[JDEV] Thoughts on AOL

mitchell balsam mbalsam at dti.net
Tue Jan 8 19:05:29 CST 2002

Sounds like Lawrence Lessig is correct.


In The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig explains how the Internet
revolution has produced a counterrevolution of devastating power and
effect. The explosion of innovation we have seen in the environment of
the Internet was not conjured from some new, previously unimagined
technological magic; instead, it came from an ideal as old as the
nation. Creativity flourished there because the Internet protected an
innovation commons. The Internet's very design built a neutral platform
upon which the widest range of creators could experiment. The legal
architecture surrounding it protected this free space so that culture
and information-the ideas of our era-could flow freely and inspire an
unprecedented breadth of expression. But this structural design is
changing-both legally and technically. 

This shift will destroy the opportunities for creativity and innovation
that the Internet originally engendered. The cultural dinosaurs of our
recent past are moving to quickly remake cyberspace so that they can
better protect their interests against the future. Powerful
conglomerates are swiftly using both law and technology to "tame" the
Internet, transforming it from an open forum for ideas into nothing more
than cable television on speed. Innovation, once again, will be directed
from the top down, increasingly controlled by owners of the networks,
holders of the largest patent portfolios, and, most invidiously,
hoarders of copyrights. 

-----Original Message-----
From: jdev-admin at jabber.org [mailto:jdev-admin at jabber.org] On Behalf Of
Max Metral
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 7:47 PM
To: 'jdev at jabber.org'
Subject: RE: [JDEV] Thoughts on AOL

I guess I think that it's impossible for people to support Microsoft
antitrust litigation and think that what AOL is doing is somehow
different. I *don't* support the MSFT litigation at all (at least what
it's become) but I actually think THIS is different given the media
control that AOL now has. And what's more, in this case, AOL has already
agreed to move towards interop.  So unless they're talking complete
smack (which they are), this move is incosistent and should be treated
as such.

I work for PeoplePC, we're not huge, but we have a decent member base
and we have a ticker symbol, which is the important part for news.  I'm
trying to think of how we could help this battle with some statement
that makes sense. If people think of anything, I'd love ideas.

-----Original Message-----
From: James Widman [mailto:j-widman at cornellcollege.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 7:36 PM
To: jdev at jabber.org
Subject: Re: [JDEV] Thoughts on AOL

Thomas Muldowney wrote:

>  It is their network, and their resources, and I feel we need to 
>respect that.
I tend to agree, *but*.... anyone who has an internet connection can 
send email to AOL users; anyone can browse through web pages hosted by 
AOL; further, AOL/TW would certainly *like* everyone on the internet to 
chose the AIM client for their instant messaging needs.  It's not like 
they're not prepared for a large number connections to Oscar (and 
correct me if I'm wrong, but connecting with "unauthorized software" has

never even been a legal issue -- i.e., jabber people didn't get cease & 
desist orders, they just got met with unfriendly engineering and IP 
blocking, right?).

It's just that they have this crappy double standard about how people 
are allowed to use the resources that they already offer up to the 
non-paying public, and it seems that a lot of people here (myself 
included) are wondering if we should respect *that* at all.

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