(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Doc Searls Wants to Save the Net

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Doc Searls is probably best known as one of the co-authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, but is also one of the most prolific and respected bloggers sitting at the intersections of technology, economics and, most importantly, social and political spheres (I'd say, for example, on par with Dave "RSS" Winer and Robert "Microsoft Has a Human Face" Scoble). You may have heard of him, but quite possibly not since his work is less accessible to the layperson than say that of JD "Darknet/OurMedia" Lasica or even Lawrence "Creative Commons" Lessig (who you really should have heard of by now).

Anyway, as just about every square inch of the internet is involved in either litigation or power struggles over content ownership, Doc Searls' essay Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes strikes me as one of those must read essays for anyone with an interest in the future of the 'net and digital culture in general. I don't have time to give a full response right now, here are a few excerpts to convince you to read it yourself ...
... the Net as a place where free and open markets thrive. This is the Net that we built, where we have sites and locations and domains. It is also important to describe what the Net is and how it works from the standpoint of technology itself: specifically those that create and enlarge the Net and its services. So we're talking here not just about HTTP and HTML but also XML and RSS. These reify the Net as a place where people and organizations speak and publish and produce and govern and build businesses and perform services. These are made possible, we should make clear, by the end-to-end nature of the Net and by the even-endedness of every participant.

We need to make clear that the Public Domain is the market's underlying geology--a place akin to the ownerless bulk of the Earth--rather than a public preserve in the midst of private holdings. This won't be easy, but it can be done.

We need to stress the fact that the primary "end" in the Net's end-to-end architecture is the individual. The Net's success is due far more to the freedoms enjoyed by individuals than to the advantages enjoyed by large companies whose existence predates the Net. We need to remind policy makers that the Net's biggest success stories--Amazon, Google, eBay and Yahoo--are the stories of Bezos, Page, Brin, Omidyar, Yang and Filo.

And my favourite ...
We need to make clear that the Net is the best public place ever created for private enterprise, and that the success of the Net owes infinitely more to personal initiative than to the mesh of pipes in the ground beneath it. We need to show how the Net has its own nature, and that this nature is too dynamic--too original, too wild and free, too self-creating and self-correcting--for new lawmaking to comprehend, much less control.

(PS Will someone please hit me if I start referring to this as the "Doc 2.0 Manifesto"?)

Update: While I think that Doc is on the money with the Net-as-place idea, what annoys me a little on reading 'Save the Net' is the strong sense that the Net is an American place. If I give money to the EFF (which I have and probably will again), it seems to largely go in fighting legal battles in the US. More annoyingly, the Australian laws and regulations slowly echo the US ones, but without a Bill of Rights underlying them (which, as you can imagine, is rather problematic). I guess it's not Doc that's annoying me, but the fact that I don't see how this will change in the immediate future ... even as an Australian blogger, my concerns with partipatory culture and the blogopshere mean about 70 - 80% of the material here comes from US sources. *sigh* At least the Creative Commons organisation has national incarnations, including an Australian one. And even though it's a drop in the ocean I guess every blog outside the US helps fashion a more globally aware internet ...

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