[Humanist] 25.900 battle for the Internet

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Apr 19 07:16:32 CEST 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 900.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 17:42:23 +0200
        From: maurizio lana <maurizio.lana at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.897 battle for the Internet
        In-Reply-To: <20120418045318.B2BEC280DBC at woodward.joyent.us>

On 2012 Apr 17, at 05:40, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>> Many here will, I suspect, be interested in the (British) Guardian's
>> investigation into the several attempts to control the Internet: "Battle
>> for the internet", at
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/series/battle-for-the-internet.
>> Does anyone here understand how control of the Internet, as is
>> practiced or planned, is done? I was under the impression that the
>> decentralised design made such control difficult to impossible. Clearly
>> it isn't.

I would like to add another layer, to the technical one already clearly 
explained by Norman Gray, Gary Shawver and Michael Burden.

_The first question is_: are we truly willing to free ourselves from 
Internet control? are we ready to do what's needed?

Ai Weiwei, in the Guardian article "China's censorship can never defeat 
the internet" of April 16 2012 
says «The internet is uncontrollable. And if the internet is 
uncontrollable, freedom will win. It's as simple as that.»

This optimistic position towards the salvific power of Internet is what 
Evegenyi Morozov would probably call "cyber-utopism". And really I think 
this is a form of utopism because contrary to what one could think, 
according to the studies done by Berkman Center for Internet and 
Society, of Harvard University, /only 1% of the people who are victims 
of censorship adopt tools which allow to bypass it/. The problem is not 
a technical one: people can bypass censorship. It's an anthropological 
one: they don't feel the need to bypass it.

In her recent book "I nuovi demoni" (http://www.amazon.it/nuovi-demoni-Ripensare-potere-sapere/dp/8807104784) 
my colleague Simona Forti says that what's needed to free the people is 
to broken «the circularity between the need of power by the subject, and 
the the need by the power of that need by the subject».

But do people want to broke that circle? People, not a group of activists.
By the way: here in Italy, the national newspaper "la Repubblica" 
published some days ago (April 11 2012) an article about "the dark web" 
which described Tor - which we all know is a tool for anonimizing your 
Internet moves - as the main tool of those navigating the dark web. That 
is: if you try to stay anonynmous/uncontrolled then you are a cybercriminal.

_The second question is_: do people understand which is the true meaning 
of delivering their lives to one of the many services asking for it, 
even if in fragments or pieces?

The 'powers' - governmental, private/corporate - could discover that it 
is not necessary to put down people who don't object; or who do it in 
predictable and harmless ways /because they already delivered themselves 
and their lives/.

I think that we must be worried for an Internet which is going to be 
less free and more controlled - SOPA and PIPA and their siblings all 
over the world are more about control than about enforcing piracy; but 
much more important is to be, and to grow, women and men capable of 
recognizing the value of freedom and ready to fight for it even in the 
digital world.


dobbiamo provarci, anche noi. è questo il progresso. a forza di tentare, forse alla fine avremo gli organi necessari, per esempio l'organo della dignità, o quello della fraternità...
r. gary, le radici del cielo
il mio corso di informatica umanistica:
Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
Università del Piemonte Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
via Manzoni 8, 13100 Vercelli - tel. +39 347 7370925

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