The Internet Is Mine

The Internet does belong to *me* — and all the other self styled Citizens of the Net.

Corporations may own bits of wire and pieces of equipment, but that isn’t The Internet.
Any more than a handful of soil scooped up from the nearest garden is your country.

That pile of dirt may be a fractional portion of your country, and those bits of technology may be segments of Internet infrastructure, but they are neither the sum of your country nor the entity we call The Internet.

Please note: there is but one Internet, which is the sum of a whole mess of interconnection.
Networks.   Computers.   Cell phones.

The Internet is one thing — a network — that exists in many countries spread all over the world.

Apollo 17 full Earth photograph

It is the very connectivity which confers value.

Those of us who contribute to it, use it, work with it, learn from it and share it do have rights.

Because the Internet would not exist without us.

All of us.

It has been suggested that the Internet would exist without me, and further, if I’ve only come online in the last decade, it existed before me, and will exist after me.

That may be true in a very limited sense: as an individual, I am only one small atom of The Internet. Just as an individual citizen of any democracy is simply one small part.

But the point of the Internet is that we are all put together. The Internet is the sum of its parts.

Not just the brilliant folks like Tim Berners Lee who created the World Wide Web who wrote the IP protocol that makes it function, but all the users, whether they can create a website or barely manage to reply to an email.
It wouldn’t BE The Internet if we all pulled up stakes and moved on.
It would simply revert to being a mess of wire and hunks of equipment.

Internet = Interconnected Networks.

Just as the citizens of a country make up the democracy, it is the users who comprise “The Internet.”

It’s been further suggested my opinion about The Internet doesn’t count unless I played a ‘key role’ in DARPA.

Certainly, DARPA’s Internet — an earlier incarnation of the Internet that existed before it was open to the public — was a very different beastie.

But that isn’t The Internet that exists today.

When DARPA controlled the Internet, they wouldn’t have needed to lobby for legislation of Internet Backdoors.

The Internet is not static, but dynamic.

The Internet has evolved.

The Internet of today has evolved enormously precisely because of the interconnection of humans.

It is this international assembly that has so attracted marketers and governments, all of whom seek to co-opt and control the Internet, in order to profit and/or govern the citizens of the Internet.

I certainly didn’t play a key role in DARPA. I had to google DARPA and read about it on Wikipedia to even know what it is. Because I’m nobody. An Internet user. Heck, I’m not even an American.

But the Internet is mine just the same.

Statue - of a broken Spartacus being supported by a young man - standing in Paris
I am Spartacus

Because the thing we all know as The Internet today is a network of parts. Without the people who use it — the citizens of the net — it would not be anything like it has become. Like it is. Because of the things that the Internet makes possible, the world is changing. Ideas are changing. Methods of doing things are changing.

On DARPA’s Internet, the precursor to *my* Internet, it was inconceivable that total strangers from all over the world would come together to produce a free and accessible encyclopedia, much less one that would come to be accepted as reputable.

The point is that Internet is no longer the creature of DARPA.
That may be a key part of the reason the American government
is so testy. Every time the United States filters out a chunk of the Internet, they are building their own “Great Wall” and locking their own citizens behind it. Yet if the United States chooses to gather up its marbles and go home, the rest of us will still be online.

Because the Internet belongs to the whole world —
to everyone who connects to it.

If all of the Citizens of The Internet were to log off, the hollow shell remaining in DARPA’s grasp would hardly be recognizable as anything but a memory of the entity we today recognize as The Internet.

So you see, the Internet is mine. And yours. It’s ours.

And we are Spartacus.

[This is an expansion of my comments on Buzzmachine: Clinton and the freedom to connect]

Image Credit: “Paris – Jardin des Tuileries – Le Serment de Spartacus – Ernest Barrias’ Le Serment de Spartacus (The Oath of Spartacus)” photo by Wally Gobetz wallyg under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License

Earth from space, Apollo 17 mission. Copyright and Credit NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Scientific Visualization Studio, released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) License.


Free Culture, Copyright and Open Video

StopUBB logoUsually I deal with highly politicized computer issues in my StopUBB blog, which has evolved from only fighting against Canadian implementation of Usage Based Billing but has spread out to fight against insidious secret copyright treaties like A.C.T.A. while trying to educate ordinary people about the related issues of Net Neutrality and Internet Freedom.

Those who are attempting to subvert the Internet so they can control and leash it have long been using copyright as an excuse to do these things. I have been learning a lot about computer issues through StopUBB research. But there are many people who have been grappling with the future of the Internet long before I had a clue that there were even issues.

One of these people is Lawrence Lessig a big proponent of “Free Culture” and reduced copyright. Not only was Lessig one of the a founder of Creative Commons licensing movement, he was also involved in the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Harvard‘s Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Lawrence Lessig delivering a lecture

Copyright symbol with maple leaf

in the wind is my personal blog. Since I’m a writer a big part of my life is writing, so when I write about any aspect of writing it goes here. So even though copyright plays an important part in StopUBB issues, this is where I write about it from a reader and writer’s point of view.

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Yesterday I learned from Twitter that there was going to be a LIVE! Wireside Chat with Lawrence Lessig at Harvard Law School I played hooky from writing Inconstant Moon to tune in, although I only caught the last part of his lecture, the main thrust was that the bad guys can look after themselves, its time that the good guys (that’s you and me, pal) stepped up to the plate to stop corruption and make government start working for the people again.

After the lecture there was a question and answer session with questions provided in a live Twitter feed which dealt with culture, copyright and ReMix.

These are some of the Lessig quotes tweeted by audience
which in itself made the lecture into a remix:
shapah “we need a culture that makes it as easy to hack hardware as it does content” #wireside #lessig

PPirataMx Necesitamos una cultura que permita “hackear” dispositivos de la misma forma que se “hackea” el contenido. #lessig #wireside

EveBottando “There’s something tone deaf about Apple. Their sharing site is – it should be” #wireside

shapah Brazil again! points of light – “they teach kids to tear machines down and rebuild them” #wireside

ericschnell RT @sameerverma: “Stallman was right to call it free software” – lessig #wireside

ezufelt #wireside chat w/ @lessig was good, disappointing that it was not captioned and that videos were not described. #accessibility

shapah non-commercial CC licensing is an experiment to enable this new way of thinking #wireside #lessig

shapah “free culture is the right way to think about – setting the right boundaries, setting the widest spread” #wireside

EveBottando “Britney Spears model – produce and control culture…another culture that doesn’t limit…depends on building and sharing freely” #wireside

blogdiva RT @dsearls: @Lessig: “The government has produced the least efficient property system known to man.” At #wireside

shapah “how long do copyright terms need to be?” 21 years? #lessig would settle for 50 as long as it couldn’t be extended #wireside

moon Larry #Lessig “never should you be allowed to extend an existing copyright” #wireside

After the Q&A concluded, I learned a bit about the The Open Video Alliance, the group who put on this lecture. Of course, my learning curve in all this is enormous; today is the first time that I had even heard of them. Open Video held a contest for 60 second films to explain and illustrate the idea of open video to raise awareness of the importance of this cultural art form. They screened the winning videos, but this one was my favorite.

Teacher Raffaella Traniello holds up some movie making tools
Raffaella Traniello is an excellent teacher.   With simplicity and breathtaking clarity her video makes the point:



You can find the other open video submissions available for download at

Visit the site and check out the films online. You are free to download them in a variety of formats from OGG to MPEG4.   Raffaella’s film is in Italian but there are English subtitles available– the words are important– for mono-lingual anglophones like myself.

I could not figure out how to embed the Raffaella’s Traniello video here, so I took a peek at YouTube to see if it was there. I didn’t find it, instead I found this interview. Although I don’t speak a word of Italian, I loved the opportunity to see some of the films this amazing teacher has made with her students. You go girl.

It seems that videos posted on YouTube can be easily embedded here in my WordPress blog, but videos found in other places, like The Open Video Alliance and the Canada’s NFB (National Film Board of Canada) can not be posted here, even though it would not violate any copyright laws to do so.

As if by magic my friend Malcolm sent me a link to this amazing live interactive ReMix:

I am curious now as to whether license fees were paid to use the music in this performance art.

I think it was Lawrence Lessig who suggested that copyright law needs to be straightforward enough that children can use any cultural material they are exposed to in any way with impunity.

Unfortunately what is happening today is the heavy handed application if new IP laws that serve to frighten many educators and schools away from using these technologies to help educate our children. After all, this is a world of D.M.C.A. takedowns and A.C.T.A.

And that’s not right.