September 13, 2005

George Monbiot: "Thanks to corporations, instead of democracy we get Baywatch"

Why We Fight (or in my case, why I fought, past tense), outlined in a Guardian column by George Monbiot:

"It was claimed that the internet and satellite TV would topple dictators, but commercial interest are making sure they don't."

They can write these sorts of things over in UK publications. Like:

"We had the dream that the internet would free the world, that all the dictatorships would collapse," says Julien Pain of Reporters Without Borders. "We see it was just a dream."

Sound familiar:

The technology which runs the internet did not sprout from the ground. It is provided by people with a commercial interest in its development. Their interest will favour freedom in some places and control in others. And they can and do turn it off.


Indispensable as the internet has become, political debate is still dominated by the mainstream media: a story on the net changes nothing until it finds its way into the newspapers or on to TV. What this means is that while the better networking Friedman celebrates can assist a democratic transition, the democracy it leaves us with is filtered and controlled. Someone else owns the routers.

Though I wouldn't put that last idea quite that way, because it phrases the concept badly by putting "internet" and "mainstream media" in opposition. Many of the punditry Big Heads of the Internet are part of the "mainstream media" - or want to be! But the very last part parallels my own aphorism, "What if censorship is in the router?".

Note, for myself, as the sort of analysis I've advocated for so many years becomes more respectable, and makes its way into higher reaches of the punditocracy / chattering classes, many people think I'll get more support for activism. In fact, it seems to mean the opposite, as the colonization process pushes out the natives.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on September 13, 2005 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Larry Lassig is out of his mind. Who wants Congress to interfere. First of all let me emphasize that I'm not music enthusiast and I'd not download music or anything even if it had the blessing of RIAA. But RIAA is out of its Mind just kike Larry Lassig in suing people who download the music because it has an alternative to suing people to stop the downloading of the music Cold. RIAA is spending 100's pof millions of dollars to pay attorney fees to sue people which it does because it knows that the people it sues are not able to hire the attorneys to defend themselves and will settle. Shame on RIAA for suing because of this reason.

RIAA should fund the cdevelopment of a server side web browser that will limit the client role to sending browsing data to the server and the role of the server should be changed so that it will not send any files to the clients. Instead the server will process all the data itself.

When this is done there will be no file swapping or file downloading.

Posted by: Satish Bhardwaj at September 14, 2005 06:12 PM

That's a pretty silly idea, Satjish, for a number of reasons, the foremost reason being that data on the web is not "viewable" unless it is somehow *transferred* to the client. Your understanding of the technology is deeply flawed.

Regardless, no one, including the RIAA, is going to stand for (or want to pay for) a complete overhaul of the way the web works that would result in a clunkier, slower user experience. Nevermind the fact that the web has little to do with P2P. The Internet is not the web, the web is not the Internet.

Posted by: David Warde-Farley at September 15, 2005 02:12 AM

Surely this is "Thanks to the Chinese government, instead of democracy the Chinese get Baywatch"?

While it's not very ethical of the corporations to collaborate, the alternative in China isn't unfiltered internet, it's no internet. This is a classic and bizarre piece of activist politics I see a lot of where blame is put on Westerners but not on foreigners who are doing worse things.

I'm not sure what you mean by "They can write these things in UK publications".

Posted by: Peter Clay at September 16, 2005 03:36 AM

Peter: I meant discussing "commercial interest". That sort of analysis is marginalized in the US.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 19, 2005 02:00 PM