Lessig: The Internet is Dying

| May 28, 2003

The original Tower of Babel fell because the masses who built it thought they were wise enough to touch God. The Internet?our modern day Tower of Babel?could fall if we permit the elite to play God, reports Andrew Orlowski in the irreverent British tech webzine The Register. In a recent chatroom discussion, cyber visionary Lawrence Lessig expressed concern that the FCC?s deregulation of media outlets could lead to a few corporate conglomerates controlling Internet access and content. ?The Internet is dying,? Lessig wrote. ?When the content, [and] the physical [are] all [owned] by a handful of companies, [what] then?? When an interlocutor by the name of ?Dr. Pangloss? asks Lessig if unlicensed spectrum could ?guarantee our freedom,? Lessig answers that only a ?small chunk? of the spectrum will be released under the FCC?s proposal, and the rest will be sold ?to the same companies, no doubt.?

From Orlowski?s perspective, it?s not the Internet that?s dying, but rather the dream that the Information Highway will lead to ?universal liberation.? This notion of ?freedom,? he argues, has become a ?justification [for] information pollution.? As a result, spam has rendered email ?all but unusable,? becoming ?the biggest productivity drain? in corporate America. Furthermore, the cyber junk of a few ?webloggers and listmakers? has degraded search engines, creating ?the Web equivalent of TV static.?

Such greed and inconveniences have left Orlowski wondering if it?s even possible for the Internet to provide freedom ?as an end in itself.? And if so, freedom from what ?gluttonous corporate raiders restricting online access for profit? The newest email virus? Regardless of the concern, Orlowski agrees with Lessig on the bottom line: for the Internet to thrive, we must not permit the actions of a few to ruin the opportunity for the masses.
?Erin Ferdinand

Go there>>Internet is dying - Prof. Lessig

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