The internet’s utopian libertarianism

The Washington Post has a fascinating article about a manifesto written in 1996 entitled  A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.  (Click the link.  It’s worth reading.)  The piece is by John Perry Barlow, who articulated a utopian high-tech libertarianism that still influences the tech industry and internet culture.  His writing lauds the radical freedom and spiritual changes made possible in the cyberworld, and it is also deadset against any kind of big government, with its regulations and controls.

Read the piece by Jacob Silverman, who has written a book on the subject, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Silverman critiques Barlow for his libertarianism and his opposition to government, maintaining that his successful crusade to keep the internet independent of the government simply allowed private corporations to take over and to do what he did not want government to do.  What do you think of this? [Read more...]

Net neutrality or Obamanet?

The FCC voted to regulate the internet so that service providers cannot charge different kinds of users or content providers (e.g., streaming a Netflix movie) more than any others.  Some are hailing this ruling as “net neutrality,” making it possible for the internet to remain free and open.  Others are condemning these rules as  government regulation of internet that will quench innovation and create a cumbersome, poor-running “Obamanet.”  What do you think? [Read more...]

Beware the leap second?

On June 30, an extra second will be added to the Bureau of Standard’s atomic clocks.  This is so that our clocks will align more precisely with the rotation and orbit of the Earth.  The fear is that this will throw off the world’s computers, and, particularly, the programs that run the internet.

Last time this happened, in 2012, it did throw off a number of Unix-based websites.  Google has a fix for its sites, but many people are nervous, though probably not as nervous as they were with the Y2K panic, when 1999 turned into 2000. [Read more...]

Professional trolls

Trolls–those who make harsh and nasty comments just to take over and disrupt discussions–are the bane of the internet.  It turns out, some trolls are paid for their work. [Read more...]

Time to change your passwords

A group of Russian criminals has collected 1.2 billion user names and passwords.  And since most people use the same password for everything–from travel sites to banking (how else to remember the things?)–that makes 1.2 billion people extremely vulnerable. [Read more...]

Associated Press will shorten the news

We’ve blogged about the findings that the internet has diminished people’s ability to read long, complex texts.  Now the leading practitioner of print journalism is giving in to the trend.  The Associated Press wire service has ordered its reporters to keep their stories no longer than 500 words. [Read more...]


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