[discuss] /1net Steering/Coordination Commitee

Mawaki Chango kichango at gmail.com
Sat Dec 21 20:12:55 UTC 2013

I am not sure what is causing this whole tirade, but to be clear (since it
is a response to a response to something I wrote),

1. The point here wasn't about claiming engineers don't have an
understanding of the political dimensions of their work (although many of
them don't, just like many don't in various other lines of work), but
rather a very practical consideration on the scaling of the network and
with that the inevitable changes that would be required in (or pressure
that would result from that on) related decision-making processes. It's not
always about the bad guys vs. the good guys... Engineers are not
omniscient; nobody is.

2. One important aspect of the above mentioned pressure is the cultural
frictions that may result from wider and more diverse participation
(diversity at all levels, including people from different career paths and
professional/ social cultures or sub-cultures.) This very thread shows how
difficult it is for people used to working in certain ways to accommodate
other people used to working in other ways. In this discussion, there are
also people asking questions, who are not candidate to "nothing", and yet
they all are being categorized as wanting to be something instead of
wanting to do something. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. The global
embrace is really tough, isn't it?

Those are very practical considerations-- not about political foresight.
Last, I'm not sure who's the journalist on this thread but --just in case,
really, just in case, and for the sake of accuracy with facts-- that's
certainly not me.



On Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 3:35 PM, Phillip Hallam-Baker <hallam at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 11:21 AM, Andrew Sullivan <ajs at anvilwalrusden.com>wrote:
>> On Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 10:36:40AM +0000, Mawaki Chango wrote:
>>  > 3. Modeling the "do stuff, structure later" (DSSL) approach on its use
>> in
>> > the early days of the internet begs the question - how well has that
>> > worked? A handful number of engineers, aware of each other's expertise
>> and
>> > trusting each other, loosely making decisions for a network of a limited
>> > number of small networks which they only envisioned to serve a tight
>> > community of researchers is one thing. Agreeing on decisions or seeking
>> > consensus for decisions that will shape a truly global network of an
>> > indefinite number of networks may be another.
>> This is an intriguing argument, but I think deeply mistaken both on
>> the facts and on the implications.  To answer the first question: it
>> appears to have worked pretty well.  AT&T engineers reputedly said
>> that packet switching would never work; now most phone calls travel
>> over IP.  While it is true that the early network was small and its
>> users were almost all also its designers, the famous slogan
>> "everything over IP" does not suggest the early engineers were
>> thinking small.
> +1
> At least some of the early Internet pioneers were very aware of the
> political dimensions of what they were doing. John Klensin was part of
> Ithiel de Sola Pool's circle at MIT. Pool was a political scientist who was
> talking about the transformative potential of communications in the 1950s
> and 60s. Technologies of Freedom is a key text in the field.
> Most journalists assume that engineers have no understanding of the
> political dimensions of their work. They assume that because they did not
> foresee the effects of the Web that nobody did. They certainly never ask me
> about it.
> We were talking about the potential of the Web to impact politics back in
> the CERN days. I got involved in the Web because I was disgusted by the
> fact that three corrupt newspaper barons controlled the UK press and
> decided the outcome of national elections. One has since committed suicide,
> one has been sent to jail for fraud and the senior management of the UK
> operations of the other are currently on criminal trial in the old bailey.
> Some of us were very aware of the political dimension. But it was better
> that the likes of Conrad Black and Rupert Murdock and the politicians they
> owned took some time to understand the end goal. And not just in our
> countries. Bringing change to Saudia Arabia is hard. Flooding the country
> with pornography is one way to undermine the brutal regime there.
> On Thursday it was a century to the day when Brandeis gave his 'sunlight'
> speech on openness in government. Today countries can choose any form of
> government they like but they are going to face the criticism of a free
> press. The lesson of the Arab Spring is that dictatorship is no longer a
> stable form of government. Regimes that do not reform fast enough will
> fall. If one revolution does not bring a stable government, there will be
> another.
> There is safety in numbers and the Web is very good at delivering a vast
> number of protestors when a bully is exposed. At one end of the scale
> school boards across the US bible belt are suddenly facing flash protests
> when a principal attempts to implement some policy inspired by religious
> bigotry.
> The technical advance I did not anticipate is the camera phone. But I
> didn't invent that and I don't know what the thought processes of the
> people who put camera into phones were. Given that the Rodney King beating
> happened a decade earlier, I suspect that many of the engineers involved
> anticipated the fact that making cameras easily accessible would increase
> accountability of public officials.
> There are some areas where agreement is possible here. The technical
> community does not tolerate or support child abusers or terrorists. But
> official oppression is a much greater problem.
> --
> Website: http://hallambaker.com/
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