ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The future of the Internet and Jeff Jarvis' essay on the idea of the Internet as a right

Here is a copy of a comment I've just left at Ethan Zuckerman's blog My Heart is in Accra (November 1, 2008 - The polyglot internet) re the future of the Internet and Jeff Jarvis' blog post (October 24, 2008 - The internet as a right).

Dear Ethan, I hope this finds you well. After five years, I still follow your posts. But usually, each day, after reading and writing, I rarely have enough energy left over to comment. Hopefully the length of this comment will be forgiven as I am unable to spend time on making it succinct after being up since 2am today here in England to watch live tv news coverage of US presidential election. This comment is in response to your post about the future of the Internet and Jeff Jarvis' thoughts on his essay, on the idea of the Internet as a right.

Surely it is a fact that the Internet is our right? I reckon that the great British physicist, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who gave up a fortune so that the world wide web could belong to the people, would be interested in reading Mr Jarvis' essay on the Internet being our right. Here's why: see below copies of some posts from the archives of my personal blog ME AND OPHELIA. Good luck with all your great work Ethan and thanks for such interesting blog posts. Best wishes, Ingrid.
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Saturday, August 30, 2003
Father of the Internet

What a great gentleman.

On a visit to MCI : Cerf's Up a few days ago, I felt moved to send this email:

Dear Mr Cerf,

Just to say thank you for all your pioneering and hard work.

Six weeks ago I was able to afford my first home computer.

Within a few days I discovered weblogs and started one - free of charge through Blogger - called ME AND OPHELIA at

I have picked up a little HTML, purchased a new house sign, sent gifts of chocolates and flowers, visited art galleries and auctions, had groceries and books delivered; been reunited with old friends, have sent and received emails all over the world, met many interesting bloggers and had some good laughs....all without speaking or leaving the house.

This new laptop and the Internet has opened up a whole new life for me, for which I thank you.

It means a lot to me because I am housebound and horizontal 23.5 hours a day, with limited energy, due to a severe form of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - known as ME here in England and CFIDS in the US - from which I am still hoping to recover.

These past six weeks have been the most interesting - and least isolating - weeks that I have spent since falling ill in October 1999.

Thank you once again. You are a hero. I have put you at the top of my web links column in my right sidebar.

Hope you will visit us one day.

With love and thanks once again from Ingrid and Ophelia (my wonderful cat) x

In my email box the next day, four words leapt out of my screen:

From: vinton g. cerf

I was thrilled. What a gentleman. I shall treasure and frame this:

Dear Ingrid,

I am copying two other people who will be very pleased to hear your story. One is Robert Kahn, who initiated the Internet project and with whom I worked to do the initial design. The other is Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web - that is the application that is helping you so much. Of course, Tim has pointed out that without the Internet, WWW would not so interesting and vice versa.

Thanks so much for taking time to write.

Vint Cerf

# posted by Ingrid Jones @ 8/30/2003 0 comments
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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
And World Wide Web

Following my post here yesterday on Desmond Tutu's message to the Internet and today's rally for the Sudan at Harvard in Boston, I emailed Vinton Cerf at Cerf's Up and sent him a copy of the post. Several hours later I was thrilled to receive this reply:

Ingrid, your email reached me easily.

Sir Tim did receive a handsome 1 million euro prize earlier this year so fortune has followed fame at least in some measure. However
neither Tim nor Bob Kahn nor I nor the others working on the Internet protocols patented or made intellectual property claims on the
technology so as to stimulate its uptake without obstacles. It seems to have worked :-)


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Surely this proves the Internet is owned by *us* the people of the world, and that nobody can control it or take it away from us - it will be *ours* forever.

Or will it? What if bodies like Microsoft or Google could control it? If such a thing was possible, what could we do about it?

Hopefully, the Internet is like an amoeba or some sort of living organism that if cut in two could regroup, and replicate itself in cyberspace, to escape greedy predators trying to dominate us and take control.

Vinton Cerf, Bob Kahn and Tim Berners-Lee will go down in history. What a shame all three did not receive the same handsome prize earlier this year.

We need our three heroes to leave us a cyber manual on what to do if anyone tried to muscle in and take ownership of the Internet. And we Internet users ought to get up an online petition to nominate all three for a Nobel award. Here is the list of Nobel Laureates in Physics 1901 - Present. If anyone knows how to do such a thing, please let me know and I'll do all that I can to help.
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P.S Ethan, the following link leads to some of my other posts on Sir Tim and the internet (some are copied here below for easy reference)
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Thursday, November 02, 2006
Sir Tim Berners-Lee is concerned about future of web

Nov 2 2006 BBC report says Sir Tim Berners-Lee is concerned about the future of the web. Excerpt:

The British inventor of the internet says he is worried about the way it could be used to spread "misinformation and undemocratic forces".

The web has transformed the way many people work, play and do business.

But Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC News he fears that, if the way the internet is used is left to develop unchecked, "bad things" could happen.

As a result he wants set up a research project to study the social implications of the web's development.

The changes experienced to date because of the internet are just the start of a more radical transformation of society, he says.

But he is concerned about the way it could end up being used.

His new web science research initiative will be more than just computer science, he insists.

He wants to attract researchers from a range of disciplines to study it as a social as well as technological phenomenon.

Sir Tim, who developed the web in the late 1980s, says of his invention that he was "in the right place at the right time".
# posted by Ingrid Jones @ 11/02/2006 0 comments
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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Warns of 'dark' net

Today, a friend emailed me this BBC report with the message: "This is the man you and I are so grateful to/for. I'm always astonished, every day, to consider the ways in which the WWW has changed my outlook on life."

The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into different services, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said.

Recent attempts in the US to try to charge for different levels of online access web were not "part of the internet model," he said in Edinburgh.

He warned that if the US decided to go ahead with a two-tier internet, the network would enter "a dark period".

Sir Tim was speaking at the start of a conference on the future of the web.

"What's very important from my point of view is that there is one web," he said.

"Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring."

An equal net

The British scientist developed the web in 1989 as an academic tool to allow scientists to share data. Since then it has exploded into every area of life.

However, as it has grown, there have been increasingly diverse opinions on how it should evolve.

The World Wide Web Consortium, of which Sir Tim is the director, believes in an open model.

This is based on the concept of network neutrality, where everyone has the same level of access to the web and that all data moving around the web is treated equally.

This view is backed by companies like Microsoft and Google, who have called for legislation to be introduced to guarantee net neutrality.

The first steps towards this were taken last week when members of the US House of Representatives introduced a net neutrality bill.

Pay model

But telecoms companies in the US do not agree. They would like to implement a two-tier system, where data from companies or institutions that can pay are given priority over those that cannot.

This has particularly become an issue with the transmission of TV shows over the internet, with some broadband providers wanting to charge content providers to carry the data.

The internet community believes this threatens the open model of the internet as broadband providers will become gatekeepers to the web's content.

Providers that can pay will be able to get a commercial advantage over those that cannot.

There is a fear that institutions like universities and charities would also suffer.

The web community is also worried that any charges would be passed on to the consumer.


Sir Tim said this was "not the internet model". The "right" model, as exists at the moment, was that any content provider could pay for a connection to the internet and could then put any content on to the web with no discrimination.

Speaking to reporters in Edinburgh at the WWW2006 conference, he argued this was where the great benefit of the internet lay.

"You get this tremendous serendipity where I can search the internet and come across a site that I did not set out to look for," he said.

A two-tier system would mean that people would only have full access to those portions of the internet that they paid for and that some companies would be given priority over others.

But Sir Tim was optimistic that the internet would resist attempts to fragment.

"I think it is one and will remain as one," he said.

The WWW2006 conference will run until Friday at the International Conference Centre in Edinburgh.
# posted by Ingrid Jones @ 5/23/2006 0 comments
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Friday, September 09, 2005
Posted by Vint Cerf

Historic news in a post today at Google Blog ... by Vint Cerf!

[Note, Vinton G Cerf is one of the three founding fathers of the Internet. Up until recently he worked for many years at MCI and had a web page called Cerf's Up. He is not a very wealthy man. Click here to read a post I wrote in August 2003, a month after I discovered blogging, about an email I sent him, and the reply I received]

"The news is out that I will join Google on October 3 as Chief Internet Evangelist (I tried for Archduke, but it didn't work). What I really like about Eric, Larry, Sergey and the whole Google family is its collective and eminent practicality and seemingly boundless creativity. In fact, my recent interactions with many of Google's senior staff have simply underscored my admiration for the extraordinary talent at Google that has been assembled in a short amount of time. Google has come so far since the early days!

Among other things, I am committed to the vision of Google's criticality to the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people. The public Internet and the growing cadre of corporate virtual private networks are already enablers of Google applications. As information pours into the Internet from all sides, Google tools will become, if they are not already, indispensable.

I appreciate deeply the opportunity to become part of the Google family and to do what I can to contribute to its future.

See you on the 'Net!"
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Photo: Vinton G. Cerf (MCI)

Note, Vint (the Internet's two other founding fathers are Robert E Khan and top British physicist Tim Berners-Lee who btw gave up a personal fortune so the web could be freely used by everyone) has been hard of hearing for a number of years and does a tremendous amount of great work for those who suffer similar disabilities.

To me, the Internet is a God send. Hardly a day goes by without my counting it as a blessing and being truly appreciative. It has revolutionised my life.

Read previous post "Fathers of the Internet - Getting the net off the ground and internetting" March 5, 2005.

# posted by Ingrid Jones @ 9/09/2005 0 comments
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Saturday, March 05, 2005
Getting the net off the ground and internetting

Today, the BBC reports on the fathers of the Internet, Vinton Cerf and Robert Khan. Early attention to security issues might have given us a better internet today - or the project might never have taken off at all, says Robert Kahn. The net's co-inventor tells BBC Click Online how it all began, when, as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at MIT, he took a leave of absence to brush up on his networking theory. He was the system designer of the Arpanet - the very first computer network.

Dr Kahn, pictured above, who never expected to be become part of technology legend, dubbed his project 'internetting'. Also, the BBC report quotes Dr Khan as saying:

"The work that we did was principally on designing what a network would look like. It was me working alone writing memos on the subject. I thought, at that time, that this was about as much practical experience as one would really need, to be a good theoretician back in the university. But it turned out that an agency of the US government, the Defence Advance Research Projects Agency, known as Darpa (it was known as Arpa back then) actually had plans to build a computer network in the country.

At the time, many people didn't think this was a very practical thing to do because it clearly didn't look like a business opportunity and there weren't that many computers around. But I thought it was an interesting technical challenge, so I was actually the system designer of the Arpanet - the very first computer network.

When I got to Darpa, I got involved in the creation of two more nets. One was using satellites, a kind of Ethernet in the sky, on Intelsat-4, and the other one was a kind of a mobile network where the nodes were packet radios that broadcast to each other, so all the nodes could be in motion, in principle, or they could stay fixed as well. The whole goal of that effort seemed pretty straight forward at the time: given that you've got the nets, put them together and get the machines on them to work together. That was the genesis of the project itself."

How to 'internet'?

"When I first started the programme I was talking about what we were trying to achieve, which was netting these different computers and networks, so I called the project 'internetting'." - Robert E. Kahn.

Photo: Vinton G. Cerf, who is hard of hearing, was the other key player in the creation of the Internet.
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# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 11/05/2008
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