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Re: <eyebeam><blast> territory

On Fri, 20 Feb 1998, Saskia Sassen wrote:

> 2) Not unrelated to 1), the impact that incipient privatisation on the 
> Net (firewalled corporate web sites, for example) and the truly epic 
> effort to make commercialization viable on the Net (we are dealing with 
> , as they say, "titans of business")  can have on public digital space. 
> Can we really be sure that this will not alter the Net in a radical 
> fashion?

If you were a packet, the privatisation would not incipient, but
ubiquitous.  If you are a user, which I am assuming you are, then it's
also ubiquitous.  Every packet from columbia.edu goes thru a private
network owned by a associate of Sprint, into Sprint itself, and then
probably 75% of the time into a private network owned by MCI.  This only
plots one vector thru these various networks, and does not make public
space an impossibility, but it certainly flavors any definition of
digital public space taking place on the TCP/IP based network called the

I'm not trying to be contrary, or to inundate the discussion with
meaningless technical details.  Rather, I want us to come up with a good
idea of what we mean by public or private space in the context of an
infrastructure that is privately controlled.

> 3)Are "net practices" enough to counteract the fact that more and more 
> software design for the Net is aimed at firewalling and at making 
> electronic commerce viable. This is really different from the 1980s when 
> most software for the Net was aimed at strengthening its public 
> features. But again, could it be that practices can resist/counteract 
> the effect of software design?

I would certainly think so, as the GNU/FSF and Linux have shown us that
it is possible to create public space, and property while working within
a space dominated by private interests.  The coordination of hundreds of
individual software developers across national borders to produce
something which is then legally protected as a public entity via the GNU
GPL or other copyleft agreements (like BSD copyrights or the Perl
communities 'Artistic License'), is one example of using 'net practices'
to counteract private interests.  

I think it's entirely wrong to say it 'resists/counteract the effect of
software design' since it indeed IS software design, as well as social
and political design.  And with Netscape's announcment that it will
adopt a GNU like licensing scheme for it's browser, and the work of
places like Parc/Xerox and the Olivetti/Oracle research Labratory,
mainstream private software design is moving towards these 'net
practices' of distributed community development with ownership being
held by the public at large. 

Some links of interest

Craig Brozefsky              craig@onshore.com
onShore Inc.                 http://www.onshore.com/~craig
Programmer                   loitering on the edge
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