1 October 2005

Balance of power

Two related issues: GoogleNet and the International Internet. We live in interesting times.

First, it's been odd hearing the Man On The Street start talking about what we as geeks have spoken of in hushed voices for (I swear) six months at least. The big guesses on Google's direction (i.e. what's up their Googley sleeves) had been either GoogleBrowser, GoogleOS, or GoogleNet--with any being effectively the same thing (see Kottke's April 2004 post). The side discussion with all of this has been: ads are paying for this brave new Internet. I for one am suspicious about our new Google overlords, but guess what? The new economy/information model turned out to be the same as the old one. Open up any magazine and try to flip through without being interrupted by the stacatto flap of heavy card stock ads. Information is just the parasite riding on the backs of ads.

This is not an opinion originating with or unique to me, but it resonates for me. Yesyesyes, the information is magnitudes greater, more accessible, and more valuable, but there's still trepidation over the cost: GoogleNet will know where I am, how often I go there, and at what times, and target ads (welllll paid for ads) accordingly. Is it worth it? I'm not sure, let's just say that I'm cautiously pessimistic.

Jackassed isolationists at work are all up in arms over the recent EU request for international governance of the internet (currently handled by non-profit ICANN with absolute power still in the hands of the US government). I believe the subtle critique of the isolationists went something like: "let them create their own Internet." What they forget is that what everyone really means when they say "the Internet" was created by a Brit at a European laboratory. Nationalism can be so forgetful. So, America gets Gopher and FTP and the rest of the world get hypertext? No thanks.

Seriously, the issue at hand is the root servers and ICANN's ultimate control over their management. Could that be abused (has it already been abused) for national purposes? Could UN involvement stop that abuse or add further abuse?

[ posted by sstrader on 1 October 2005 at 3:05:49 PM in Science & Technology ]