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November 25, 2006

Forward the Online Revolution

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We Still have the Power

"...We are inventing new forms of artistic and cultural expression, from machinima to mashups via video clips and blogs, and soon we will find ways to curate, present and sell them, as we do with every other form of artistic expression. Participative media, citizen journalism, blogging and social networking mark the point at which the social structures of the second half of the 20th century finally break down and vanish and new relationships emerge.

Companies like Dell feel the fury of their former consumers and try to reinvent themselves in the image of the participative community, even if they sometimes stumble. And every media outlet is turning to its former audience and trying to find ways to include and embrace people, hoping that they can turn participation into money when previously all they needed were passive viewers...

So how are we going to deal with the social, political and economic impact of the monster that we have unleashed since the two-way web came back into fashion? If we're going to move forward and do so in a way that will give us a modicum of network and social justice we have to recognise two fundamental principles. The first was expressed most clearly by Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig when he pointed out that "code is law".

We write the code, the underlying software that creates the network and so, within the broad limits of physical and mathematical reality, we can do whatever we want with or to the network.

The second is even more fundamental.

In the big game of scissors, paper, stone that characterises the network's evolution, politics trumps engineering.

The limits on our capabilities, and the breadth of our vision, depend on politics (which includes religious and social concerns) far more than engineering.

This means that technical bodies like the Internet Engineering Task Force will always lose to the political groups like ICANN, the body that the US Government has appointed to look after things like domain names and IP addresses..." From Forward the online revolution by Bill Thompson, BBC News.

Posted by jo at November 25, 2006 05:10 PM

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