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Identifying the Internet

I’ve signed onto a filing to the FCC that encourages it to continue to distinguish the Internet from the special services carriers want to offer. The Internet is only the Internet if it is open and does not prefer some applications, sites, or content.

David Reed brilliantly articulates his reasons for signing. Here is a chunk:

the Internet was created to solve a very specific design challenge – creating a way to allow all computer-mediated communication to interoperate in any way that made sense, no matter what type of computer or what medium of communications (even homing pigeons have been discussed as potential transport media). The Open Internet was designed as the one communications framework to rule them all. Very much as vocalizations evolved into a universal human communications framework, or ink on paper evolved into a universal repository for human knowledge. That’s what we tried to create when we designed the Internet protocols and the resulting thing we call the Internet. The Internet is not the fiber, not the copper, not the switches and not the cellular networks that bear its signals. It is universal, and in order to be universal, it must be open.

However, the FCC historically organizes itself around “services”, which are tightly bound to particular technologies. Satellite systems are not “radio” and telephony over radio is not the same service as telephony over wires. While this structure has been made to work, it cannot work for the Internet, because the Internet is the first communications framework defined deliberately without reference to a particular technological medium or low-level transport.

6 Responses to “Identifying the Internet”

  1. […] David Weinberger: Identifying the Internet […]

  2. […] David Weinberger: Identifying the Internet […]

  3. David, you’re engaging in revisionist history to push a political agenda. The Internet was not at all designed to be the “one communications framework to rule them all.” It was designed for best effort, non-mission critical, non-real time delivery of data. It was not meant for many of the most popular applications for which it is used today, and even its original implementors are amazed that it works at all for some of these.

    You’re also attempting to redefine the word “Internet,” perhaps in cooperation with the lobbyists who want to claim – absurdly – that “network neutrality” regulation would not be regulation of the Internet. Remember, the letter “I” in IETF stands for “Internet,” and the IETF’s mission from the start has been the engineering of the nuts and bolts of the network, not some vague abstraction.

    Please quit the political games. And quit trying to regulate ISPs like myself out of business. Remember, we are the ones who bloody our knuckles BRINGING the Internet to those who need it. By advocating harmful regulation, you are advocating harm to the Internet and to the public.

  4. […] Joho the Blog » Identifying the Internet Reading:"Joho the Blog » Identifying the Internet" […]

  5. Well, price nondiscrimination regulation would be regulation of the *providers*, which is not the same thing. I can’t work up much sympathy either for the telecom lobbyists who want to make laissez-faire economics a supposed part of Internet architecture.

    That being said, the above argument is a strange bafflegab that seems to be trying to make an economic argument in mystical terms. The problem there is that I can’t see it convincing anyone who isn’t already convinced (as in, signed-on to the mysticism in the first place).

  6. […] David Weinberger: Identifying the Internet […]

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