The Sociology of the Internet

Artifacts have Politics

Politics of the Internet

Packet Switching - a technical digression

Consider an electronic conversation Packet switching (the internet)

Circuit switching (the telephone company)

I will try to show that this difference in protocols reflects how relationships generally work over the internet

So, the internet is made up of constantly changing, ephemeral, objects and interactions

It is more like a bazaar than a cathedral

This kind of structure reflects current social trends

Let us compare: And see how they reflect their cultures

The old Titanic

historical photo of the real ship

The new Titanic

titanic movie poster

The internet grew out of this kind of culture, and

How do people react on encountering this bizarre bazaar?

But, the same could be said of modern culture.

And, some have made their peace with this

And what are those terms?

In a nutshell the internet is inherently: This may be somewhat dissonant with American society since September 11. All the more reason to use the Internet in a carefully considered manner.

Relationships between Institutions and Individuals are changing

The Cluetrain Manifesto describes this major change most emphatically, in 95 Theses

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor is a bond trading company. In England, they even support Online spreadbetting: They expect customers to accept a high level of risk, and provide them with up-to-the-minute information. live link

The openness and flexibility of the internet allowed the US branch of Cantor (located in the World Trade Center) to respond rapidly and humanely to that terrible tragedy.

(This kind of thing has happened to companies before, and those companies have often responded humanely, but probably not as quickly, and not in a way that the whole world can watch and participate in.)

The Internet can move ideas from the bottom up

and from individual to individual.

Email is the primary force here. It enables individuals to totally bypass traditional media and distribution channels. Examples are

Email is a new way to communicate

Email is a new kind of formality

Community Software

Email and information sharing have given rise to a new kind of software development.

Open Source Software (OSS) is typically initially designed by one person (or a few), and subsequently shared and developed by a loosely-structured group of interested programmers.


Intellectual Property on the Internet

Barlow: Information is a life form

Society's ideas of what is moral change with time

Individual credit for ideas is a new concept (within the last few hundred years) In the late 18th century, copyright law was initially developed to

The internet can embody both oral and written traditions

Oral Written (e.g. Archival Journals)

In science...

We have the written system down well

Now, we need to use the internet to develop a new "oral" system:

Consider a (motivated) information consumer

You have just been told you have a serious disease...

Trust develops in a context

This can be facilitated by a new "oral" tradition that involves commentary and feedback -- conversations

eBay has a very effective system for rating buyers and sellers.

Journal Publishers have provided trustworthy context

But they are far too expensive and slow. Online journals that understand the internet are gradually replacing them.

Recently, 40 editors of Machine Learning Journal resigned en-masse complaining about

The new way to publish...

The Los Alamos E-print archive live link (For more information, see the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.)

In summary, to use the internet most effectively...

we should build on its inherent attributes