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    • I thought this was a Monty Python production until I saw the smartphones and the yellow hair covering the Earth.

      I demand the real thing 👇. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    • My son forwarded this article to me (A Socialist Plan to Fix the Internet) which I feel is an interesting take on some of the comments made by @mbravo on this subject. Especially in his observation on the term "Socialist" and the perceptions thereof. But I believe what is covered here does cut to some of the core concerns brought up in his commentary. I have been thinking quite a bit about his statements on the current fandom and capital attached to the quest for decentralizing the web and do see his point. In this article there are a number of ideas shared on the role of public ownership and cooperative ownership that speak to foundational ideas of how the user could be put back in control of social media and the web in general. So at the very least - interesting points to chew on. Maybe if the article was called "A Social Program to Fix the Internet" it would be more accessible by a larger set of readers but these are problems way beyond the scope of semantics in my estimation.

    • Some interesting ideas there, for sure. But I'm having trouble imagining how would you go about getting from here to there. Especially bearing mind that internet companies have global reach, so regulating them is an incredibly thorny problem, involving many jurisdictions with often very different outlooks on freedom, ownership and state influence. Could we be headed into the future with a bunch of separate 'internets'?

    • these are problems way beyond the scope of semantics in my estimation.


      I have two large problems reading and comprehending discourse (usually labeled "socialist") similar to the one prevalent in the article you linked. Me having been born and raised in Soviet Union and engineering education.

      So when I see well-meaning theories starting with "let's give everyone what they need, for free", I can't help but ask:

      - how do we determine who needs what and how much?

      - where does it come from?

      - what gives the sudden assurance that everyone suddenly becomes a 100% good person, nobody hoards, nobody steals, there are no bad actors, and everyone chips in gladly and of their own volition?

      I have never been able to get even a semblance of a beginning of a coherent answer to these questions.

      And on the other hand, for all the talk of evil corporate power, for the last 20 years all I see is a tightening, crippling hold of nation-states on those mythical zaibatsus. Which leads to stupid fragmentation problems and e.g. inability to pay with money you earned for things you need, only because you have made a mistake of moving between countries after having spent some time on a particular platform.

    • I agree with you 100%. But I do think there are some nuanced ideas in here that could be useful. One is the idea of treating the pipe as if it were carrying water so treat this more like a public utility. This is one of the problems I have with the FCC auctioning off wireless spectrum to the highest bidder. The owners of the spectrum end up being the same large entities. Even smaller companies owning spectrum are often susidiaries of the bigger companies. In the end a public style utility would not be free to the public just a distributed cost to the public. When 5g eventually hits we are going to have 3 or 4 companies owning a large share of all the information flow between users and even objects. The regulatory arm of the connection should also have more of a public interest in the flow to keep bad actors in check and inspire good actors to build better solutions to serve both industry and the consumer. Money has to be made to keep the wheels spinning but the user and community of users need to have more of a stake in this next version of the web.

      So a balance should be sought between the profits of the providers and the security of and opportunities for the consumer. At some point we just need to dig in and push for specific programs to continue to try to balance this scale. The contract for the web is an example of this. Is it perfect? No. Will FANG fully comply? Probably not. But it is something to move toward. At least it appears to strive toward setting guidelines to balance provider and public interests.

    • The contract for the web is an example of this. Is it perfect? No. Will FANG fully comply? Probably not.

      I was just having a conversation with someone who was saying that Facebook and Google signing that contract effectively completely devalues it, because it is now so much harder to think about it as something real (because with proceedings like these the endorsement is a bare-faced hypocrisy).

    • Yep. I have spoken to two people online with exactly the same sentiment. I didn't even think how this would be an issue until it was brought up and now the more I think about it of course it is. So much trust has been eroded it is almost impossible to stuff those feelings back in a bag. But I guess on the other hand were they supposed to not invite the big players to sign? Or should they have not made this something to sign? There are so many moving parts with your original post it almost melts the brain to find true north. I guess the only way is to battle forward one inch at a time. In the end I am for a decentralized connection and a decentralized society with safeguards in place to protect and inspire the members. I argue for a balanced three legged stool with government, business, and people equally represented. Will we ever get there? Who knows. But we should try at all costs.

    • Wow does this look interesting! I am chomping at the bit. Have to wait till tonight to read it though. This is certainly not an American problem to fix. This is global!!! Thanks for the share Chris and hope all is well!!

    • Using the Internet to pull people together rather than split them apart requires designing an environment very different from the usual online forums for political debate, such as Twitter or Facebook.

      Amazing.. all this with no ads?

    • Somehow I stumbled into a Twitter brawl this morning over Barron Trump being mentioned in the impeachment hearings yesterday. It’s hard to imagine the dialogue didn’t leave lasting bitter divisions between all sides.

      I don’t think in my lifetime I can remember a venue with so much rage. No seeking common ground, and reasonable voices didn’t even try to jump in.

    • You went on Twitter expecting a rational discussion of opposing viewpoints?!

      This summer I convinced a “Berner” to hate Warren less. It was extremely civil and I had the facts to disprove a false claim made against her. But you're talking substantial differences between those two candidates’s views of less than 50 percent. (For the record, I’m not a Warren supporter. I just felt that someone incredibly intelligent was being duped by social media disinformation and I wanted to correct their views, especially since a lot of people pay attention to what they say.)

      I love Twitter for what it does best, but a shit show it is for anything involving discussion of opposing viewpoints. If only there was an online framework where domain experts of opposing views could rationally debate the merits of their positions without the squeaks of the trolls, and with thoughtful audience questions asked of the guests ...

    • This probably indicates there are allot of people who like to be incited to become passionate, by someone or something that ought to be extreme one way or another, to be divisive and form competing 'tribes'.. It's the mentality of "winning", there has to be some blood or else it's boring. Along the lines of the article you pointed to, it's built into the 'design' of the 'platform'; to this day I still can't help not laugh at the usage of this word, what is everyone thinking - a wooden platform elevated in a public square, or something else - more like a software platform, or both? I digress... I think we live in a society where too much has become a show, to the point where they throw the child away with the bath water if it's not immediately digestible in absolute binary thinking ways, and profitable.. Intellectual and cultural kitsch predominantly overflow and spill over all aspects of life. (not sure it has to do also with the cyber truck shape but it might) It really is sad. 🤡

    • You know what I find fascinating is when people in real life are so defensive of arguing logically and rationally, it's like they consciously like to pull a veil of blindness over their minds. And block everything that does not suit their view, even before it's being said!

    • I always see this as linear thinking where they only see what is obvious and comfortable. Figuratively right in front of them. The digital connection to date has only amplified this in many instances. They should teach critical thinking beginning in Kindergarten and make it a requirement for every year of education thereafter.

    • So when I see well-meaning theories starting with "let's give everyone what they need, for free", I can't help but ask:

      - how do we determine who needs what and how much?

      - where does it come from?

      I think whether it’s theory or not depends on what happens after the US Presidential election. Thought this was a timely share. I don’t think it’s come up in any of the debates so far.

    • Absolutely. The pipe, the wireless spectrum, and the servers should be a public utility or maybe a hybrid of government and community ownership. The app layer should be a combination of private and community ownership as innovation rarely seems to thrive in the application of government.

    • Oh don't get me started on pop ads that are targeted to inferred interests. I can't believe it is almost 2020 and we are still seeing this. Just blows me away how far we have come technically yet how static we remain at the application layer.

    • Me having been born and raised in Soviet Union

      I have the impression from some of my Russian friends that it's common to mistrust state-run services if you've had that experience.

      Just observing things here in the states I really don't hear complaints about things like dialing 911, or the fire service. They seem to be our national heroes. They are fast, professional, in well-maintained equipment. Same with National Parks, mostly NASA and the military.

      Sometimes rich people will supplement the fire department here in California, but only because they feel the number of fires has overwhelmed our firefighters.

      I carry this same view over to the agencies that helped develop the internet and fund basic science.

      Am I wrong in thinking experience in some countries like the Soviet Union makes you more distrustful of public services?

    • Wow Chris, what an interesting read. I wish I would have had this example when I wrote my essay Emergent Representation of the People and when the founder of told me people have better things to do than interact directly with legislation. But to be fair to him he mentioned these ideas were tried numerous times but they never took hold. I would imagine trying to get the public to wrap their brain around this would be a challenge to say the least. As they say in the article if you're cynical about government you're probably going to be cynical about digital democracy platforms. But I also like what they said in the article of turning the government into hackers which as Generation Z begins to populate the halls of government maybe there will be a chance to rethink how people will be represented by their government. 

      I hope these experiments in Taiwan will take root and serve as an example of building a connection more representative of the users. I am going to use this as an example in my next essay so thanks for sharing.

    • Am I wrong in thinking experience in some countries like the Soviet Union makes you more distrustful of public services?

      It depends. Implicitly, you are correct, and I have personally observed and continue to see this rather sad tendency in people who have left USSR and/or contemporary Russian Federation for other places, but seem unable or unwilling to shake off the cynicism and reverse cargo cult. It's one of the things that I am most bitter about the country where I was born. It used to, and after a brief respite, continues to poison people's minds and hearts. (I do not think it is alone in that, but that doesn't detract from the bitterness)

      But on the other hand, it is not a given. It is up to the person to work his/her mind to see that there are different approaches and different perspectives. Knowing that a public service can be abused gives you a bit more critical facility (as in, you don't blindly sugarcoat police work and/or existing legislation), but same critical facility should tell you to study local situation and customs and, well, the way things work, before applying preexisting patterns from a different country and/or culture.