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Information Poisoning

michael posted about 14 years ago | from the gratuitous-self-promotion dept.

The Internet 329

There were several submissions of this piece: "Novelist Caleb Carr (probably most famous for The Alienist ) has written an article on Salon in which he talks about the dangers he believes information technology pose to society. His contention is that the unchecked spread of information technology will allow for increased corporate control over our lives. His proposed solution? Government regulation. (This is something that he has mentioned in interviews before, and it touches on ideas explored in his near-future SF novel Killing Time ). Overall a very interesting and thought-provoking read." I suggest you read the article without any preconceived ideas of whether you'll find it "good" or "bad", just read it and see what you get out of it.

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Intergenerational slander (2)

alienmole (15522) | about 14 years ago | (#522318)

Aside from all the other obvious problems with Carr's thesis, I was really struck by this assertion of his:

watching an entire generation of young people grow up to become virtual machines capable of storing informational bits like biocomputers but not of assembling those bits into meaningful bodies of knowledge

And to solve this alleged problem, he wants government regulation??? Yeah, let's regulate people to be more useful and productive! Why didn't anyone think of that before?

It's hard to understand how someone like this is given any credence whatsoever.

Aside from the ludicrousness of the proposed solution, there's also the question of whether this particular problem actually exists. It sounds like pure old-fartism to me: "Young people these days are just plain irresponsible! We need tougher regulations to keep them under control!"

Thankfully, laws and regulations already exist - not least of which is the U.S. Constitution - which mostly prevent people like this from doing too much damage to our society.

Jefferson said it best... (1)

DESADE (104626) | about 14 years ago | (#522341)

A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both and deserve neither. -

Thought provoking? (2)

westfirst (222247) | about 14 years ago | (#522344)

Who's going to edit the web? Is he volunteering? I think the Founding Fathers passed the First Amendment because they didn't want to sit around and adjudicate disputes over the written word. It's not like the words from the officially editted and approved news outlets are that much better than the Drudge Report or Slashdot.

"I sayeth that he calleth my tax plans nasty, brutish and short and that is surely a seditious act against the United States."

"No, I sayeth that his tax plan is seditious in the breadth and scope of its grasp."

Founding Fathers: "Whatever."

okay, now... (1)

yzquxnet (133355) | about 14 years ago | (#522346)

Read the article posted just a little bit ago by michael, and now read this one... Now I assume he has no bias (although, I assume he does in some way) to the articles that he choosed to post. Look at the total flip flop of the themes. Previous article, theme, 'damn you government.' This article, theme, 'government, come here, cuddle me now.'

I don't know what to think.

The question is not whether there is a problem (3)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#522414)

The question is not whether there is a problem. The question is whether you can solve it using government. The answer for most problems is "no".

Is it just me, or... (1)

ckd (72611) | about 14 years ago | (#522418)

...does his argument have a strong flavor of "we must protect the stupid from themselves"?

He says "People assume that what they read on the Net is true." Yet the Boston Globe has published articles that said that Tacoma was north of Seattle, and England west of Ireland. Were those mistakes any less mistakes for being published on dead trees (as well as the Globe's web site, of course)? No.

"We should openly recognize that many Net users do not possess the technical skills to detect such deceptions; therefore they need help, just as they need help with radio and television." In other words, there are people who are too stupid to tell that "Blair Witch Project" wasn't a documentary [he uses that example] so we must make it illegal to fool them.

"If we have a government agency continuously making sure that supposed research presented on the Internet is factual; if site owners can be held legally responsible for disinformation they may unwittingly disseminate (much in the way that if you unknowingly buy stolen goods you can still become an accessory after the fact); and if all images, data and text have to be accompanied by authorship or provenance information, or simply can't be posted; if these and many similar rules are laid down -- I think you can begin to get a picture of the very different kind of Net that would ensue." Yeah, it'd be different all right; no Slashdot, for example. ("That link isn't to a picture of the monolith in Seattle, but to something else! Take your site down or be arrested!")

Sloppy argument (1)

dachshund (300733) | about 14 years ago | (#522424)

Did anyone else feel like the article was just badly written? I'm not passing judgement on his argument, just the way in which he went about stating it. The first few paragraphs glibly try to tie together several unrelated, or loosely related issues (i.e. the internet lets people amass more information, corporations are becoming more powerful, therefore the two are cause and effect), then immediately he's comparing corporate regulation to government regulation as though he'd already proven that the need for regulation was a given. I've never read his other work, and I'm not sure I want to, after seeing how sloppy this article was.

I sympathize completely! (3)

gughunter (188183) | about 14 years ago | (#522426)

I spent months lobbying against the Smithsonian for its rejection of an Australopithecus Spiff-arino specimen. Now, sadder but wiser, I wish I'd known the provenance of that cruel hoax from the outset. Government is the only answer.

Re:Jefferson said it best... (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 14 years ago | (#522429)

It was Franklin: "Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."

He's an economic ignoramus (3)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 14 years ago | (#522437)

He says that although government sucks, at least it's on our side, whereas corporations have only their own interests. What he's missing is that in the race to earn profits, corporations have to please people. Only by pleasing people can corporations earn money. The ones that don't, lose money and go out of business. Government action doesn't have that feedback mechanism. It only has voting, and we only vote once a year. You vote for a corporation every time you buy or don't buy their products.

Nice Suggestion... (2)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522442)

It's a really nice suggestion to read the article without any "preconcieved notions", however, those preconceived notions are sometimes well thoughtout. Personally, as a Libertarian, I find the idea of government regulation as being repugnant. GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH. YOU may want the government regulating YOUR life to protect YOUR sense of security, but I would gladly forefit my security and fight to my dying breath to preserve my liberty.

Interesting idea, but how will it work? (5)

Private Essayist (230922) | about 14 years ago | (#522454)

Carr makes some interesting points (essentially boiled down to: either government will regulate the Net or corporations will, and at least goverment is supposed to be on the side of the people whereas corporations exist to make profits). This point could be argued back and forth, but he at least makes a good argument for his case.

It was this statement, however, that most struck me. In talking about how government, for instance, regulates the food industry so we know what ingredients we are dealing with, he says something similar is needed for the Net. He says: "There must be strenuous efforts first and foremost to guarantee that what is represented as fact is fact, and that what is not fact is clearly labeled as such."

This parallels an idea I had a couple years ago as a possible Web business -- providing a rating system to information sites as to how factual the information really is. A 'Consumer Reports', if you will, of information.

But the problem I came across, and one that I see in Carr's proposal, is this: Who decides what is factual?

Let's use an obvious example, creation versus evolution. See the problem? If a creationist were to evaluate a scientific article talking about evolution, might he or she be tempted to mark it down as 'Not factual'? Certainly a biologist would mark creationist writings as 'Not factual.'

So whoever provides the ratings as to whether or not information on the web is factual will either bring their own prejudices to the task, or will turn off a sizable segment of the population ('Oh, he marks that site as factual, but he believes in evolution so what does he know?')

I don't know the solution to this problem. How do you get a system that marks information sites as factual or not factual when the population-at-large can't even decide on what they think is factual?

His Suggestion Has Already Been Implemented. (2)

billstewart (78916) | about 14 years ago | (#522458)

Caleb Car suggests we need a government organization designed to protect the American public's information sources. We've done that already. It was called the "House Un-American Activities Committee", and it took way too long to die the death it deserved. Has he no sense of decency?

Urgh... (1)

Psmylie (169236) | about 14 years ago | (#522462)

Man use... big words.... me confused... head hurts... need mindless entertainment to make the pain go away...

Good Advice (1)

Mignon (34109) | about 14 years ago | (#522466)

I suggest you read the article without any preconceived ideas of whether you'll find it "good" or "bad", just read it and see what you get out of it.

I think that's a good suggestion for anything you read.

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (1)

yzquxnet (133355) | about 14 years ago | (#522470)

Since I don't have and mod points, this is my moderation.

(+1 Insightful)

Good post.

How though? (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | about 14 years ago | (#522473)

His solution suffers one thing.

How, exactly, does the U.S. government enforce any regulation on servers outside it's borders? What's to keep someone from moving their host to Europe?

For this to work every government in the world would have to agree on how and when the regulation would happen. Anyone wanna place bets on the chances of that happening?

I dunno. I get the feeling I've just been trolled. Either way the trolls of /. can take lessons from this guy. :)

He's been suckered (4)

Don Negro (1069) | about 14 years ago | (#522475)

by the Child Porn boogeyman.

He spends the first half of the article building his case with kiddie pr0n as the raison d'etre, and the second half failing to understand the difference between information and ideas, or at least the fact that they are made available via the net in exactly the same way, and sweeping regulation of one will undoubtable stifle the other - untolerably so.

This is a shame, since his points about the historical inability of corps to self-regulate (without the fear of government regulation to motivate them) are very valid, and his concerns about the erosion of privacy are well founded.

Further, we already have laws in place which regulate to some extent what content can be viewed by which people in which circumstances, and we will undoubtably have more in the future. Requiring passwords and some form of identity checking beyond what we already have would erode privacy even further, which he seems to be opposed to overall.

In all, his arguments, while understandable, lack internal consistancy. He just hasn't thought hard enough about the parts where the edges don't quite line up.

He should spend a couple of months reading /. He'd at least have a better grasp of the arguments and technical challenges his opinions will have to reckon with.

Don Negro

Re:Is it just me, or... (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | about 14 years ago | (#522477)

England is west of Ireland

It's 350-odd degrees west of Ireland. What's your beef? ;-)

Dancin Santa

No clue... (1)

DESADE (104626) | about 14 years ago | (#522480)

I just gave this a read. He states there are only two forms of regulation: governmental and corporate. What about self-regulation? Why assume any regulation is needed in the first place? His argument about information dumbing down America is ridiculous.

Even worse is the form of regulation he espouses. Under his plan the govermnent would verify that information placed on the web is accuarate. HELLO! Who in their right mind want's the government to be the arbiter of truth? Any teenager with a dog-eared copy of 1984 should be able to see through this guy.

This is nothing but a troll disguised as a novel.

Interesting... (2)

RareHeintz (244414) | about 14 years ago | (#522482)

...but flawed, most notably in his assumptions (stated early in the article) that (a) government and corporate power are separate entities (they are not, at least in the U.S.) and (2) that the (American) method of jettisoning dead wood in elected government is effective enough to ensure that the gov't works in the interest of its constituents.

Sadly, I don't have any better solution than Carr's to offer, besides suggesting that people educate themselves, distrust authority generally, and leave the raising of other people's children to their parents.

- B

Didn't I see something like this in Dune? (1)

Lede Singer (253091) | about 14 years ago | (#522493)

In the DUNE books by Frank Herbert, isn't there quite a bit of discussion about the negatives of technology? There is even a great Jihad because of the downward spiral human kind suffered from the excessive use of technology. What was that Jihad called, anybody know?

Carr is a big-time censorship advocate (1)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | about 14 years ago | (#522495)

to the point of saying the First Amendment shouldn't apply to the internet. I can't imagine any /. reader taking him seriously.

this would put DICE out of business (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 14 years ago | (#522498)

Between the resumes stored on their site and the job descriptions listed, there's no way DICE could pass a truth-o-meter.

Re:The question is not whether there is a problem (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#522502)

So discount the possibility of government making a change? Do you trust insurance companies more? I'm not defending this guy. I think the article is short sighted and ignorant. But Government bashing is stupid. Saying that the Government can't solve a problem is saying that WE can't solve the problem, because ultimately WE DO control the government.

Let's let the corporations control it (2)

carcosa30 (235579) | about 14 years ago | (#522503)

Yes, I agree that the government should control the net. That way, General Electric, Rockwell, and Time Warner can create an even greater media lockdown, because they're the ones that fund the infolection campaigns of our "representatives." When we have a regulatory agency to police the net and protect us all from sexual predators and tongue-in-cheek articles (That evil Onion) then we'll truly be able to lie back and enjoy an Internet that's suitable for the whole family. What is this guy trying to do? Sounds to me like he should pull his head out of his ass...


FortKnox (169099) | about 14 years ago | (#522505)

This opinionated post has, what is believed to be, unprovable facts, and is, therefore, being removed by the United States Government.

Big Brother is watching you...


Re:He's an economic ignoramus (2)

iamriley (51622) | about 14 years ago | (#522509)

What he's missing is that in the race to earn profits, corporations have to please people.

Sure they have to please consumers now, but not people in general. A company can piss off everybody in, say, Ghana, but if they're selling to Canadadians, there profits won't be hurt so long as the Canadians are blissfully happy (as Canucks tend to be).

Of course, they only have to keep the consumers happy until they reach "Company Store" status. Wal-Mart is almost there.

Government Involvement (1)

Packratt (257218) | about 14 years ago | (#522511)

The last thing I'd want to see is any government involvement. I doubt that the government would step in since they won't get any bribes from lobyists to do so on behalf of the workers, but if they did it would only be a token measure and likely to cause more problems for both parties than any good the government might do. (just look at any government involvement to see my point).

At issue is how we use technology and how technology uses us. Technology will not stop, it is human nature to invent and improve upon invention. Yet in that process we change ourselves with the technology we create. We must learn to recognize and acknowledge those changes in order to benefit from them and keep them from harming us. All technology has the potential to be usefull or harmfull, it is up to us to determine which it will be.

So, we as people need to change things for ourselves and change ourselves by doing so. In this aspect, we must redetermine how much power our jobs have over our lives and figure out how much we give our employers in return for that portion of our lives to see if it is a fair exchange. Nobody can make us do something we do not wish to do willingly, employees in general must learn this and learn that the companies they work for need them as much asa they think they need the employers.

There is alot that we can do about this problem of work creeping into our lives. The last option should be government, the first should be ourselves. Form a guild, an association, an union. Refuse to work for slave driving corporations, turn the pagers off, turn those cellphone ringers off. Live your life when you go home and go home at a normal hour, the money is not worth your life, is it?

IT is something BOTH can use and want to. OUCH! (2)

crovira (10242) | about 14 years ago | (#522520)

The usual counterbalance of government intervention into the casual and murderous corporate greed (bought a Bridgestone/Firestone tire on a Ford truck lately? It happens folks, and losing voters "in extremis," is what it takes before somebody in government takes notice,) can't be relied upon in the case of IT because both want to control you, your assets and whatever's left of your power.

One will do it because all they see is the bottom line while the other will be doing it to "protect" you (from who or what is always nebulous ain't it? Kiddie Porn. Give me a break! Its an State-run industry in Asia. Porn tours of Malasia. "Bangkock and bang pre-tit poon-tang for foreigners")

Basically, get down on your knees, spread 'em and kiss your ass goodbye. Orwell just had the timing wrong by fifty years.

Hopefully I'll be dead before then. I'm childless, intent on remaining that way and won't subject any progeny to the shit that's coming.

One telling quote (1)

acceleriter (231439) | about 14 years ago | (#522533)

It therefore requires unprecedented attempts to assure the veracity of the content it purveys and to protect those who use it. And if that means suspending full First Amendment protection from the Internet, so be it.

That's about where I stopped reading. If there were still a House Committee on Un-American Activities, I would expect this guy to be brought before it and blacklisted. The only difference now would be that it would be justified.

Re:Jefferson said it best... (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522534)

Liberty is never dated.
Liberty may have it's risks, but it is no less relevant in the age of the Internet and Machine Gun then it was in the days of the Printing Press and Musket.
Or, to quote the movie "Braveheart":
"They may take our land... but they will never take... OUR FREEDOM!!!"

Re:Thought provoking? (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 14 years ago | (#522536)

OK... I am about half way through the article. Before I started, and about 1/4th of the way through, I didn't see how your comment made sense.

Now I have to say I agree with you, and disagree with the author. I think the net WILL need some regulation (tho maybe not the net per se... I think trade needs to be regulated more specfifically).

This guy wants to tackle problems like "Disinformation" and "Child porn" etc. His problem being that "People assume what they read on the net is true"

Well fuck... people believe what they see on TV news is true too (whether or not it is) and that what many politicans say "is true".Whats the difference here?

This strikes me as a whole lot of fluff to promote his fluffy book (which I am assuming is as content free, and chock full of meaningless allegations as his article).


Assumption Re:He's an economic ignoramus (2)

kbs (70631) | about 14 years ago | (#522546)

He's quite correct in one thing, though. You are only as free as the information given to us. Certainly, conspiracy theorists will accuse the government of manipulating information in order to control the public, but corporations don't even hide that fact. Marketing is ALL about spin, whether you like it or not. A product does NOT necessarily have to be truly superior for a company to claim it is such.

And anyway, with such information surpressed, companies need only please the shareholders, not necessarily make products people will buy naturally. They make products they think they can convince people they need, and more often than not, it's successful. How often have you decided you *really* needed a gadget that was advertised on TV? I generally don't have that problem, but there are those I know that get swayed by those sleazy snake-oil infomercials.

So, to sum up; an economic argument only works when everyone has the ability to put together all different sides of the issue and figure out what is best. However, it is in the corporation's best interest to prevent that from happening.


What he REALLY wants... (1)

GodHead (101109) | about 14 years ago | (#522551)

... isn't the Internet. It's an Encyclopedia.

Worse, he wants HIGHER standards for the internet than exist for dead trees. Government factual checking? C'mon, what government agency is cracking down on the Weekly World News for running the "Bat-Boy" story?

I did notice how he was able to mention his new book so many times. Must just be a wacky coincidence...


So what? What are YOU going to do about it?

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (3)

lovegoat (24940) | about 14 years ago | (#522554)

What you're missing is that companies only have to respond to the wishes of their shareholders and their consumers. Since I do not consume products from every company nor do I own shares of every company, I have no sway over most coporations except through government. Corporations are by definition amoral. (not necessarily immoral, but amoral). The government CAN be a balance to this. Sometimes it is.

no regulation! (1)

NightHwk1 (172799) | about 14 years ago | (#522558)

First, contrary to US citizens' beliefs, the US does not own the internet.

This guy is an idiot! Information can't be regulated by anyone. Especially the US government. Personally I would -rather- have corporations have more power over this sort of thing, because 1) they can't make laws, and 2) there are so many competing companies that these 'regulations' wouldnt really exist.
Anyway, why the hell should the internet be treated differently from a book? Information itself is not dangerous. Ignorence is.

For all you Greens out there, corporations aren't any different from you. They are only people. If you don't want AOL to 'take over the world', the Constitution must be upheld. Laws banning corporations aren't the answer. Vote Libertarian.

Disgusting (2)

goliard (46585) | about 14 years ago | (#522559)

There is nothing quite as disgusting as an author willing to sacrifice others' freedom of speech.

I can't remember the last time I saw someone so condescending to both his readers and towards the American public.

Information wants to be free? (1)

Cinnamon (15309) | about 14 years ago | (#522562)

Given the choice between unregulated, suspect information and regulated, supposedly 'proven' information, I'll take the former any day of the week.

What about the rest of Humanity? (1)

sandgroper (145126) | about 14 years ago | (#522564)

You know, those of us who don't happen to live in the U.S.A., and who don't "benefit" from the U.S. guvment's capricious actions? Will the U.S. go to war to impose its censorship regime on us?

"The internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it."

neat coincidence (1)

mrsalty (104200) | about 14 years ago | (#522566)

i was just reading this when i thought is hould submit it...
in any case, he has many valid points, but the execution of such a regulatory policy is far more difficult than getting people to say it is a good idea.
"The Internet should therefore cease to be governed by such undeniably loose rules and instead be overseen by an agency that would more closely resemble the FCC but have even broader power, specifically the power of prior restraint"

hmmm. difficult to do as the internet is an international entity. the FCC is able to be effective because any rules it makes effect only american viewers. any internet ruling body would need to be global to have any real effect and considering the HUGE moral variance between countries (US vs Afganistan for example) it would move at a galacial pace, if that fast.

govt regulation being vigorous AND enlightened? (1)

lupa (218669) | about 14 years ago | (#522568)

after he wrote that, i really didn't care much about anything he could say - in my opinion there is no such thing as enlightened government regulation, so his entire point is moot.

it's even more ludicrous when you try to imagine Dubya saying anything remotely RESEMBLING an enlightened comment about the internet.

Re:Interesting idea, but how will it work? (1)

chipuni (156625) | about 14 years ago | (#522569)

It seems like the idea of the 'information poisoning' article is similar to one that Plato proposed: that we have philosopher- kings to censor information.

The fault of that also came from the ancients: Who watches the watchmen?

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (1)

bitchazz (134990) | about 14 years ago | (#522570)

Sir, your boldface sig is infinitely more annoying than Jon Katz

Thank You

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (1)

yzquxnet (133355) | about 14 years ago | (#522571)

Your Welcome!

Liberty Re:Nice Suggestion... (1)

kbs (70631) | about 14 years ago | (#522573)

You HAVE no liberty, and it's not only the government's fault. Read "Manufacturing Consent" and "Profit over People" by Noam Chomsky to see how corporations are also a culprit.

Unfortunately this article is merely a verbalization of a principle of the "lesser of two evils" ... it just simply depends on which you think is the lesser.


One can choose... (2)

djrogers (153854) | about 14 years ago | (#522574)

To avoid corporate control by voting with your $$ and your mouse clicks. By turning control over to the government though, we lose that ability - the government does not allow you to pick which laws and regulations you follow.

[shameless ./ karma whoring mode on] As much as I hate to sound obvious, the Open Source movement is a perfect example of this. We can (and many of us have) choose to not do business with Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Novell, etc. by developing and/or using open solutions. The 'Government' doesn't fall under the same category, we can't go write our own laws if we don't like the ones we end up with...

Government regulation should always be a last resort, as we lose personal freedom with every law they enact. Others have already quoted Franklin here, but it's worth repeating:

"Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."

you are an economic ignoramus (2)

jslag (21657) | about 14 years ago | (#522578)

. . .in the race to earn profits, corporations have to please people. Only by pleasing people can corporations earn money.

Only in an ideal world. In our world, corporations can use monopoly powers to crush opponents, send high-priced lawyers to silence critics, bribe government officials to write advantageous laws, etc. None of this "pleases people" in the sense you indicate.

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (3)

Chewie (24912) | about 14 years ago | (#522579)

Well, Russ, I'd agree with you for the most part. However, as we've seen with the RIAA/MPAA, once corporations and corporate groups get to a certain size and pervasiveness (real word?), people tend to accept whatever crap the corps force down their throats. The problem as I see it is that when we have corporate control of the net (which we pretty much do through litigation, patents, etc.), they can easily buy governmental control for their own ends (DMCA, anyone?). Now, let me state for the record that while I agree with the main point of the essay, that corporations are only to serve their own interests and bottom lines, I do not agree that government regulation is the answer. Unfortunately, I do not have an acceptable plan to win back information rights. Again, the problem we face now is that corps are in control, and are winning (or have won) the government to their side. Then we will be stuck fighting them both, and that will be a bad day for all. I'm hoping someone smarter than I am has an answer for this problem, otherwise we're all hosed.

Re:You bastard. (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522581)

The beauty of running links or lynx as a web browser is that you never have to loose your lunch looking at goats.cx

Re:Good Advice (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522585)

Bad Advice.
To read ANYTHING without the benefit of our previous experiences in life (preconceived ideas) is to read without thought.

We must filter what we read based on what we already know or we will not be able to come to a reasoned opinion about what we are reading.

"Here, drink this hemlock tea without any preconceived notions..."

Government is at least partly responsible here... (2)

Big Boss (7354) | about 14 years ago | (#522586)

Look at the public schools. They are set up to turn children into obedient little consumers. And now we complain that kids cannot assimilate information into knowledge. Does anyone want to know why? Here it is.

To accomplish this requires an ability that 12+ years of public school drives out of most people. Critical thinking. The ability to think for yourself. Yes, the audience here on /. is more likely to have made it through with this ability intact. And as a result we often had to endure being made fun of and otherwise abused. Yes, it's a tired refrain, but it is the typical situation.

The thing is, critical thinking is not good for educators. It makes it harder to control thier charges. Kids are born thinking for themselves. At least all the kids I have worked with. And teaching someone that constantly questions you is difficult at best. Not to mention a whole classroom full of them. But it can be done. And it's eaiser without all the government restrictions educators must put up with now.

This situation was not the case in the past. It is a relitively new attitude. Talking with people from previous generations will tell you that. Yes, old people have usefull stuff to teach us. Much as it pains me to admit it. ;)

Now this guy says we should limit the big bad corporations with strict government control of the net and IT in general. If we taught our kids properly, they would see right through all this corporate BS and call them on it. Just like typical /.ers do. Government isn't the answer. It is the problem. As usual, EDUCATION is the answer. Problem is, it's much harder to educate than to legislate. And people are lazy and pick what appears to be the easy way. Problem is, it actually turns out to be worse in the long run. But of course, by then the people that wrote the law are gone and the new guys have to deal with the fallout from it. Interesting, that.

One more thing. The net, like real life, can be a dangerous place. There is a lot of content that is not for children. It's life. Deal with it. Watch your kids' use of the net just like you do when they are outside, in real life. If they can steal a credit card and fill in the forms correctly to make it work, then they can steal a "license" and password. Just like how they can get drugs, alcohol, and tobacco without too much hassle. You educate them on those issues, why is this different? Again, the soultion is education and responsibility. Two things serriously lacking in American society.

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522587)

I agree. Good point, this one should be moderated to at least 1 point above his +1 bonus (but probably won't be because most moderators only look for nice long arguments and not at content alone.

A third way (tm) (3)

perdida (251676) | about 14 years ago | (#522589)

With apologies to Blair et al, there is a third option regarding "Internet vetting." I will preface this by saying that I agree with the author that there should be some kind of system to rate and interpret information. Although the raters would have some kind of control, this kind of system would allow for people who are not independent experts to get first time information from the Internet, rather than just confirming things read in far more exclusive venues of knowledge.

Ok, here is the third alternative between government and corporate control:

Popular control.

The reason we have government and corporations fighting over the domination of the Internet is most easily illustrated by imagining two lion prides fighting over a water hole while antelopes and zebras die of thirst. Although everyone, including the lions, would benefit from free access to the water for the zebras, only the lions are strong enough to wage the war.

In the case of information on the Internet, the entire system is organized towards marketing; the most valuable information, such as that on Lexis [lexis.com] , is for pay. But, as many slashdotters are aware, freedom of information would encourage innovation.

How do we do it?

Michael Albert and others [zmag.org] have outlined models of participatory economics (parecon) which rightly puts a high premium on knowledge, and the organization of knowledge, as something which is of very high value and is very political.

It also requires that experts abandon intellectual property and the exclusive rights accorded thereby, instead making propsperity dependent on free and easily accessible information for all people.

The model of educated, democratic input works on a small or a large scale, in capitalist or socialist economic systems, or as an economic system.

Sorry for the overly theoretical response, but I do not know enough about indexing, databases, or networks to be technical on this issue.

Re:Interesting idea, but how will it work? (1)

dancing blue (202796) | about 14 years ago | (#522591)

surely, given the international nature of the web, no single agency belonging to a single governement could enforce any sort of reasonable control. it would have to be some form of international agency funded by pretty much every government that has citizens accessing the web.

which gives rise to governments arguing as to what is factual and what isn't. using the majority opinion of the current population (which is also having trouble deciding what is factual and what isn't).

sorta nice in theory (global agency ensuring adherence to a set of internationally agreed standards) i suppose, but it just isn't going to happen. america agreeing with iraq on what happened in the gulf war? maybe in fifty years time, but not today.

Government Intervention is approaching... (3)

Masem (1171) | about 14 years ago | (#522592)

IMO, the US government does abide by the initial concept of this contry wrt to companies, the idea that the gov't should do little to control those companies in order to keep a free market, and for the most part they have (Now, unfortunately, the reverse is not true, with corps controlling the gov't with soft money). Certainly, any business owner is going to B&M over all the various regulations that the US gov't has on operating a business, from OSHA to wage laws to anti-trust legislation, for the most part, as long as the business pays it's taxes, does not screw the consumer, and treats it's employees well, the gov't is not going to care what happens. So most of the time, whenever something that involves the operating of a business is passed, it's generally a gentle push and not strict demands, hoping that the corporate culture will provide the rest of the momentum.

The interaction between the gov't and the net has mostly this way. While we did have problems with CDA and kin, the end picture was that the gov't wanted those sites with inappropriate material for children to take necessary steps to make it harder for children to access them while still allowing easy access by adults. There are certainly a few stragglers of adult content sites that don't care if they push to kids, but most are intelligent enough to plaster warnings up all over their sites.

Privacy is a similar beast; the gov't has been dropping hints that consumer privacy on the net is very important to them, and corps that need privacy policies should start implementing them appropriately. But unlike the child-blocking of sites above, there a numerous examples of late where privacy was not treated highly or ignored; credit card lists thefts, aburpt changes in privacy policies without opt-outs, etc. The gov't is dropping more and more hints, but these big sites do not seem to be picking up on this. And when the gov't cannot succeed with hints, the next step is to pass legislation. Which is going to happen within the next 2 years, IMO. The technology is there to set up a privacy framework, where consumers can easily opt-out any information that they don't want a site to have, and the legislation is going to require that sites do this. And the businesses are going to complain and the like, but I think the gov't with the current political nature is going to put their foot down and tell them to do it or be punished with civil punishments.

Privacy policy WILL happen, the question is, how restrictive is it going to be -- will the net companies try to make amends now or later?

one more quick comment.... (1)

mrsalty (104200) | about 14 years ago | (#522593)

"People assume that what they read on the Net is true." - pg3 paragraph 3

if someone is dumb enough to believe everything they read (in ANY medium) then the det what they diserve.

Backwards logic.. (2)

djrogers (153854) | about 14 years ago | (#522594)

From the article:

This pervasiveness is even more true of the Internet, not least because the Internet sells itself as, and in fact is, so very much more than a mere entertainment or news medium: it is also a research library, a marketplace, and a schoolroom. Given these additional roles, there is no reason to maintain that the Internet is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as print or even radio and television.

It is precisely this pervasiveness that _requires_ us to afford the Internet First Ammendment protection. If we only apply freedoms to some mediums, they lose all of their value.

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (1)

iamriley (51622) | about 14 years ago | (#522595)

Who said anything about giving a fuck? I'm talking about corporate profits here.

I largely disagree with what he's saying... (4)

Malor (3658) | about 14 years ago | (#522596)

I don't think his arguments are sound at all.

Consider: the very first example he uses is 'pedophiles'. At the moment, there is no more hated and reviled group on the planet. (Personally, I don't really buy most of the noise -- I strongly, strongly suspect that it is nowhere near as bad as the politicians want you to believe.) There is no button that is hotter. Feelings on this matter run so strong that (so far) I have yet to see any rational discourse on the topic at all -- and that's his leadoff example. Not a good sign.

And then he goes on to say that information is dangerous, and that the state should be in the business of prior restraint of speech. Many people, he says, are incapable of separating fact from fiction, so that's why the content of the Internet should be regulated.

Well, gee. This is news? Most people I know just take the pap they're spoon fed by the media. So far, this hasn't been enough of a reason to license news agencies (to my knowledge) or to create a review board that would approve/deny any particular story or stories. We all know how quickly that would start being abused.

Consider: what if pedophilia actually isn't as bad as it's painted? (I"m not making that assertion, I'm just positing a hypothetical case.) In a system of prior restraint, that kind of topic would be very, very likely to be suppressed, or to be forced to take a label of 'fiction' rather than 'fact'. But ideas that are close to the mainstream, like 'The Internet is full of dangerous ideas and children shouldn't be exposed to them without content restrictions' would most likely be allowed to use a 'fact' tag. (heh, [FACT] [/FACT] :-) )

I can't imagine any better way to create even more of a feedback loop than we already have. Popular ideas get repeated, and dissenting ideas tend to be ignored. This has absolutely nothing to do with their actual truth or merit, just their popularity.

Any kind of governmental board would serve only to amplify this feedback loop. I can't imagine a faster way to destroy all possibility of rational discourse on truly disputed topics. It's a great way to make sure that the fundamental values remain unchallenged and that nothing ever REALLY changes.

As an aside, this guy also pisses me off. I'm perfectly capable of separating fact from fiction, and I'm quite capable of assembling a body of knowledge from disparate bits. The fact that there are people out there who cannot is simply no excuse to cripple my ability to gather information and decide for myself. It's just censorship in a slightly different form.

We can't run the Internet for stupid people. To do so will make everyone stupid.

Re:Interesting idea, but how will it work? (1)

Private Essayist (230922) | about 14 years ago | (#522597)

Oh please! I maxed out on karma long ago, so what possible motive would I have to karma whore now? Didn't you see in my comment that this paralleled an idea I had before? Didn't you notice that I presented a dilemma I don't know the answer to?

My post was an honest attempt to raise an issue I would like to see discussed. I'm interested in the subject, and this article reminded me of it. If you are not interested, move on. But lashing out at me for 'karma whoring' when I was doing nothing of the sort is laughable.

same arguments with printing press 540 years ago (2)

peter303 (12292) | about 14 years ago | (#522598)

Before the printing press, books were luxuries
costing years of an average person's income.
It was thought dangerous for the average person
to read the Bible in their own language- they
might get the wrong ideas. For better or worse,
the press changed things. New ideas and their
applications acceleration- first religion, then
science, and new concepts of government. It
created a means and market for new authors,
plus increased reader literacy and customer base.
The Net continues and further accelerates this process.
Everyone can be an author,
not only in print but multiple medias.

Just Big Companies? (1)

kisrael (134664) | about 14 years ago | (#522599)

It's kind of odd that he makes Big Companies the boogieman here. The point of the web is that it allows anyone to publish and reach a potentially huge audience without a huge expenditure, big companies can buy their own media outlets.

I don't even want to think of the Orwellian nightmare his ideas would produce if put into action. Hell, I'm not even comfortable with what I hear about libel laws in the UK.

As always, the solution to bad speech is more speech. Let the ideas fight it out in the open marketplace - a marketplace made more open by the structure of the web and digital information.

Re:He's been suckered (1)

Don Negro (1069) | about 14 years ago | (#522600)

I was more an impression than anything. In rereading I notice that I went a bit hard on privacy end of things. That said, it is generally more profitable to know as much about your customers and potential customers as you can, and to that end assimilate a great deal of information that your customer doesn't necessarily want assimilated.

Don Negro

Re:this would put DICE out of business (1)

jslag (21657) | about 14 years ago | (#522601)

Between the resumes stored on their site and the job descriptions listed, there's no way DICE could pass a truth-o-meter.

Do you mean to say that not every position features "competitive pay and a fun workplace"?

"Obviously dangerous..." (2)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 14 years ago | (#522602)

Indeed, there are many areas of the Net for which application and licensing should perhaps be required. Pornography is too rampant and too available to any kid who can "borrow" a credit card or simply surf the web, as are gambling sites, sketchy chat rooms, etc. Licenses and passwords could help a lot of this.

So far so good: We are talking about material that is obviously dangerous and has been criminalized in other areas.

"Too much pornography" is "obviously dangerous" [violence.de] ?! This guy scares me. I plan on raising my daughter to be comfortable with nudity and pornography.

Screw the prudes!

Believing what you read (1)

EduardoLeonidas (40670) | about 14 years ago | (#522603)

Mr. Carr spends a lot of this article complaining about the lack of accountablity on the interent. He claims that the we need regulations guaranteeing that the authorship or origin of materials found and line can be traced. The abscence of this makes the internet dangerous and useless, according to him.
I fail to see why this is such a huge deal? How about if, instead of introducing such regulations, we educate people about why not to believe everything you read. Rather than introducing costly and difficult to enforce regulations about attributing sources, we have PSA's where James Earl Jones recites, in his best this-is-god-speaking tone, that strangers on the internet sometimes lie or are incorrect. That seems more sensible to me than having the Ministry of Truth licensing websites.

Eduardo Ramirez

Ministry of Truth vs. Emergent Filtering (1)

SecGuy (75963) | about 14 years ago | (#522604)

It's pretty funny to find this article posted on Slashdot, an entity that I think provides a somewhat flawed, but still pertinent counter-example to Carr's imagining.

Carr believes, in essence, that centralized authority -- of any sort -- can effectively help people determine how they want to view a global sea of information. By setting up big bad corporations vs. big bad government as the only two alternatives, he complete misses the very interesting alternative of emergent collaborative filtering projects such as Slashdot, Advogato, Everything2, etc.

Carr suffers from a common, lingering misperception that it is either possible or desirable to prevent the voluntary collaboration between arbitrary pairs of information providers and consumers. That's not to say that anyone wants to have an unfiltered, unmediated view of the global infosphere, but the idea that an organization modeled after the FDA is going to be able to regulate the "internet" without destroying its usefulness (and, in turn, spawning alternatives) is ridiculous.

I actually agree that there is dangerous, unpleasant, and irksome stuff out there. The answer is to not read it, and to help others who don't want to read it to not read it.

The Internet... (1)

burris (122191) | about 14 years ago | (#522605)

"The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." - John Gilmore

"International borders aren't even speed bumps on the Information Superhighway." - Tim May

some people just don't get it...


Government regulation would help? (1)

Faulty Dreamer (259659) | about 14 years ago | (#522606)

I thought that one of our big problems in the freedom department right now is that government regulation is actually increasing the power that the coroprate interests have over our lives. I realize that some people still put an awful lot of faith in the government, but I don't care how you spell it out. If you think that by asking the government to take more power you are going to make things better for the common citizen (and actually get meaningful regulation of big business)....

...well, let's just say that I think big government is not the answer to big business taking control. Big business+big government is not going to equal big freedom. But, I'm sure in time we'll see the proof of that. After all, we are rushing headlong into the era of big business corporate control. And most people are actually pushing as hard as they can to make it happen. Ah well.

Alarmist Claptrap (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 14 years ago | (#522607)

Typical of most "authors" who view the rest of the world as mindless dolts who can't think for themselves. Amazingly enough, most people (even fairly stupid ones) actually have brains and know how to use them on occasion. I believe the church used to use these same arguments to suppress dangerous ideas about the earth being round and such...

a luddite by another name. (1)

*weasel (174362) | about 14 years ago | (#522608)

"most of that technology is making people dumber: It is teaching them how to assemble massive amounts of information...without simultaneously teaching them how to assemble those bits of information into integrated bodies of knowledge"

Is he saying that information technology, of all mediums, is creating a passive society? one in which we sit dumbly and accept whatever programming someone in control thinks we want? Has he completely missed the point of the control that IT gives to the consumer? the otherwise powerless couch potato? The whole concept that everyone with a desire, is a publisher of content? yep, no-one holds your hand online and makes sure you 'get' it. no-one makes excuses for those who truly have nothing to contribute in any one forum. there is no one madated to teaching the old dogs new tricks. The end is nigh.

"information technology bombards us so constantly with entertainment and marketing that quiet, objective consideration of our fate often becomes impossible."

you mean he can't find the close button on his browser? the off button on his tv? c'mon. anyone with such a passive attitude towards liberty and free will deserves to be a marketing department's marionette.

"This leads to a society in which each member is increasingly concerned with the satisfaction of his or her own material appetites, and less and less concerned with the philosophical problems and principles that underlie the successful creation and maintenance of a civil society"

Yep, information technology, the wonder by which marketing noise has -failed- to produce returns - by which philosophical and technical debates have exactly equal presence and footing with the superbowl - is to blame for our obvious lost sight of the prize.

We are all worse off for having invented the wheel. Why when we had to carry rocks on our backs - it made us strong. This wheel is going to make us all weaker, and then we won't be able to defend ourselves from the big nasty teeth and fangs of the wild animals. We will be left to the whims of things bigger than ourselves. Wheels are a bad idea. This single tool will be our downfall.

I have no idea where he makes his disjointed congnitive leap from digital liberty to infernal dystopia... his logic and fear astound me. But i guess someone has to try to argue with George Orwell's fear of big brother right?

What about trust? (1)

FlukeMeister (20692) | about 14 years ago | (#522609)

Carr seems to miss out on fundamental aspect of trust, and that's correlation of any information from independent third parties.

It's fine to say that companies might (did he say will) abuse fact and disseminate misinformation about anything they like using the internet as a medium. Well, dishonest companies have been doing that for centuries, as have dishonest individuals. Most countries already have mature legislation to deal with such activities. It's illegal in England for a company to make false representations about (for example) their products, or to present falsity as truth.

Admittedly, the internet as a medium for dissemination of misinformation is allows for vastly more rapid proliferation of data, and recent experience has shown that most people will equally aid propogation of any information, regardless of source. Before the internet came along, such information had names that included "gossip", "rumour-mongering", and "politics". Carr would have us believe that the internet is going to exacerbate these practices to the point of destroying the fabric of our society. (Sorry, my paraphrase.)

Let's not forget though, that pre- (and even post-) internetworked society has shown itself to be as adept at uncovering fiction presented as truth as it has been incautious in perpetuating it.

This is because the basis of trust for the majority of people means that when the integrity of the source is doubted, we seek independent correlation of fact. Despite the best efforts of a television-centric society to encourage us to act otherwise, there will always be people that want to verify information, especially if the source is a corporate entity. Such verification can come from individuals, government agencies, or competitive companies. (Was it my imagination, or did Carr forget about the power of individuals to expose and regulate the behaviour of both companies and governments?)

Anyway, that's far too much ranting. I'll be happy to post to responses below. =)

The long chains of simple and easy reasonings by means of which geometers are accustomed to reach the conclusions of their most difficult demonstrations, had led me to imagine that all things, to the knowledge of which man is competent, are mutually connected in the same way, and that there is nothing so far removed from us as to be beyond our reach, or so hidden that we cannot discover it, provided only we abstain from accepting the false for the true, and always preserve in our thoughts the order necessary for the deduction of one truth from another. - Rene Descartes

A much more insightful discussion... (5)

adubey (82183) | about 14 years ago | (#522610)

..can be found here [thecomicreader.com] . The best part is, the essay is a comic strip.

I was going to submit this, along with the Salon article, pointing out how much more insightful the comic writer was (hmm... is this always the case?).

What SalonBoy misses (and ComicBoy gets) is that if you directly paid the artist, "corporate" interests are silently subverted.

And if there was a micropayment system, you would be more likely to pay the artist rather than demand free content.

The question becomes: is the lack of a micropayment system a technological problem, or a political one?

Thought provoking? Nah. (2)

plover (150551) | about 14 years ago | (#522611)

If he's so worried about government regulation, why doesn't he propose an actual solution: a "government approved truth proxy"?

It would solve all his problems: only web pages that have grade-A USWA (U.S. Web Authority) factual content are available from this proxy. It won't link to any non-true web pages. The USWA would bless each page they host. Advertise the heck out of it: "Think about it: COMMUNISTS don't use the USWA.GOV proxy!" or "If it isn't USWA approved, IT'S ALL LIES. " They wouldn't have to link to pictures of the human body, and they wouldn't have to link to MP3s. Netscape and I.E.6 could come preconfigured to use the USWA.GOV proxy.

And those of us who scoff at their idiot mind-set can continue to ignore them.

The article is not worth reading, and therefore his books surely aren't. Even Jon Katz reviews more interesting and/or useful books than this one. It's barely worth the time to read the /. comments... :-)


Globalization, Freedom & Responsibility (2)

kabir (35200) | about 14 years ago | (#522612)

As far as I can tell there are a few fundamental flaws with Mr. Carr's arguments. He forgets the nature of the internet right off the bat: global and distributed. That fact alone makes much of what he's suggesting utterly infeasable without a level of international cooperation which would be, quite frankely, utterly unprecedented - to say nothing of the terrifyingly difficult technology problems. Mr. Carr furthur assumes that government is "on our side"... while this is ostensibly true in most countries, the reality is usually pretty far from that ideal. And let's not forget that there are still quite a few countries that are only "on our side" (as a population) if we are on theirs. And then there's the big assumption which is, to my mind, completely flawed: Mr. Carr seems to believe that individuals can not and should not retain personal responsibility for their own intellectual safty. He goes as far as suggesting that the US should "suspend" the First Ammendment in the case of the interenet because people have too much access to "dangerous" information. I'm going to sidestep the whole "what qualifies as dangerous" issue for a moment (though I think we all know it's a big one) and focus rather on the issue of personal responsibility. While I can appreciate the desire to have speech of certain types (ie. corporate advertising) regulated in certain ways (ie. you can't say Goop X will make you fly unless it really will) the laws which exist to protect consumers from deceitful corporations are not media dependent, and still apply to internet adverstising. So the corporate argument is handled. As for individuals lying on the net, well, let 'em. They can lie in print, they can lie on TV, they can lie on the radio, and they can lie in person. Somehow society has gone on.

Up until now I have been personally responsibly for determining the veracity of information I receive, and I like it that way. It means that I can choose to disbelieve whatever I like, and cling to beliefs that everyone be me thinks are so stupidly ill-concieved it causes them physical pain... exactly the sort of mentality that one tends to adopt when making great intellectual advances. Being able to promote, publish, and discuss my fringe ideas is at the heart of intellectual advancement, and shouldn't ever be regulated - you lose too much when you do.

There are a great many other issues I could raise about the article: use of inflamatory language in exactly the manner he claims needs regulating, shameless use of a controversial op-ed piece to promote his book (and he was so down on corporations for being money-grubbing!), etc. But I think that the basic issues are nothing new, so I've decided to focus on them. Mr. Carr has made the classic mistake of assuming that the internet is more than it is... it's just an information medium, nothing more. Sure people can be stupid, believe things that they shouldn't and make poor choices, but tha't certainly not a new problem and we've managed to get by somehow.

I feel dumber for sure (1)

blamario (227479) | about 14 years ago | (#522613)

The article is simply wrong on most accounts, but worth reading. One thing that got me thinking:

It is my belief, for which I offer no apology, that most of that technology is making people dumber: It is teaching them how to assemble massive amounts of information, of arcane minutia, without simultaneously teaching them how to assemble those bits of information into integrated bodies of knowledge -- such integration being the only function that distinguishes the human brain from a mechanical computer.

This seems so true, on some self-reflection. Does anybody know of any psychological studies about effects of extensive Internet surfing and SlashDot on human mind?

Re:He's been suckered (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522614)

If there was ever a reason to abolish the first amendment, it's the kiddie porn issue. However, Liberty is worth the price of security, so we will have to fight the kiddie porn issue server-by-server and offender-by-offender, not by hijacking the internet.

Anti-freedom (1)

Sagev (71069) | about 14 years ago | (#522615)

The largest problem I see with the United States today is people just like this guy. People who are anti-freedom. Allow me to explain:

Too many people I see posting here are constantly claiming that the constitution was designed to make government efficent or to make laws which kept the courts from being constantly clogged with questions regarding a few of the same facts. It's simply not true. The First Amendment is there to protect people like Drudge, whether you like him or not. It's there to protect the writings of Jefferson just as much as it's there to protect Penthouse, whether you like it or not. It doesn't say "Congress shall make no law except in cases where somebody somewhere might be offended or believe something which isn't in the intrests of some group or other." It says "Congress shall make no law".

The idea here was not content restrictions, it was regulation restriction. It's there to keep Republicans from silencing Democrats and Democrats from silencing Republicans and to keep both of them from silencing me.

I noticed in one post someone said the constitution was outdated, that Jefferson had never seen a machine gun. I wholeheartedly disagree. If Jefferson were alive today, he'd want every single last citizen to own an M16 and a bullet proof vest. Not for hunting, not for shooting sports. No, the reason he laid out was simple: To shoot police and soldiers. To fight a revolution. To defend ourselves from the State.

And now we have lots and lots of guys like this. People who proclaim the "public good" (whatever the hell that is) must be upheld, no matter what. If that means I can't write this piece because I refrence revolution, so be it. If it means our own state can remove all our freedoms, so be it. If it means our ultimate demise... so be it. For the love of God, think of the Children!

Then there's this bizarre concept of corporate control over our lives. You wanna know where any such control begins? Government control. Look at any industry you believe to be overly controlling and I guarantee it's a heavily regulated industry. The only way such control can possibly exist is if there is government force keeping other companies from coming in and outcompeting (perhaps by offering less 'controlling' policies) those companies. The only solution to this is simple: Remove the power of government to regulate these companies (with the exception of keeping them from phyiscal force and outright fraud, just as it would with any citizen) and these companies will have no reason to pay off senators. They won't be able to do things that their customers don't like, because there will be others there to do things their customers do like. Deregulate and all these problems vanish. Move to a truly constitutional government, and everything will work itself out within a few weeks.

Anything other than such a strict constitutional government is a proposition for antifreedom, anticapitalism, antiwealth, and antilife.

(Moderate me up for once!)

NAS (1)

voidware (81513) | about 14 years ago | (#522616)

now how long before we get NAS (ie johnny pneumonic and neuromancer) and start living william gibsonesque lives?

Re:Don't you know... (1)

yzquxnet (133355) | about 14 years ago | (#522617)

I don't care, Capice!

Rant (someone stop me before I post again) (3)

Fat Rat Bastard (170520) | about 14 years ago | (#522618)

Government regulation is admittedly imperfect and often infuriating; but it must at least try to work toward the public good, or its authors will lose their power.

I disagree. All a government has to do is try to look like it's working toward the public good.... In the same vein as my post to earlier story on "Truth in Science" government is run by people, people who are just as likely to be bought and sold as those in the corp. life. A government's job (IMHO) is to do the minimum to preserve fundamental rights (now just what that "minimum" is is the $50K question...). Corps will, to an extent, screw with you mainly because they're run by people (I don't buy the people are better than corps line. People run corps. There are corps out there that have, in my opinion, very good ethics and there are those out there who are frigging lousy... just like people). Its the nature of the beast. At least with a corportation I can choose not to do business with them. I'm much more afraid of a government with too much power.

Just look at all of the /. favorite topics of late

DCMA - Gov't Backed, Corp Bought
UCTIA - Gov't Backed, Corp Bought
Tax on recordable media in Canada/Germany - Gov't Backed, Corp Bought

It costs a hell of a lot less money to throw some cash around to the Pols and get legislation passed to protect your market than it is to improve your product. The great paradox is the more control you give the gov't the more control you hand over to those with very large pocketbooks.

Eek (3)

ninjaz (1202) | about 14 years ago | (#522619)

Here are some of the tastier morsels:

The Internet sells itself as, and in fact is, so very much more than a mere entertainment or news medium: it is also a research library, a marketplace, and a schoolroom. Given these additional roles, there is no reason to maintain that the Internet is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as print or even radio and television.

The Internet should therefore cease to be governed by such undeniably loose rules and instead be overseen by an agency that would more closely resemble the FCC but have even broader power, specifically the power of prior restraint.

It therefore requires unprecedented attempts to assure the veracity of the content it purveys and to protect those who use it. And if that means suspending full First Amendment protection from the Internet, so be it.

The power of prior restraint he speaks of essentially means that the government can choose to review each document that goes on-line, and prevent posting "because it said so" (I'm the mommy, that's why).

It should be fairly obvious after the parade of censorware blocks on legitimate sites, that any organization who gets that type of power will immediately procede to misuse it. And, were the net not protected by the first amendment, there would be no real way of defending against such things.

The odd thing is that the author appears to view the net as a read-only medium controlled by a few corporate interests. This is especially absurd considering TV and radio, being limited by the small number of channels available are necessarily controlled by corporate interests, while the Net is the great equalizer.

If I recall correctly, the reason for "balanced reporting" requirements and "operating in the public interest" broadcasters are helded were put in place for the very reason of limited bandwidth and corporate monopoly over what is transmitted on said bandwidth.

Re:Interesting idea, but how will it work? (1)

Private Essayist (230922) | about 14 years ago | (#522620)

Interesting. Truly, there's nothing new, eh? Indeed, who watches the watchmen?

In reality, it would probably turn into a system similar to movie reviews. Over time, you learn which reviewers share your tastes, as so you give more weight to their words. With a system of 'watchers', verifying veracity of web sites, over time we would begin to see which ones knew what they were talking about and which ones were just exercising their prejudices.

American Twat (1)

Lozzer (141543) | about 14 years ago | (#522621)

Yet another person who thinks problems on the Internet can be solved by American legislation. Nuff said...

Only 2 options ? (1)

antv (1425) | about 14 years ago | (#522622)

I do agree that govt control is supposed to be better than corporate control (worst case scenario: all politicians are evil, govt cares about themselves only, but has to please voters to get re-elected - i.e. in worst case govt is the same as corporations).

But are there only 2 choices ? What if instead of some agency you would have several volunteer-driven groups (sites) targeted at specific audience which would link to information and provide commentary ? And where readers could then discuss it further ? And then you decide which groups you trust to classify information for you ? You pick several sources to filter "censor" information, and submit information you consider valuable.

I believe I heard about site called ... umm Slashdot [slashdot.org] was it ? Or kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org] ? There you could get "pre-filtered" information that could be then further corrected/discussed in comments. Anyone else around here heard of Slashdot , no ?

Opinions are mine only and could change without notice.

Flawed Premise (3)

majcher (26219) | about 14 years ago | (#522623)

Interesting article, but fundamentally flawed. Carr bases the whole of his reasoning on this statement:

I could not escape one central dilemma: Only two forms of regulation are available in the United States: governmental and corporate.

This strikes me as similar to a religious person trying to convince an atheist that everyone should live under the rule of the Church, because after all, you're either going to live under God, or under Satan, and at least God is on your side... ignoring, of course, that the third possibility that neither God nor the Devil are on your side (much less exist at all) and that people can damn well take care of themselves.

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (1)

bjrubble (129561) | about 14 years ago | (#522624)

ValueJet and Alaska Air both pleased people by increasing the likelihood that they would die. Jet passengers are not mechanics, and are not privy to maintenance histories or cargo manifestos. Until you can offer a way for the free market to address these kinds of situations (apart from hoping the companies lose business after they kill people, which demonstrably does not happen) I will remain extremely skeptical of the "corporations will line up with our interests" dogma.

I think Carr's preface is specifically to address this. People have lost the ability or motivation to integrate knowledge into understanding. They believe ridiculous crap even when the disclaimers are in plain sight. If there's a valid argument against his solution, it's that we should work on helping people think rather than coping with their inability to do so.

His premise is a bit lame. (1)

Temuut (103461) | about 14 years ago | (#522625)

He wants the Internet to be like his favorite bookstore as far as I can tell. Yes, I agree it'd be great if I never accidentally clicked on a goatse.cs link while online but his point about "an entire generation of young people grow(ing) up to become virtual machines capable of storing informational bits like biocomputers but not of assembling those bits into meaningful bodies of knowledge" is completely subjective. Where's his proof of this?

For instance, I use the Internet to find books, which I then purchase and read. I could spend my time reading up on Aryan hate groups and thinking "well gosh durn it these boys sure got all the facts, yeehaw!" but I don't because I can think for myself and I tend to corraborate information I find with different sources.

I think Mr Carr just bought a iMac and is shocked that many online people and websites are immature and offensive. He thought he was going to be able to buy a latte and browse through the early 19th century sections and in fact he found himself staring at a "Barely 18!!" banner ad.


Re:No clue... (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522626)

If we regulate stupidity, then what we will have is stupid citizens. I agree.

Re:Interesting idea, but how will it work? (2)

Steve B (42864) | about 14 years ago | (#522627)

Interesting idea, but how will it work?

If you're asking, "How could something like this be made to work so that it achieves its declared objectives without unacceptable negative effects?" -- damned if I know.

If you're asking for a prediction, "How will this in fact work if actually implemented?" the answer is quite simple and known beyond reasonable doubt: Information which is inconvenient to the people in power will be suppressed.

Re:Jefferson said it best... (1)

arthur_milliken (232924) | about 14 years ago | (#522628)

Sure it was. The constitution was written specifically to prevent government. Early America had large plantations and slaveowners, and our founding forefathers didn't want a PUBLIC entity attacking PRIVATE interests. The difference between Government and Corporations is that Corporations have to EARN their dollars, whereas Government merely TAXES for it.

Hmm, What's worse? (1)

Packratt (257218) | about 14 years ago | (#522632)

Would you like to see all news articles sponsored by government censored or would you like to see all news articles critical of corporations censored on coprorately patrolled web sites?

Neither is a good option, thus I would think that a net that is for the people and run by the people is best, pretty much the way it is now and always was.

Speech may be free, but the brains to process and filter the information you hear or see is your responsibility. Do not rely on government or the boss to tell you what truth is and is not. If you find something hard to believe, check into it yourself and make an educated choice.

Re:Urgh... (1)

Steve B (42864) | about 14 years ago | (#522633)

Man use... big words.... me confused... head hurts...

I take it this was the first draft of Carr's statement

"Killing Time," my latest book, has been repeatedly described as "dystopian," a word I confess I don't quite understand

Someone who strikes a pose of being too sophisticated to look up a word in the dictionary is in no position to blame others for "dumbing down" the world.

Re:Flawed Premise (1)

exploder (196936) | about 14 years ago | (#522635)

That's an interesting point, but the analogy is flawed IMO because if you don't choose to be either under God or under Satan, there's a very good chance that you don't believe in the existence of either. If I believed that they both were real entities with real influence in my life, you can bet I'd give much more thought to the issue. Now you very well may be correct that neither the government nor the corps are really on my side, but I tend to sympathize with Carr's view that government is at least inclined to be more on my side than the corporations are. It's certainly not a rational to believe that I can just go off and "take care of myself", oblivious and immune to the designs of either entity.

Re:Thought provoking? (1)

Faulty Dreamer (259659) | about 14 years ago | (#522636)

The author also seemed to be assuming that the net is already a completely corporate controlled place. I didn't see any mention of the fact that even if it is a corporate controlled place, people are still responsible for making their own decisions about the information they are fed.

Seriously, it sounds to me like the scare tactics that were originally spouted forth by those that were scared of the influence TV would have on the nations population. TV is making people dumb.

Wrong, people are making people dumb. Being dumb is easy, and people are inclined to take the easy path for the most part. But there will always be a few people that are willing to question the stupidity that they are spoon-fed from birth. I have always tried to be one of those people. And quite frankly, I'm just as likely to question the motives of the author of this article as I am to question the motives of the advertising agencies that put up drivel on TV and in the magazines I read.

It seems the author suffers a major case of blind faith in big government. Or at the very least a complete lack of faith in his fellow man. Granted, I have little faith in humanity on the whole, but individuals will always hold far more power and perception than most are willing to admit. All it takes is for a few to say, "What the fuck?" to any given situation. As long as there are always a few people willing to do that, I don't really "fear" the Internet, or any other form of pushing information on the idiot masses. Because not all of us "masses" are complete "idiots". And assuming that we are is just asking for trouble. Asking for more government regulation of a medium that was not so long ago essentially "free" (as in freedom of speech) is just such an assumption. You don't need to protect people from themselves. And the more you do so, or ask for such, the more you insult them/us.

Re:He's an economic ignoramus (2)

tbo (35008) | about 14 years ago | (#522638)

If you don't consume Company X's product, nor own shares in X, why should you be able to sway that company? It's really none of your business, pardon the pun.

I see only one reason--if they're violating your property rights (pollution, etc.) In that case, your recourse is through the courts.

Re:IT is something BOTH can use and want to. OUCH! (2)

Cpk71 (265540) | about 14 years ago | (#522640)

While I'm not intent on using Slashdot as an outlet for misanthropy, "crovira" has the crux of the matter in range...he just didn't pull the trigger. Carr's analysis itself contains a fatal error--in the United States, there is no substantive difference between "government control" and "corporate control." Both serve a distant, occupying elite which are not accountable to the majority. Appealing to the regulation of either is not productive. Indeed, you can control corporations by "voting with your dollars"....but this inherently gives the wealthy a huge advantage if these corporations are influencing public behavior. Further, the same wealthy elite use the power of media outlets to discredit the democratic process, thus disillusioning the citizenry and making the vote a tool of yet another elite. Finally, the elite and their corporate servitors close the loop by blatantly bribing government officials at all levels of government...this is usually called "soft money contributions," but it's just a polite term for bribery. If Carr is correct, the first step would have to be to make government more accountable to the people. But, the kinds of social changes required to make that happen would obviate the need for government intervention in the realm of information technology. Carr's article concerns an illusory problem--a problem that is a reflection of the true problem, which is that the world is largely controlled by a corporate oligarchy. The Orwell analogies are good, but the best analogy is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

/. libertarians (1)

bjrubble (129561) | about 14 years ago | (#522642)

Slashdot has always been heavily libertarian. Or maybe they're just louder. I suspect a bit of both. What I still haven't grokked is how the prevailing philosophy can be simultaneously libertarian and anti-corporate. "These corporations are evil and constantly abuse us, but the most important thing in the world is that we allow them to continue unmolested!"

Re:Didn't I see something like this in Dune? (1)

Tin Weasil (246885) | about 14 years ago | (#522643)

I forget the name of the Jihad, but if I recall, human beings had created a technological society where all of their needs were met through artificial intellegences and robots.

The evil was not the technology itself, but rather mankinds willingness to be "dumbed down" to a level of reliance.

I think that Caleb Carr's call for government regulation of technology would be more likely to bring about this type of subjugation then would freedom of the internet and freedom of technological innovation.

Window Manager? What Windows Manager? I'm using bash.
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