Keeping the “Inter” in “Internetworking”

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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at Interop ITX 2018, in Las Vegas.  It was my first Interop — and an interesting opportunity to see more of the enterprise networking side of things.  That’s a space that is growing, and increasing in complexity, even as cloud and software as a service are notionally taking on the heavy lifting of corporate IT.

The refrain that I overheard several times captured that attendees really enjoyed having a vendor-neutral conference to talk about a variety of practical topics.  Indeed, it felt a bit like a NOG with an enterprise focus.

I was tasked with bringing some broad Internet perspective to the “Network Transformation Summit”.  I chose to talk through a series of real network illustrations of the importance of collaboration and diversity — both historically, and in terms of “wicked” problems facing the Internet today.

I’ve always found it interesting to note how well the Internet has stood up in the face of disasters — such as 9/11 in New York, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.   On the flip side, while Blackberry provided the first usable and (network) efficient mobile mail platform, its lack of diversity and monoculture ultimately lead to multi-day, global service failures.

These are not just historic case studies — they provide important insight into how to grow the Internet and build services that will withstand the pressures of the future.

I’ve posted a version of my slides from the presentation, here: http://web.thinkingcat.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/DaigleLeslie_KeepingTheInter-FinalClear.pdf

(This post originally appeared on Leslie Daigle’s personal blog at http://www.thinkingcat.com )

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IPv6: Purveyor of Cat Food

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Today is the 4th anniversary of the World IPv6 Day, which most of us remember as a test drive that facilitated the “launching” of IPv6 a year later.   Two fortunate felines in the UK may remember it as the day it rained cat food — the day they were fed 168 times.

The full details are available from Mathew Newton’s website — http://www.newtonnet.co.uk/catfeeder/ . The real purpose of his project was to create an Internet-accessible remote cat feeder for those times the cats had to be left alone for a stretch. Connecting over the web, from a remote desktop or his phone, Mathew can use the Internet to connect to the feeder and feed his cats from wherever he is, if he can’t be home to feed them in person. (Purr-son?). To provide some concrete feedback in the process, Mathew included video camera support so that he can remote monitor the feeding station and ensure that things work properly.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mathew decided to participate in World IPv6 Day, with the unintended consequences of the 166 extra feedings of the cats (to their delight, no doubt). Mathew writes on his site:

What was my contribution to this unique event? Well, in addition to taking part in a user trial of native IPv6 connectivity provided by my ISP (Plusnet) I also opened up control of my cat feeder – the world’s first to support IPv6 – to anyone that cared to give my cats a treat. Anyone, that is, that had IPv6 connectivity of course… 😉

Why? Good question… I could say it was to help demonstrate in a practical way how more and more devices are being hooked up to the Internet in such numbers that the dwindling pool of IPv4 addresses simply cannot hope to accomodate them, or that how such devices can be connected with relative ease given the lack of NAT configuration, port forwarding, etc. However, truth be told, it was mainly just a bit of fun…

So, how did it go? Well, very well in fact. Our cats thought Christmas had come early so it was a real success in their eyes, and they still don’t know what IPv6 is! But that’s the point – IPv6 is an enabler, something that operates behind the scenes, and shouldn’t be the concern of the typical end user (admittedly cats probably don’t fit that profile… yet).

Mathew recently wrote more about the experience in a guest posting to ARIN’s blog: http://teamarin.net/2015/05/27/turning-bits-into-bites/ .

Indeed, IPv6 — more bits, more addresses, more kibble!

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New Clues for the Cluetrain

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Written by:  Doc Searls and David Weinberger

Hear, O Internet.

It has been sixteen years since our previous communication.

In that time the People of the Internet — you and me and all our friends of friends of friends, unto the last Kevin Bacon — have made the Internet an awesome place, filled with wonders and portents.

From the serious to the lolworthy to the wtf, we have up-ended titans, created heroes,  and changed the most basic assumptions about
How Things Work and Who We Are.

But now all the good work we’ve done together faces mortal dangers.

When we first came before you, it was to warn of the threat posed by those who did not understand that they did not understand the Internet.

These are The Fools, the businesses that have merely adopted the trappings of the Internet.

Now two more hordes threaten all that we have built for one another.

The Marauders understand the Internet all too well. They view it as theirs to plunder, extracting our data and money from it, thinking that we are the fools.

But most dangerous of all is the third horde: Us.

A horde is an undifferentiated mass of people. But the glory of the Internet is that it lets us connect as diverse and distinct individuals.

We all like mass entertainment. Heck, TV’s gotten pretty great these days, and the Net lets us watch it when we want. Terrific.

But we need to remember that delivering mass media is the least of the Net’s powers.

The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.

It is therefore not time to lean back and consume the oh-so-tasty junk food created by Fools and Marauders as if our work were done. It is time to breathe in the fire of the Net and transform every institution that would play us for a patsy.

An organ-by-organ body snatch of the Internet is already well underway. Make no mistake: with a stroke of a pen, a covert handshake, or by allowing memes to drown out the cries of the afflicted we can lose the Internet we love.

We come to you from the years of the Web’s beginning. We have grown old together on the Internet. Time is short.

We, the People of the Internet, need to remember the glory of its revelation so that we reclaim it now in the name of what it truly is.


January 8, 2015


Once were we young in the Garden…

The Internet is us, connected.

The Internet is not made of copper wire, glass fiber, radio waves, or even tubes.

The devices we use to connect to the Internet are not the Internet.

Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and 中国电信 do not own the Internet. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are not the Net’s monarchs, nor yet are their minions or algorithms. Not the governments of the Earth nor their Trade Associations have the consent of the networked to bestride the Net as sovereigns.

We hold the Internet in common and as unowned.

From us and from what we have built on it does the Internet derive all its value.

The Net is of us, by us, and for us.

The Internet is ours.

The Internet is nothing and has no purpose.

The Internet is not a thing any more than gravity is a thing. Both pull us together.

The Internet is nothing at all. At its base the Internet is a set of agreements, which the geeky among us (long may their names be hallowed) call “protocols,” but which we might, in the temper of the day, call “commandments.”

The first among these is: Thy network shall move all packets closer to their destinations without favor or delay based on origin, source, content, or intent.

Thus does this First Commandment lay open the Internet to every idea, application, business, quest, vice, and whatever.

There has not been a tool with such a general purpose since language.

This means the Internet is not for anything in particular. Not for social networking, not for documents, not for advertising, not for business, not for education, not for porn, not for anything. It is specifically designed for everything.

Optimizing the Internet for one purpose de-optimizes it for all others.

The Internet like gravity is indiscriminate in its attraction. It pulls us all together, the virtuous and the wicked alike.

The Net is not content.

There is great content on the Internet. But holy mother of cheeses, the Internet is not made out of content.

A teenager’s first poem, the blissful release of a long-kept secret, a fine sketch drawn by a palsied hand, a blog post in a regime that hates the sound of its people’s voices — none of these people sat down to write content.

Did we use the word “content” without quotes? We feel so dirty.

The Net is not a medium.

The Net is not a medium any more than a conversation is a medium.

On the Net, we are the medium. We are the ones who move messages. We do so every time we post or retweet, send a link in an email, or post it on a social network.

Unlike a medium, you and I leave our fingerprints, and sometimes bite marks, on the messages we pass. We tell people why we’re sending it. We argue with it. We add a joke. We chop off the part we don’t like. We make these messages our own.

Every time we move a message through the Net, it carries a little bit of ourselves with it.

We only move a message through this “medium” if it matters to us in one of the infinite ways that humans care about something.

Caring — mattering — is the motive force of the Internet.

The Web is a Wide World.

In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee used the Net to create a gift he gave freely to us all: the World Wide Web. Thank you.

Tim created the Web by providing protocols (there’s that word again!) that say how to write a page that can link to any other page without needing anyone’s permission.

Boom. Within ten years we had billions of pages on the Web — a combined effort on the order of a World War, and yet so benign that the biggest complaint was the <blink> tag.
The Web is an impossibly large, semi-persistent realm of items discoverable in their dense inter-connections.

That sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, that’s what the world is.

Unlike the real world, every thing and every connection on the Web was created by some one of us expressing an interest and an assumption about how those small pieces go together.

Every link by a person with something to say is an act of generosity and selflessness, bidding our readers leave our page to see how the world looks to someone else.

The Web remakes the world in our collective, emergent image.

But oh how we have strayed, sisters and brothers…

How did we let conversation get weaponized, anyway?

It’s important to notice and cherish the talk, the friendship, the thousand acts of sympathy, kindness, and joy we encounter on the Internet.

And yet we hear the words “fag” and “nigger” far more on the Net than off.

Demonization of ‘them’ — people with looks, languages, opinions, memberships and other groupings we don’t understand, like, or tolerate — is worse than ever on the Internet.

Women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive? Meanwhile, half of us can’t speak on the Net without looking over our shoulders.

Hatred is present on the Net because it’s present in the world, but the Net makes it easier to express and to hear.

The solution: If we had a solution, we wouldn’t be bothering you with all these damn clues.

We can say this much: Hatred didn’t call the Net into being, but it’s holding the Net — and us — back.

Let’s at least acknowledge that the Net has values implicit in it. Human values.

Viewed coldly the Net is just technology. But it’s populated by creatures who are warm with what they care about: their lives, their friends, the world we share.

The Net offers us a common place where we can be who we are, with others who delight in our differences.

No one owns that place. Everybody can use it. Anyone can improve it.

That’s what an open Internet is. Wars have been fought for less.

“We agree about everything. I find you fascinating!”

The world is spread out before us like a buffet, and yet we stick with our steak and potatoes, lamb and hummus, fish and rice, or whatever.

We do this in part because conversation requires a common ground: shared language, interests, norms, understandings. Without those, it’s hard or even impossible to have a conversation.

Shared grounds spawn tribes. The Earth’s solid ground kept tribes at a distance, enabling them to develop rich differences. Rejoice! Tribes give rise to Us vs. Them and war. Rejoice? Not so much.

On the Internet, the distance between tribes starts at zero.

Apparently knowing how to find one another interesting is not as easy as it looks.

That’s a challenge we can meet by being open, sympathetic, and patient. We can do it, team! We’re #1! We’re #1!

Being welcoming: There’s a value the Net needs to learn from the best of our real world cultures.

Marketing still makes it harder to talk.

We were right the first time: Markets are conversations.

A conversation isn’t your business tugging at our sleeve to shill a product we don’t want to hear about.

if we want to know the truth about your products, we’ll find out from one another.

We understand that these conversations are incredibly valuable to you. Too bad. They’re ours.

You’re welcome to join our conversation, but only if you tell us who you work for, and if you can speak for yourself and as yourself.

Every time you call us “consumers” we feel like cows looking up the word “meat.”

Quit fracking our lives to extract data that’s none of your business and that your machines misinterpret.

Don’t worry: we’ll tell you when we’re in the market for something. In our own way. Not yours. Trust us: this will be good for you.

Ads that sound human but come from your marketing department’s irritable bowels, stain the fabric of the Web.

When personalizing something is creepy, it’s a pretty good indication that you don’t understand what it means to be a person.

Personal is human. Personalized isn’t.

The more machines sound human, the more they slide down into the uncanny valley where everything is a creep show.

Also: Please stop dressing up ads as news in the hope we’ll miss the little disclaimer hanging off their underwear.

When you place a “native ad,” you’re eroding not just your own trustworthiness, but the trustworthiness of this entire new way of being with one another.

And, by the way, how about calling “native ads” by any of their real names: “product placement,” “advertorial,” or “fake fucking news”?

Advertisers got along without being creepy for generations. They can get along without being creepy on the Net, too.

The Gitmo of the Net.

We all love our shiny apps, even when they’re sealed as tight as a Moon base. But put all the closed apps in the world together and you have a pile of apps.

Put all the Web pages together and you have a new world.

Web pages are about connecting. Apps are about control.

As we move from the Web to an app-based world, we lose the commons we were building together.

In the Kingdom of Apps, we are users, not makers.

Every new page makes the Web bigger. Every new link makes the Web richer.

Every new app gives us something else to do on the bus.

Ouch, a cheap shot!

Hey, “CheapShot” would make a great new app! It’s got “in-app purchase” written all over it.

Gravity’s great until it sucks us all into a black hole.

Non-neutral applications built on top of the neutral Net are becoming as inescapable as the pull of a black hole.

If Facebook is your experience of the Net, then you’ve strapped on goggles from a company with a fiduciary responsibility to keep you from ever taking the goggles off.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple are all in the goggles business.  The biggest truth their goggles obscure: These companies want to hold us the way black holes hold light.

These corporate singularities are dangerous not because they are evil. Many of them in fact engage in quite remarkably civic behavior. They should be applauded for that.

But they benefit from the gravity of sociality: The “network effect” is that thing where lots of people use something because lots of people use it.

Where there aren’t competitive alternatives, we need to be hypervigilant to remind these Titans of the Valley of the webby values that first inspired them.

And then we need to honor the sound we make when any of us bravely pulls away from them. It’s something between the noise of a rocket leaving the launchpad and the rip of Velcro as you undo a too-tight garment.

Privacy in an age of spies.

Ok, government, you win. You’ve got our data. Now, what can we do to make sure you use it against Them and not against Us? In fact, can you tell the difference?

If we want our government to back off, the deal has to be that if — when — the next attack comes, we can’t complain that they should have surveilled us harder.

A trade isn’t fair trade if we don’t know what we’re giving up. Do you hear that, Security for Privacy trade-off?

With a probability approaching absolute certainty, we are going to be sorry we didn’t do more to keep data out of the hands of our governments and corporate overlords.

Privacy in an age of weasels.

Personal privacy is fine for those who want it. And we all draw the line somewhere.

Q: How long do you think it took for pre-Web culture to figure out where to draw the lines? A: How old is culture?

The Web is barely out of its teens. We are at the beginning, not the end, of the privacy story.

We can only figure out what it means to be private once we  figure out what it means to be social. And we’ve barely begun to re-invent that.

The economic and political incentives to de-pants and up-skirt  us are so strong that we’d be wise to invest in tinfoil underwear.

Hackers got us into this and hackers will have to get us out.

To build and to plant

Kumbiyah sounds surprisingly good in an echo chamber.

The Internet is astounding. The Web is awesome. You are beautiful. Connect us all and we are more crazily amazing than Jennifer Lawrence. These are simple facts.

So let’s not minimize what the Net has done in the past twenty years:

There’s so much more music in the world.

We now make most of our culture for ourselves, with occasional forays to a movie theater for something blowy-uppy and a $9 nickel-bag of popcorn.

Politicians now have to explain their positions far beyond the one-page “position papers” they used to mimeograph.

Anything you don’t understand you can find an explanation for. And a discussion about. And an argument over. Is it not clear how awesome that is?

You want to know what to buy? The business that makes an object of desire is now the worst source of information about it. The best source is all of us.

You want to listen in on a college-level course about something you’re interested in? Google your topic. Take your pick. For free.

Yeah, the Internet hasn’t solved all the world’s problems. That’s why the Almighty hath given us asses: that we might get off of them.

Internet naysayers keep us honest. We just like ’em better when they aren’t ingrates.

A pocket full of homilies.

We were going to tell you how to fix the Internet in four easy steps, but the only one we could remember is the last one: profit. So instead, here are some random thoughts…

We should be supporting the artists and creators who bring us delight or ease our burdens.

We should have the courage to ask for the help we need.

We have a culture that defaults to sharing and laws that default to copyright. Copyright has its place, but when in doubt, open it up.

In the wrong context, everyone’s an a-hole. (Us, too. But you already knew that.) So if you’re inviting people over for a swim, post the rules. All trolls, out of the pool!

If the conversations at your site are going badly, it’s your fault.

Wherever the conversation is happening, no one owes you a response, no matter how reasonable your argument or how winning your smile.

Support the businesses that truly “get” the Web. You’ll recognize them not just because they sound like us, but because they’re on our side.

Sure, apps offer a nice experience. But the Web is about links that constantly reach out, connecting us without end. For lives and ideas, completion is death. Choose life.

Anger is a license to be stupid. The Internet’s streets are already crowded with licensed drivers.

Live the values you want the Internet to promote.

If you’ve been talking for a while, shut up. (We will very soon.)

Being together: the cause of and solution to every problem.

If we have focused on the role of the People of the Net  — you and us — in the Internet’s fall from grace, that’s because we still have the faith we came in with.

We, the People of the Net, cannot fathom how much we can do together because we are far from finished inventing how to be together.

The Internet has liberated an ancient force — the gravity drawing us together.

The gravity of connection is love.

Long live the open Internet.

Long may we have our Internet to love.


Editor’s note:  This text was originally published, with more colours and clickable clues, at  http://cluetrain.com/newclues/  and offered in the public domain.  From that webpage:

“This is an Open Source document.

These New Clues are designed to be shared and re-used without our permission. Use them however you want. Make them your own. We only request that you please point back at this original page ( http://cluetrain.com/newclues/ ) because that’s just polite.

If you are a developer, the text of this page is openly available at GitHub for programmatic re-use. Details here.

To make it as easy as possible to share, use, and re-use the clues, we have put all the text on this page into the public domain via a Creative Commons 0 license. It is essentially copyright free.

[…]

About

Fifteen years ago, four of us got together and posted The Cluetrain Manifesto which tried to explain what most businesses and much of the media were getting wrong about the Web. These New Clues come from two of the authors of that manifesto, and of the book that followed.

There’s more information here about this project, and about its authors[…].
Join us at cluetrain@twitter.com. Or Facebook. Sigh.

CC0
To the extent possible under law, David Weinberger and Doc Searls has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to New Clues.

This work is published from: United States.”

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The Fourth Age of the Social Internet

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Contributed by Andy Newton

It is said that the original purpose of the Internet was for military purposes; to reduce the number of green-screen terminals proliferating in the offices of DoD administrators or to allow researches to exchange data regarding nuclear warhead testing or to link radar installations. Whatever those intents, the men-at-arms who wanted this digital thoroughfare quickly lost control. Things like electronic mail and terminal talk easily found a home in the first age of the Internet, and this thing meant for the clash of armies has always been a social medium.

Those days were followed by an age of hyper-linking, hyper-media, and the World Wide Web. Then came the pundit-named “Social Media” age, consisting first of weblogs and RSS but now dominated by micro-blogging and 140-character hyper-blogging.

Today we are witnessing the dawn of the fourth age of this social experiment: hyper-specialization – the exchange of very specific data for very special purposes. Hyper-specialization is the melding of hyper-media with social media for specific applications, and it combines the “standing on the shoulders of giants” aspect of human progression with the speed and power of the Internet. It is technical evolution for the everyday man.

Consider PartyFine Records. When they posted the song “Paint a Smile On Me” to SoundCloud, they were drawing on the power of hyper-specialization to promote their artist, Black Yaya. Soon after, a young artist named Badamix in Marseille, France, took “Paint a Smile On Me” and produced the Badamix remix.

PartyFine Records knew what they were doing. They were drawing on the culture of remixing that has grown-up around SoundCloud’s unique sound playback features, where artists collaborate together to make songs. Today, whole musical careers are being made based on remixing.

SoundCloud itself is remixed, or as programmers today call it, “mashed up”. Other websites mix in SoundCloud features and build upon it to create even more specialized music-sharing experiences. 8tracks.com uses SoundCloud for sharing playlists legally using provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the fan-driven site IndieShuffle.com pulls together the music playback features of SoundCloud with the commenting features of Facebook to deliver curated music for the “Indie” and Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genres.

Over at Thingiverse.com, another type of hyper-specialization is occurring. Instead of songs, the stock in trade is mechanical drawings. Here users are immersed into the MakerBot world of 3D printing, digitally creating and recreating real-world objects with for-the-home, computer-controlled, industrial robots. And they use the tailored features of Thingiverse.com site to search, upload, and download CAD designs so they can drive the gears of their digital cottage factories. What do they design? What do they bring to life? Everything from special-purpose wrenches to iPhone cases to jewelry to gun parts. The site boasts that it now has over 100,000 3D models and growing.

Hyper-specialization comes in more casual forms as well. The users of Strava exchange running and cycling routes, noting which streets have friendly traffic patterns and which hills will turn a light afternoon 5K into a struggle. Fitbit users can taunt each other with their weight loss measured by WiFi-enabled scales, and they help each other out by cataloging nutritional data on foods so that each user can adjust their daily diet. And Waze users combine the hyper-specialization of their GPS-enabled driving app with hyper-collectivism to let each other know where accidents and speed-traps are located so they can improve the commutes of all users.

And more specializations are popping up all the time. All of it building on the technologies that came earlier and the refinement of ideas shared. And all of it unplanned, and all of it unimagined until recently. And all of it used by millions each day.

Andy Newton is the Chief Engineer for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), responsible for software and systems design and development process and architecture, standards development and research. Andy has many years of software engineering experience ranging from embedded systems, thick clients, and application servers in a broad array of areas such as industrial controls, back office and work flow processes, and Voice-over-IP and more. He is the author of many published and ratified protocol specifications and is the primary author of the new RDAP specification. Additionally, he is well versed in other Internet technologies such as RPKI, DNS, and Whois. Andy also holds a black-belt rank in Judo, and together with friends runs a fan-driven music blog about alternative and indie music.

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Why ‘firsts’ matter

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Image by Adrián Márquez Ballesteros, available from https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-GuG-rA6H9Kg/T6r90Sm9FUI/AAAAAAAAAQ8/uXIjS-oAz3g/s800/Inspira%252C%2520portada_1024.jpg, licensed under Creative Commons BY NC ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Image by Adrián Márquez Ballesteros

Contributed by Konstantinos Komaitis

“Firsts” are important – our first steps, our first kiss, our first job. For me, so was the first time I got online.

It was 1998 and I was in Germany, where I would be spending 6 months as part of an exchange university program. The excitement and anticipation of studying abroad was overwhelming. That was until I got to realize that using the Internet was part of the deal. I vividly recall some text on the registration package that read: “All communication between the university and students will be done electronically. Please make sure you check your email account regularly. We wish you a happy semester.” That was it; no option! If you were a student wishing to study at this university, you had to get connected.

Up until then, a computer was an alien concept to me; needless to say, the Internet. I had heard rumors about it but I was clueless. A computer was a clunky machine and the Internet was an abstract concept.

Within the first five minutes, I was converted. I was hooked. By the time I managed to rest my enthusiasm, reality hit: Using the Internet was fun and much easier than I had imagined. And, then a couple of realizations hit as well.

The first thing I realized was that it was easy to relate to what the Internet could do. We all love information and communication. “Man is a social animal”, my teachers preached. Suddenly, what Aristotle so acutely said centuries ago, made perfect sense. I was sending emails to friends, I was instant messaging with others and all while I was listening to music and was in my pjs. As a young expat in a new country, I did not feel all that alone.

The second thing I realized was even more significant: the Internet had an  inescapable ability to inspire. The Internet allows us to hear stories and learn new things. We are constantly exposed to information and data. In the Internet, information never stops. Some argue that this information overload is not healthy and can be detrimental to one’s ability to make individual choices and decision. Let me tell you that if it wasn’t for all the information, I believe I would not be the person I am today. And, I am not exaggerating.

I owe a lot to the Internet, but in particular I owe much of my curiosity. I was always curious – you know, one of these annoying children that constantly asks ‘why this’ and ‘why that’. And, in this never-ending process of asking questions, most of the time I was receiving non-satisfactory answers. Above all, however, the one thing that annoyed me the most was the fact that I was depending on others for answers. Often I would go to the library and search for them. But, even the library was not big enough to quench my curiosity and answer all my questions. Questions gave birth to more questions, which generated more questions, which demanded more answers.

The Internet managed to give me the satisfaction and individuality I was looking for. With the Internet, it felt I was a master of my own life – I was informed, which meant I was able to make rational choices. I felt in control. And, it wasn’t a faux sense of control. It was control that emanated from the belief of being informed. And, this has not stopped even today. The Internet continues to be the place that I turn to when I want to travel, read, get entertained, work, communicate and learn. And, the excitement is still there. It still feels like the very first time.

So, it is indeed true that the Internet as a global experience is simply impossible. I, for one, had no idea that it was possible for it to have such a profound impact on my life. I am a big fun of the Internet – but I am a bigger fan about its humility to inspire and allow the imagination to never settle.

Konstantinos Komaitis, PhD, Internet policy aficionado, accidental scholar and, secretly geek. Still impressed with the Internet.

Image by Adrián Márquez Ballesteros, available from https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-GuG-rA6H9Kg/T6r90Sm9FUI/AAAAAAAAAQ8/uXIjS-oAz3g/s800/Inspira%252C%2520portada_1024.jpg, licensed under Creative Commons BY NC ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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Daddy, Can’t We Find Out How To Make Sparkles?

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Sparkles...

Sparkles…

Contributed by:  Dan York

This morning our five-year old daughter was holding a jar of “sparkles” that my wife had purchased for the upcoming Halloween festivities. She asked “How do they make sparkles, Daddy?”

I said I didn’t know and before I could say anything else she said:

“I know… we can go learn about how they make sparkles and then we can make them ourselves!”

She was pointing over toward my wife’s laptop and I knew she was meaning that we could go find a website or watch a video on YouTube and learn all about making sparkles.

THIS is the amazing connected world in which she has grown up. Her immediate thought is that she can just go and learn about it somewhere out there on the Internet.

Anything is possible.

You just have to find a website or video or something else that will help you get started. That is her reality and her expectations.

Of course, this would have been Impossible when I was five years old back in the 1970s… but today, this is what the Internet makes possible.

Amazing times!

Dan York is a prolific writer and speaker on Internet and technology topics. Links to his writing and audio podcasts can be found at http://danyork.me/ and he can be found on many social networks as “danyork”.

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How small this world is now

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Extended US keyboard layout design which allows to enter Latin (all European, African, North American Indigenous languages, etc)., Greek, Cyrillic (Russian, Serbian, Kyrgyz, etc.), Hebrew, IPA, and which is conformant to ISO/IEC 9995-3:2010. This layout is described as a draft in the CEN workshop agreement (CWA) 16108 “Functional Multilingual Extensions to European Keyboard Layouts” (March 2010) ftp://ftp.cen.eu/CEN/Sectors/List/ICT/CWAs/CWA-16108-2010-MEEK.pdf

Contributed by:  Phil Roberts

Who could have imagined a network and a set of technologies that would bring us so close together? Music is one of many pursuits that seems to bring together people across language barriers, across cultural barriers, across insurmountable divides. Recently I came across some references to the St Petersburg Philharmonia, the oldest symphony is Russia I am told. A quick search on the web got me to their home page (http://www.philharmonia.spb.ru/).

This is absolutely fascinating and provides an example of how the Internet too can bring people together across language barriers. The St Petersburg Philharmonia has published all sorts of content about themselves in the language of the people where they live – Russian. But because they put it on the World Wide Web, and because that is distributed across the Internet around the world, I have access to it as well. I don’t know any Russian.

Now it so happens that they have an English language version of their website and that’s great for me. It also just so happens that version of their site isn’t reachable right at the moment. But all is not lost as there are tools that make it possible to generate an English language version of the site automatically. That’s not as great as a pure translation, but it gets a lot. And for someone whose native language is neither Russian nor English, they are able to get to it also.

So the Internet has made it possible for people all over the world to publish things they are interested in, in their own languages, and for people all over the world to find that, fairly easily, and to read it, fairly easily, through automatic translation. Who could have planned all that?  And I don’t have to get a keyboard like the one in the picture.

Phil Roberts
Software guy, sometime mist whisperer (@mistwhispers), still amazed by the Internet.

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Contributing to InternetImpossible — an FAQ

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After a lot of positive feedback and enthusiasm for the launch of the InternetImpossible site,  there have been questions.  It’s new, it’s neat, it’s… what did you want from me, exactly?  So — I’ve posted a set of content contribution guidelines, formed as a list of “frequently asked questions”.   The page is here.

My first choice is to have people contribute posts directly:  actual text of posts.  That way, people get clear credit, fame and… well no fortune 🙂  And, more importantly, the stories reflect the diversity of voices on the Internet.

Write on!

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The Virtues of Procrastination

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Contributed by:  Jonathan Zittrain

The Internet’s framers made simplicity a core value­ — a risky bet with a high payoff. The bet was risky because a design whose main focus is simplicity may omit elaboration that solves certain foreseeable problems. The simple design that the Internet’s framers settled upon makes sense only with a set of principles that go beyond mere engineering. These principles are not obvious ones­ — for example, the proprietary networks were not designed with them in mind — ­and their power depends on assumptions about people that, even if true, could change. The most important are what we might label the procrastination principle and the trust-your-neighbor approach.

The procrastination principle rests on the assumption that most problems confronting a network can be solved later or by others. It says that the network should not be designed to do anything that can be taken care of by its users. Its origins can be found in a 1984 paper by Internet architects David Clark, David Reed, and Jerry Saltzer. In it they coined the notion of an “end-to-end argument” to indicate that most features in a network ought to be implemented at its computer endpoints — ­and by those endpoints’ computer programmers­ — rather than “in the middle,” taken care of by the network itself, and designed by the network architects. The paper makes a pure engineering argument, explaining that any features not universally useful should not be implemented, in part because not implementing these features helpfully prevents the generic network from becoming tilted toward certain uses. Once the network was optimized for one use, they reasoned, it might not easily be put to other uses that may have different requirements.

The end-to-end argument stands for modularity in network design: it allows the network nerds, both protocol designers and ISP implementers, to do their work without giving a thought to network hardware or PC software. More generally, the procrastination principle is an invitation to others to overcome the network’s shortcomings, and to continue adding to its uses.

The assumptions made by the Internet’s framers and embedded in the network­ — that most problems could be solved later and by others, and that those others themselves would be interested in solving rather than creating problems — ­arose naturally within the research environment that gave birth to the Internet. For all the pettiness sometimes associated with academia, there was a collaborative spirit present in computer science research labs, in part because the project of designing and implementing a new network­ — connecting people — ­can benefit so readily from collaboration.

It is one thing for the Internet to work the way it was designed when deployed among academics whose raison d’être was to build functioning networks. But the network managed an astonishing leap as it continued to work when expanded into the general populace, one which did not share the world-view that informed the engineers’ designs. Indeed, it not only continued to work, but experienced spectacular growth in the uses to which it was put. It is as if the bizarre social and economic configuration of the quasi-anarchist Burning Man festival turned out to function in the middle of a city. What works in a desert is harder to imagine in Manhattan: people crashing on each others’ couches, routinely sharing rides and food, and loosely bartering things of value. Yet the turn of the twenty-first century, the developed world has found itself with a wildly generative information technology environment.

Maintaining it against its own wild popularity remains one of the central struggles of our time.

Adapted from The Future of the Internet, <http://www.amazon.com/The-Future-Internet-And-How-Stop/dp/0300151241#>

Jonathan Zittrain
George Bemis Professor of Law,  Harvard Law School | Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Professor of Computer Science,   Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Director,   HLS Library | Berkman Center for Internet & Society
<http://cyber.law.harvard.edu>

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Welcome — and we’d love to hear from you

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Herewith — the InternetImpossible project.  The purpose of the project is to capture, share, and raise awareness of  the many and varied wonders of the Internet. This ranges from its technology to its reach and its impact. Impact is noted on people, on cultures, on ways of doing things.

http://www.internetimpossible.org

Stay tuned, or, better yet, contribute!    Send an e-mail to “editor” at this domain to propose a post on how you have witnessed someone achieving the Impossible — with and for the Internet.

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