assholes who repurpose them for personal gain.

    The tricky part is getting rid of the assholes, not the invention.

  •  Capitalism will eat itself. (3+ / 0-)

    "The purpose of education is not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it" - Dr. Lawrence Krauss

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:16:14 AM PST

  •  The delusion that 'the internet will (4+ / 0-)

    change everything' in regard to politics is 20 years strong. And I guess the case can be made somewhat: for instance in Egypt the masses used the internet to remove a dictatorship, and now they have a dictatorship. Greece, Spain, Italy used the internet to get masses to protest the bankers theft, and now they are instead having the bankers steal everything. etc etc

    In terms of how business is transacted, in how people can talk to each other, in finding groups with a common interest, yes, the internet has changed everything. But it has not, for instance, replaced mass-reach Media. Before the internet people watched tv an average of 5 hours a day. Now, they watch it 5 hours a day, plus there's more entertainment to be had of the internet.

    It's always worth a rueful laugh to see someone write 'i don't watch tv/read the papers anymore' and then see them write about a news story that they got from tv or a paper which they saw on the internet.

    In fact, if tomorrow all the news media headlined 'Obama and McCain, new evidence might show they are space aliens' about 95% of the diaries here, and the conversations across the internet, will be either in refutation or support of the thesis.

    The banksters and corporations still decide what it is we do. How we amuse ourselves, they don't really give a shit, just as long as the public remains ineffective and continues to lose the Class War. They can afford to let us win the occasional battle over some identity/rights issue.

    There will be no, cannot be any, change in the direction of the 1%s war on humanity and nature until we get control of the mass-reach media. Or at least break up the monopoly the 1% have on narrative formation. Thinking the internet -- which ultimately atomizes people according to their biases and hobby-horses -- will somehow free us is a self-destructive delusion.

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:43:11 AM PST

    •  Impressive... in a way.... (0+ / 0-)
      In fact, if tomorrow all the news media headlined 'Obama and McCain, new evidence might show they are space aliens' about 95% of the diaries here, and the conversations across the internet, will be either in refutation or support of the thesis.
      You certainly have an impressive contempt for the rest of us here. And, by implication, an impressive (in a way) admiration for your own intelligence.

      No tool frees you by itself. Just about everyone here knows that. You have to use it first. But with your contempt for the intelligence of the rest of humanity, I can see why you'd despair of that ever happening.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:56:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Observation, not vanity. (4+ / 0-)

        Read today's headlines, watch tomorrow's rec list. Anyone's rec list. Do it for a year. Tell me what happens.

        Of course the 'from Mars' is an absurdity but it's an exaggeration to make the point.

        Another thing the internet has done is help confirm the masses in the notion that how they feel is the sum and substance of everything. This is part of a 40-year effort by media to destroy adult values and replace them with those of adolescents. So everything gets reduced to 'oh, are you saying i'm higher/lower than you in herd standing.'

        Back on real earth, we win some battles, the Class War has seen us losing ground every year since the internet has come into existence. Nobody can deny that.

        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 10:08:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It didn't have to be that way... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      The big hit type people, Kos, for instance, used the internet to propel themselves into big corporate media so they could foster change.

      That's the big mistake we all made - thinking that corporate media would allow change.

      Another similar issue is that instead of leveraging the internet to starve the corporate media we just tried to leverage the internet to reach and influence the corporate media.

      We might be viewers, but we're not customers.


      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 02:22:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The internet's been a beachhead (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maggid, k9disc, mkor7, Nisi Prius

        on the larger landmass of mass-communication.

        It's as if we had landed at Normandy on D-Day and instead of using that as the launchpad to retake the Mainland (mass-reach communication) everyone set about making their bunkers on the beach more like home. Letting fly balloons with various messages painted on them, hoping some of them will spark the surrounding armies to surrender.

        It has been THE biggest blunder of the left blogosphere to not use the internet to organize a direct challenge to corporate media as an entity, but instead, as you point out, used it to try to affect it's content.

        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 04:52:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Example A against your notion is the Reid Rule (0+ / 0-)

      A major change on fairly wonky point as to how the Senate does its business was largely an Internet driven achievement which may not have happened in a different similar era without it.

      We've barely scratched the surface of how it will change politics, economics and morality. Only chapter one of the Internet in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Greece, Iran, Syria and other places has been seen. Get back to me in 20 years and tell me of what small consequences come of those stories.

      •  'win some battles, keep losing the war' (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joegoldstein, mkor7

        I'm amazed anyone thinks we have as long as 20 years to turn the Class War around. Do you really think the drive to control, censor, and further ration the internet has gone away, and isn't in the top range of their goals?

        We're allowed to feel anything we want, and in solidarity with as many people as want to. This is what consumerist propaganda/manipulation has been consciously pushing for at least 40 years now. It's no wonder that people mistake having feelings for being an action.

        The facts on the ground are every place you've named has become more of a horror for the people who live there; and they have less chance to fix things than they did even five years ago.

        There is only one way to change narrative-making, and thus actual political results in the 1%s war on us all. That's having the people in a nation making the narratives broadcast through the mass-reach media. There's no substitute for that, there's no way around that.

        'The internet will change everything' in regards to how power is actually distributed and applied is a fantasy, absent an ability to reach all the citizens with the same story within a day or two. Whether they seek it out among their 'friends' or fellow twitters.

        A fantasy along the lines of 'dynamite will make war so horrible, war will end.'

        PS: Oh, and the Reid Rule, 10 years of internet behind it, does not apply to legislation-making. Which is the point of having a 2nd Chamber of Congress. We're still actually paralyzed there; the President can get some normal functioning of government regarding appointments to the political apparatus; the people still can't get sober legislation even considered.

        Win some battles; losing the war.


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 08:22:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Reid rule is a recent developement (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim P, mkor7

          Which happened in a bit less than 10 years. Again my points is that it was mostly driven by the use of the Internet, if only to organize it if nothing else. And a great deal of persuasion and / or pressure was put on Democrats through the use of it.

          You also misunderstand what I was saying about 20 years from now. I think the class logjam may in fact be broken in a few short years, again, much in part because of the Internet. Part of that is that many liberal movers and shakers rely on it for gathering facts and for organization instead of the mass media, which is still largely under conservative control.

          What I suggest is that in 20 years the face of politics and economics, both in the US and in the developed world, will likely be very much different than they are now. Since the 50's with the rise of computer tech, changes in culture, politics, economics, moral worldviews have accelerated at a greater rate with each decade. 500 years ago one's life was largely not much changed from that of your great great great grandparents. Since the mid 1800's every 20 years sees a greater degree of complete change than the generation before it. Your life probably bears little resemblance to that of your great grandparents culturally, socially, and certainly technologically. A lot can change in politics over a 20 year period. As Mark Twain once said, if you don't like a particular political party just wait 50 years. Now it might take only half that time.

          To say that upheavals the Internet created in those countries we mentioned and the current results are the final outcome for those places is extremely unlikely. You expected Jeffersonian miracles to happen in a couple of years after the apple cart was upset? And when they don't you call game over? That so much has happened so quickly in so many different places suggests to me, again, that we've only seen the first of many more chapters to come. Those were only opening moves.

          •  The internet simply does not and cannot have the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            reach AND effectiveness of mass-reach media. Anywhere on earth.

            Re Reid: which is a tiny side issue. It's been ten years since we understood the filibuster was misused. Anywhere along the way it could have changed.

            The larger point:

            Your life probably bears little resemblance to that of your great grandparents culturally, socially, and certainly technologically.
            Yes, but it's identical in terms of what life means; what is good in life, what is bad, what leads to improvement, what leads to ruin. The life as actually lived.

            The fantasy around the 'internet will change everything' 'technology is the measure of improvement' is largely based on the business-promoted axiom that 'new equals improved.' The last 40 years have seen the complete internalization of that 'thinking' by nearly everyone in the US. And before that, a large part of 'everyone.'

            Take the last 90 years of marketing propaganda away and those ideas start looking very dubious when you look at facts on the ground.

            The facts on the ground are these:
            * global climate change is going to cause massive dislocations, and within a few years;
            * the elite are engaged in controlling their networks, go write 'the leadership is our enemy' in China or Iran or Saudi Arabia etc etc then tell us how the internet freed you
            * the drive for tighter control of networks in the West is unrelenting, and likely to succeed in a few years at the most.

            The realities of omni-directional surveillance of Americans and people everywhere by both the US and other governments can't be denied.

            The ability to just shut down / hack websites and sections of the internet, and even to target likely oppositionist to the established order -- has happened in several countries already. Including the US.  

            At this point the Internet has more in common with Mao's great trick of 'Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom; Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend' campaign. Everyone who was discontent or wanted real change had time to speak up. Anybody who had promise of actually changing anything got arrested and 'reformed.'

            We're much much closer to that than to 'everyone will be free.'

            There's one real political game-changer possibility for the net: as a launchpad to wrest narrative-making for the mass of people from Media to the people. Anything else is ... I just don't see it as anything but an internalization of 'new equals improved.' There's only hope to back up the claim, against two decades of experience.

            Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

            by Jim P on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 11:24:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Some good points But I think the net is different (0+ / 0-)

              I think the net is still in its infancy. It will be used and abused but I expect it to do much more in the future than simply provide data. It will power peripherals like 3 D printers and robotics of all sorts. It does present threats to privacy yet it can be a tool for transparency. By its nature it is meant to run independent stand-alone networks. I think over time this will be used in new and different ways to empower individuals and small groups. Already it has started opening closed nations as they can't do international business without it and that has begun to inform and democratize the workers who use it. Never has so much information been available to so many people. Bill Clinton in his time as president did not have as much access to info as you and I now have. And I think you seriously overlook the explosion of new tech and data which stand to provide more options to ever more people. We have evidence that in many ways it is a pathway for democracy with ever more access to information and with new tools to do things with it never available to the human race before.

              And that's the net barely out of its toddler stage. Just wait until it reaches it's precocious Tweens. I think you greatly underestimate the effects of the technological explosion occuring around us. I think in fifty years the world may be as different then as it is different now from 200 years ago. The human condition has improved radically since then and possibilities for individual empowerment might radically improve at an exponentially greater rate when taking into account the historical evidence over the last 100 years and from before that.

              But we need to make sure our government gives us the tools to create transparency using the net. Read some articles by David Brin or Alvin and Heidi Toffler who have long thought about the implications of our new technology. Human history has nothing else to compare it to.

  •  No, it's not DEAD... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    etbnc just SMELLS BAD...

    (h/t to Frank Zappa)

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:47:57 AM PST

  •  Counterintuitive is nice. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eOz, RockyMtnLib, terrypinder

    Perverse is just silly.

    Strange, how as screens proliferate and we become more ‘connected’ we are also more socially detached from one another.
    That is simply rubbish.

    My hobby is writing video game fanfic. I have one reader in Cambodia, another in Bulgaria. How much of a chance would I have to be in contact with former strangers from those countries without the Internet?


    For that matter, what about my mother? She's 90 years old and has severe macular degeneration in her eyes. In the "good old days" she wouldn't be writing me regularly, and I wouldn't be writing back. But her iPad will enlarge text to the point that even her eyes can read it, and so she continues to read, and write.

    Or my partner? Just how much chance would I have had to meet a reclusive, genderqueer Jewish lady whose health doesn't allow much social activity without the internet -- specifically without one of its most pissed-upon-from-great-heights activities, online gaming? We first became acquainted over a platter of dead zombies. It wasn't a 100% ideal forum -- for one thing, one of the reasons we got to know each other was that I was counter-harassing some clowns who were giving her a hard time as a woman gamer.  And meeting in person certainly does have some aspects difficult to reproduce elsewhere. But I certainly wouldn't have met her at a cocktail party. My friends and family wouldn't have introduced me to her. Not because they have anything against the sort of person she is, but because they wouldn't even know that she existed.

    To care about someone, first you have to be in some sort of contact with them. Otherwise, you're into the old "famines in China" mode, where troubles and suffering and death are just words. As Stalin said -- and few have better claims to expertise on this subject -- a million deaths is just a statistic. It doesn't matter that many people will never use the Internet for such purposes. Many people didn't give a damn for others in the past, too, or they came together in selfish little groups, clubs, clans, churches, with the implicit motto towards outsiders of "F*** you, Jack, we're all right." You can reach out now, in a way that allows the person you're interacting with to express their own opinions. You're still responsible for actually doing it, but then again, you always were. The Internet didn't change that.

    And to go from the sublime to the vaguely ridiculous -- you're worried about people texting as they drive? Valid enough. But you make the highway sound like a battlefield. Remember, if one of those oafs gets himself killed, depending on how ingeniously he manages to do it, the story may be heard around the world. You know that you're in an echo chamber, but you're still taking the echoes seriously. Are you at threat from texters? Yes. Are you seriously threatened? No, and making out that you are just makes you look like a wimp.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:48:13 AM PST

    •  You are 100% correct in your analysis. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aramis Wyler

      I just also see a flip side to the coin. There are some things about "meatspace" interaction that have not and almost certainly will not ever be replicated. I can't hug someone through a Facebook interaction (bracketing my name to symbolize one is nice, I got that the other day - but still not the same). Without perfectly working video chat, you don't have the luxury of gauging one's mood by their facial expressions or body language.

      It doesn't have to be only meatspace contact or only cyber contact. There's a way to wisely have them compliment one another.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 01:27:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was hoping I wouldn't be the first to say this. (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you.

  •  the internet is dead (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eOz, Brown Thrasher

    long live the internet

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 10:10:33 AM PST

  •  On the same topic... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, joegoldstein

    ...I highly recommend the writings of Nicholas Carr and Evgeny Morozov as well...

    "If you are still playing for Team Republican and want to have any honor whatsoever, you need to leave the Republican Party now, apologize to America, and work to remove it from our political system." - Brad DeLong

    by radabush on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 02:17:59 PM PST

  •  Hand-wringing? Um, no... (0+ / 0-)
    A signature genius of the internet is its ability to reproduce the entirety of its network within any given node, sort of like a fractal in geometry or a rhizome in biology. A fractal is a ‘self-same’ pattern repeated at different scales, while a rhizome functions such that if any piece of a root system is cut from the whole, each piece may give rise to a new plant which will reproduce the organism from whence it came. Contrast this network model (can you imagine the hand wringing that must have gone on within the Pentagon over early versions of the internet?) with that of broadcast television, print media or radio--you can take out a station or tower and the whole network goes down.
    The Pentagon didn't engage in "hand-wringing" at all - that network model (the military term is "survivability") was a core element of the original design specs under which the early researchers submitted their proposals.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 03:15:22 PM PST

  •  AC versus DC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Aramis Wyler

    I would not say AC is safer than DC. Either, at the same voltage, will put the same number of amperes through your body, and it is the ampreres that kill.

    AC's traditional advantage lies in the ease with which it can be stepped up or down to an appropriate voltage through the use of transformers. Transformers don't work with DC; the only way to convert 300 volts DC to 30 volts was through a motor-generator arrangement. I say "was", because there are now solid state switching technologies that can do DC-to-DC conversion or DC-to-AC inversion very efficiently, so AC is no longer the clear choice for power distribution that it was a century ago.

    In fact, DC has an advantage over AC for power transmission in that DC power lines do not induce currents in nearby objects, nor can DC power radiate. There should be less power wasted in a DC line compared to an AC line of the same voltage.

    •  DC motors are more efficient, too. (0+ / 0-)

      The tragic story of Edison and Tesla is all the worse because if Eddison had not been hyper-competitive they could have worked together used AC for long range distribution and DC for short range or internal work; we'd have all been better off.

      Currently reading: Path To A Better World: A Plan for Prosperity, Opportunity, and Economic Justice by James Aldus

      by Aramis Wyler on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 02:25:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Internet is Certainly DEAD as a Tool (0+ / 0-)

    for effective social/economic change, that's for sure.

    all we do here is sit around and talk the major issues to death, with lots of nifty charts and graphs as backup.


    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 04:24:14 PM PST

  •  Um, no, not quite. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The internet actually started as ARPANET, which was small, elite and totally user funded in terms of infrastructure; essentially glorified client/server nodes connected by modems using analog telephone lines with limited capacity.

    To get where we are today required not just a lot of technical innovation in software, but development of high speed, high bandwidth digital infrastructure to provide the pipelines between users and the servers to manage the traffic.

    All that infrastructure costs money, and picking the means to commercially fund it is essentially a game of name your favorite poison, but the fact is, in a capitalist world companies will make investments and look for a model to get a payback.

    No one is compelled to use Google or Facebook or whomever, they got big because people chose to use them and they are essentially free, but for the trade-off of your data and your privacy, a decision users are free to make or not.

    I'm not a Google+ or a Facebook user by choice. I occasionally use Google for search, but there are lots of alternatives.

    Now, certainly when companies get to the size and market dominance of Google or Facebook there is a downside in terms of stifling competition, but gravity eventually comes into play and we already see these companies dumping wads of cash to buy innovation in the form of start-ups and they can't do that forever. They are the Coke and Pepsi of our contemporary world and if they are lucky they will succeed to sell sugar water for decades but I'm confident other things will come along to distract our attention.

    The other issues is whether corporations wrest complete control of network resources, aka, net neutrality and net access. Fortunately, some countries like Finland are leading the way with laws that make internet access a basic right and providing that access a basic obligation of service providers for the privilege of franchise. Ultimately, other countries follow of get left behind, and we already see them following as the light goes on about digital economies.

    . . .

    We would not be having this discussion without the advent of cheap internet connections and they will get cheaper and faster over time.

    What you ought to worry about is it becomes so cheap and unprofitable a commodity that innovation stalls for a lack of funding and interest, which periodically happens.

    I'm going to give you points for raising the topic for discussion, but I suggest you dig deeper and rethink this.


    No one forces you to use the internet.
    No one forces you to use Facebook, or Daily Kos for that matter.
    No one forces you to buy any brand of user device and they get cheaper and better all the time.

    But all of the above has become a big thing because people like them and find them useful and entertaining.

    And Dude, poor people getting mobile phones is awesomely good.

    This gives them means to communicate and gain network access and is ultimately an economic equalizer of sorts. Go to any poor country today and you will find families or villages sharing phones and it can help them a lot by saving them trips by foot and providing access to information and transactions they otherwise would not have, and consequentially, some the best innovations in user applications are happening there, not in developed countries with embedded institutions.

    Lastly, why smite Apple? They are not a market dominator. Apple is a niche marketer of vanity hardware with low global market share. Their mobile phone share is in the low teens (12%) and PC share even lower (about 6%).

  •  i'm kinda curious as to what the next leap will be (0+ / 0-)

    as far as disseminating information.  

    As far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of people worldwide are very much NOT happy with the spying capabilities of governments.  There's also a strong "libertarian" streak amongst the IT crowd, especially the inventive types.  

    Somewhere, someone is working on the "next big thing" in disseminating information & connecting people.  Its hard to imagine it not being less centralized and less dependent on junctions and pathways currently easily controlled/accessed by govt and large corporations.

    We'll probably know it by how quickly that breakthrough is made illegal and/or denigrated by established authorities.

    my mom never breast fed me. she said she only liked me as a friend.

    by bnasley on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 05:48:47 PM PST

  •  It has changed a great deal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Much more consumer and corporate driven. I miss old internet, but not the super-old internet. There was a sweet spot in there, that we hit, and then the ad people, corporations, spying, and control came.

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 06:17:10 AM PST

  •  Nikola Tesla (0+ / 0-)

    His name is usually spelled Nikola Tesla.

    If I remember the biography I read in 8th grade correctly, he could put an eyelash in his mouth and tie multiple knots in it with his tongue.

    Join the 48ForEastAfrica Blogathon for the famine in east Africa: Donate to Oxfam America

    by JayC on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 09:55:15 AM PST

  •  This conversation can serve no purpose any more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon

    “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

    by se portland on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 10:13:24 AM PST

  •  Not sure I see it this way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aramis Wyler, greengemini

    I remember the Internet you're probably thinking of - one dominated by university hosted websites, gopher sites, and IRC and Usenet.

    I'm not sure things are dramatically different now. Twitter is not an open protocol, but a heck of a lot more people share fairly unedited and uncensored thoughts over it.

    There's Wordpress, Blogger.... here, Tumblr - I would posit the Internet is very much as alive as it has ever been. We're just doing it differently.

    Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

    by Bobs Telecaster on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 12:22:46 PM PST

  •  It is becoming corporate controlled. (0+ / 0-)

    if we lose net neutrality , that will be the end.  

    Already the bulk of the science papers have disappeared behind for pay services.  

    I have notice the ability of powerful folks to scrub the internet of videos and other things they don't like.  

    We have people being sued for criticizing companies online.  

    We need to go peer to peer encrypted com before it's too late.

    I2P is one.  

  •  you should be in print (0+ / 0-)
  •  internet (0+ / 0-)

    one big intrusive device for

    NSA DOD CIA / DHS/ Police security intelligence

    traffic analysis software, business intelligence

     programmatic marketing field

    we are 'owned' by them .....

    cell phone
    every moving electron from one place to another is tracked
    recorded and stored, or bought and sold

    freedom of speech ... yeah right

    Republican logic: Everyone having a gun will make us safer; everyone having health care will destroy us!

    by anyname on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 06:17:41 AM PST

  •  Bull puckey. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mikey, Gurnt
    The burgeoning ‘social connectedness’ offered us through Facebook and Twitter, however, come at the expense of ‘social caregiving’ [...] Strange, how as screens proliferate and we become more ‘connected’ we are also more socially detached from one another.
    I have been hearing this same rubbish for nearly twenty years and it never gets any less flat-out wrong.

    I live in a different city from my sister, and on a different continent from my dad and my brother.  When we email each other, or on the occasions when we get to Skype, that's not instead of realtime interaction; that's instead of no contact at all.

    I've got friends who traveled to visit me from three different states when I lost my mother, to provide that all-important human warmth in person, whom I would never have known at all if it weren't for meeting on the internet.  I've got an entire community spread out over the country, people who worried enough about me and my fellow New Yorkers back in September of 2001 to put together a checklist website within an hour of the attack, where people could write in to confirm that their friends in the city were still alive.

    I've got a friend with intense social anxiety who is capable of having and keeping up with friends now, despite her inability to spend much time in the presence of other people, because of the internet.  Ditto two friends with chronic illness who can't leave their houses often, but who nonetheless get to talk to dozens of people every day.

    I have precisely zero patience with the old lie that social technology is inherently dehumanizing and distancing.

  •  It's not dead, Jim. It's still just a baby. (0+ / 0-)

    It's not dead, Jim. It never even came alive yet. It takes a bigger genius to change society. There's a big game called "The Tortoise and the Hare". And since someone created the "browser"--an alpha-numeric file seacher that "Hares" have mistakenly presumed to be the panacea of the foretold "digital revolution"--products of anti-social capitalism have been promising "social media" to just "data mine" suckers who think we've reached the panacea. It's been a runaway rabbit stampede now with evangelists wanting to make it a "right" and keep it grounded it what it is. But is is a falsehood. And the Tortoise has always known this.

    All of the media hype the Tortoise brilliantly observed throughout the 1980's had him aghast when his seemingly fellow Tortoise turned out to be a Hare and started yippy-yapping that this "browser thingy" was the holy grail they were the young turks persuing. "Oh come on" the Tortoise said. "a what? a browser? After millions of years of evolution and millions of minds  neuroplastically producing the foundation for fulfillment of all of that, the best someone could come up is a "browser"? And did I hear you say "surf"?" the Tortoise incredulously continued. "Nay, I say unto thee. The "holy convergence" of media is still in the future." The Tortoise knew already where the multimedia promise land was but he had to sure to go only in a straight but slowww line.

    His view was that the world needed to have a new ergonomica--an ethic to accept no "misses" in anything--least of all in education where deluded authority had been wrongly stigmatizing generations of potential super-achievers. If man could bulldoze and re-engineer the world for automobiles and airplanes, surely he could come to realize that the "politics of paper"  stifle further advancement. And for all his live the Tortoise had witnessed bad guys telling  us we are the good guys yet hating on anything "social".  And they still aren't willing to face any truths. Only recently has the life of the Tortoise led him to realize that the blessed "capitalism" was at its very heart, ANTI-SOCIAL.

    Perhaps that's why there are no "social development" imperatives that deal with motivation and contemporary participation in greater democracy in this aging Industrial Age establishment. "Social media?" the Tortoise scoffs, "human products of anti-social factory model education will have no understanding at all what that really might means. It's being designed by profiteers to please data miners for suckers of any novelty and society is just "chatting" and "browsing" and "surfing" while Rome is crumbling. The Tortoise asserts that the multimedia promised land lies beyond "alpha numerics" which keep bits of information in unnatural anti-ergonomica. The "browser" is not the interface into "cyber space", it is only the producer of dumb alpha-numeric searches. Robber-rabbits have been all over that selling fake links to dead ends. It's been a sham.

    All the pieces exist to reach the big promised land in this quarter century. But prospectors and opportunists will keep just tinkering instead of being guided by IDEALISM. It has to pay to play. Economics are good. Capitalism can be good. But its anti-social gang is anchoring it to backwardness and selfishness. Even they will largely surrender to inevitabilities when vision and invention take the choice out of their hands. Teslas and Edisons are surely still going at it. Will the ruthless win? Or will the righteous? It's not as easy a call. But nothing of redemption and fulfillment of promise will come from the old guard of anti-social capitalism. They are still fighting imaginary commies. The age of information is only a stop on the route to the age of understanding where virtual reality will deliver the true reality of virtue. Even the Totoise he knows he has to pass the baton. Time claims us all. But while the race is still on he will continue on a straight idealistic line to that foretold 1980's vision of convergence of mind, media and momentum.  It's not dead, Jim. It is just a baby.

    "Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire" W.B. Yeats

    by RareBird0 on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 05:07:42 PM PST

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