May 1, 2006  ·  Tim Wu

Most happy to be here. Mostly, but not entirely, I’ll talk this week about Who Controls the Internet. If you’ve already read the book, I’d love to hear any comments or feedback. The book can be purchased here or at most online or physical bookstores.

Let me introduce the book first. The book is mostly a history of the last ten years of nation-states & the internet. It is an effort to tell the story of the struggle of governments to control the net, and to understand the role played by geography, culture, and physical force in shaping what the network is becoming.

The book chronicles a rise in the use of state power to try to control network conduct. That’s bookended by the Elred v. Reno case on one side, and ends with Yahoo & Google’ capitulation to Chinese demands over the last few years. Along the way, it chronicles slow changes in the architecture of the network driven by local culture and government obsessions, with chapters on Copyright, ICANN, eBay, China, Int’l Law and others.

We have worked hard to make this a story accessible to many readers. Of course many of the readers of this blog are experts in one or another of the topics in the book. But even then, what we’ve tried to do is putting the last 10 years together, and put them in some perspective.

  • Richard Bennett

    That sounds like a very interesting story, and it brings me to a very interesting point. Google and Yahoo are actively collaborating with the autocratic government of China to suppress free speech, doing such things as cooking search results to steer people toward government-friendly web sites on Tienanmen Square, democracy, and the like.

    Here in the USA, these companies and their buddies at Microsoft are lobbying the government hard to suppress innovation in the basic design of the Internet’s plumbing in order to maintain their monopoly positions. Just last week they paid a Congressman – Ed Markey of Massachusetts – to introduce an amendment to the COPE Act that would have prevented ISPs from filtering spam, stopping Denial of Service attacks, or offering high-quality voice services.

    They’ve cleverly packaged their pro-monopoly anti-innovation campaign as “net neutrality” and paid several slick-talking shills to push it. They’ve succeeded in winning support from a large number of not-too-bright people and are close to winning, which means an end to innovation on the Internet.

    Isn’t that a shame? It’s as if the Amish had lobbied Congress in 1910 to keep horseless carriages off the roads. We’d certainly have some cool carriages if they’d done that, but they wouldn’t be any match for the Lexus.

    One of Google’s most persuasive speakers claims that we have a more robust newspaper market today than we did in 1920, when New York City had 50 daily papers. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard, and I wonder, Professor Wu, if you’d like to comment on it.

  • Seth Finkelstein

    As I have said many times:

    Can the Net be censored? There’s a famous phrase

    “The Net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it.
    — John Gilmore”

    And when I’ve heard it, I’ve thought in reply,

    “But what if censorship is in the router?
    — Seth Finkelstein”

  • Ghulam

    I haven’t seen the movie yet (having a 2 year old I don’t get to the cinema much), hoeewvr from what I’ve heard in the Tech Media, Facebook have actually done very well out of the publicity around the movie.

  • Cassidy

    As someone who hears seocnd-hand about the horrors of scheduling and other ALA conference processes, all I can say is that it’s a nightmare and I am glad I don’t have to do it. Yes, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone would have the bad sense to schedule these two events at the same time. I’ve heard three schools of thought on why it happens:1) The conference is huge and complex and it would be too big a task to track and correct all such problems;2) The conference is huge and complex and the people doing scheduling are not up to the task of tracking and correcting such problems;3) The conference is huge and complex and the people doing scheduling find some perverse pleasure in creating such problems.What’s the real reason? My openness to one or another explanation varies with circumstances and with my mood. But none eliminates the frustration caused by problems that seem like they could and should have been avoided.When I was at Annual in Atlanta, I saw that some conference presentations were being recorded (audio and video) for later posting on the web. I’m not sure how successful this is my impression was it was a daunting task but if one of these panels is being recorded, it might be worth focusing on the other at conference, trusting you’ll catch the other presentation online later.Or you could run back and forth between rooms. I think that’s what most people do at conference

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