TED Talk: Web as random

In the first video, The Web as random acts of kindness, the characterization of the founding of the Internet here is a group of high school teenagers working in their garage to altruistically to benefit the world because that is what high functioning nerds do and the world behaves kindly on the Internet because of it. The individuals he means worked as graduate assistants at UCLA on ARPANet. (I was disappointed Jonathan Zittrain failed to say the names of the founders of the Internet. Pretty sure he means Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, and Steve Crocker.) Sure they were not working for a company. They were working for a university on a grant from the Department of Defense.

They had an amazing freedom which was they didn’t have to make any money on it. The Internet had no business plan, no CEO, no firm responsible singly¬†for building it. Instead it is folks getting together to do something for fun rather than because they were told to or expecting to make money off of it.

The examples certainly seem compelling. However, I fail to see the connection between the architecture of TCP/IP and human small acts of kindness. Instead some examples make the Internet and Wikipedia sound a single step from oblivion. Maybe I am not a pessimist?

The second video, Is the Internet what Orwell feared?, discusses the failure of social media to break down dictatorships. Connectivity * Devices != Democracy. Instead of censoring the bloggers and commenters, give the bloggers the opportunity to see the cleaned up issue. The issue gets dropped because there is no longer a story. The moral is transparency can look nice but not actually result in actual change. Wait… The same thing happens in democracies. Hmmmmm.

Jonathan Zittrain: The Web as random acts of kindness

Evgeny Morozov: Is the Internet what Orwell feared?