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September 2003

The Unfortunate Possible Future of the Internet

This is a very good read. Kinda long. I admit toward the end I started skimming. But good stuff. It lays out a very plausible development path attempting to solve current Internet problems, which results in an end-state that, at least to me, is scary and unfriendly, with constraints and controls everywhere. I’m sure steps in these directions will happen. Hopefully good ways to undermine them will pop up as quickly as they are developed.

The Digital Imprimatur (John Walker,

Over the last two years I have become deeply and increasingly pessimistic about the future of liberty and freedom of speech, particularly in regard to the Internet. This a complete reversal of the almost unbounded optimism I felt during the 1994-1999 period when public access to the Internet burgeoned and innovative new forms of communication appeared in rapid succession. In that epoch I was firmly convinced that universal access to the Internet would provide a countervailing force against the centralisation and concentration in government and the mass media which act to constrain freedom of expression and unrestricted access to information. Further, the Internet, properly used, could actually roll back government and corporate encroachment on individual freedom by allowing information to flow past the barriers erected by totalitarian or authoritarian governments and around the gatekeepers of the mainstream media.

This is how I saw things at the euphoric peak of my recent optimism. Like the transition between expansion and contraction in a universe with [Omega] greater than 1, evidence that the Big Bang was turning the corner toward a Big Crunch was slow to develop, but increasingly compelling as events played out. Earlier I believed there was no way to put the Internet genie back into the bottle. In this document I will provide a road map of precisely how I believe that could be done, potentially setting the stage for an authoritarian political and intellectual dark age global in scope and self-perpetuating, a disempowerment of the individual which extinguishes the very innovation and diversity of thought which have brought down so many tyrannies in the past.

(via Doc Searls)

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