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The Internet Your Rights Online

Life on The Net in 2004 554

Posted by timothy
from the dehydrated-reconstituted-warmed-over dept.
NewtonsLaw writes "In recent years the Net has changed very quickly from a great place for geeks and nerds into a highly commercialized marketplace in which everyone is making a grab for your wallet. If it's not wave after wave of spam in your mailbox, it's excessively intrusive ad banners and popups, or demands by websites that you pay a subscription for access. The DMCA and other pending legislation could soon mean that companies such as Microsoft and the recording labels will cement their total ownership of your online rights -- leaving you with nothing but a hefty bill to pay whenever you want to use their software or services. Today's Aardvark Daily carries an interesting editorial that speculates on just what life could be like in the very near future. Sobering -- but perhaps not too far from reality?"
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Life on The Net in 2004

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  • "Geeks"? :) (Score:4, Informative)

    by Crispin Cowan (20238) <`crispin' `at' `crispincowan.com'> on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:28PM (#3306723) Homepage
    Anyone who cannot figure out how to prevent pop-ups, banners, spam, and e-mail virii from disrupting their life hardly deserves the moniker of "geek".

    Hint: disable javascript, edit your /etc/hosts file to map various interesting domain names to 127.0.0.1, and don't use an idiotic mail client that eagerly executes scripted content.

    Crispin
    ----
    Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
    Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc. [wirex.com]
    Immunix: [immunix.org] Security Hardened Linux Distribution
    Available for purchase [wirex.com]

  • by cscx (541332)
    You may not like it, but I think some people are in for a reality check. This world is not like, say, RMS's ideal utopia -- share and share alike. The world thrives on commerce and, well, if you've got business practices that will get you the extra mile (whether you agree with them or not), that will be the company that will ultimately succeed. Can anyone say Microsoft?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:41PM (#3306803)
      A free market is about being able to empower BOTH the seller AND the buyer so that they can negotiate a price point based on the invisible hand of supply and demand. When a supplier has exclusive control over a market, that is NEITHER capitalism or a free market. Microsoft's business practices have NOTHING to do with capitalism.

      Free software happens to empower the buyer and enables more than one seller, hence, it is a very pro-capitalism and pro-market proposition. While it may be true that a single entity may not be able to extort monopolist prices to the determinent of the buyer, it also generally true that a more competitive market with multiple suppliers is generally better both for the quality of goods supplied and the total size of the market. This is real capitalism. This is free software!

    • by Ricky M. Waite (544756) on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:41PM (#3306804) Homepage
      I love how capitalists and authoritarians alike fall back on the notion that inequality and suffering are "facts of life" and so capitalism and authority is just - and yet they fail to go by that same reasoning when it comes to murder, theft, and overall crime. You can't have it both ways. Either the world revolves around pain and brutality or it doesn't. Whether or not that brutality puts money into your goddamn fucking greedy ass pockets is completely irrelevant.

      Why don't you put aside your greed for one moment and think about the possibility, just the possibility, that the world doesn't have to be so fucked up.
      • why do we need to sell an endless supply?

        Its like selling air, water, etc

        We'll never run out, instead of sharing we sell it

        Its called greed, not capitalism, greed.
        Capitalism works when you have a limited supply of something and need a way to decide who gets what, when everyone can have everything, whats the point of capitalism? Greed & Selfishness
        • Bandwidth isn't free.
          Support personnel aren't free.
          Promotional efforts aren't free.
          Software developers aren't free.
          Machine upkeep isn't free.
          Rent isn't free.
          Electricity isn't free.
          Food, so that the employees can live, isn't free.

          • Thank you.

            That about WRAPS IT UP for the "everything should be free" viewpoint. Until everything is free, companies have to sell products so they can pay the bills and employ people so *they* can pay their bills.

            and anything worth having on-line takes TIME to produce, which also isn't free.

            This is insurmountable, utopia notwithstanding. It takes zero effort to make the rent due. Food can be grown indefinitely, but it isn't free either.

            Want to have some influence? Buy something from a small business instead of complaining that big businesses don't care. Want a better job? Buy something from a small business instead of griping about corporate layoffs. Small businesses create jobs.
        • Its called greed, not capitalism, greed. Capitalism works when you have a limited supply of something and need a way to decide who gets what, when everyone can have everything, whats the point of capitalism? Greed & Selfishness

          Capitalism isn't a zero sum game. If I have fields full of wheat and you have fields full of cows, I can trade you wheat for cows, and both of us profit. We trade the lesser wealth of our excess into the greater wealth of our lack.

          Swap "dollars" for "wheat" and "CDs" for "cows", and you've got today's consumer market.

          "Capitalism is evil" is so 1980s--get current, man...

      • To equate the inequality of capitalism with the brutality of authoritatianism is an insult to all those who parished under Hitler, Pol Pot, and Joseph Stalin.

        Indeed, more have been killed by authoritarian anticapitalists than have been killed by any amount of capitalist inequality.

        In fact, it was just your sort of attitude about capitalists that allowed for that kind of brutality in the first place. Its easy to kill people if you think there're evil.

        Consider the language of the left about capitalists versus "the people." By implication, the capitalists aren't people. Atrocities against non-people become easy.

        "It is important, my countrymen, to shout this to the world again and again, for they are brazen democratic liars who assert that the so-called Authoritarian States are out to conquer the world, while in fact, the conquerors of the world are our old enemies ... this world government is affected not by the power of an idea, but essentially by force, and where force does not suffice, by the power of capitalist or economic interests. "

        "However, every proposal, coming as it did from me, was sufficient to cause excitement among a certain Jewish-international-capitalist clique, just as it used to happen formerly in Germany when every reasonable proposal was rejected only because it was made by National Socialists."

        "But the ruthlessness of the capitalist plutocrats in these countries always broke through in a short time, fostered by emigrants who presented a picture of the German situation which was naturally quite mad, but was believed because it seemed agreeable and then, of course, it was propagated by Jewish hatred. This collection of capitalist interests on the one hand, Jewish instincts of hatred and the emigrants' lust for revenge, succeeded in increasingly beclouding the world, enveloping it in phrases, and in inciting it against the present German Reich, just as against the Reich which preceded us. At that time they opposed the Germany of the Kaiser, this time they opposed National-Socialist Germany." -- Adolf Hitler

        Welcome to the world of anti-capitalism.

        Yes, it has even led to anti-semitism and Nazi Germany. For the Germans, the Jews represented the capitalists. In 1930, over half of all companies and firms in Germany were owned by Jews, who made up less than 2% of the population. For Germans, Jew meant capitalist.

        This was even expressed in children's books like
        [calvin.edu]
        Money is the God of the Jews

        "This story comes from Der Giftpilz, an anti-Semitic children's book published by Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Stürmer. He was executed as a war criminal in 1946. "
    • You may not like it, but I think some people are in for a reality check. This world is not like, say, RMS's ideal utopia -- share and share alike. The world thrives on commerce and, well, if you've got business practices that will get you the extra mile (whether you agree with them or not), that will be the company that will ultimately succeed. Can anyone say Microsoft?

      You think that's bad, just wait until Standard Oil gets it's grubby little hands on your car!

      Oh, wait...

    • You may not like it, but I think some people are in for a reality check. This world is not like, say, RMS's ideal utopia -- share and share alike.

      "Some see things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask 'why not?'" -- Robert F. Kennedy
  • by mat catastrophe (105256) on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:29PM (#3306727) Homepage

    ...through our inability to organize effectively and deal with it.

  • Free Porn? (Score:2, Funny)

    by yeoua (86835)
    Wait a sec now... he was porno hacked? So that means he gets free porn then? Well yea he is paying the bandwidth, but jeez... its free porn.

    We don't even have porn in 2002. Guess we got a lot to look forward to :)
  • by rnd() (118781)
    I'm not making a grub for your wallet... I just want to help you learn to levitate...

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheAwfulTruth (325623) on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:35PM (#3306766) Homepage
    "leaving you with nothing but a hefty bill to pay whenever you want to use their software or services"

    So what? Don't use their services! Those services were not there in the past and everyone survived.

    Stories like this are so self defeating. What is the solution? If in fact it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a service (as it does now and always has) Then of course it needs to be paid for! By Who? Net fairies? No, by the users!

    Just go back to e-mail and usenet. Give up the web completely. It was envisioned as a commercial vehicle from the get go. Then you can pay $19.95 a month for your dialup account and be happy as a clam never paying for another thing on the net.

    Either participate or not. But this endless teeth gnashing about not getting everything in the universe for free is getting really REALLY old!
    • by rhavyn (12490)
      What web are you on that was envisioned as a commercial vehicle? It was created to ease sharing of information between scientists. It existed for quite a long time as nothing but a text based system. It's people spreading misinformation like that which convinces that we should let the damn corporations get away with turning the web into a big pay per view system.

      And this has nothing to do with everything being free. This has to do with comments about big companies suing small sites off the net because they don't like their content. This has to do with companies' new digital rights management software deciding whether or not I can use something that I paid for (and if it screws up, I just might go to jail because of it).

      If these are things that you would like to see happen, then make your own damn network so that you can be in charge ... but you sure has hell have no right to say that we should stop complaining when someone starts fucking up the network that we created.
    • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Relic of the Future (118669) <dales@di[ ]alfreaks.org ['git' in gap]> on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:06PM (#3306937)

      While agree with most of what you said, I just can't let this go:

      "[The web] was envisioned as a commercial vehicle from the get go."

      This is blatently wrong, and it saddens me that anyone thinks this is true. The original vision [w3.org] for the WWW, as written by Tim Berners-Lee in 1992 when he came up with the concept, says that:

      W3 was originally developed to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups.

      That said, I have little to no problem with people trying to make a buck off of it (within reason... spam is not within reason). There are still lots of great resources out there that still adhere to Mr. Berners-Lee's original vision... like /. (although B-L was thinking more of academic colaboration than geeks pontificating).

      Yes, the web has become more commercialized, but that doesn't mean it started that way, and it doesn't mean it can _only_ be that way.

    • by Erris (531066)
      So what? Don't use their services! Those services were not there in the past and everyone survived.

      In the past people used other services that will not survive into the future. Newspapers and other publications that once extraced timber from entire regions are going away. TV broadcast is moving to digital and encrypted pay per play if broadcasters have their way. Radio will follow. So where will you get your news and entertainment if all these greed heads have their way? People once lived in caves and they lived.

      What trolls like you miss, or intentionally ignore, is the loss of public domain that all of this is leading up to. As many others have pointed out here, the DMCA can be extended to the death of all normal publications, making libraries impractical if not illegal. Newer laws that require govenment approved software in all digital devices will effectivly eliminate free publishing, so that those who WANT to give away their thoughts will not be able to. It's not that I'm worried that I won't be able to get cool toys for free, it's that I won't be able to share MY thoughts, MY programs, MY images without paying some trolls who want to control the internet and my computer.

      May all your software be MicroShaft for the rest of your days, AwfulTroll.

  • by idonotexist (450877) on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:37PM (#3306776)
    [An advertisement airs on broadcast television during 2004....]

    Narrator: Deep in the shadows and during late night hours, terrorists construct computers so they may prevent Americans the opportunity to enjoy music, film, and software.

    (Display a family enjoying a movie and children listening to music)

    Narrator: These terrorists are responsible for up to 30% of unemployment in our nation due to reductions in revenue for American businesses.

    (Display an unemployment line and a line of Russians waiting to receive bread during the Soviet-era)

    Narrator: Moreover, parts (primarily manufactured in the non-American and ugly capitalistic and piggish democractic nation of Russia) are purchased via the computer blackmarket and finance drug sales to children at schools.

    (Display computers alongside dead children)

    Narrator: Why would a person wish to build a computer?

    (Display an individual covered by a black and dark shadow)

    Narrator: Only an anti-societal and evil intention lurks in these terrorists to undermine our common courage: "one nation under god, indivisible, and united we stand."

    (Display the flag of the United States of America)

    Narrator: These terrorists must be reported to the Civilian Protection Team immediately! Now is the time to defend our nation! Do your part... today!

    (Display a telephone and Citizen Protection Member (CPM) dressed in uniform and receiving a request from a female citizen in the foreground with the flag in the background)

    Narrator 2: This message brought to you by the Council for an Evil Free America.

    (Display Evil Buster Logo (TM) )
    • This message brought to you by the Council for an Evil Free America.

      You meant Evil-Free America, right? Or, *raises eyebrow dramatically*, did you?
    • This is not funny. Not at all. The copyright industry is already indoctrinating children with its views regarding legal and illegal copying.
  • by Jailbrekr (73837)
    This pie in the sky analogy is only if everyone gives up the battle. The battle is far from over, and the RIAA, I suspect, will find a fate similar to RAMBUS. Sooner or later, the consumer will rebel en masse.
  • by stoolpigeon (454276) <bittercode@gmail> on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:40PM (#3306795) Homepage Journal
    There is this fear of government 'ruining' your life by passing laws about software and copy rights and such.

    Some of it is warranted but not this kind of horrid future.

    There is a very good alternative to it all. Just walk away from it. I know I don't have to have email in my personal life. I don't have to have the web either. I certainly don't need the music produced by the big record companies, or the movies and t.v. shows produced by the big entertainment conglomerates.

    If enough people opt out of these things- and put their energy into developing alternatives, those alternatives will thrive.

    The only government that can stop that is one that does away with the very basic liberties of movement and ownership. I know- a lot of people think that is already happening but I would say not.

    I'm not saying don't be concerned or take action. I just think that this dark vision of the future is a bit much.

    Not to mention it completely leaves out the advances that will be made in the circumvention of these laws.

    Imagine before cable t.v. someone writing a story where the draconian cable company sends you a bill- or they'll turn your t.v. off!
    Some people pay and don't think anything of it.
    A lot of people just steal cable.

    Me- I just go without and save a lot of time that would have been wasted watching what is for the most part drivel.

    .
    • Me- I just go without and save a lot of time that would have been wasted watching what is for the most part drivel.

      The problem is, the internet isn't supposed to *BE* drivel! The internet is (was?) a beautiful thing, and the commercialization is turning much of it into drivel. You can't say the same thing about TV, really. TV was not created in universities, fueled by academic thoughts and humor, and later "corrupted."

      • The problem is, the internet isn't supposed to *BE* drivel! The internet is (was?) a beautiful thing, and the commercialization is turning much of it into drivel. You can't say the same thing about TV, really. TV was not created in universities, fueled by academic thoughts and humor, and later "corrupted."

        You know, there's more academic content than ever before. If you don't like commercial content, don't visit the commercial sites.
    • Just walk away from it.

      Well to stick with the cable analogy, if television customers felt as passionately about the shows available we would have higher quality T.V. Maybe even an alternative sort of like a Linux for the idiot box. But wait, in order to do that we would need to jump all sorts of red tape, licenses etc. It's just not something that just anybody off the street can do.

      Now we have a medium that is like that. I don't like the content on here, and I know that others think like I do and want to see the same thing. So I'll just start my own little web page and go take it from there. That's the beauty of the net. It's openness and resulting anarchy that is prevalent if your stray from the corporate spoon-fed television substitutes.The web really is an almost artificial world in many respects, were everybody contributes. People from Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds to everybody who posts on Slashdot add something no matter how insignificant and something is better than nothing right? Like it or not the internet is a better place even with something as small as a troll's rant.

      It's ok if you don't want to dive deeper then AOL serving you MSN"S take on Brittany Spears new teeny-bopper cd, that's fine. However there is so much more, made by people all over the world who put their time, their effort to make this artificial environment made up of nothing more then silicon, solder, electrons and our thoughts. To simply walk away is just wrong. Too much collective effort has been expended to simply sit back and allow ourselves to be chained once again.
    • I'm not saying don't be concerned or take action. I just think that this dark vision of the future is a bit much.

      Not to mention it completely leaves out the advances that will be made in the circumvention of these laws.

      DCMA, circumvention is illegal. Do it and go to jail.

      What's wrong with this picture? I don't listen to radio, watch TV much less have cable, and hardly go to the movies. The advertising/content ratio passed my threshold years ago. 4 of 5 calls to my house are by agressive salespeople. I'd like to chop my land line, but I know the same people will find my cell phone. My snail mail is composed entirely of junk mail and bills. I can't do so much as walk down the street without being assaulted by a 30 foot tall pop star billboard. Oh, that's right, people are making all means of communications useless with comercial agression. Oh yes, I pay handsomly for all of it. The phone bill is outrageous, the cable modem bill is a joke for a "service" with blocked ports and a ToS that is essentially, browse at our descresion, and we all pay for those billboards and those adverts on TV and Radio in the price of basic living needs. Even the electric company puts adverts on TV, what a waste of public money!

      Have you used a Microsoft platform lately? It's just like the article describes, less some of the cost. You will, of course, provide a credit card for for your unilaterally modifiable license to browse, to subscribe to your favorite news site, etc ad nauseum. If Hollings has his way and kills free software, we will all suffer this. Remember paying money to the cable company for advert free entertainment? Here we are now! The lowest of the publishers are trying to set the rules for all future publication including what you type on your computer.

  • ... I will just switch to Linux, *BSD, or any other number of free operating systems, and I suspect others will too.

    I'm a coder, but I don't like having to configure all my hardware and deal with endless conf files and what-not (read: software person, not hardware). BUT, if I start getting charged everytime I reboot, I will configure whatever the hell I have to. I will not tolerate my rights being trampled by charge happy corporations.

    I currently use OS X, and I think it's great, but if Apple started charging a monthly fee for it's use, I would drop it like a hot potato. I think many people would do the same. Think if Ford charged you every time you started your car. A lot of people would take the bus...
    • >Think if Ford charged you every time you started your car. A lot of people would take the bus...

      Actually, there are already a lot of people buying their automobiles by the mile. It's the most expensive way to go, but they are seduced by the low "down" and lease payments that are a bit smaller than they would pay if they purchased instead of leasing.

      Microsoft is obviously considering this model for software.
  • For those of you asleep at the wheel since oh, say 1996, simply go read Bill Gate's book, The Road Ahead [amazon.com] to get a feeling for the future according to Gates. It is proceeding exactly as he predicted (and wanted), with ownership, intellectual rights, etc becoming the final frontier, and corporations controlling their future. This is nothing new in this story.

    Compare it to McDonald's, which is really in the real estate business, NOT necessarily profiting from fast food. The same is coming true for Microsoft - Windows is simply a vehicle to intellectual property rights.

    • I didn't read the book, but I do seem to recall seeing somewhere that Gate's ultimate goal was to get a piece of every electronic business transaction (not just the internet, but ATM, bank transfers, etc). The phrase used was something like "Gates want to turn all your dollar bills into Bill dollars".
  • by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:43PM (#3306818) Homepage Journal
    1) Exactly what this article states. Although I find this the least likely outcome.

    2) The internet turns into tv + shopping. Lots of ads you can't get past

    3) The internet gets so bad, that the geeks create decentralised, efficient, free-floating network partially on top of the existing network, partially outside of it, and it all begins again

    4) It goes on exactly like it is now. the (x)AAs of the world keep trying to hold us down, the advertisers keep trying to make us look, MS keeps trying to make us pay (again), and we keep trying to stay one step ahead of them all. This is IMHO the most likely situation.
    • by eldurbarn (111734) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:40PM (#3307100)
      3) The internet gets so bad, that the geeks create decentralised, efficient, free-floating network partially on top of the existing network, partially outside of it, and it all begins again


      Anything a geek can create, a politician can legislate against.


      A political problem doesn't cry out for a technological solution... but we're not politicians. We're geeks.



  • http://www.thelinuxshow.com/otc.htm

    The open technology movement.

    Go to that site and donate, your donation will be used to help create a lobbying group to congress,

    If you dont have money to donate, if you are on a campus, host a rally, make posters, find ways to raise money and then donate.
  • by The Cat (19816) on Monday April 08, 2002 @07:54PM (#3306869)
    ...the net is becoming more commercialized, and the only way that people who want to influence the direction of the "commercial Internet" can do so is to support: [read BUY SOMETHING WITH GREEN DOLLARS], the companies that do the Right Thing(tm).

    Even if it is just a donation, and you don't want the product, $10 can mean a great deal to a small company. If all of the startups and small web businesses become cautionary tales, then the future WILL be 10 mega-corporations.net, and minimum wage for everyone else, because it will be impossible to construct a competitive business model. Customers vote with their dollars.

    If people don't want to buy from Big Company Inc., fine, just remember that Very Little Company Inc. can't lay off thousands of people to preserve their capital (if they had any to start with).

    But the "I'll never buy anything" approach means that the big corporations win by default, because nobody supports their competition. Not everyone who plugs in a cash register is greedy.

    It affects employment too. Big corporations are great for executives, but the guy with the mortgage and three kids is going to have at least one devastating ($10,000 in expenses or more) layoff in their career REGARDLESS of their qualifications, achievements or seniority. Wouldn't happen if he had a little cabinet making company (on-line or off) with a few dozen paying customers.

    Just a thought.

    • You want people who make nice stuff for you to have some of your money so they will make more stuff, right? Even if they'd do it without being paid, they can do it better when they can hire help and not have to worry about making a living some other way.

      Don't waste it on middlemen. Just give it to them. That way, they can just work on making better stuff for you and not waste their time working out a more complicated revenue model.

      Note: this applies equally well to everything from software to music to movies... any information product, any scale. Take a quarter what you're spending to buy information products, donate that to the same people and pocket the rest, and they'll still make twice as much money because restricted distribution is ridiculously expensive.
  • Its a shame there couldn't be a group to go into the two politians office and give them a demonstration of how obsurd thier push for this new law is. Imagine their supprise when they pick up a pen and paper to write something and be told
    "Stop!!! You can't write on that paper!" when they ask why not,
    "Because that paper has been copy protected so it can only be used by the copywrite holder."
    Then they would say "But I bought the paper",
    reply "but by agreeing to the license agreement, you gave the copywrite holder the permission to claim that paper and you, by law, can do nothing about it."

    I bet that might get thier attention.

    Of course I'm only dreaming...would never happen.

    If ignorance is bliss, then the world is full of blissfull people
  • by josh crawley (537561) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:02PM (#3306918)
    I'd figure I would write an accound of how I would live then.

    _____________________________________________

    It's 6:30am some day in 2004.

    The alarm goes and you rise from your bed to face the day's challenges.

    After a quick shower and breakfast you wander over to your PC and check to see if any email has arrived overnight.

    Hmm... 231 new emails but procmail say that 217 of those are likely to be spam. Even though they've cp'ed dropped into another folder you'll still have to wade through them to make sure that you don't miss an important message that might have been accidentally sidetracked by the less-than-perfect software. But, you still rm -rf them...

    Damn, it looks as if you've also received 5 new virus/trojan attachments as well and one of them was 20MB in size -- that's another $4 on your DSL bill.

    Suddenly a pop-up dialog box, through emulation by Wine, appears advising you that there are 2 new Windows Security updates that should be downloaded, totalling some 60MB in size (another $12 worth of traffic). You block the server in HOSTS, as so your Windows emulation doesn't tattle on you.

    Within seconds, the PC's desktop comes alive with pop-up flashing, animated advertising banners -- you proceed to kill Mozilla you hacked to use with the newer, propeirty html'like protocol. You start up lynx.

    Another dialog box pops up, this time warning you that the license for your copy of Windows XP2004 is due to expire in 10 days. You run the registry crack within linux so the emulation dll's will still work.

    Fond memories of the days when there were alternatives to Microsoft's OS pass through your mind -- but that was before the government realised that software was like petrol -- a totally essential commodity in the lives of most businesses and individuals. Legislation was passed in 2003 that required all software developers and vendors to be licensed and a 45% tax added to all sales. However, in China, they realised that everything revolved around freely accessible software. China has changed in all thier practices, as to make thier ideal commuinist regime a very livable place for free people. Of course, much to Microsoft's glee, this killed the Open Source from being supported by companies in the US. You howver, bought a black marked copy of DRM linux. This software exploits bugs within the hardware. Of course, having the PCI64 (bought in Korea) anti-drm card has made this much easier

    You type in "cnn.com" then enter the ID and password associated with your monthly subscription. Remember when there were hundreds of sites offering the latest news for free? Not any more. Sure, there still a few, but they're regularly hit with law suits by the big names who allege breach of copyright. Although such suits are inevitably dismissed -- the cost of defending them means that the independent news sites usually only last a few months at most. SO you hop onto freenet and use the strange lists of characters that somehow, somewhere lead you to slashdot.

    Flicking the remote beside you kicks your digital music player into action and you marvel that 5% of its computing power is dedicated to the sophisticated digital rights management system it contains. You inwardly cheer, as your newly bought anti-drm card with DRM linux does work.

    Following an unsuccessful attempt to copy-protect CDs, the recording industry forced everyone to a new mini-CD format that has yet to be cracked (although there are rumours that some Russians have succeeded). You just can't buy music on CDs anymore and the old CDR/RW media now costs $10 a disk, thanks to the $9 anti-piracy levy that was introduced in 2003. Since, the US put levies on anti-'capitalism' countries, you carry removable drives with your required software and movies on them.

    Another warning appears -- "Your license for this recording has expired, unable to play." Damn -- another $49 if you want to listen to that music for another year. You then erase them, as you have all your music backed up on steel tape. You wonder, if as they claim, these new measures significantly reduce piracy, why music is now so much more expensive? "It's because of people libe me", you say under your breath.

    You type up a quick email to a friend, inviting them to meet you for lunch. As to attract governmental idiots, so they use thier time on a nobody like yourself, you post as your signature the following words:

    I will Bomb aeroplane shit damn nuke EMP fire death murder poison buy pirate warez mp3 ogg gpg

    After all, every single bit that enters and leaves your PC is now scanned by the authorities -- under the premise that it is in the interests of (inter)national security and crime reduction. I'll make sure to be here at 4 am tomorrow, as they'll make YET another raid. They won't find a thing.

    It's funny how they can supposedly detect even an unfriendly tone in an email but they can't (or won't) stop the endless tide of spam isn't it?

    Suddenly your PC's screen clears and the image of a naked woman in a seductive pose appears. Oh no, more of those shlopenglaurs whatsits. You see wht pid it's running, and kill it with -9 .

    For a moment a smile crosses your face -- you're thinking of the "good old days" when the Internet was a much simpler, saner, safer place. Instead, you live on the edge of piracy, illegitimacy. You are a hacker.

    Then you return to reality with the realisation that it's just 7:05am and the sucker's accound you hacked already spent $264.

    ________________________________________________ __

    As a last note, I used this article without permission (I see this differently than normal slashdot cut/paste jobs). So I give full permission to aardvark.co.nz to use my article (even if it makes money (heh, like thats going to happen, but still...)

    CARRIER LOST....
  • Geek Minority (Score:4, Insightful)

    by piecewise (169377) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:03PM (#3306926) Journal
    Well, the great thing about the Internet is that everyone -- anyone -- can have their place, their nook, their niche.

    But let's be honest here... if 50% of America has Internet access -- a good 140 some million people -- it's a safe bet that a minority of those 140,000,000 are "geeks" or "nerds." The net reflects what people online demand. If 90% of surfers were "nerds," I'm sure we'd see it slanted the other way.

    I'm not much into programming anymore and I'm done with Linux. I'm a non-programming OS X user now but I come to Slashdot every day (more than once a day) because I love this community... but I also have demands for CNN.com, Macintouch.com, Apple.com, guitar websites, TheOnion.com, Yahoo Finance, Google, and so on... and none of those are "geek locations."

    I think the net is just how I like it. In fact, it's close to how anyone likes it! The net's very adaptive because it's distributed. Like democracy, it shifts to what the majority want and allows space for the minority, too (though sometimes slowly).

  • This is the most ridiculous article I've read in a while.

    Yes a lot of sites are going to subscriptions for premium content, but there are, and always will be, THOUSANDS of sites out there that offer free content, or at least some free content with premiums for those who subscribe.

    Yes popup ads are annoying. But who among us is so dumb as to not know how to disable these things?

    And yes, MS has gotten a lot of people into a chokehold and continues to offer inferior products at outrageous prices. But damnit people, we have ALTERNATIVES.

    As bleak as this future is, it's the future for those who are uneducated and unsophisticated enough to fall for the idiocy that these businesses push. Those of us with two brain cells to rub together will always be able to find alternative sources of news/information/software.

    And in my final rant of the hour, the DMCA is a US law. Believe it or not, it doesn't apply to the entire world, and one would hope that the rest of the free world can grasp the fact that some of us do indeed have a seperate legal system.

    • Humm, FUD about the USA Law doesnt touch the rest of the world...

      Yes, the USA might not be the rest of the world, but we are a major player. Taiwan and China will put DRM in if its the only way to sell hardware to Americans. Why will they build 2 versions of the hardware, with and without DRM? They wont, its cheaper to build 1 version.

      The world has allot of global players, and they all work with US corporations. Don't kid yourself, what happens to America rubs off on you. Russian citizens being arrested by America, CIA funding the Afghanistan's freedom fighters, FBI installing sniffing software for England, IBM financing Cisco to install logging firewalls for China.

      Wake up,
      Most Americans don't care what their government is doing, reminds me of the germans under hilters rule, they are only doing it to proctect the citizens, right?
      -
      A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain top. - unknown
  • ... the flow of digital information

    The next generation peer networks are going to make all of this a moot point. Large, fully decentralized open source peer networks have no point of centralized vulnerability to law suits or attack. They have no corporate owner to go after. They are written by the people, for the people, and nothing will be able to stifle their use to share and distribute digital information.

    The RIAA/MPAA and other content industries know this, and are pushing for the only possible way to thwart this inevitable digital bazaar by using extreme legislation (SSSCA and co) to restrict general purpose computing and networking devices.

    They will fail. The coming years will bring ever more resilient, secure, efficient, and useable peer networking software to accomplish everything from file sharing to colloborative development, distributed processing & storage, etc.

    This is one of the few situations where the individual has the capability to fight back and win against the vested interests of the powers that be to restrict freedoms and profit from it.
  • by LL (20038) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:11PM (#3306966)
    ... actually promoted an essay writing competition to encourage how people approved of the the way IP laws helped them. (http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/alert/2001/ma03r ev.htm)

    A bunch of legal scholars spearheaded a counter-essay competition to reflect less sanguine views (http://www.wipout.net/essays.html)

    It will be interesting to compare the results.
  • If it's not wave after wave of spam in your mailbox, it's excessively intrusive ad banners and popups, or demands by websites that you pay a subscription for access.

    Kind of like Slashdot is doing?
  • Tools > Internet Options... > Security tab > Internet Zone / Custom Settings... keep hitting disable / prompt until the cows come home. Problem solved. If you *really* need to activate some feature or other for a site, you can always add it to the trusted sites.

    And $12 for 60MB of traffic? Puhleeeeeeze. 60MB on cheap DSL (512k) represents about 17 minutes of download time. If it was say 10 GB I might believe $12. And bandwidth usage charges tend to be on the upload side, rather than the download side. Moreover, despite the overdramatic exagerration of the current afflictions of online activity it misses almost completely the true dangers possible with new trends in computing and networking. Spam, pop-ups, viruses, and costly operating system releases are a circus side show, nothing more.
    • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Informative)

      by BigBadaboom (122579)
      Remember this is a NZ article. The DSL charges the author is referring to are probably based on Xtra.

      Xtra is NZ's biggest ISP and is run by NZ Telecom which has a monopoly on DSL. It's DSL pricing is here [xtra.co.nz] ($NZ):

      60MB at their excess charge (18c/MB after 500MB) is NZ$11

  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:26PM (#3307035) Homepage
    Everything is cyclical. The 2004 article may in fact happen. If life on the net somehow gets that bad, there will be an equal and opposite force that limits the damage.

    Without a doubt, the legal aspects of this will be every bit as bad as the article suggests. However, there is a big difference between having laws and enforcing them. In the 2004 scenario, practically everyone who owns a computer will be violating somebody's license or patent. The legal system may very well drown in it's own filth.

    Considering how Napster was launched by a few low-budget geeks, imagine what might happen with serious opposition. I have often heard about the open source movement being the "Viet Cong" of the software world. Using laws to control a guerilla force is not going to be effective. If gun control doesn't stop criminals from using guns, I don't see how SSSCA is going to fare any better with computers. Surely, some people will be intimidated, but the Internet will simply become more encrypted and private. Historically, the Russians have been among the world leaders in dealing with repressive regimes. They are especially well suited for the Microsoft-Disney-Hollings world. Dimitry Sklyarov may very well have the last laugh after all.

    The 2004 article presumes that the bad guys have achieved a total victory. The same mentality would have predicted a British victory in the American revolution, and a US victory in the Vietnam war. Goliath doesn't always win.

    On the surface, it looks like Microsoft, RIAA, and Disney are a dominant force because they have money. We can assume that money will buy custom-crafted legislation (DMCA, SSSCA, and whatever Hollings is told to produce). But the advantage ends there. If you think about the brainpower aspect of this battle, a finite number of software professionals will have to outsmart an almost limitless number of guerilla hackers -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Every time the hackers get lucky, the "axis of evil" loses millions of dollars. The reason why Micrsoft is being hacked and embarrassed on a daily basis is not because they are dumb, it's because they are outnumbered.

    We can't afford to be complacent, but this battle is by no means over.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm posting as AC to avoid any legal troubles. Mind you, that a semi-celebrity NYC radio personality is being sued, because he admitted to doing what I'm about to describe, so it's not 100% paranoia, probably more like 75%. *grin*

      A particular subset of this scenario is the DirecTV war on satellite TV piracy. They benefit from the same laws we are discussing. The piracy community was very friendly, very sharing at first, much like the open source community is now. It even overlaps, or at least used to (check out the open source app pitou, on surceforge... got shut down due to DMCA). However, as the heat has turned up, the community is growing ever smaller, more unscrupulous. No one trusts anyone enough to talk to new people about it. Hardware dealers are being busted left and right. They're profiteering, more often than not, and I can't even be sympathetic to them for that reason. It is a dying community. Buying hardware outside of the US isn't possible, it's US-centric. DirecTV is introducing a new access card, even more formidable than the last (the 4th generation "p4" card). It's very difficult to crack a new card, even the HU (or "p3" card) hasn't been fully cracked yet (this is after several years of trying). The only reason the piracy can exist at all, is because they haven't phased out the H or p2 card yet. In another 2 months, that will be corrected. Within 12 months, even the HU/p3 will be gone. The only way that any of this can be accomplished in a timely fashion, is if dozens/hundreds of people can provide their own bit of expertise in a collaborative enviroment, without a ludicrous amount of interference.

      When that interference increases, you're more likely to see the seedy characters and profiteers, and less likely to see people just sharing.

      I actually think I know how to fix most of the problem myself, but I need someone to bounce ideas off of. No way to talk to anyone, in a safe enviroment, no one to help me. My method would eliminate an access card black market, that some people make small fortunes off of... the same people who more often than not tend to have the expertise I spoke of. Right now, they are busy making wads of cash, selling a temporary, dangerous to hardware method... having abandoned the easy/safe/semi-permanent method as soon as DirecTV gave them the opportunity. And it is only getting worse.

      Within 6 months, there will be no sharing community left at all. It will be gone. If anything exists after that, it will be the odd hacker figuring it all out on his own, and never letting anyone know... maybe 5 or 6 across the entire nation? If you think this can't happen to you, you are mistaken. All the problems the article illustrates, you dismiss as a technical problem. Normally, that would impress me, I'm much like that myself. But when they make it illegal, in every single way, I'm willing to bet, that few will risk it, when the stakes are so high. Then the community shrinks. Which makes those still in it, stand out more, and the heat rises. Which makes more quit... it will get ugly. You may laugh it off, but I'm scared to death.

      Before you judge me, know that I don't condone DirecTV broadcasting signals onto my property, and trying to prosecute me for doing something with them. They paid how many millions in licenses, to a natural resource that by birth, we all own a part of. While, me, I could never hope to "own" even a small part of it myself. They charge people to watch tv, then cram commercials down their throat. Meanwhile, all the corps that used to at least provide some free broadcast tv, water it down, to make their cable and satellite divisions more profitable. While they broadcast substandard HDTV signals, so that they can carve up their bandwidth for cellular and other lucrative markets, despite the fact they were allocated double bandwidth for the express purpose of phasing in HDTV. I don't feel in any way guilty, if I watch the Star Trek on the clean pirated digital channel, instead of watching the impossible to recieve "so fuzzy every other word is 'shzzshtitgrrrr' static" broadcast channel.
    • In the 2004 scenario, practically everyone who owns a computer will be violating somebody's license or patent. The legal system may very well drown in it's own filth.


      That's a nice idea, but it's not gonna happen. If it gets to the point where everybody who uses a computer is violating some obscure law, then all that does is give the authorities the ultimate powers of selective prosecution. Play along with them, and they'll ignore your little pecadillos. Do anything to piss them all, and they'll have every ability to drop the hammer on you just as hard as they feel like.

      "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." - Ayn Rand

      Or, to put it more contemporarily:

      Agent Smith: We're willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we're asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.

      Neo: Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger ...and you give me my phone call.

  • DRM exists now (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:33PM (#3307064) Homepage Journal
    I just upgraded my DVD-rom just to find out that its RPC-2. They moved the Region code from the OS (RPC-1) to the firmware on the drive. You can only switch it 5 times, then it locks in firmware. No where on the box did it say it was RPC-2, nor is there any requirements for them to do so.

    Maybe DRM is closer than you think.
    -
    chmod +a rwx /bin/freedom
  • by Badgerman (19207) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:34PM (#3307065)
    The article, despite some interesting theorizations, basically supposes the internet and technology already exists in a vaccum that only a few people can affect, and that they're all on the same side. So this future will come about.

    The internet does not exist in a vaccum, it is used by millions of people.

    Technology is not just a monolithic product, and attempts to make it so will doubtlessly backfire. If the US government mandated ridiculous standards, what that did in the US would NOT necessarily affect the rest of the world. One could also kiss some exports goodbye.

    The various 800-lb Gorillas in technology are NOT on the same side, and they've got other factions nipping at their heels as well. Take a look at the new Gateway commericals that emphasize CD ripping for just one example . . .

    It is also assumed people are sheep. The problem being of course everyone assumes OTHER people are sheep while they of course are independent and free-spirited. Take a look at the spambusting, the popupkillers, DCSS, etc. People have been rebelling against this crap for some time.

    Would some people like the 'net this way? Definitely. Will it happen? The fact we already have stories like this tells me probably not.
  • Is that anything like this? Announcing Slashdot Subscriptions http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/03/01/135220 0&mode=thread :-)
  • Well, if this guy is so scared about what the 'net will be like in 2004, then let's revisit this story in two years and see how much is true.

    My guess is that there will still be free news sites, and that DSL bandwidth will still be unmetered, and that there will still be free software.

    But that doesn't make for much of a story, does it?
  • Nature of the Net (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lkaos (187507) <anthonyNO@SPAMcodemonkey.ws> on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:42PM (#3307103) Homepage Journal
    The internet is a distributed system that is entirely decentralized. As such, there is no real way to say that the "net is this." The net is simply the nodes you connect to.

    What nodes do I connect to? I connect to /., Google, SatireWire, SourceForge, Freshmeat, and various personal web sites.

    For me, the net is better than it was in the past. Free Software is taking off and SourceForge provides an incredibly service in hosting so much of it. As far as I'm concerned, things are just fine. BTW, I use Mozilla and run Linux so the only time I hear of Email Virii are when the people at work start bitching. At least it gives me a chance to recommend Linux to people :)

    Really though, what sites do people find all this crap on? If I went to site that pop-up'd an automated d/l, I simply would stop going to it. If it offends you so much, why to you continue to go to it?
  • It does nothing but make things look insane. You think people would stand for this? Where is all the income going to come from this? Someone is going to pay $12 to download 60MB of stuff? Come on. $149 for a software license YEARLY? Please.

    What are they going to do, format your hard drive if you connect with an older version of windows? of Linux?

    Oh yeah, and of course IBM, Sun, HP, and all those vendors with other OSes besides MS are going to let them get a state mandated desktop OS.

    The government would NEVER pass a low outlawing development of software. That would be struck down for anti-free speech rules easy.

    Oh yeah, European Union? Canada? They're gonna stand for it? Right. People emigrating from the US so they can use a computer. Whee.

    plus, every self respecting geek on the planet would quit working on computers, and the whole frickin internet would collpase in a day.
    Paper MCSE's can't run the internet.

    • Uh, we are moving in this direction. With XP, Microsoft is moving towards a "rented" OS. You don't pay, you don't boot.

      What are they going to do, format your hard drive if you connect with an older version of windows? of Linux?

      No. You won't be ABLE to connect, because the protocols will all be secret and propietary - and if you "hack" them, you will go to jail.

      Maybe it will not be as bad as this article predicts - but only if people like yourself wake up and put some pressure on Congresscritters to quit coming up with these insane laws like the DMCA and the SSSCA (or whatever DoubleSpeak they renamed it)

  • by Nindalf (526257) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:58PM (#3307173)
    People who support micropayments usually claim that they'll be so small that you won't notice them, much less care about them. Nice dream, but it doesn't take into account the motivations of the people involved.

    When people set their mandatory micropayment prices, they'll do it to maximize profit. The prices will find and sit at the awareness threshold of users, so you'll look up and see you've spent $5 over the course of a few minutes without really noticing it. People will respond to this by thinking of internet use as an expensive activity, and keeping it to a minimum. The reduced demand will drive prices up higher.

    That's a natural consequence of each entity setting the prices of what their selling. Information doesn't compete on price very well. I forget who said it... "Information wants to be free, because it's so easy to distribute, yet information wants to be expensive, because it's so useful." When the people owning the information set the price, they can make it expensive, because it takes a fairly high price before it's better than not having the information.

    However, voluntary micropayments don't have this tendency, being set by the users. Ultimately, I think voluntary payments will win out in any area with a sufficiently clued-in audience to make it work. The competitive advantages of free information are obviously huge, so wherever they can make enough profit to develop a comparable product to the restricted information, they'll win. Also, voluntary micropayments are much simpler and cheaper to implement.

    I've written a bit [buskpay.com] on the kind of systems that would be needed (and can fairly easily be developed) to replace intellectual property restrictions, and I've done some work developing parts of them (see my sig).
  • I wish people would address and discuss the real issue at stake here. What I believe too many of these posters have failed to neglect in their responses is that they do NOT live in the scenario this article poses - one in which corporations and government become less distinguishable from one another. And in this scenario they simply might not have the option of using anything free, or turning on a spam filter in the first place.

    A free economy does not suppose a free people. Even an economy in which one thinks he is free may not be free. A government is supposed to serve it's people and corporations are supposed to serve their customers.

    Please indulge my imagination for a moment. Pretend that corporations have been merging for long enough that only two remain, the civil service provider and the corporate service provider. *eerie music* The Final Merger. Now turn both concepts into one and you have Service Commerce. You are provided everything. The opportunity to spend money, the opportunity to have your garbage collected. The opportunity to get higher education so you can be an engineer or an art major.

    What you are not provided is the ability to choose who provides you these services. You don't get to choose the popups you see, they just popup. You don't have the option to get free information, you must subscribe. Since the advent of Service Commerce the head CEO's and execs now own roughly 80% of the world's money while the rest of us all get paid the same regardless of duties.

    Then consider that instead of being fired, bad workers are just put into the correctional work force where they no longer even choose whether they will watch a particular commercial or speak a certain way. Those on the outside may still opt out but are none the less hurded through the Service Commerce machine.

    My point is that all the common intrusive examples - spam, popups, subscriptions - posed by this article are no more the root problem of this orwellian prophesy than run down housing tenaments and squalid living conditions are the root problem of inner city violence. They merely reflect the state of the organization.

    So what can we do? Simple, we can know. We can get educated. We can know our rights. We can vote not because it's just one vote but because we are allowed to. We can realize that we are consumers and we DO vote EVERY DAY. For all those who have already expressed their vote for linux and the Open Source community, wonderful, you've already started to make a difference and you know it and you are proud.

    If you use linux for any of the same reasons as I do I can bet you are a perfectionist of sorts, perhaps a rebel, iconoclastic even and desire complete and full knowlege and control of your computer. Now realize that you have the same power to control your government, the people that put arsenic in your drinking water, BHG in your food and carbon monoxide in your air. Go vote at the next school board election, go rant at the next city buget proposal, write your congress people, write an editorial, join a peace rally, join a hate rally. Let your own voice be not heard, but affective (yes affective, not effective). Get mad. Go vote.

  • When Spam and tke town criers shilling their crap is all that can be found, that's when the interneyt will have been led out to a small balcony, had a rope tied to its neck and it will have willingly jumped off.
  • by mttlg (174815) on Monday April 08, 2002 @09:33PM (#3307300) Homepage Journal
    How did the entertainment industry become so powerful? Of everything we buy, entertainment content is the easiest to go without, but certain people in Congress seem to think that it is absolutely essential. The entertainment cartels raise prices, decrease quality, decrease functionality, and then buy laws to boost profits when people stop buying their products. The illegal drug market seems consumer-friendly by comparison.

    I can't stand most of the crap out there, so I don't buy it. I don't buy CDs or DVDs anymore, I don't go out to movies or rent them, I don't buy pay-per-view or subscribe to premium cable channels, etc. (and I don't download any of this stuff either). Instead of producing something I would want to buy, the companies that produce this junk complain about piracy, as if I would even take their crap for free. Unfortunately, they have the money and power to make it more difficult to avoid their products (and avoid paying for them).

    Despite all of this, I'm not too worried about the future described in the article. It's not that I don't see it as being likely, I just don't see it being impossible to avoid. If I don't pay today's prices for music, I won't pay high subscription fees. If web sites start charging more than they're worth, I'll go elsewhere or just go without. I base my purchasing decisions on quality, and that won't change with electronic services.

    Of course, I have one secret weapon to fall back on if I have to abandon all else. Over the past few years, I have accumulated hundreds of books, at an average price of about 5 cents each. When all else fails, I'll just sit down and read (well, read more actually). And yes, Fahrenheit 451 is in there...

  • We (the Nerd community in general) could easily take it back if the majority of us didn't have such damn argumentative and subservient natures. :(

    I mean hell, an ORGANIZED security attack upon the infostructure of the commercial entities operating on the net, not to mention various companies that have chosen to foolishly put all of (or the majority of) their assets (employee records and such) online or on to internet routable machines would ensure a quick and swift victory over the forces of commercialism.

    Of course too many potential Nerds have been taken in by the false dreams of big business and their promises to middle manage everything to perfection. The fact that VBscript is considered a 'language on the way up' is evidenced of this.

    The darned thing is that an organized attack from both the inside and the outside of companies could easily either take them down or dehabilitate them for a long enough period of time to allow for open source alternatives to take a foothold. Even complete system backups would be a bit hard to retrieve if all of a companies assets had just been invested, say, Russian plutonium mines.

    It is not that hard to get an agent on the inside of even a company like Microsoft either. Once access to the internal network has been gained a good deal of the security is gone, granted while I am sure that MS has good security inside of their compound itself, the fact is that a dedicated agent COULD and CAN gain complete or near complete control over their systems.

    Hell Microsoft takes on numerous interns every year, often times in tech support or repair roles. Even an office lackey would have significant freedom of movement over a designated area.

    Surely one or two just out of highschool Nerds can be found who have social engineering skills of some sort and reside nearby an Microsoft compound? It is not like MS has just one (though the largest goal of Redmond should of course be kept in mind.)

    The the main issue at heart is really the lack of consensus amongst internet Nerds in general. Far too many have been brainwashed by the propaganda put out by the big businesses. Hell look at how many people (even on /. ) believe that the reducing the time to program something is more important then reducing the SIZE of that which is being programmed? Seriously, does anybody here even realize anymore that a fully featured word processing suite need not take up over 100megabytes? Or even over 2 megabytes? Or hell even over ONE megabyte?

    Until we gain regain our consensus over such simple and in the past considered trivial issues, we will not be able to unite against the forces of those that oppose us, and in fact it could be said that those that oppose us are indeed the ones who have fragmented our groupings to begin with.

    In a day in age where code can be measured in millions of lines, is it no wonder that the great society of Nerds that had been built up is so quickly falling?

    We had taken (have taken, past or present. . . . and hopefully not into the future) too much pride in our creations, we tried to show them to the world, but then when they would not look we committed one of the ultimate mistakes, we tried to appeal to their greed.

    We said not how computers could make life easier for all, but rather how they could 'increase worker productivity'. We said not how cancer could be cured, but rather how upgrade cycles could be created so that an industry could spring up designed soley to leech off of the artificially created need of the very market of which it had created.

    And when they did not listen, nay, when they did not understand that which we had created was none less then a work of art, we instead lowered not but itself, but ourselves along with it, down to the levels of mere machinations by selling our creations off as thus. We have created our own end, and if that end is to be adverted we must create our own new beginning.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:13PM (#3307555) Homepage Journal
    Every time a topic like this comes up, I am inclined to remind everyone that our online culture originated in the world of BBS's. That's where the real communities are. I've been running UNCENSORED! BBS (click to log in) [citadel.org] for the last 14 years, and lemme tellya, I've seen it all. From the heyday of dialup to the commercialization of the Internet, from the utopian vision of a level playing field to the inevitable commercialization of the mainstream Web... guess what, folks? Through all that time, us old-school BBS geeks have been enjoying each other's company for years, in relative peace and quiet.

    A friend of mine once put it this way: if places like Disneyopolis, MSN, and America Online compose the roar of the information highway, then your favorite friendly BBS could be likened to the corner pub where the locals gather.

    Therefore I challenge each and every one of you to quit whining about what a commercial cesspool the mainstream Web has become, and go find your niche. Locate a BBS you like (I'd be thrilled if you chose mine, but there are lots of good ones out there) and log in daily. Become a part of the community. Meet people. Chat about whatever's on your mind: media, politics, sports, weather, relationships, technology, pets... it's all out there, and the sites operated by hobbyists are completely below the radar of corporate greed.

    It's up to you. Don't like Disney's version of the 'net? Neither do I. Come join us in a place where they won't bother you.
  • Keep looking! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Monday April 08, 2002 @10:47PM (#3307749) Homepage Journal
    Commercialization -- this is the hell of the modern world, but it needn't overtake the entirety of the internet. My own site has a single ad on it, but it's not mine(free hosting has it's price).

    The best way to avoid commercialism is to avoid places which attract lots of "customers". Find a website out of the way, find a good niche, and you can even get out of the way of commercialism altogether.

    In 2004, I hope to have my game finished, but I doubt it. :)

    finally, remember that commercialism is enevitable when the common man enters any arena. These are the sheep which make the spice girls and britany spears moneymakers.It's probably best to find another haven; once the masses enter, the leeches follow.
  • by Grail (18233) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:18PM (#3307892) Journal
    The reality for Internet users in Australia is that traffic costs a minimum of $0.13/Mb.

    The ACCC is fighting to make Region Encoding of DVDs illegal in Australia - claiming that it's an anti-competitive trade practice.

    I browse with images off as often as possible, because images cost ten times as much as the article they're obscuring. Spam costs me money. Running "apt-get upgrade" on my Debian box will cost me about $3-$10, depending on how much "woody" has changed in the last fortnight.

    Opening Internet Explorer costs me money because it insists on redirecting me to the Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 home page and claiming that I really, really should download this new version of IE.

    Thanks to spam, "postcards", NTP, scheduled IMAP checks and other non-interactive traffic, I can easily spend $1/hour when I'm sleeping. I don't even have to check my mail in the morning to start racking up the bills.

    You people in the USA are living in a market-share-broadening dreamland, where providers are tripping over each other in an attempt to get you signed up to their networks. They all realise that once you've been using their service for 6 months "for free", they can start charging for traffic, and you'll just roll over and accept it like the good consumer-sheep you are.

    In any Capitalist economy, you have to keep repeating this holy mantra - "The money has to come from somewhere. There is no such thing as a free lunch."
  • q% years the Net has changed very quickly from a great place for geeks and nerds into a highly commercialized marketplace in which everyone is making a grab for your wallet.

    Ah, yes! Before everyone else showed up, the Net was this fantastic Geek Heaven, where all things were possible. You could download naughty pictures from the Delft University sever. You could engage in endlessly stimulating MUDs with fellow dungeon-crawling geeks. You could send e-mail! Hell, you could even use Gopher to snag files. It was Heaven on Earth!

    Snap out of it! There was no Slashdot (founded in 1997, decidedly after the invasion of "other people"). There was no Gnutella. No Everquest. No online newspapers. No online banking. No ordering that hard-to find computer game or book or whatever in the dead of night when you live miles from the nearest store that carries what you're looking for.

    There was less of a connection between "geeks" and "normal people", meaning that people who liked to tinker with computers were shunned far more than they are today.

    It wasn't Heaven, just as this predicted 2004 won't be Hell.

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