Because of preceding comments at the little confab on “The Net as a human right?” I went to, I decided that it might be worthwhile to defend Internet Exceptionalism, since that’s the basis for the claim that access to the Net ought to be a human right. So, I opened my brief comments by pointing to three exceptional things about the Internet [abbreviated]:
1. As a medium, we use it for information, communication, and sociality. It’s hard to find another medium that combines those three uses and is becoming dominant in all three. This matters because it means we go to the Net to ask a question and end up making friends.
2. The Internet scales from one to billions, group to any size group. It is different at every scale.
3. Telephones were invented for speaking, and cars were invented for driving, but the Internet was not invented for any single use. That is the source of its value, and certainly of its economic value. It’s why we need to preserve Net neutrality. It’s also why the Net does not fit into any frame perfectly.
Then I pointed to three things we learn from this exceptional invention. 1. We create unimaginable things when we are put in a connected environment that has been made permission-free. 2. Collaboration is natural. 3. We will never ever agree about anything.
But, does that exceptionalism mean that the Internet ought to be made a human right? Nah.