13 september 2009


A new internet is needed + 3 special reasons why


This is again an English Nederlog, that in facts consist of the last section of a considerably longer piece I wrote about computing (in the series BitsAndPieces) that you may be interested in if you care about browsing, getting rid of ads when you browse, or even in programming your browser (or other things).

Since you may well not be, I have not included that here (use the link if interested), but I have lifted the last section to reproduce it here, for the theme and the idea seems to me to be important for everyone, and it also answers in part questions I earlier pondered over (in Dutch), namely in Nog wat over de NRC and in De toekomst van de krant.

So here it is, with links to the sections:

 A new internet is needed + 3 special reasons why
           First - it is and ought to be public and open
           Second - it makes solid sense
           Third -  - it may save the public media

It seems to me highly desirable to split up the internet as is in a commercial net and a public net, with the commercial players, the advertisers, the commercial-Flash-on-you-pukers, and indeed also all that is commercial and more or less decent and justified, from banking to plumbing, on one net, and non-commercial content, varying from private persons websites, to schools and universities, the Wikipedia and much other educational matter (Stanford Encyclopedia, Victorian Net, Perseus, you name it...), on another net.

In fact, the split between commercial and non-commercial can be drawn quite easily, while allowing for overlaps: It is mostly that between open en hidden source and apart from that depends on whether makers of web-content want to cash in on advertisments and/or have web-pages in order to support a commercial product.

Next, the technological change should be easy and small, in principle, for it is a matter of server and storage capacity and processor speeds: All that seems really required is, next to a WWW a WCW, say: A Worldwide Commercial Web, all run on the same known principles as the WWW, with the same protocols a.s.o., except that on that WCW the user knows that the content is commercial and meant to be commercial, and indeed may very well be hidden source.

Since the server and storage capacities these days are great, as are the processor speeds, it seems this is technically quite feasible - and indeed in the interest of virtually all private persons, while also giving in principle new possibilities, on that WCW, to use all manner of hidden source pimped software to make it better looking and produce even livelier ads for the masses.

Besides, such a WCW serves a legitimate purpose: It is like a computerized set of Yellow Pages in the phonebooks of yore (just as the ordinary phonebook lists mostly private persons, and without ads).

And here are three final arguments:

First - it is and ought to be public and open: the internet has grown out of the efforts of private persons and people working at universities, and indeed out of what was from the beginning open source - Microsoft jumped in only for the money, and since then attempted to redesign it for its own needs.

Second - it makes solid sense:, the split I advocate - into a WWW and a WCW, to reduce it to acronyms - corresponds quite closely to a manifold split of the following kind

open source   - hidden source
personal        - commercial     
educational    - profit-oriented
individual       - organizational

Third - it may save the public media: Seeing what is happening to the classical papers (getting extinct fast, to be replaced by Foxnews and the like, at least for the masses) and to the media (mostly moronified to please the masses of pinheads and the few relative smart-alecks who live off these pinheads), this could be an excellent means to regain something like the classic media, but on the net:

Make the media - in part, for there is also place for commercial media, but I am talking in fact of the major public benefits of real quality papers, produced by highly competent and trained journalists, preferably with a university education - into educational institutions, somewhat like universities are (in Europe), that is, mostly funded by public money and on a BBC-model.

Note that here too I am talking about known models, while I am not proposing anything requiring much innovation or investigation:

The BBC works and produces the best journalism to be had, without ads, and without state censorhip, so this ought to be possible as well for quality papers, on the same principles, largely for the same reasons also, except that computing, the commercialization of the internet, and the imminent collapse of quality journalism, have made this both more urgent and more easily possible.

Indeed, one may well combine such new quality media on the net with universities or polytechnics, whether special or part of the old universities, and make these into professional Media-Labs, as it were, working for the public, funded by public money, part of the educational institutions, and with their own (almost) ready-made schools for internet journalism there.

This seems to me the best way to go, to preserve the quality media, albeit in a new form; to give the internet back to the public, who created it in the first place; and to clearly separate what is commercial from what is not, and should not have to compete with, crowded out, or suffocated by, commercial players with private ends and megabucks of money.

And I know the above is a brief argument, that may be butressed and countered in quite a few ways, but it seems to me the only way I know of to keep the internet public, educational, open source and for and by private individuals, and also to retain quality journalism and quality media in the interest of all.

This is all mostly as it stands in BitsAndPieces of today, and all I add here for the moment are these three points (that I am not going to discuss seriously with anyone who is ignorant about programming):

  • What I propose is (1) technologically quite easily feasible and (2) only involves proven technologies (of the internet, of quality papers, of the BBC).
  • It serves at least two obvious pressing needs that also are in anybody's interest who wants to live in an open society: (1) a free open source non-commercial(ized) internet and (2) good, reliable extensive public media.
  • Anybody who is against this proposal (and can't refute it on technical grounds) very much more probably than not has a commercial or political interest for being against it.

Maarten Maartensz

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