Saving the Net

Doc Searls has had something big brewing up for a time now.

The result of many rounds of conversation with numerous Net luminaries and Doc's characteristic passion-fuelled deep thinking, is "Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes", posted in the wee hours last night over at Doc's day job home, Linux Journal.

It starts:

"We're hearing tales of two scenarios--one pessimistic, one optimistic--for the future of the Net. If the paranoids are right, the Net's toast. If they're not, it will be because we fought to save it, perhaps in a new way we haven't talked about before. Davids, meet your Goliaths."

It's a long, link-rich, thoroughly-researched piece; driven by righteous and well-grounded anger and fear of what the giant phone and cable companies are doing to the Internet.

If you care about the future of the Internet, I urge you to read it. Print it off. Leave copies lying around where others can find it - especially at the phone company store, in your local Best Buy or other retail tech warehouse, in the reception area of your cable company. Email it to friends. Fax it to your congressman or MP. This message wants to move.

It's long. If you don't have time to read the whole thing right now - here's a "Cole's Notes" version. Doc and I got into a brief email discussion last week about one part of the problem he digs deep into in this piece. From that thread, here's Doc's epigrammatic précis of his central argument:

"1) They hate you.
2) They've always hated you.
3) They always will hate you.
4) They're the fucking phone company
5) They fuck you with phones.
6) That's all they know, and all they'll ever know.
7) They want to turn the Net into a phone system.
8) They are very single-minded about that.
9) Bypass is the only hope.
10) We're all fucked."

Tongue in cheek, sure - but deadly, crucially serious.

I have a couple of good friends at the biggest phone company round these parts (which also happens to be my Net carrier of "choice" - if choice is really what you'd call it). Knowing these good, clueful people are carrying the torch inside the phone company sometimes gives me a shred of hope.

In my moments of naïve and clear-eyed optimism, I'd like to think Doc's wrong - that smart people will fix it from within before we reach the end times Doc foresees.

Yeah, right. And then I wake up...

Read it.

If you can, do something about it.