Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in March, 2003

Shelley “BurningBird” Powers asks:

Question to the thousands who saw the World of Ends as a new definitive answer for the foolish masses who don’t ‘know’ the Internet: Exactly what will you do differently, today, after reading this essay, then you did yesterday before reading this essay? Just curious, is all.

Well, I’ve spent part of two days translating WoE, and alerting friends and the press to it. Obviously, I think it’s an important piece of work; not that I agree 100% with it, but its most important function – reawakening discussion of what the Internet is all about – is being well-exercised. I wish I had something like WoE in 1993/4, when I built one of Brazil’s first ISPs, and tried to:

1) Convince the academics that there was a place for the commercial Internet:

Me: I’d like to operate a commercial Internet provider.

They: The Internet is tuned to research and education! Commercial messages will sully its sacred purpose!

2) Convince Embratel – the state company which at the time had a monopoly on international communications, with two 9600 bps lines coming into São Paulo and one 64K bps line into Rio de Janeiro – that the Internet wouldn’t be just a TELEX replacement:

Me: I want a data line to my office.

They: OK. It’s US$500/month for a 2400-baud line, plus US$0.01 per 64-byte data packet.

Me (scraping my jaw off the floor): But what if a client wants to download a 1-megabyte file???

They: Don’t worry, this will never happen.

3) Convince companies that they should have an Internet connection:

They: Install a trial connection on this computer here, please.

Me: It will need a modem and a phone line.

They: What? That’s impossible. We pay enough phone charges already!

4) Convince companies that they should have a web page:

Me: So people can just read you page and see your product catalog.

They: And how will our salesman know who they are, so he can visit them?

Me: You won’t need traveling salesmen anymore; and you’ll get customers from all over the country!

They: Why would we want to?

5) Convince people (people over 18, that is) that they need an e-mail address:

Me: You’ll be able to write to anybody in the world; in Japan or the USA, for example, and get a response on the same day!

They: But I don’t know anybody in Japan or the USA!

The reactions to WoE on the Web have been very interesting. Obviously there’s been a lot of mindless, me-too on-the-bandwagon jumping, which can be discounted. Equally discountable are the kneejerk reactions against “technohippie” ravings, and the worldweary bullshit-business-as-usual dismissals.

Although I’m proud to consider myself a technohippie – in the sense that I believe that in the long run, and with proper caution, the Internet and technology in general will be a positive force – I don’t think that WoE is all naïvely idealistic and therefore impractical. Perhaps this part is the most naïve:

The government types who have confused the value of the Internet with the value of its contents could realize that in tinkering with the Internet’s core, they’re actually driving down its value. In fact, they maybe could see that having a system that transports all bits equally, without government or industry censorship, is the single most powerful force for democracy and open markets in history.

In my experience, only politicians campaigning for reelection praise democracy and open markets. Any other “government type”, down to the lowliest clerk, is usually deathly afraid of both democracy and open markets, and making these people aware of the Internet’s power in this regard may well have the opposite effect of what WoE intends.

Technical people seem to mostly take issue with specific points: disagreeing with calling the Internet’s complex infrastructure ‘stupid’, arguing for priority mechanisms for audio/video streaming, pointing out exceptions for mechanisms that can’t be end-point implementations, calling attention to non-discussed issues like spam and virii, and so forth. Many of these objections are valid, but such concepts have to simplified (perhaps even oversimplified) so non-technical people don’t stop reading too soon. It’s telling that many a tech’s comments considered WoE both obvious and unnecessary.

I take some issue with WoE’s form while understanding somewhat why they wrote it that way. Using short words, short sentences, trying to make each sentence quotable, making lists of 10 points, making the same point repeatedly; these are well-known techniques to write for the great unwashed public. At the same time, this often comes off superficial and patronizing for people who do have more than two neurons to knock together. Personally, I wish the piece were longer and went more into philosophical points. Perhaps we need different versions for journalist, record company executives, politicians and techies? Hmm…


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Posted by Hernani Dimantas:
Valeu, Rainer. Adorei o texto. E achei muito legal a tua atitude de traduzi-lo ao português. É isso aí… reverberar vozes.



Posted by Fábio Caparica:

Jean Boechat wrote:

Este texto é uma pérola.

Uma pérola conceitual que vai muito além do mundo do controle. Do mundo governamental ou dos negócios.

E é uma pérola que a gente sempre sabe que existe. E que precisamos lembrar sempre dela. Adorei.

Olá Jean…

Vc resumiu o que estava no meu pensamento.

“O texto é uma pérola conceitual”


Como já dizia o Tupy…

“A revolução não será televisionada…”

Recently, Apple started supplying some software in a new form. Although you download an apparently normal .dmg file, clicking on it doesn’t mount the disk image as usual – instead, files from the image are copied to the download folder, the image is dismounted and moved to the trash.

At first I thought this unwelcome, overly helpful, and even disquieting – are they executing a script and can this be used as a vehicle for virii and trojans?

However, Apple just published a note about how these files work, and how to create them yourself. No scripts are involved, so that’s one worry less.

Posted by Daniel Pádua:
O valor deste texto incrível está na simplicidade, clareza e concisão com que eles resumem o que sentimos no dia-a-dia da Internet.

Se falar o óbvio de maneira simples já é um desafio, abordá-lo com uma profundidade tão grande é mesmo coisa de gênio.

Que tal um weblog para listar e comentar sites, ferramentas e serviços que seguem a linha ‘Mundo de Pontas’ de pensar?

Aloha. icon_smile.gif

Posted by Jean Boechat:
Este texto é uma pérola.

Uma pérola conceitual que vai muito além do mundo do controle. Do mundo governamental ou dos negócios.

E é uma pérola que a gente sempre sabe que existe. E que precisamos lembrar sempre dela. Adorei.

Posted by cava:
Entendo que muitos dos erros cometidos por legisladores fazem parte de um unico sentimento protecionista. Alias, muito comum no territorio americano.

Percebemos isso ao ver os mesmos defendendo penas muito leves para uma empresa que feriu as leis anti-truste ou tambem vendo os mesmos tentando “proteger” o mercado fonografico ou cinematografico.

Tambem e’ o que vimos a pouco com a questao dos direitos autorais do Mickey e sua turma. O simples fato destes personagens movimentarem milhoes e a possibilidade da liberacao causar estrago e encadear uma crise foi suficiente para encorajar o poder judiciario e legislativo a cometer novo erro.

Sempre foi assim e com apos a crise de 11 de setembro, o sentimento piorou. O medo de um colapso na economia iniciado por uma grande empresa (ou um mercado especifico como o fonografico) em crise, tem como consequencia tais erros que, ao meu ver, estao apenas adiando e aumentando o prejuizo futuro.

World of Ends

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Doc Searls and David Weinberger, co-authors of the classic Cluetrain Manifesto, did it again with World of Ends. In less than a day this article climbed to the #1 spot on indexes such as TechnoRati and DayPop. Hundreds of weblogs are already linking to it, and in a couple of days major news sites should follow.

I’ve posted a translation into Brazilian Portuguese. This was written in a hurry, so I make no claims of elegance or fidelity; both will hopefully be added during the following days. Please post comments over there if you see an error, or know a better translation for some phrase or word.

Update: Doc Searls has linked to this post and my translation. David Weinberger has posted several interesting comments he received from readers. Tim Moors published a technical paper about end-to-end design which concludes that although implementing functions at the network edge is often useful, certain others (like routing and congestion control) should not be edge-implemented. Richard Bennett calls the article a cluetrainish hallucination. BurningBird thinks the article oversimplifies the issues. Marc Canter comments at length, a must read. There are tons of other links – unfortunately TechnoRati seems to be down at the moment.

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