Wednesday, April 07, 2004

whew... it's late. here they are.

1. The past three main direct communication sources were e-mail, phone and the letter. The Postal Service is still free, going anywhere to deliver a letter because it's a public utility. The telephone used to be regulated by the government, but not so much anymore. The Internet was formed around neoliberal, hands-off policies. What does this say for future forms of communication? Is the public service ideal of citizen-to-citizen communication dead, at least to policy makers? It seems like we worry about divides after the fact, when they’re a symptom of U.S. telecomm policies. And without much oversight, what happens if a satellite goes down, as described in Chapter 1? They seem awfully similar to last year’s electrical blackouts – why the difference in the government’s approach? What about the possibility of Internet blackouts resulting from Internet backbones preventing others’ traffic as a strategic business move?

2. Some of Digital Capitalism reads like the Internet was a grand conspiracy between “government agencies, corporate military contractors and allied educational institutions … housed within the secretive netherworld of the garrison state.” It seems like the author, especially in the conclusion, is worried now that there are no socialist markets, causing supranational entities to run amok. Are alternative forms of government now futile in the face of capitalism’s vast networking and information capabilities?

3. I also like GNU, but I had a hard time buying into his point regarding payment. He compares programmers to artists, but artists don’t just paint for fun – they also have to sell their works to make a living. Happiness/friendship among programmers, what he thinks is more important than payment, doesn’t really mean much when you’re scraping to get by. Paying for bundled software or “helping hand” services doesn’t seem to be enough to support all the software needed by the public, businesses and the government. Or… would the savings from freely editing source code for a constantly-crashing program, or freeing companies from competing for the newest software, make the social benefits of GNU greater than its individual benefits to a programmer?

also ch. 3 of dc talks about ad guys influencing content. reminded me of donahue's show being cancelled...

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