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Halfway Through The Revolution

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -lost-treasures-lost-faith-part-one- dept.

The Internet 97

Sometimes it seems the the faster technology moves, the farther back in history you have to go to find people who can explain what it means. In an 1963 essay called The Revolutionary Tradition and its Lost Treasure philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote that two things are necessary for true revolutions to occur: the sudden experience --the spirit -- of being free, and the sense of creating something new. The Net qualifies on both counts. Halfway through this misunderstood, leaderless, bottom-up, anti-hierarchical revolution, there's the sense -- only partly true -- of being stalled, threatened, and at a crossroads. (Read more)

However nobly intended, revolutions begin when masses of people share particular, idealistic interests, Arendt wrote. And they tend to get derailed when private interests invade the public domain, diluting and corrupting the agenda of the people seeking change, creating innovations, or making the revolutions.

That has been the fate of every great revolution in modern history, from the American to the French to the Russian. They spring from virtuous ideals, but it's difficult to keep citizens involved and motivated. When the revolutions fall out of the hands of their leaders and followers, and into the hands of elites and special interests, the participants lose heart and interest. The revolutions lose steam.

It's hard to miss the parallels. Unlike the others, the Net is an accidental revolution, by Arendt's or almost any other standard. Both those elements of revolution -- being free, creating something new -- are hallmarks of the Net, and of the cultures which conceived and built it. And recently, there's been a poignant sense of hesitation and melancholy, of a Lost Treasure.

People have been drawn to computing and to the Net Revolution for all sorts of reasons: technical, social, financial, high-minded and mundane. Perhaps what is most revolutionary about this revolution is the effort of millions with shared ideas to establish a place of freedom in which people could take part of their lives into their own hands, a place beyond conventional media and politics.

That struggle and the sense of being free remains very much alive online, despite the furious efforts of many intellectuals, lawyers, business interests, politicians and many teachers and parents to curb it. And the sense of creating something new also persists, especially in distinct precincts like Open Source and P2P.

That these impulses have survived so long represents something of a miracle. The Net Revolution has been under siege -- from corporations, adolescent flamers, lawyers, phobic moralists and politicians -- almost from the moment of its inception.

The United States, though created in revolutionary furor, has become one of the toughest environments in the world to maintain one. Those private interests Arendt wrote have nearly overwhelmed the Net revolution. Profoundly significant social issues -- privacy, intellectual property, the distribution of culture and entertainment -- are barely addressed, let alone resolved. Utopian fantasies about supercomputers, AI, gene mapping and nano-technologies abound, but few have yet delivered to make the world different or better.

Despite its challenges, the Net and the computer revolution have mushroomed. But no revolution goes on forever, and this one is definitely at a turning point. A year ago, the popular media was stampeding online, herading the death of books and print. Now they're shrieking about the death of content and profit on the Web. Both of these ideas are false. There have never been more people and information online, or more creative and interesting works underway.

The viscerally anti-hierarchical Net is a leaderless revolution, without any central ideology, philosophy or set of goals -- a significant difference from past revolutions. It isn't from a lack of visionaries -- Postel, Licklider, Gates, Stallman, Pike, Kernighan, Berners-Lee, and many others to name are nothing if not visionaries. But they aren't leaders; this revolution doesn't really want any.

This one was concocted by a disparate collection of Defense Department war planners, hackers and cyber-hippies. The Web -- created by a new programming class -- broadened the impact of the Net and turned it into something well beyond a communications network -- a truly radical force for hyper-linked textual, cultural and other kinds of change.

Armies of techno-savvy kids with broadband joined the movement and pushed it further. Now, it's under relentless assault from the private interests Arendt writes about, its future uncertain. It faces rampant corporate encroachment and government regulation. Some of this is necessary, some fearfully wrong-headed. Instead of encouraging a common movement or agenda, the Net is increasingly Balkanized by an explosion in individualistic sites, weblogs, P2P systems, filtering and moderation programs.

So far, we've seen a mostly informational and technological revolution with some political overtones, rather than an explicitly political or social revolution. By and large, the Net has revolutionalized personal communications and the movement of data more than it has altered people's consciousness or advanced any particular set of goals and ideals. That makes it an especially tough revolution for the off-line world to grasp, with no Lenin, Jefferson or Robespierre to interview or study. Open Source may be the biggest single revolutionary idea to come out of the Net Revolution, but it isn't clear where that movement is heading. (More about that later.)

This fluid, leaderless revolutionary movement has driven Congress, academics, journalists and parents nearly mad. They are rattled by the hordes of the digital unwashed; they are particularly rattled by the revolution's unpredictability and enthusiasm. But do they have to worry about that much longer? Is the revolution stalled?


Next: Backlash -- The Internet Predicament

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I guess Katz thinks... (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 13 years ago | (#366539)

that the internet is revolting!

Ofcourse the "revolution" is "stalling" the economy is "stalling". If you get a bunch of dot-coms going dongles up then I guess thier innovation and momentum will kinda hafta go with 'em won't they?

Fortunately there hasn't been a rash of programmer suicides because of failing companies and layoffs so it is only a matter of time before those charming, benevolent, lovable, affable and near god-like programmers start innovating somewhere and some how else.

Don't worry folks, we'll pull through. We'll be smarter, wiser, and have new ideas brought on by temporary hunger and exhaustion. Remeber this too shall pass.

- // Zarf //

Revolution, not just yet... (1)

Mage... (18148) | more than 13 years ago | (#366541)

As I read this article, I think about the meaning of the word revolution and about the state of the Internet. I do not think the Internet has cause a revolution, yet. What has happened is a massive change in the way people communicate and share ideas, where a revolution is an act of defiance against specific groups or organizations. The Internet has not brought a revolution because it has been growing in a vacuum. There has been no resistance to it.

As with all things, times change. Now there is a growing resistance, not to the Internet, per se, but rather to the ideals that people have become accustomed to.

The single most prominant of these ideals has been the belief that if I purchase/own something, I have the right to do whatever I want to with it. If I own a movie, I have the right to watch it, let my friends watch it, watch parts of it, watch it fifty times a day, or even sell it at a used items store when I am done. Under the terms of fair use and first purchase, I have the right to do all of these things.

Now, "content providers" want to change their "revenue model" to take away my rights. They want to be able to say that I can watch that movie, but I must pay each time I watch it. If I let my children watch it, I have to pay for each time each one of them watch it. If my friends come over and watch it, then they have to pay to watch it. I can see it now...

I take the movie to the VideoBuster counter...
Employee "Hey there. Nice movie, I saw it myself the other day, pretty cool."

Me "Yeah, I heard it was pretty good myself."

E "OK, how many times are you planning on watching it?"

M "Huh? I dunno, maybe 2 or 3 times."

E "Well, I put you down for 3. Are you having friends coming over to watch it?"

M "A few were planning to come by. Why?"

E "I am just filling out the information for you to rent this video. Let's just say a total of 3 people will be seeing it once, and then you will watch it another 2 times. OK?"

M "I guess so, I really don't know what this is all about."

E "OK, a total of 5 viewings... with regular rental... plus tax... that will be $14.38."

M "What!?!? The video rental is only $2.99 plus tax! How can it be $14?"

E "The video rental itself is $2.99, then each person-viewing is $2, which brings it up to $12.99 and then you add in tax."

M "What do you mean a $2 per person-viewing?"

E "Yes sir. This movie is copyrighted material. It is all explained in your license agreement."

M "What license agreement..."

E "The one on the label of the movie."

M "The label I haven't seen yet?"

E "Yes sir."

You get my point.

Although this may seem a bit far-fetched, look at this, the movie industry wants to "maximize their revenue stream," which simply means they want to get more money out of each person that watches a movie. This means that instead of there being a handful of pay-per-view movies, all movies will be pay-per-view. The discs (most likely DVD) will be really cheap, but you will have to pay each time you want to view it.

Although this method has been attempted by DivX, it did not have enough push from groups like the MPAA to keep going. If DivX started today, I bet that the MPAA would quickly support it, and every major studio would be phasing out their regular DVDs to support the DivX style of pay-per-play system.

It is these, and similar, restrictions to existing rights that could cause a revolution. The Internet is just the medium of communication that is organizing those who are against these restrictions. The Internet is not the bringer of a revolution, but rather a catalyst or system that can help bring the revolutionaries together.

Re:The internet as the wild west (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 13 years ago | (#366542)

Not to be cynical, but...

Long before the web, I seem to remember such things as the Morris Worm, widespread suspicion of government eavesdropping, unspoken suspicion that your local BOFH could do whatever he damned pleased, including read your mail.

Whatever. I don't think it's wise to counter Katz's romanticization of the future by romanticizing the near past.

It will keep changing. It never was ideal. It's gotten more interesting. Predictions of the death of the Internet are as old as the Internet.

Boss of nothin. Big deal.
Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

not surprising to a cybernatician (1)

ckolar (43016) | more than 13 years ago | (#366543)

Whoever said that this was like a seventh grade report was right. This revolution came as no accident to people involved in it. Someone like Stafford Beer [staffordbeer.com] and other people working in cybernetics [vub.ac.be] have held the changes in communication and the ability to move and access information could have profound positive effects on freedom. For starters try to find Stafford's book Designing Freedom, which is short, readable, and provides a great outline on how management cybernetcs might be applied both to individual freedom and a system as complex as a nation state at the same time. His concepts are further developed in his work on Syntegration [f9.co.uk].

The "Balkanization" mentioned is no such thing. In Beer's model it is essential that such "variety attenuation" occur. Think back to 1994, the big problem was that there was too much information (variety) on the web and no way to organize it in a useful fashion -- this would explain why search engines were among the first successful (ok, that is arguable) web ventures. Too much variety, not enough information. The lack of organization actually made the web less useful.

The question that everyone should be asking is this: should variety attenuation be a matter of of the government or industry, or should it be a matter of individual choice.

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

phutureboy (70690) | more than 13 years ago | (#366544)

Open Source and the GPL may be able to stop Capitalism

What traits, exactly, do Open Source and/or the GPL have that are incompatible with capitalism?

--

Socialist Open Source Re:read this letter on lwn (1)

cworley (96911) | more than 13 years ago | (#366545)

That's why we enjoy Linux, Linus, and Tux as the "Open Source" poster children.

Open Source is so much more than Stallman, who takes his place on the socialist edge of the movement.

The issue and the Open Source movement isn't about "Free" (as in beer) or "Working Together" and "being against Microsoft"... it's about having true competition in Software.

Proprietary formats, standards, protocols, etc... lead to the "software vendor lock-in". Microsoft didn't invent this... they were doing ASCII along with everyone else when IBM was doing EBCDIC (Later, of course, MS with their monopoly would do TrueType while everybody else had already standardized to Postscript). They're also not the only software vendor to do this: every Unix consortium is comprised of vendors using one hand to shake, the other to stab in the back.

Open source is the solution... the only solution that will bring about competition in software. That's a capitalist ideal!

When Compaq, and others, reverse engineered the IBM PC Bios, the PC revolution was ignited: anybody could make a motherboard or an adapter card, or memory (The MS OS and the Intel CPU were the only proprietary pieces left atop this open hardware platform). The prices came down, the innovation moved at record pace.

...We don't refer to the open hardware PC revolution as "socialist".

The internet as the wild west (1)

cworley (96911) | more than 13 years ago | (#366546)

Not to be cynical, but...

There was a time when internet users seemed to be able to regulate themselves. Viri weren't being passed, Spam was not tolerated, crackers were academics without criminal intent, intellectual property was not violated, information was free, domain names were free and not squatted, IP addresses were abundant, and privacy was maintained.

Then the hoards moved online; like the land-grabs in the wild west. Good domain names are gone, nothing can stop spam (nobody in their right mind would post to a usenet news group anymore), script-kiddie crackers and new viri are abundant, using rights of privacy to gain anonymity, and copyrighted software and entertainment are traded for free, without respect for the copyright owner. Web pages have become more marketing than information (the marketing is free for you to consume, the information will cost you).

Laws and regulations have not been able to cope; they've (somewhat) maintained the privacy, but can do nothing about the criminal behavior.

With the lawlessness, bounty hunters have moved in, like those mentioned in:

http://slashdot.org/yro/01/02/21/1852252.shtml

This, along with court orders like squelching Napster by song titles and the MP3.com and DeCSS decisions, will threaten free speech, fair use, and the privacy we've strived to maintain.

Like the wild west, times will change, and once they do: there will be nothing left of the original state of the internet. Microsoft, with it's .net initiative, is moving to take control of the internet and make every port and protocol it's proprietary property.

Re:Socialist Open Source Re:read this letter on lw (1)

cworley (96911) | more than 13 years ago | (#366547)

>"In a capitalist society you always have the balance between ownership and competition..."

My point exactly. We agree entirely. With software, the proprietary lock-in means that we don't have a good model for competition. The "balance" you speak of does not exist for software competition. As the appellate court judges recognized in the Microsoft case: "how does this solution keep from replacing one monopoly with another"

Whether it's the Microsoft tyrannical rule of the PC desktop, or the "Unix Consortium" backstabbing; they all base their business model on the proprietary lock-in.

Open source is the only way to end the proprietary lock-in.

True, those individuals that are fundamentally critical to the Open Source movement don't directly make a cent off their efforts; Linus himself choose a job outside the movement (but his work inside has helped him with his career).

That's inconceivable to a lot of people (like you) who have never offered your time and experience for charity, or have never done something purely for recognition, or purely for expanding the state of the art.

If the open source developer community were just an anomaly, then it would have died by now. It hasn't. These people do, and will continue, to exist. Universities are crowded with folks like this. And because they do, we have a mechanism to offer a base system, with open standards and source, that any vendor can build atop and make money from...

But, the vendors have to "sharpen their pencils" and innovate quickly, because their competition can do the same thing!

That brings competition to software!

read this letter on lwn (1)

imr (106517) | more than 13 years ago | (#366548)

i love the second letter [lwn.net]
oh this week edition. quotes:
I think we should be frank. There is no point in fighting a war of propaganda. There is no denying the accusation that one of the main aims of the free software movement is a socialistic one. I don't really care that in the U.S.A., calling something "socialist" means that it is soon called "communist" and then "Stalinist" and then (worst of all!) "un-American". Sticks and stones. One of the advantages of the free software movement being so international as it is, is that it ought to be easier for us to think outside the box of American political discourse.
br> The GPL is socialistic in that it is designed to promote a social goal, which is the establishment of a archive of free software and a community of developers dedicated to enlarging and enhancing it. Ultimately it may occur that this body of software becomes so extensive and attractive that it becomes indispensible---that it becomes a public-domain homologue for what Microsoft software is now. The goal is to revolutionize the means of production of software and to establish a new mode of software distribution: To each according to his need; from each according to his ability. If the movement is successful---if GPLed software becomes "the standard"---then it will be more difficult for software companies to make money selling proprietary software. So the free software movement is not only socialistic in its goals, but dangerous to a certain form of capitalism too. In the case of Microsoft Corporation, the movement is openly hostile.
To those who complain that these goals aren't the American Way, let us simply say: Well, if that's true, then so much the worse for the American Way.

the typical Katz we know and love: (1)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 13 years ago | (#366550)

sweeping generalizations, pedestrian observations, bland platitudes, and buzzword-mania.
Utopian fantasies about supercomputers, AI, gene mapping and nano-technologies abound, but few have yet delivered to make the world different or better.

I mean, what the hell is his point? What is he even talking about? Does anyone know? "Hey you, you genome-sequencers, you nanotech researchers, you AI professors! Let's see some results, OK? I demand that you make the world a better place!"

Instead of encouraging a common movement or agenda, the Net is increasingly Balkanized by an explosion in individualistic sites, weblogs, P2P systems, filtering and moderation programs.

I mean, WTF?? Maybe Katz is having a flashback to the 60s, and thinks we should all stop blogging, making homepages, and trading files and have one big online love-in? And what's this about moderation programs? Is Katz lashing out at the hand that feeds him?

If anyone would care to respond, speak up in Katz's defense, please, do. This is not a troll; this is not flamebait. Katz seems so sure of himself that I hate to just dismiss him outright.

Snore (1)

AlphaHelix (117420) | more than 13 years ago | (#366551)

JonKatz attempts to read profundity into every nit and detail of the internet. As such, everything he says necessarily lacks profundity. JonKatz tries to elevate every miniscule brain fart into a Copernican revolution. As such, every one of his "revelations" becomes simply a waste of time. And the more often he claims to have discovered or uncovered or recovered something insightful, the less we believe him.
* mild mannered physics grad student by day *

noble revolutions? (1)

AshPattern (152048) | more than 13 years ago | (#366552)

However nobly intended, revolutions begin when masses of people share particular, idealistic interests

Heh. In The True Believer by Eric Hoffer, it is observed that revolutions occur because of self-hatred, self-doubt, and insecurity among the nature of the participants. A passionate obsession with "revolutionizing" the outside world is merely a craven attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning in one's own life.

It is also noted that people tend to get more dissatisfied when their living conditions begin to improve, not under continuous repression.

Re:Revolution (1)

dhobbit (152517) | more than 13 years ago | (#366553)

Sometimes we have to step back and realize that it's just software. That's like saying the printing press just pressed paper. There is far more to the Internet than "just software". When the printing was invented it allowed people to share ideas that couldn't be shared before; literacy soared, knowledge increased, and people become more wealthy. A true revolution in information. Then nothing changed for three hundred years. Literacy dropped and the middle class became disheartened with the revolution because, businesses began controlling the flow of information. It became difficult (expensive) for people to publish to the masses, it became easier for businesses and government to censor what they didn't like. Then the Internet comes along people could once again publish freely and cheaply to large audiences, hobbiest could release software that challenges multi-billion dollar companies, and people could once again feel free from the control of businesses and goverenment. I completely agree with Mr. Katz and Hannah Arendt and revolution is a "spiritual" thing not a monetary thing. Free software is about people who love to code doing what they love. They will be here after the Internet has "evolved" into something, after all the .Coms are gone, and after all the Linux vendors have closed their doors. That's the revolution, because those people will still be writing better code then any corporation on the planet.

Revolutionary? Perchance not. (1)

perlprog (157760) | more than 13 years ago | (#366554)

I disagree with Mr. Katz's assertion the internet itself is revolutionary. I think the word evolutionary comes to mind. The internet is just another evolutionary step in humankind's ability to communicate with one another. Writing, the telegraph, and the telephone are just a few of the steps that precede the internet. If Jon spoke of the computer in it's various incarnations throughout history as being a revolutionary device, I might have agreed with him.

Misconceptions about the net (1)

schulzdogg (165637) | more than 13 years ago | (#366555)

Linking the net to a political revolution is not a correct match.

The net was built by the government and private interests, it's infrastructure is privatly owned. A social revolution requires belief, hard work (money helps), and a willingness to risk your life. It doesn't require the infrastructure and expertise that only money can buy. Just because the people that built the net decided you could use it for low cost doesn't mean you have a right to it. Because business's want to recoup their investment doesn't make them evil.

Katz has started to believe what he writes, now he really thinks there was a revolution. Wake up, think about it. The net isn't a revolution, it's a piece of technology it will change the world like the phone did. Phone's are useful buy no one will argue it's created social upheavel and great progress...

Re:So are you saying moderation is anti-revolution (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#366556)

Thank you High School history was a *long* time ago. I did not remember that point.

Re:So are you saying moderation is anti-revolution (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#366557)

Hi again. Yes I can imagine a world in which Tom Paine was censored in fact I'm living in such a world right now. The crown did everything that it could to squash and destroy the works of Tom Paine and many of the other founding fathers. Now from a earlier thread in which we went back and forth on this you stated that making it hard to publish something is censorship. Well the English governement at the time would have killed Tom Paine had they been able to catch him and made life very hard for anyone caught with those works. In fact signing the declaration of independece was a act of treason in the eyes of the crown. So it was made very hard for the founding fathers to publish or get anything to readers which by your defination is censorship. The simple fact of the matter is moderation is not censorship.

Re:How about another analogy, or two (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#366558)

Hehehe.. You are forgetting that at that time to publish or distribute most works by Tom Paine was treason and was in fact illegal. So yes it was censorship. This goes for many other works by the other founding fathers.
Now where you are wrong about moderation is that it is not in fact any of these things. The analogy is if one merchant refused to carry Common Sense would this be censorship or to make it more accurate if a bookstore did not put the book in the front window and promote it. Or if for example the New York Times won't publish you on page one but several other papers will. You are I'm afraid confusing the right to speech with the right to have a specific audience. The simple fact is /. will publish , maybe not at the top of a list of comments but it *is* there, anything that you happen to type in name me another source of information about which this statement is true and I will accept that moderation is censorship.

It is about something, the proof is all around us (1)

Dractyl (174387) | more than 13 years ago | (#366559)

It may not have been something when it started, but it is about something now. We've all had a taste of freedom in the form of freedom of information. Whether it be OpenSource or Napster or just a little girl with a Harry Potter fan site, we've had freedom to consume or produce content as we see fit.

And now we are being threatened. Our new found freedom is being threatened by the existing establishment. If we weren't in some sense a revolution, why would they fight so vigourously against us? OpenSource is threatened by UCITA, Napster is threatened by RIAA, and Time/Warner sends threatening legal letters to little girls who run Harry Potter fan sites.

We are under siege. If anyone is confused about that fact, allow me to list a few of the recent initiatives against us:

- CPRM
- D/FAST
- UCITA
- DMCA
- The GPS chip which disables consumer electornics
- Region Encoding
- Countless RIAA/MPAA lawsuits
- E-publishing trying to shut down libraries
- Continued opposition of encryption by the US

Many old industries which are threatened by the Internet world are fighting pretty hard against us. They are trying a machine gun approach. Sooner or later one bullet will get through. When it does, not only will we lose the new freedoms that the Internet has given us, we will lose ones we already had such as Fair Use.

Our new technology has the capacity to give us a freedom of information such as we have never enjoyed, or to put us into a bondage such as we have never seen. The world won't be 1984 and it won't be a brave new world. Not unless we let it.

We can fight. We already are, but more must be done. More donations and involvement in organizations like EFF and EPIC. More volunteers for projects such as freenet. More advocacy to lay people. An American president once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." It is time for each of us to be vigilant. If we fail and lose everything we have, we will have only ourselves to blame.

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

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366560)

You are off topic because you did not comment on any of Jon Katz's specific points.

Unfortunately, we are all off topic, because his article had no specific points.

Re:Halfway isn't really into the revolution at all (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366561)

A lot of Brits seem to think that we are still revolting...

... very revolting. :)

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366562)

I've read it.

My point, if you read my comment a little more carefully, is that when you GPL your software, it does not remove my ownership of my software. Therefore, the GPL is just an option, available to me, but not required of me, should I want to share my software and make sure it stays shared, rather than mess with maintaining ownership.

Whether Richard Stallman and his circle of friends want to stamp out the concept of data ownership is irrelevant to the fact that the GPL does not do so.

THERE ARE NO VIRTUOUS IDEALS (1)

RobertAG (176761) | more than 13 years ago | (#366563)

"That has been the fate of every great revolution in modern history, from the American to the French to the Russian. They spring from virtuous ideals, but it's difficult to keep citizens involved and motivated. When the revolutions fall out of the hands of their leaders and followers, and into the hands of elites and special interests, the participants lose heart and interest. The revolutions lose steam."

Sorry Katz. All those revolutions involved very real issues of property, overtaxation, government mismanagement and famine. The "masses" were driven by a need to feed their families more so than the lofty goals of liberty and justice for all.

This present "Internet Revolution" is NOT a revolution. A closer parallel is that of an opening frontier. It comes complete with open land(domain names), claim jumpers(Domain Name Squatters), hostile natives (Old Unix nerds), new settlers (Microsoft Windows and AOL users), lawlessness (think abundant porn, offshore gambling, script kiddies, DoS attacks, etc - all the bad things about today's internet), partitioning and development of land (new domains and new trunk lines, bridges/routers, Broadband systems), frontier lawmen (reformed "crackers" helping the government),etc etc.. The similiarities are more apparent with this comparison.

The net was never a revolution... (1)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 13 years ago | (#366564)

...but a new marketplace. The closest modern comparison to the explosion of the Web is the fall of the Iron Curtain across eastern Europe.

In those days, companies were rushing to get a foothold in the new markets. Ideas flooded in to places they had never been seen, and 40-year old men ate a bananna for the first time in their lives (no joke - think how basic that seems to the rest of us). But the Iron Curtain's fall did not create, organize, or lead these ideas. It simply allowed old ideas to reach new ears, and companies to reach a group of people in a different, more open way.

With the web, we have ideas - like Open Source and Fair Use rules - finding new ears. However, like when Eastern Europe discovered the glories and pitfalls of Capitalism, these ideas and the problems stemming from them are nothing particularly new, or unique to the space. Open Source has had its collaberative spirit in academia for ages, and fair use has been an issue since Gutenberg printed his first tract back in the 1500's.

The problem with America, as John pointed out, is that it's hard to keep anything (not just a revolution) going. The reason for this is that, as the philosopher DeToquivelle once pointed out, in America only ideas which make money and are widely approved gain an audience. We're seeing this effect right now in the ad revenue crunch many of our favorite web sites are now feeling. If the ideas aren't popular enough, as with moderated websites, they are squelched. The next stage of our new market's development will be to find a way to disseminate ideas which cannot be centrally controlled and need not be financially supported. Once this happens, our new market can never again lose so imaginative a participant as Napster, and the web will have the capability to be the staging ground of the next global revolution. This time, the revolution will not be based on physical capital, as the French and American revolutions really were, but on the capital of ideas.

So the web is not a revolution, but is a seeding ground for one. Anyone agree?

Revolutions are not just about something (1)

minna (179364) | more than 13 years ago | (#366565)

Jon Katz, quoting Arendt, says that all revolutions are about feeling free and creating something new and that this applies to the Internet as much as it applies to,say, the French or the Russian revolution. However, there is a deep difference between the Net and other revolutions and this difference might be the reason why is the there is such a feeling of emptiness now.

All other revolutions were about something very specific. The French was about creating a rational and just society (as opposed to the irrational and traditional society of the ancien regime). The Russian revolution was about ending exploitation (as opposed to capitalism which is based on it). The fact that they never really got there doesn't matter for the moment. The Net revolution was never really about anything in particular. Even Linux and Open Source is, at its heart, about good tools and the right to play with them. The movement as a whole has barely any social or political vision behind. I think that is one of the reason why so many people sold out so quickly. There weren't any ideals to compromise. If corporate webserves run on Apache you could have the cake and eat it too. Be part of the revolution and get a good pay check.

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

CyberKnet (184349) | more than 13 years ago | (#366566)

I dont mean to troll, and believe me, I support Open Source as often as I can, but I cant help but think that OpenSource/GNU GPL cannot be the answer to bring down Capitalism.

If you are able to take a minute to stop and think, ponder this:

Is OpenSource/GPL the end of Capitalism, or is it only a different *kind* of capitalism? One where values are what everyone is capitalising on, not money...

---

Halfway isn't really into the revolution at all (1)

Catiline (186878) | more than 13 years ago | (#366567)

Well to draw strongly upon the American Revolution as a paralell, from what I see we haven't really revolted yet.

The American Colonists were in revolt against the Brittish at least a decade before they declared independence. There was a whole bunch of riots (the most famous are the Boston Tea Party and Massacre) and they occured in differing amounts all over the colonies. From this we can see that
1) revolutions aren't ever homogonous- different areas will change at different times and with varing speeds- and stop changing at different times and
2) what we're seeing now may not really be 'the Revolution' but only a front-runner, something that will get people informed about the problem before the final (adopted) solution comes along.

Re:Revolution (1)

tapaika (190632) | more than 13 years ago | (#366568)

Well, by that standard neither the Industrial or Agricultural Revolutions are actually revolutions. Sometimes you've got to step back and realize that technology really changes things. Can you honestly tell me that the political, cultural and social landcapes of the 20th century would have been anything similar to what actually happened if not for the Industrial Revolution? Not only did the new technology alter the way we work, it altered the way we think. It allowed some people to affect others in radically new ways. The whole idea of communism sprang up as a byproduct of the amazing amounts of wealth that industrialists were getting and the abysmal conditions that they ground their workers into in order to get some more money.

The Information Revolution is the same way. On the surface its just software. The real impact will be the way its used. Stanislaw Lem wrote a great story about the history of 21st century warfare. In it he describes weapons made up of tiny (millimeter to micron scale) semi-intelligent robots that can be easily transported into enemy territory where they assemble themselves into the real weapon. Imagine a nuclear bomb made out of thousands of nanines that are for the moment peacefully embedded in your soil. Or imagine nanites blown in on clouds that cause acid rain to ruin your harvests. At some point governments are unable to tell if the disasters befalling them are natural or the work of enemies. The above is about as realistic account as any I've heard of the future of warfare. Within the next 50 years we will be in the posession of the necessary technology and then the political systems of the whole world will change, with society and culture in quick pursuit.

If nothing else, the very idea that information is a thing in its own right is an important byproduct of the past decade that really will affect the way most people think. Yeah, in a lot of ways this stuff is just computers. However, there is a point when the power for change becomes so great that the new kid on the block needs to be classified as a revolution. Linux is not a revolution. Its just software. Open Source is not a revolution. Its a big sideffect. The Internet is almost a revolution. Put it all together and you have the potential to change the world in some pretty fundamental ways and for better or worse, that's exactly what's going to happen.

revolution and technology (1)

bluesninja (192161) | more than 13 years ago | (#366569)

way to confuse technological development with revolution.

revolution is social, and happens in cycles. technological development is not cyclical, but continues in an upward direction.

the net is interesting because it is both technical and social, and JonKatz is (not surprisingly) confusing these two issues. In fact, what is happening is exactly what I would expect to happen under the circumstances:

1. Social movements, when they are successful, become the status quo. That's why it's cyclical. Albert Camus wrote about this. So, the internet has subsumed older methods of communication and cultural development, and now the 'normal' culture at large is trying to adapt to it and subsume it. No surprise here. What would be surprising is if the internet managed to, oh, i don't know, overthrough government or something (that Jon seems to be implying that it should). There is no "Internet Manifesto". That's because it's not a purely social development. duh.

2. The technology of the internet is contantly changing (which Jon mentions wrt P2P, etc.). This does not fragment the internet, it evolves it, and allows for new cultural changes. The current internet culture will be overthrown when some new system comes along.

the really interesting thing about the "internet revolution" is that it created a culture very uniquely and intimately tied to technological growth. THAT would be an interesting essay. Jon's, however, is boring, shallow and trite.

/bluesninja

Re:Back to the point, I think (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | more than 13 years ago | (#366570)

Good post. If capitalism in the U.S. works so poorly, why aren't there hordes of programmers migrating to Europe, or to India? Wasn't it Churchill that said something along the lines of "Democracy in America and England is the worst form of government -- except for every other form of government"

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 13 years ago | (#366571)

yeah we're WAY too content right now to even THINK let alone think about something as challenging as CHANGE.

shit is fucked, make no mistake, but we've got a hell of a lot of sexy shiny objects to distract us.

Re:the typical Katz we know and love: (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 13 years ago | (#366572)

well not quite. i'm sitll on the bandwagon in fact. my band gives all our music away for free (we charge for hardware -- t-shirts, CDs -- but the software .. the music .. is free. and that's how it shall remain. grow up? fuck you! =]

Re:the typical Katz we know and love: (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 13 years ago | (#366573)

don't have the energy really to make a real response here. but hey i'l lsay this -- i think he made some good points in that one. sometimes he's talking out of his ass. but his general idea is valid.

When the revolutions fall out of the hands of their leaders and followers, and into the hands of elites and special interests, the participants lose heart and interest. The revolutions lose steam.

i can see the cynicism rising all over the net, where once there was boundless idealism. i mean look at your own post. it wasn't always like that here. i'm not saying it's not warranted or justified, just saying a year ago it was easier to get excited about the potential of free everything.

Re:the typical Katz we know and love: (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 13 years ago | (#366574)

that's all fine, but don't get uppity about yer /. UID with me, please :P sheesh

children (1)

serlo (206060) | more than 13 years ago | (#366575)

in german, one sais: the revolution eats its children. in the sense, that initiators of a revolution will not survive it. who are the children of the actual revolution? open source projects? hackers? science?

there is no problem with the net... (1)

fatmantis (218867) | more than 13 years ago | (#366576)

'That these impulses have survived so long represents something of a miracle. The Net Revolution has been under siege -- from corporations, adolescent flamers, lawyers, phobic moralists and politicians -- almost from the moment of its inception.'

This is base and tactless fear mongering. 'adolescent flamers'?! are ruining the web? corporations are beseiging it? If memory serves, there were just a handful of caucasian college+ elitists on the web prior to 1994 (myself included). It wasn't until the unwashed masses, the corporation and the lawyers got involved that this thing really started to take off. And here you are bemoaning it? Your livelyhood depends on these things, Mr. Katz, and I am a little dissapointerd to hear you complaining about it now.

I'm sure it seems like a stalled revolution from the perspective of anyone attached to VALinux, but I have to say, between gnutella, IRC, usenet and google, the web is full of more anti-establishment information now than ever. And from what I can gather of your rant here, this is what qualifies as 'revolutionary' to you. There is a curious feature of the internet in that any and all private interests have ample room to operate. I'm not sure what you are complaining about, exactly, perhaps the music industry beating up on Napster? I can still get pirated music from at least 5 different avenues besides Napster. Perhaps you are concerned with things like Carnivore, et al.? don't use words that raise flags and you are fine. or better yet, encrypt. The point here is that regardless of the attempts of any given private interest, there is already far too much traffic volume, far too many avenues of communication through the Net for any one interest to contain. regardless of what they'd have you believe.

What is truly revolutionary about the web is the speed and volume with which data can move about. This facet of the Net is not something that is in danger, now or in the forseeable future.

Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#366577)

The United States, though created in revolutionary furor, has become one of the toughest environments in the world to maintain one.

Isn't that something to ponder over?


Well, it's more due to the fact that unrestrained Capitalism is a unstoppable meme, propaging like a virus gone mad. Just about anything Capitalism is confronted with, it can co-opt and subvert.

Open Source and the GPL may be able to stop Capitalism, although my money is on the GPL becoming trendy and showing up on T-shirts on Lettermen, so that psuedo-anti-capitalists can pay lip service to the principles of the GPL without having to actually make any sacrifices (you know, like a World Widelife Federation sticker on a gas hogging SUV).

Or you could become a Marxist, and hope that Capitalism contains the own seeds of it's destructions, to which I reply McDonalds and HDTV, I mean, bread and circuses for all the sheeple.

Re:So are you saying moderation is anti-revolution (1)

nickco3 (220146) | more than 13 years ago | (#366578)

Well the English governement at the time would have killed Tom Paine had they been able to catch him

They did catch him. Thomas Paine was an Englishman who arrived in America in 1774. He helped stir up a revolution, and then in 1787 he went back to England. He was arrested, etc., found guilty of sedition, and declared an outlaw.

So he went to France and helped whip up a revolution there.

Is it just me... (1)

$0 31337 (225572) | more than 13 years ago | (#366579)

Or does this article read like a report written by a seventh grader? And also, How does this actually qualify as "news for nerds" and/or "stuff that matters"? Again, Perhaps it would have been better if Mr. Katz had looked at what his fellow posters have been writing and maybe do something a little more relevent for slashdot.

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

$0 31337 (225572) | more than 13 years ago | (#366580)

Every now and then would be fine... However, Mr. Katz only does editorials/reviews and most of them have nothing to do with technology or anything else slashdot related. Besides, It was written the way a 15 year old would write a report for his tech ed. class. If it was just the fact that I didn't like it, I wouldn't have responded to it. I just feel that it's offtopic enough not to be included in slashdot.

Yea good ol' days (1)

Zihara (227093) | more than 13 years ago | (#366581)

I wasn't around when the "the 'net" was a new term, BBS` were rife, everything was new and exciting. You could find things you were looking for easily without coming across multitudes of pr0n (unless of course that was what you were looking for, and even then, that was hard to find), it was a group of people who collaborated together to form something good.

Oh how I wish I had been there. Now, as I learn more, and watch things change, it seems that I become more disillusioned day by day, watching the young 'l33t script kiddie hackers' take over, the corporations buy up all that is good so they can make another $1Million profit, and every search on google returning 3/4 spam before you can actually find anything remotely resembling what you were looking for.

I might be rambling, but it's very disturbing to think that when the time comes I might actually want and be able to contribute something good to this thing we call "The 'net", it would be pointless anyway because it would be another part of that huge thing I refer to as 'The Combine'.

So much for making a difference, huh ?

Re:Katz at his worst (1)

awful (227543) | more than 13 years ago | (#366582)

Katz' big problem is that he has no *skills* - so he can't really contribute anything useful to /. except for his movie reviews and his lame generalised articles that tend to state the bleeding obvious. The Internet is a revolution? Oh my God - I had no idea!

Poor Jonny - he spent his whole life looking for a captive audience, and when he finally found one, he discovered that they're smarter than him.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised... (1)

Dave Rickey (229333) | more than 13 years ago | (#366583)

...and the Revolution is not for everyone.

I've been around, *and* I'm new. I came in with the unwashed hoards in September of '93, an AOL user (Gasp!) who discovered the Internet through Usenet access.

Okay, I'm a quick study, after a few months (and a change to a regular ISP) I was participating in the discussions on the defining problem of the time: Spam. That was the first skirmish in the war between net.culture and those just out for the bucks, anyone want to say we won that one?

Nope, we lost. Didn't matter, we adapted.

We adapted because this *isn't* a revolution, other than in the sense of "The Industrial Revolution". It's a cultural paradigm shift as profound as the invention of the steam engine (which happened in England, BTW), the printing press, *writing*, or even organized religion.

And here's the thing: Cultural paradigm shifts can lead to greater freedom, but history shows they lead to freedom only for those that are positioned to take advantage of it.

Organized religion made the priests a power the king had to deal with as equals. Writing empowered the bureaucracy, without them the king couldn't govern. The printing press empowered those who could read and write, suddenly it was much harder to control what people knew, and that created the intelligencia. Sail empowered the merchant class, suddenly they were more than a resource to be taxed. Each stage added more people to the ranks of the privileged, more people sharing a larger pie.

Even the last stage of the Indsutrial Revolution: Consumerism, was an improvement. A wage-slave has a *much* higher quality of life than a subsistence-farming peasant. Consumerism empowered the worker, and vastly enlarged the "middle class".

And this revolution will be by and for the digerati. An electronic global village needs its High Priests of electronics, and the next wave of elect will be those that can grasp the technical knowledge needed to keep the Information Age going.

This is a good thing. Not utopian, not perfect, but good. More people will have more power. The current powers see the digerati grabbing for a slice of the pie, and don't yet realize the pie is growing. Or they do see it, but they want all of it for themselves.

Doesn't matter. Power will pass into the hands of the people who know enough to create it. The digerati will triumph in the long run because without them, the pie can't get bigger. Not Utopia, just better than what came before.

--Dave Rickey

Re:The Revolution Will Not Be Televised... (1)

Jambu (237962) | more than 13 years ago | (#366584)

I found this to be an informative comment which typically comes as a late post. The comment recognises that at the heart of the "is this a revolution debate" is semantics and definition. For one side of the debate the working definition is "is this a revolution in a tech Industrial Revolution?" sense. The second definition, which is taken by most to be an oppositional stance, is "is this a revolution in the Emancipation sense?" Since the author takes an historical perspective at answering the question "Is this a revolution", the conclusion drawn is that both greater freedom and technological upheaval are forces in the same previous historical "tech revolutions". I feel too that the close study of history would answer best "what sort of revolution do we have here and what are likely to be its medium term effects?" The answer seems a reasonable one, given the thrust of human history, that "the next wave of elect will be those that can grasp the technical knowledge needed to keep the Information Age going." One can only hope though, that "More people will have more power." From my reading of history, the individual has never been as free in the Emancipation sense as when they lived under a less hierarchal hunter-gatherer structure.

The Way of Change (1)

syrupMatt (248267) | more than 13 years ago | (#366585)

Isn't this how all successfull revolutions (or extreme changes in culture)get filtered down to the masses?

Think about this historically. Every revolution, be it social, political, or ideological, has an almost eerily similar pattern. Indulge me, if you will:

1) A few central figures begin a small movement of ideas.
2) This movement begins to gain ground and new converts.
3) These second-wave converts espouse self-righteousness over their new ideals.
4) The movement is then noticed by the general public in some way, be it through art, popular culture, or media.
5)After an initial period of usual human resistance to change, the mass public teaches themselves how to categorize the converts to this new belief structure.
6)Once the movement can be categorized and broken down to simple yes/no questions of membership by the general public, the thirst for bits and pieces of its belief structure filter themselves into the everday world.
7)In order to satisfy the public demand, the movement is accosted and marketed by those who look to make profit.

The simple fact is that the general public cannot readily understand that usual fanatacism that comes along with movements in thought during their early stages. Since they are not "in the know", the unaccessibility of those feelings of idealism leave them out in the cold. Therefore, the populace needs a common anchor of representation, a "base of reference" from which to comprehend what movement x means to them. In the production of this "base of reference" lies the position of the media and popular culture companies, who spit out propoganda (with a pro-company spit) that the average person can understand and identify to.

Herein lies the sense of a "stalled" movement. At this point, the fanaticsm with which technological advancement was pursued for the past decade is being digested by those who were hesitant at first to embrace it. As a culture and a society, people are still attempting to digest the absolutely enormous amount of data and new knowledge they have been given to process and understand.

Although us slashdotters and netizens are well familiar with the original aims and goals of the Internet, the mass public, for the most part, is not (yet). A steady effort of activism and information distribution will get us over this "processing lag" by John/Jane Q. Public. Lets give those members of society not born with above-average technology skills time to catch up, before the real fun begins.

How about another analogy, or two (1)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#366586)

Submitted for your approval, another anology to tie together a weblog named S_____.org and Tom Paine.

What if the colonial authorities had not censored Tom Paine, but instead told print shops that if they published his pamphlets, they could not buy paper shipped in on British flagged merchant ships. Now, under the mercantilist theory, there would be few or none colonial paper mills, and few or none foreign flagged merchant ships. Still censorship?

Or how about this analogy? They can print Common Sense but they can not distribute it, the most they can do it post it outside their print shop. The info is still there, you jsut have to go outside of your way to access it. Still censorship?

Really? Do you work in an office? (1)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#366587)

The typewriter helped office standardization, and even created specialized jobs, ie. the clerk typist. [si.edu]

In a way, the typewriter was as big an impact on business as the computer.

Also, the typewriter may have been the first piece of office equipment ever brought home.

Business is necessary in this kind of revolution (1)

papskier (263483) | more than 13 years ago | (#366588)

"However nobly intended, revolutions begin when masses of people share particular, idealistic interests, Arendt wrote. And they tend to get derailed when private interests invade the public domain, diluting and corrupting the agenda of the people seeking change, creating innovations, or making the revolutions."

Unlike other revolutions such as the American or the French, business is necessary for the Net revolution. Without Cisco, there would be no routers for traffic. Without OEMs, there would be no servers. Without Unix to operate the servers, it wouldn't have started. And without companies like Microsoft to piss us off with their proprietary attempt at control, there wouldn't be much of an OSS movement. The American revolution was about tyranny, and so is the OSS revolution. The instigator is necessary. As much as we all hate them, they are necessary.

$man microsoft

Revolution does not guarantee freedom (1)

jamesmartinluther (267743) | more than 13 years ago | (#366589)

A revolution in thought or in process is more about change than about freedom. I am not convinced that freedom was inherently part of the the widespread acceptance of the Internet.

Revolutionaries, whether academic, scientific, or even political, have high hopes that the outcome will make them "free" from the "old way", and mistakenly associate this feeling with freedom. This definitely happened with the Internet movement, accompanied by lots of silly advertising. However, just because the "old way" is being replaced does not mean that its replacement will bring along more freedom for the ride. The French found that out 200 years ago. Everyone found that out 60 years ago.

Thomas Kuhn created a very sound working theory about scientific revolutions; he proposed the term "paradign shift", and this methodology can be used to understand our little Internet revolution. For example, he illustrated how the keepers of the "old way" naturally attempt to counter the paradigm of the "new way". Sound familiar? At the end of a revolutionary cycle, a new paradign is accepted as people begin to see its benefits and integrate it into their thinking.

Positing that the revolution is stalled is to miss the point. The internet is being integrated into the process across the board and in depth; the paradigm has shifted.

The question that is important to me is: do we collectively now have more freedom? The internet brought with it more options, and maybe less freedom. We all have to continue fighting for the freedom that many of us assumed would be installed right next to the ethernet card.

Re:One Front In A Larger War (1)

jamesmartinluther (267743) | more than 13 years ago | (#366590)

You make a great point. I agree with the other repose to this thread which indicates that automation is an accompanying threat to the larger corporate threat which you illustrate.

People do not realize how thing the walls of civility are and how we all have to stridently work to strengthen the protections of the individual (while at the same time keeping the state from getting too powerful). As it has been said before, we are in a race between eduation and catastrophe.

I should have posted my comment [slashdot.org] as a reponse to what you wrote, but I didn't see it in time.

- James

real revolutions (1)

pyat (303115) | more than 13 years ago | (#366591)

Most revolutions are not so much about feelings of freedom, but about new technologies which shift the balance of power/economics towards a group of people who haven't held it up till that point. The net is only revolutionary in so far as it has achieved this (which it has, to a limited extent). Its true revolutionary potential lies in how far it can change the way we work and operate our societies. BUT, remember, globally the internet is very small, and i believe it does little to change the lot of the billions living in subsistence economies. When their fortunes change, that WILL be a revolution m

Re:Revolution (1)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 13 years ago | (#366592)

The whole idea of communism sprang up as a byproduct of the amazing amounts of wealth that industrialists were getting and the abysmal conditions that they ground their workers into in order to get some more money.

In theory, yes, communism is supposed to distribute equal wealth to everyone. But in practice, this is about as far from the ideal as it can get. In a communist state, those in political power have all the money (as opposed to the common businessmen) and can regulate laws that not only oppress the businessman, but the commoner as well, thereby keeping them in power with all the money. At least until the public gets so angry at their distributed misery that they fight the powers that be.

Therefore, the government's response to this distributed revolution called the Internet will be to regulate it as well. Give power to the businesses to regulate their consumers and track the consumer's every move, but make the businesses subservient to government officials by regulating which businesses are properly greasing the hands of those government officials. We've already proven that the man with the most money wins when it comes to politics these days (Hillary, W, etc.).

Re:noble revolutions? (1)

Chyron (304285) | more than 13 years ago | (#366593)

A very Buddhist point of view... I think I agree with what you said, but not what (I feel) you implied. IMHO (and I am not a historian, nor have I read Hoffer's book), revolutions were indeed necessary. If I can't find meaning in my life, that's my fault. Sucks to be me. But if millions of people suddenly find the world empty, surely that's the fault of the world?

Perhaps revolutions change the world. Perhaps they just change the way we see it. Does it matter? People - to me - seem to be more human during and immediately after a revolution. To be more human is a Good Thing.

Now, back ontopic... the Net. Not really a revolution yet, is it? Joe Sixpack has a computer, and he "has the Internet on it, too!", but he doesn't know anything about it. Maybe 1% of people browsing the Net have any "revolutionary" thoughts. Nah, people are still corporate drones. For all the hype, the Net is still an obscure phenomenon. People use it, but they have no idea of the potential it has.

Just my two cents.
--

Only halfway through... (1)

MrNovember (310587) | more than 13 years ago | (#366594)

Note that we are only "halfway" through the revolution. IMHO, we're through the part that could be considered technological evolution. The second half may be socio-political.

No other technology has enabled so many to publish and connect with so many others. The net is a technological revolution on the order of the printing press. The printing press was a powerful tool in revolutions by allowing ideas to be widely disseminated. The net is similar but also allows interaction between thousands or millions of individuals.

The government/corporate oligarchy rightly fears this new techology because it allows truly free discussion and organization unfettered by physical constraints such as a public meeting area. Obviously the net is owned but should it be? Should corporations be able to use courts to shut undesireable web sites down? Should the goverment have the right to restrict digital speech?

The answers to these questions should be based on natural rights of people and not the profit rights of corporations and their pseudo-elected government lackeys. The U.S. is our country and the government is there to do our will. When the government ceases to represent the people as it seems to have in terms of the net, there will be a revolution.

Hasn't something the government has done recently infringe on your net freedom? Hasn't it bothered you? Think about at what point government regulations restricting your net freedom will anger you enough to write your senator; at what point they will anger you enough to wear a "freedom" t-shirt to a state-house rally; at what point will they anger you enough to throw rocks? What happens when you can discuss your feelings and thoughts with thousands of others disenfranchised by our current corporate oligarchy?

It sounds paranoid but the government/corporations fear (consciously or not) the new freedom granted by the net and may not stop their mild regulation until what was mild becomes full-scale repression of people like us. Then might not the consequence of invention of the net be a revolution?

Is it just me or has everyone forgotten what (1)

flipflapflopflup (311459) | more than 13 years ago | (#366595)

revolution means? Going round in circles and ending up at the same place, usually with the addition of loss of life. The thing with evolution, is that it has to be forwards, which I'm sure is what most people want to do. I know the whole idea of a revolution is very exciting and all, but isn't it time we grew up a little, rather than going backwards again?

Re:Is it just me or has everyone forgotten what (1)

flipflapflopflup (311459) | more than 13 years ago | (#366596)

...snip...

2. The overthrow of one government and its replacement with another.

3. A sudden or momentous change in a situation: the revolution in computer technology.

...snip...

I get the feeling many people (me included) are not distinguishing (or do not know) the difference between these 2 definitions...

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

kalleanka2 (318385) | more than 13 years ago | (#366597)

"What traits, exactly, do Open Source and/or the GPL have that are incompatible with capitalism?"

The GPL aims at removing ownership and ownership is the key thing in capitalism.

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

kalleanka2 (318385) | more than 13 years ago | (#366598)

"The GPL does not "remove ownership""

You better start reading my friend. Start with "Why Software Should Not Have Owners" www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-free.html on the gnu homepage. The whole idea with the free software foundation is to try to stop ownership when it comes to software, music, documentation and other forms of IP.

When you license your software with GPL you have just lost your ownership forever. That's the whole idea.

Re:Socialist Open Source Re:read this letter on lw (1)

kalleanka2 (318385) | more than 13 years ago | (#366599)

You guys are just too much :-)

"... it's about having true competition in Software. "

Hehehe, no it certainly isn't. The author loses all his/hers ownership. The whole movement is against ownership as a concept, that's the whole point. This leaves the field open for big-corp. to sell other peoples work as redhat and others do without having to pay salaries.

A hounded year ago most value in all kind or products was in the product-cost directly. Nowadays almost everything in all products is intellectual property. What do you think the cost is for developing an Intel 4 processor? It's just a couple of dollars; the cost is in research and development. It goes for most things.


"Open source is the solution... the only solution that will bring about competition in software. That's a capitalist ideal! "

You can't be serious?!? In a capitalist society ownership is a very important concept and is in fact written into the United Nations declaration of human right. Article 17 to be more exact.

"Article 17. (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."

And yes, this includes intellectual property.

"anybody could make a motherboard or an adapter card, or memory "

That's right. In a capitalist society competition is the key thing, this is what delivers the best products to the consumers.

In a capitalist society you always have the balance between ownership and competition and there are laws to maintain this balance (copyright/patent/trademark on one side and anti-trust on the other). This is why DOJ is doing something about the MS monopoly now (rightfully so).

But this should not the confused with removing ownership.

Re:Hmm... (1)

kalleanka2 (318385) | more than 13 years ago | (#366600)

Amen.

DOJ is doing the right thing stopping monopolies but in a capitalist society ownership is ALSO very important!

Ownership and human rights. (1)

kalleanka2 (318385) | more than 13 years ago | (#366601)

Are you aware that ownership (including intellectual property) in included in the United Nations declaration of human rights?

Cut-and-paste.

"Article 17.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."

Re:Katz at his worst (1)

techjester (321103) | more than 13 years ago | (#366602)

Absafrigginlutely! It's called "cyberpunk." It's a near-future genre, which give or take 10 years, will be a presently-happening genre. I live in a polluted city in CT. I can't drink the water because it gives me gastroenteritis. Shell spilled MTBEs into the water supply the other week. Tell me how important I think copyright law, the stock market, and the MS anti-trust case is.

Culturally speaking, (1)

techjester (321103) | more than 13 years ago | (#366603)

the Internet has done more than anything else recently to bring differing peoples together. You can see this cross-cultural knitting together of people happening. I'd say a good portion of people my age (I'm 21), who were in high school when Hackers hit the TV screen, would agree - a vision of us bright, young upstarts from across the globe destroying legacy everything and talking to each other on cell phones is just too compelling. Dread your hair with beeswax from Canada, pick out a T-shirt from China, pull up a pair of jeans from I-don't-even-know-where, slip into some Payless shoes from Guatamala(?), pick up your tri-band cell phone from Finland, turn on that laptop powered by an American made CPU, and hook it up to a pay phone with an acoustic receiver. Hack the Planet! It's like a siren call for revolution, but for what? Vietnam is over (I think...). Racism and sexism are slowly dying off (maybe not as fast as they should be). Who do we rebel against? I'm still trying to figure that out. But once I do, place me an order for an acoustic receiver. Wait! I've got it! Let's rebel against those PESKY SUV OWNERS! Damn them and their tyranny! Polluting our environment and cutting me off in the morning - LET'S GET 'EM! :-) Seriously, a friend of mine asked me the other day how it was that I was going to help people with computers. She thinks volunteer work is the way. I think computers are the way. So tell me how computers are helping people... If anything, all of us bright computer people are using the Internet to silently, anonymously (sorta) voice our opinions. (Well, duh.) The revolution is in the way we voice our opinions - so if this is a virtual revolution, does this mean it has no basis in reality? Think about it. We can talk all day and accomplish nothing. Sometimes, I think about that and I don't even have the energy to talk.

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (1)

ShayAllen (323110) | more than 13 years ago | (#366604)

Hmmm, do you remember what country the internet came from? You guessed it...the United States. Guess what? The United States has always been capitalist! If the US had not been capitalist, we probably wouldn't have an internet at all, and you certainly wouldn't be posting to Slashdot right now. Oh, but I'm sure we could trust a Marxist nation to keep us safe, happy and free.

McDonald's--Billions and Billions served

Marxism--Billions and Billions starved and slaughtered

Re:Culturally speaking, (1)

Kowgod (323669) | more than 13 years ago | (#366605)

Amen, soul sistah! SUV owners should be crucified.

By the way, "we" (meaning people other than me) are revolting against our rich white suburban lifestyles. Why? Beats me. Damn hippies.

I on the other hand am just trying to find a cheap place to live in the city...

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

skammed (325794) | more than 13 years ago | (#366606)

Just about every news source has some kind of editorial every now and then. Stop whining. Just because you don't like it doesnt mean it shouldn't exist.

The revolution isn't stalled (2)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 13 years ago | (#366607)

It's pining for the fjords.

Even revolutions need to rest and catch their breath. Also, just because something has hit a plateau doesn't mean it's the beginning of the end. Plateau's can do one of three things: go down, stay put, or go up, and there can be local dips and rises. There is no way we can really tell what is happening, or will happen, in this regard until after it has happened.

While an interesting article, I don't see it as a call for alarm. I see it more as a wake up call saying that if we want this revolution to succeed, we must not give up.

Hmm, I wouldn't be suprised if we're almost there. The stages of `them' ignoring and laughing at `us' are long gone. `We're well and truely into the `fighting us' stage.

Bill - aka taniwha
--

Ideas and Risk (2)

verbatim (18390) | more than 13 years ago | (#366608)

We have plenty of people here with lots of good (and not so good) ideas about where the Internet should be headed. No matter what you idea is, however, if no one is ready to take the risk from your venture then you are headed nowhere. To a certain extent, VALinux has taken a lot of the risk for many Linux oriented websites and backed them with a physical buisness model - selling hardware. Many websites, for example, are personally owned and operated - leaving the webmaster wide open to all sorts of troubles. Even people who have released code under the GPL are now (in some places under some laws) facing the possiblity of being held liable for their software.

We need to be able to do things without fearing the legal reprocussions of those actions. While we can't take this too far, certainly we should be free to experiment with new ideas in technology and software. We need lots of places like Slashdot and Fuckedcompany where people are free to voice their opinions without getting reamed by the courts.

We also need people to wake up from the pipe dream that the Internet is some magical place where anything is possible. Certainly there are a lot of possibilities, but not everything can be done. That engineers' addage about being able to do things but not knowing when not to do it comes into play... or is that a scientist thing. Whatever. Banner ads, for instance, are one thing that is not working. We need to go back and re-think them to figure out a better way of generating revenue for websites.

Bah. I've forgotten what I was going to say. Maybe I said it and, if I did, thats great... what are you looking at? Scram sam.


---
a=b;a^2=ab;a^2-b^2=ab-b^2;(a-b)(a+b)=b(a-b);a+b=b; 2b=b;2=1

We have chosen escape, not revolt. (2)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 13 years ago | (#366609)

A desire for freedom and the urge to create are not sufficient motivations for a revolution. They are sufficient motivations for escapism, and escapism is rampant these days. From on-line games to massively multimedia hookups, from consensus-building exercises like AmIHotOrNot to discussion boards like Slashdot, the masses are using the web for escapism everyday. People are escaping troubles in the real world by spouting off about them on-line. The internet has become a safety valve, not a catalyst for revolution.

No, for revolution you need two other things. One is opportunity -- a glimmer of hope that your rants and your violence will actually be a means to your desired end. But no opportunities have presented themselves, as there is yet no way to spread one's on-line opinions or actions into the real world. The other ingredient is hatred -- hatred enough to want to destroy those who have oppressed you. Face it; the public are not downtrodden enough to hate or fear anyone. They're gleefully accepting their ever-shrinking set of rights and freedoms, as long as they are still allowed an escapist relief.

Things are going to have to get a lot worse before people are motivated and able to revolt and make things better.

Mod this down. (2)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 13 years ago | (#366610)

Moderators: please moderate the parent of this posting down because the real, true, authentic cry for freedom is "ALL hail Linux!"
-russ

It's the People, not the Corporations (2)

jyuter (48936) | more than 13 years ago | (#366611)

Utopian fantasies about supercomputers, AI, gene mapping and nano-technologies abound, but few have yet delivered to make the world different or better.

I agree with the assessment, but the problem isn't with the corporations. Many of us are into technology for technology's sake. Look at what gets posted on slashdot. We admire the environmental acheivements of an electric car [slashdot.org] on the same level as the technical acheivements (or at least coolness) of battlebots battlebots [slashdot.org] or whatever cool toys happen to be en vogue.

I suggest reevaluating the priorities, in that some advancements are better than others. A new chip might be cool and might have the potential to do good, but it is inferior to the technology that actually does good.



Being with you, it's just one epiphany after another

Back to the point, I think (2)

The Queen (56621) | more than 13 years ago | (#366612)

Or you could become a Marxist, and hope that Capitalism contains the own seeds of it's destructions, to which I reply McDonalds and HDTV, I mean, bread and circuses for all the sheeple.

Nice one.
Truly though I think Open Source was our best chance for bringing down the beast. But even that card could not trump the widespread ignorance and apathy that keep Capitalism alive and thriving. As long as programmers sell their skills for food (or toys, or perks, ad infinitum) then someone will use them for kamikaze coding. I'm no saint, either - I just finished designing a site that sells, among other things, internet filtering software. Yes I feel dirty, but you know that crap doesn't work anyway, right? ;-)
I guess what I'm trying to say is that as long as the Internet is packaged up by AOL and M$ for mass consumption then those of us who know better will always be the minority. "So easy to use, no wonder it's #1." Can Linux say that? Sure it's free (as in beer?) but that doesn't make a damn bit of difference when you're talking about a million soccer moms, baby.


"I'm not a bitch, I just play one on /."

Party Like it's 1994 (2)

carlhirsch (87880) | more than 13 years ago | (#366614)

Internet Revolution?

What is this, a Wired magazine think piece from 1994?

Repeat after me... "The Internet was coopted by the megacorps with the .com gold rush. This is not a decentralized anti-heirarchical insurgency. You're being duped if you think your broadband AT&T connection is going to topple the current regime."

love,
-carl

Definition of the term "Revolution" (2)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 13 years ago | (#366615)

According to dictionary.com [dictionary.com], meaning number three on the list - "A sudden or momentous change in a situation: the revolution in computer technology. "

Meaning number two is: "The overthrow of one government and its replacement with another."

Katz seems to be merging meanings two and three. In his mind there is perhaps this change in the situation that will of its own accord overthrow the traditional structures of government throughout the world.

At least, it seems that way at first read. But somehow when I read Katz's posts, I always get the feeling that he's talking about some kind of soft and fuzzy Velvet Revolution on a global scale, an affair that will change everything but in a peaceful, happy, sing in a great big circle kind of way.

The problem with this line of thinking is that revolutions of both the political and the merely situational varieties are never without turmoil, pain, and suffering. Just watch The Patriot to get an idea of how painful the American Revolution was (that was a joke, folks).

But seriously, this expectation that somehow the rise of the Internet and associated technologies is somehow a "leaderless revolution" fundamentally misses the point.

The rise of the Internet is a technological change that has in turn spawned cultural and political changes. There is no political revolution inherent in the Internet.

Katz is trying to tell us that somehow, whereas the automobile was merely a revolution in technology, the Internet is a Revolution in the political sense of the word. The car completely changed almost every aspect of culture in the Western world, yet nobody ever described its development in terms akin to Socialist revolution, the way Katz describes the 'Net.

The Internet is a technology that has greatly altered the status quo, and it's still really in its early stages in terms of its impact on society. But let's not start waving banners and lets not mistake it for what it is: a tool that can be used for good, bad, or just plain mundane uses.

One Front In A Larger War (2)

johnos (109351) | more than 13 years ago | (#366617)

The half consumated Internet revolution is on front in a much larger and more significant struggle. Right now, the biggest issue is the development of the corporate state. Five hundred years ago, the development of the nation state in Europe changed the social compact in many significant ways. As the nation state obviated what went before, so the new corporate/technical state seems poised to replace the increasingly irrelevant nation state. That this process is underway is not in doubt. What the new state will look like is still up in the air. It could look like the EU, with a strong meta government and smaller regional goverments. That is based on the assumption that at least some of the EU contsitutent states disintegrate into smaller units. This is already happening in Britain and need not lead to violence.

Another potential model is China, where a strong anti-democratic government sets up the entire country as a commerce play. Authoritarianism is, in this case, good for business as it keeps the "human resources" in line.

Another variant is the American one where the workers/government/corporations form an alliance to forward their perceived common agendas. Well, at least while the Republicans are in power.

If this supposition is correct, then the Internet revolution and the Intellectual Property war are indeed parts of a larger struggle. The outcome is far from clear. Historical scenarios do not parallell the current situation because of technology. Both its diffusion and its power leave the corporatists at a potential disadvantage. In the middle ages, peasants were not allowed to possess metal weapons, only the oligarchy could have those. But that won't work now. Regulation and access denial have not worked because new technologies are evolving too fast. Recent cases show that the corporatists are catching up. Hopefully, they won't be able to go fast enough.

The second reason denial and regulation won't work is that the corporate state needs all of us to be productive consumers. No technology, no productivity increases and no artificial demand.

It is important to realize that most corporations (entertainment companies excepted) have no idealogical axe to grind. They are happy to go along with what is good for business. If that is democracy, great, if that is authoritarianism, that's fine too. The problem that business has with China, which should be a paradise, is that there is no rule of law. Business needs to know that a deal is a deal. If that gives the populace more freedom, they don't really care.

Privacy, etc. are not inherently bad, they are just bad for business. Companies like Sun do not want to exploit us, they just want to lower their costs and maximize their ROI. MS and the entertainment companies may be different, but they are an exception.

Also remember that the entertainment companies have a long history of both influencing government and dictating the circumstances of the use of their content. They see no reason why technology changes anything. Hopefully, they are wrong.

This is truely the beginning of the new world order. What it will look like will be influenced by those individuals that understand technology. The new order may be an Orwellian nightmare, but probably not since that would be a less than optimal business climate. The new order might be a technologically empowered paradise where we don't have to work anymore and we spend our days surfing and playing Quake. But probably not.

The real New World Order is being shaped each day, and on all the different fronts that Slashdot covers. So the Internet revolution may be half over, but the bigger contest is justs started. Stay tuned, it will be an interesting century.

Re:One Front In A Larger War (2)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#366618)

> The half consumated Internet revolution is on
> front in a much larger and more significant
> struggle. Right now, the biggest issue is the
> development of the corporate state.

Great post. Hope it is moderated way up.

I've been thinking along similar lines for a while but I come across two problems with the rise of international corporations as a significant replacement for governments.

The first objection is that super-powerful corporations are nothing new. Look at the Hudson's Bay company; it effectively owned Canada. Or the East India Tea Company which effectively owned India. Or some railroads in the late 1800s which controlled vast tracts of the US. Not one of these mega-corps is still a major player today. Does anybody know why? Can anybody tell us why modern mega-corps are immune to whatever killed off their forebearers?

The second problem I have with the corporate state revolution is that I think it will be overshadowed by a far greater revolution: the rise of the robots. Forget about HAL, the Terminators, and Mr Data; I'm talking about robots with the brain power of a large dog. We should see such a thing within twenty years. What effect will wiping out most blue-collar jobs have on society? At least 75% unemployment, huge decrease in cost of living, soaring demand for entertainment (due to free time). How do these events mesh with a corporate state?
--

Re:the typical Katz we know and love: (2)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 13 years ago | (#366619)

i would disagree with your analysis, because after he makes that generality, he goes on to (accurately) say that the net revolution never really had any leaders or followers, in the traditional sense.
he then goes on to say "This fluid, leaderless revolutionary movement has driven Congress, academics, journalists and parents nearly mad", which seems to be his real point. But so what? The pundits are mad because their jobs suddenly got harder. The PTBs are mad because they lost some of their Power?

Who cares? I won't say it would be impossible to separate the internet from the great democratizing force that it has now, but it would be difficult, I think.

The boundless idealism was going to have to even out eventually, but that won't change the basic, underlying principles of the net. And judging from UIDs, I'd say I've been reading /. longer than you, but regardless I know that Slashdot readers have always seen Katz for the hack he is.

If free beer is all that's keeping on the net, then get off already. But Free Speech is here to stay.

Katz at his worst (2)

StoryMan (130421) | more than 13 years ago | (#366620)

I hate to say this, but this is Katz at his future-mongering worst. What he fails to address is the dominant (and ruthlessly efficient) role of corporations in the "revolution."

This isn't about the gee-whiz-in-the-year-2002-we'll-all-be-flying-in-h over-cars. This is about corporate control over nearly every single aspect of our lives. The corporations are controlling technological evolution in order to decimate any semblance of technological revolutions.

It's ironic you quote Arendt, Katz. I wonder if the "revolution" she isn't talking about isn't the Nazi's and their totalitarian regime -- made all the more efficient thanks to IBM and their Holerith counting machines. (See Black's new book, 'IBM and the Holocaust' for more info. Very interesting read. Katz, how about you write about this -- about the way in which corporations put profits above and beyond anything else? What sort of "revolution" is that?)

The net hasn't "revolutionized" anything. Don't kid yourself. The "net" that Katz is talking about -- the "revolution" that he's touting -- is just a veil for ruthless efficiency conducted by corporations at expense of *people* and their fundamental, human rights.

Re:Back to the point, I think (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366621)

Actually, my point was that "pure" capitalism has not really been tried yet, at least not in America. In its early history, the economy was partly propped up by slavery. Education has been a socialist system for over a century, and agriculture has been under heavy regulation for nearly as long.

I don't think we can say for certain whether a totally privatized education system would work better or not. My suspicion is that it might, but it will never happen... Too many politicians would rather introduce wrong-headed ideas (like vouchers), which incrementally erode public education without actually reforming it.

So far, I'm glad to see that GWB has not totally jumped onto the voucher bandwagon.

You can't have "libertarian socialism". The freedom to keep your own property is the central pillar of libertarianism. If you think government owning some or all of your property is a good thing, you are not a libertarian. You might as well say that you advocate "communist capitalism"

Re:Back to the point, I think (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366622)

Yes, I believe that was Churchil.

Your point is a good one. Sweeden, Cuba, and China are probably the least capitalist nations in the world right now (or, at any rate, the most socialist). None of them seem to be overwhelmed with immigration the way we are. That is a pretty good litmus of what sort of system most people would like to live under.

Re:Capitalism is an unstoppable meme (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366623)

The GPL does not "remove ownership", any more than if I open a public park am I "removing ownership" of land. You still own your yard, and I still own the software I write.

The GPL is just one of several ways to share your code and make sure it stays shared.

Trying to position yourself as an "enemy" of capitalism is about as smart as all those companies that tried to position themselves as "enemies" of Microsoft over the last 20 years. Wouldn't it be better to promote the concept of the GPL as something that is sometimes the right tool for the job in some situations, regardless of your favorite macro-economic policies?

Re:Back to the point, I think (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#366624)

Truly though I think Open Source was our best chance for bringing down the beast. But even that card could not trump the widespread ignorance and apathy that keep Capitalism alive and thriving.

Capitalism, as currently practiced in the Western world, has given us the largest and most prosperous middle-class in history, exended the life-expectancy of even the poorest and most downtrodden in society, and has first eroded, then extinguished, the evil caste systems of the past. It's not perfect, it still takes about 3 generations for a destitude family to rise into the ranks of the middle class, and even then it seems to require the aid of a socialist education system and a great deal of charity and/or public assistance. Nevertheless, a better system has yet to be conceived by mankind and measure up to the test of real-world practice on a large scale.

Capitalism was a fantastic idea. In capitalism, every man is a king, because he owns his property absolutely, and every man is a servant, because you can only generate wealth by serving the will of others (one way or another). Your assets are not dictated by what you, or anybody else, think you need, but rather by how much society values your contributions to the greater good (i.e., how much people are willing to pay for your goods, services, knowledge, and labor).

Politics of Revolution (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#366625)

This fluid, leaderless revolutionary movement has driven Congress, academics, journalists and parents nearly mad. They are rattled by the hordes of the digital unwashed; they are particularly rattled by the revolution's unpredictability and enthusiasm. But do they have to worry about that much longer? Is the revolution stalled?

An off the wall take on this:

All too often, a revolution will present an opportunity for someone to come in an take control. Sometimes there are some higher principles involved, but do not hold your breath.

Examples of this are Napoleon in the French Revolution, and Lenin in the Russian. But in a certain sense these were provincial affairs, and the momentum of the moment allows for a certain type of politics that is not yet possible today. We do not have a Napoleon or Lenin or Washington of the Internet revolution. It is far to anarchistic and wide spread for that.

And yet even someone like Napoleon took control to "preserve the gains of the revolution". The French Revolution terrified the crowned heads of Europe. It is not without some reason, that in their fear, they called Napoleon the Anti-Christ.

Who cannot doubt, that certain factions, already frightened by the Internet with its' pornography and unfettered access to the rest of the world, would look in horror at any consolidation of the the gains of the Internet revolution? Many interests are frightened by the prospects of what the Internet promises. They are frightened of freedom.

And yet we have the balance of freedom and rules and laws. The freedom to drive cars requires some obedience to basic traffic laws. But we do not check points at every intersection either.

Re:So are you saying moderation is anti-revolution (2)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#366626)

Why, we might just be inventing steam engines now!

Eheheh Remember: The Steam Engine was invented in England - by Watts. [rochester.edu]It began the Industrial Revolution in England. The American Revolution took place after both. Basically - be mindfull of who you infer 'we' are.

I find it amusing that Americans think the modern world is a result of their un-abridged Capitalist 'Democracy'(TM)*; a product of the noble American Revolution. Its strange to think that Americans believe their present system is a reflection of the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence - it is not, in fact it is an exact copy of the thing it was designed to prevent, that which the revolt dispensed with.

Time will tell what the story of the US is, perspective within America is difficult because of the proximity of the times, and the dizzying reality of it. It may appear that American Democracy(TM)* == Technological Wonder == American Capitalism, but Id bet the apparent 'victory' of the US 'System' is more a result of having the good grace of not endured 100 years of modern warfare at home and having the benefit of an virgin territory to rape** in addition to the natural accelerating returns on R&D/science in this unique crux in world history - not because of 'it'. I'll bet time will not have such a pleasant view of the last 200 years of USAian History - that America will inevitably collapse in on itself based on greed, immaturity and popular apathy in a grossly spectacular manner. Lets all hope that American hubris dosnt take the rest of us with it.

What does this have to do with Katz's article? Nothing, and neither does your fictional non sequitur

*Please Read .sig
**Good for America's Capitalists, bad for everything else.

Thought of the day! (2)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#366627)

The United States, though created in revolutionary furor, has become one of the toughest environments in the world to maintain one.

Isn't that something to ponder over?

Bad analysis (2)

vidarh (309115) | more than 13 years ago | (#366628)

I've seen arguments like this frequently. However, the main problem with it is that revolutions aren't intended to keep going. It is right that revolutions come when enough people share some idealistic goal.

However, throughout history revolutions have come about not when the avantgarde and natural "leadership" of the revolution was ready for it, but when the masses start sharing some of their immediate goals.

And note that well: immediate goals.

That is also one of the inherent problems of revolutions: The avantgarde tends to get quickly disillutioned, and to fight hard for the revolution to live on, and radicalise after the initial noise dies down, and the masses refuse to support further changes.

It has happened time and time again, and the reason is simple: The masses don't normally share the most radical goals. The masses endear to the immediate, short term, moderate goals only because the more radical elements have highlighted a wide enough spectrum of "new" thought that they find something they can agree with.

What normally happens after a revolution is that the radical groups see that their ideas have been supported, but that their long term goals are abandoned in favor of the immediate gains. The typical response, as seen in France and Russia, and almost in every other revolutionary situation is a backlash of struggles between two groups:

Radicals who see in the revolution a justification for going further, and reactionaries who feels threatened by the gains made.

Depending on the strenght of the different side, the outcome is different to predict. In France and Russia the radical sides won, leading to the period of red terror in France, and to the October revolution in Russia (radicalizing the revolution that happened earlier in 1917, that had culminated in the fall of the Romanov family, and established the Kerensky led government). In Germany, however, after the uprisings in 1848, and periodically onwards to 1871, the reactionary forces reestablished their power, leading to Bismark and Emperor Vilhelms rule.

In any case a dictatorship tends to be the result. Either of the radicals, failing to gain support of the people, and resorting to power to maintain "their" revolution, or by reactionaries trying to stem the tide of history.

Yes, revolutions destroy many illusions, but mostly of those either too idealistic for the common man, or people clinging to the past.

Yes, many here would likely have preferred the "old" internet, or older forms of communications, or want to take the internet much further in the original direction of sharing knowledge.

But that isn't what the masses are ready for. And you don't get revolutions without support of the masses - you get coups...

Re:Revolutions are not just about something (2)

vidarh (309115) | more than 13 years ago | (#366629)

Revolutionary "movements" as a whole rarely have one goal. They may have warying groups more or less in control, depending on how successful specific groups are at different points throughout the revolution, but revolutions by nature happen when multiple groups all happen to support the same immediate goals of changing "something".

And while the internet "revolution" haven't had a clearly spelled out goal, there are lot of implicit goals: Making communication easier, building virtual communities, sharing information. Many of these goals are represented by movements and groups, whether loosely defined by coinciding goals and ideas, or with established organizations like the FSF.

And your comment about selling out so early underscores the points I made elsewhere: Revolutions are defined by the "leaders", or the early adopters if you will - the people that see the visions, and come up with the ideas, and that build the foundation. But revolutions are brought to their conclusion when the masses buy into enough of those ideas to start forming their own visions about what should happen.

Most often these ideas will close in on the original visions and intent, but more often than not they twist them, and masses of people are conservative in sum, buying into just small fractions of the potential of the initial ideas.

It is bound to produce the idea of people selling out, when what is happening is just that people that at one point thought that their ideas might be brought to completion start realizing that the masses are happy with just a small taste.

Just remember that without the masses that bring revolutions to a halt they never would have started in the first place. And at some point the masses will eventually start buying into the next step, and things will change again.

By that time people with vision will likely already have seen new goals, though, and get just as disappointed when they don't get there.

A revolution? (3)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 13 years ago | (#366630)

I have a fundamental problem with the article: since when are we undergoing a revolution? Revolution implies taking away something old and replacing it with something new. What are we replacing? What are we revolting against?

The industrial revolution changed the landscape of the planet, how and where we live, and came about mostly by a single invention. Other revolutions changed governments.

Is the internet more of an evolution? The internet is an evolution of computers and electronics. It's barely changed how anyone lives. It's drastically changed the thinking and knowledge of many, but that hardly qualifies as a revolution. The reason there are so many problems comparing this to other revolutions is that this isn't a revolution.

So are you saying moderation is anti-revolution? (3)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#366631)

Perhaps by causing a filtering of viewpoints so that you only see viewpoints that reinforce your own worldview?

Imagine, if you will, what would have happened in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War if Tom Paine's Common Sense was de fact modded down by the Crown due to censorship.

Would we have had a revolution, or would we have been kept as a mercantilist vassal state to England. Why, we might just be inventing steam engines now!

But the typewriter didn't change civilization ! (4)

gelfling (6534) | more than 13 years ago | (#366632)

For that would have been at least as great a 'revolution' as the internet. The typewriter put printing albeit low bandwidth in the hands of everyone. And it did not revolutionize our societies. What it did do was streamline the feeds to mass media. Similarly what the Net has done is made it easier to diseminate quasi-information to more people faster.

Ultimately the internet will be a weapon of tyranny.

Revolution (5)

OdinHuntr (109972) | more than 13 years ago | (#366633)

Is anyone else sick of everyone saying that every little advance in technology/law/society is a "revolution"?

Sometimes, things just evolve. And we can notice that without trying to make some grandiose thing out of it.

People like, for instance, free software, so they use it. It exists because there is a demand. But no amount of patriotism is going to lodge it into the mainstream; the only thing that can do that is an increase in demand - and that comes with evolving software, not The Great Internet Revolution.

Five-dollar words just aren't applicable here.

The viscerally anti-hierarchical Net is a leaderless revolution, without any central ideology, philosophy or set of goals -- a significant difference from past revolutions.

Sometimes we have to step back and realize that it's just software.


--

This Is the Attitude that Got Us Into This Mess (5)

LaNMaN2000 (173615) | more than 13 years ago | (#366634)

This is precisely the attitude that was responsible for the "irrational exuberance" with which everything stemming from the Internet was greeted. The fact is that the Internet is not "revolutionary," it is merely evolutionary, like most of the technologies that allow us to live the lifestyles we have become accustomed to. In fact, there is now doubt as to if the Internet even qualifies as a "disruptive" technology or whether it will simply be exist alongside the other ways we communicate, do business, etc.

There was no "cell phone" fever, nobody claiming that cell phones would revolutionize human interaction. Yet, the connected anytime mentality (and associated work ethic) is arguably more influential in people's lives than the Internet will ever be (at least until broadband wireless becomes a reality).

Instead of predicting/discussing an "Internet revolution," lets just take the net for what it is. Isn't that enough?

Lenny

I can't envision this happenind (5)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#366635)

Instead of encouraging a common movement or agenda, the Net is increasingly Balkanized by an explosion in individualistic sites, weblogs, P2P systems, filtering and moderation programs.

What, Jon, do you mean popular web logs with moderation and filtering will end in positive feedback loops, with common viewpoints reinforcing each other until there is no diversity of views, and just a strict web dogma?

Nope, never gonna happen.

Oh yeah, hail Linux!
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