Today to Jimmer

Jimmer called me the other night. We chatted about his being in school again and me leaving; about the value gained in such institutions. I told him that I'm focusing on business more and that it seems freer. He wished me well. At some point, I got around to telling him about this new software that Richard and I recently designed for the web. Now Jimmer manages the Noam Chomsky Archives as a volunteer effort. He has for a couple of years. And ChainLink is well, check it out if you want. Essentially, packages other web pages for you to display without any active links.

Jimmer objected. On moral grounds. Here are some of my thoughts, sent today to Jimmer.

From:	cburke@nexus.yorku.ca (Carolyn L Burke)
Date:	Wed, 22 Feb 1995 10:22:35 -0500
To:	Jimmer Endres jimmer@bawdy.slip.cs.cmu.edu

[...deleted niceties...]

Of course, I will examine both of our positions on this. Do you think that all beautiful and wondrous things must also be fragile and therefore need to be protected? Or do you think that some beautiful things do not need hothouses?

I think the decentralized sturcture of the net, beautiful. And not harmable. The structure of undrground organizations has classically been decentralized exactly so that it is much more difficult for external forces to target it for destruction. The Internet has grown solely as a grass roots movement, and although big business and big government move in to play too, the small sprouts still receive plenty of sun. And they can't be shadowed completely except by popular vote.

You have to grant me that the popular vote will sometimes prefer the snazzy professionally created sites... Hollywood has demonstrated thata little showomanship will go a long way in creating fashion and mega-bucks. But at the same time, the little theatre with the local author's play does very well as well. This latter isn't the mass market, but the beautiful and more fragile creations are there for themass market if they ever want them. And so with the small homepage, and the volunteer organization. But there is nothing wrong at all with the person who wants to hang out at the snazziest page in the first place.

Do you think that the information of quality and value on the Internet will somehow become unuseful or unused if the commercial enterprises take over? In a space where self-publishing is the easiest form of communication, people will read what they want, not what they have to. So if your site has what they want, they'll come. Otherwise they will not. Plain and simple. So what is it they want?

If you disapprove of what they want, then you are out to re-educate their tastes. The Internet, as with any resource, will be used as the people decide they want. Perhaps morethan any other resource. If people start to find that they don't like the things big business is creating on the net, they'll simply start to ignore the big business URLs. And big business will be simply motivated to change their contribution.

That is non-representative democracy at its finest.

Carolyn

I know you still disagree... but I think basically that the Internet will survive all of its trials.. its too well loved.


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