Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways?

Update – 2 March 2015: The promised part 2 of this post is now published!

The former U.S. Vice President Al Gore coined the term, “information superhighways” to describe the Internet. It was a great political slogan, and Gore was certainly one of the most internet-friendly U.S. political figures (and one of the first). But that doesn’t mean the term has legs.

A superhighway, for example, has a speed limit – well, just about everywhere except Germany, that is. Does Internet have one? I suppose it might, purely in terms of capacity – but not for the kinds of reasons that motivate automobile speed limits. In fact, we limit driving speed for safety – but on the Internet, the faster the better, and speed limits are seen as an impediment to efficient operation, not a safety regulation.

To drive on a superhighway, you need a driver’s license. Are we willing to pass an examination to drive on the Internet superhighway? Should we be? Personally, I think not.

In many countries, superhighways have tolls that pay for their maintenance and provide a profit to a concessionaire. We do pay our ISP’s, but in general, we don’t seem to think they provide good maintenance of our routes. And now, they are wanting to control what makes, models, and colors of car can drive on their highways.

In short, the traditional model of superhighways includes some sort of pay-per-distance, the need to be licensed to use it, and other forms of legal and social controls, that in general, Internet users have been reluctant to accept.

Why is it that we think it’s OK to have our cars registered with the government, our drivers’ licenses issued by the government (which can then track us thanks to both), and to have a whole raft of laws affecting how we drive and how fast, that restrict our “freedom” of movement – yet we are not willing to have analogous controls for navigating the world’s info-paths?

My best guess has two components:

  • The Internet is NOT a system of superhighways – it has a meta-existence that only a few roads have ever known (The Silk Road, Route 66…)
  • The Internet functions in the realm of ideas – and we do not take well to “thought control.”

In this post, I’ll deal with the first component.

Continue reading “Who Has a License to Drive the Information Superhighways?”

Wayfinding and Blogger’s Block

I’m horrified to notice that I haven’t posted here since March! OK – I admit it – I’ve been blocked. Not writer’s block – I have no problem writing, I’ve been writing all sorts of things since March. Nope. It’s the accursed BLOGGER’S BLOCK (and here you bring in the horror music…). By that I mean, I have so much to write about, and so little time for anything (like paying work, for example) that when I do get a moment, I resist.

  • Perhaps, among all the things I meant to write about, I can’t choose which to start with.
  • Perhaps, among all the things people have asked me to write about, I can’t prioritize.
  • Perhaps, among all the things that have inspired me to write, I can only remember a few.

Perhaps all of the above. Perhaps I couldn’t decide.

Perhaps I just couldn’t find my way…

…which reminds me of a blog I’ve been meaning to write. Continue reading “Wayfinding and Blogger’s Block”

An Open Letter to my STC Colleagues

Update: Most of you will already know that I was re-elected with a nice proportion of the vote. Unfortunately, participation in this year’s STC election was slightly down from last year, at 14.98%. I had really hoped that more STC members would vote.

 

Dear Fellow STC Members,

As you know, voting began today for the STC Elections. Most of you know I’m a candidate for re-election, but this is not about my candidacy. This is a plea for you to cast your vote – for whomever you think is the best candidate.

Last year, only 16% of our members voted. This is more or less average for association elections these days, but I wonder if we can’t do better.

I remember before I became involved in Society governance, that the elections seemed distant to me. I didn’t recognize candidates’ names, they were folks across the ocean. I knew little or nothing about society affairs, and it all seemed unimportant to me. Then I began reading the candidates’ statements. Honestly, that only brought society matters a little closer to me. There was no grand ephiphany. But just reading the candidates’ positions on issues that maybe I only partly understood helped me to get a sense of who they were. And once I did that, I started to make choices about which of them I wanted to see on the board of directors.

Today, STC faces many difficult issues, and though we have made progress, we are not out of the woods. Fortunately, all the candidates are dedicated people who care deeply about STC and its future. Each has a slightly different vision of what that might be and how to get there – and your selection will determine the course that STC takes in the next year or two.

I urge you, then, to please take the time to read all the candidate statements, make your own independent choice, and cast your ballot. If we can raise the number of voters, we automatically raise the strength of the mandate our winning candidates receive.

Like any candidate, I hope folks vote for me – but I prefer for you to vote for another candidate than to abstain from voting. Please don’t wait – take some time to learn about each of us, and add your voice. You, as an STC member, will be the beneficiary.

First Steps: Structured Content Strategy Spain

Last week, we had the first Structured Content Strategy meeting in Spain (to our knowledge) organized by Urbina Consulting and Blue Stream Software in Valencia. The turnout, as expected, was small. OK – it was WAY smaller than expected. Still, it was the occasion for a few practitioners to start to make some headway towards creating a community in this country where “content” as a business asset is still unknown or misunderstood, and many content professions don’t even exist in the official repertory of professions.

Continue reading “First Steps: Structured Content Strategy Spain”

Why I Left Facebook

I left Facebook on June 16, 2013.

I hated to leave – ever since I’d been in touch with former classmates, and people from my original home town, an extraordinarily special place, I have really cherished my Facebook contacts, old and new, as my network has grown and thrived.

I had to do it, though. I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy any longer.

Continue reading “Why I Left Facebook”

The Coming Crisis

I’m not an academic. I haven’t done any research. I just observe the world and say what I see, and what I see is this:

  • We think it’s OK to deliver personal attacks, salacious innuendo, smear campaigns, and lies, and refer to it as “political discourse.”
  • We think it’s OK to advertise every product made in every part of the globe at every level of quality as “the best” – thereby rendering the word “best” meaningless.
  • We think it’s OK to announce loud and clear that we are against money laundering, tax evasion, and fiscal fraud, proclaim significant measures to combat them, and do nothing.
  • We think it’s OK to patent living organisms, genetic codes, and other aspects of life on this earth, as if they were industrial products.
  • We think it’s OK to use a term like “intellectual property,” and we think we can buy and sell ideas.

Continue reading “The Coming Crisis”

We Are Family

Over here in Europe, we get a fair number of American TV series, but not all of them. Recently, a friend passed me a complete set of all the existing episodes of Firefly which I’ve been enjoying immensely. I’d not heard of it before, but I understand that it has become something of a cult series in the U.S. and I understand why.

It has something in common with a series that has had vastly greater success, in the U.S. and abroad: NCIS.

I’m not sure why one series failed and the other succeeded, but what ties them both together, and makes them both so appealing, is the sense of dysfunctional but united family.

Continue reading “We Are Family”