[governance] Cerfing the Web, or Serfing the Web?

Ginger Paque gpaque at gmail.com
Tue Jan 17 05:38:23 EST 2012


Hi everyone,

Aldo really needs no introduction, but may be a new 'character' for some of
you. At Diplo, Aldo is our "resident contrarian", tasked with challenging
dominant discourses, views and cliches. As the deputy secretary general of
EFTA he negotiated many trade agreements, but beyond his core expertise in
trade diplomacy, Aldo is a Renaissance person with a background and
interest in philosophy, literature and policy-making. His particular
strength is in in applying philosophical thinking to practical problems. On
his blog  http://deepdip.wordpress.com/author/aldomat/  you can find his
reflections on trade issues (WTO), financial crisis, climate change,
governance and diplomacy.

From the calmness of his home in Bern, shielded from today's frenetic
working tempo, Aldo regularly provides us with a "zoom out" view of our
fast-changing modern reality. I am sure that he will enrich discussions on
this list and in the IG community.

I have a hard time figuring out where I stand on some of these issues, so I
find reading the discussions to be both interesting and informative.

Thanks, everyone, and welcome, Aldo!
Cheers,
Ginger

Ginger (Virginia) Paque
Diplo Foundation
www.diplomacy.edu/ig
VirginiaP at diplomacy.edu

*Join the Diplo community IG discussions: www.diplointernetgovernance.org*




On 17 January 2012 03:46, Aldo Matteucci <aldo.matteucci at gmail.com> wrote:

> Paul,
>
> you made such an intellectual somersault from "access to the net as human
> right" to "Google wants to tell them what they should be doing next" - I
> have a hard time following.
>
> Google's vision is "to organize information on the net and make it
> accessible". It does it for free, hoping to satisfice the individual who
> searches, the advertiser, and its shareholders.
>
> There is nothing in this vision about controlling the access - just
> reshuffling the net information in way Google thinks is suitable to you.
> Their vision is a virtual avatar of "all the news fit to print" that
> graces the title side of the NYT.
>
> Google is the net version of the free-grab junk papers you get for free at
> railway and bus stations.
> These junk papers are destroying the staid daylies, by satisficing most
> people's demand for news. The content is "tits and bits"
> soudbites and soundtrites. 90% of social networking is gossip. "Noise"
> rather than information.
>
> Is there a "human right to the NYT"? I doubt it.
> Does Google's approach change society?
> You bet.
> What can we do about it?
> Certainly not by elitistically clamoring "human rights".
>
> In fact, it is a case of "just deserts"
> ever since Eve and Adam bit into the apple
> the news were "elite-driven"
> kings, battles, and big rites.
>  Now the masses, through their earning power and day-to-day decisions
> decide also for themselves what's "fit to be on top of a google search".
> you better get used to it.
>
> The political problem is "natural monopoly"
> as more people google
> google becomes the only game in town.
>
> Just as Windows DOS has exterminates alternatives
> probably with methods akin to those of JDRockefeller as he built up
> Standard Oil
>
> a "natural monopoly" might allow "natural populism" to emerge
> as people graze of newsbits, rather than spend energy on thinking.
>
> So what else is new?
> Most of our brain activities are unconscious, to save energy needed to
> decide...
> the world (not you and me maybe) may even think it's an improvement
>
> Aldo
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 17 January 2012 04:51, Paul Lehto <lehto.paul at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>>
>>      It would be odd for an evangelist of the Christian religion, or any
>> other religion, to argue that people had no right of access to the
>> "Technology" of the Christian religion - the book known as the Bible.  But
>> Vinton G. Cerf, official "chief Internet evangelist" for Google, Inc.,
>> strangely argued an analogous proposition:  That people have "no right to
>> access the Internet" Mr. Cerf is paid to evangelise for by Google, Inc.
>> Calling the Internet a mere tool or technology that enables "real" rights
>> such as free speech, Mr. Cerf apparently considers anyone denied the
>> Internet by arbitrary government action, for example, to have been deprived
>> of nothing they have a right to access.  Would a religious "evangelist"
>> take the same attitude about accessing the Bible, and think that the right
>> to freedom of religion did NOT encompass a right to access the Bible in
>> either print or electronic form?
>>
>>      I find Mr. Cerf's argument to be, frankly, nonsensical.  At the same
>> time, I can readily understand it as a coherent statement of Google's
>> business position on the future of the Internet when Cerf's statements are
>> considered side by side with Google CEO Eric Schmidt's famous statements to
>> the Wall Street Journal in 2010 comparing Google's classic search engine
>> business with its newer Android-based strategy, focused on giving Android
>> away to cell phone companies for free, because of the extremely lucrative
>> market thus made available to Google to sell targeted ads to cell phone
>> users:
>>
>>
>>
>> "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their
>>> questions," he elaborates. "*They want Google to tell them what they
>>> should be doing next."*
>>>
>>> Let's say you're walking down the street. Because of the info Google has
>>> collected about you, "we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care
>>> about, roughly who your friends are." [And, thanks to Android GPS
>>> capabilities, they know where you are, within a tolerance of about one
>>> foot, if you carry an Android "smart"phone.]
>>>
>>>
>>> Google's business vision for the future of the Internet is reasonably
>> clear:  They already have extremely detailed data on each user, and they
>> want to use all of that data to push ads in front of users allegedly
>> targeted to what Google "already knows" they want, and sell many "heads
>> ups" to local restaurants and other "opportunities" in the physical
>> vicinity of wherever the Android user may happen to be.
>>
>> If the above idea is even close to being correct (and it makes sense of
>> Schmidt's bold claim that we "want Google to tell [us] what [to do] next")
>> then we can understand why Google, via their official public face and
>> Internet evangelist Vinton G. Cerf, would try to evangelize against
>> Internet access rights in the January 4, 2012 New York Times:  *Any such
>> "right to access" the Internet is clearly a potential interference with
>> Google's business plan to reconfigure the Internet based on what it thinks
>> we want from the Internet*, in Google's sole discretion, based on the
>> voluminous data Google routinely collects on users.
>>
>> You and I may prefer to make our own discoveries on the Internet, and do
>> our own searches.  But Google, quite literally, thinks it knows better than
>> we do, and even goes so far as to claim that it's what we really want from
>> Google, in the end:  for Google to tell us all what to do.
>>
>> Many people object to Google's idea with fervor, and would much prefer to
>> tell Google *where to go*, than to have Google tell them what to do.
>>
>> But imagine an aggressive, ad-selling, data-shaping future google that is
>> choosing so much data for us and putting it in front of our faces that it
>> can be said that the "Internet" as we now know it is no longer accessible
>> to us, only an edited and targeted shadow of the Internet chosen by Google
>> is accessible to us, as a practical matter, on our devices.   This is not
>> too hard to imagine at all, since most of it is already here.  Such a
>> "personalized" Internet is but a shadow, albeit an arguably personalized
>> and targeted shadow, of the Internet we know today.  Perhaps (and this is
>> only a maybe) we could still get to the "full Internet" if we are committed
>> to doing so and know what we are doing, but to do so we will have to wade
>> past Google's paternalistic suggestions for what we should be doing next,
>> and past Google's conclusion that people no longer want "Google to provide
>> them with information, they want google to tell them what to do."
>>
>>
>>
>> Clearly, a right to access the Internet is in tension with, if not in
>> conflict with, Google's business vision for the future of the Internet.
>> Mr. Cerf's many notable achievements related to the Internet aside, he
>> indisputably owes a duty of loyalty to his employer, Google, and in this
>> particular context, Mr. Cerf is not speaking as a true evangelist for the
>> Internet, he is speaking out of loyalty to the forthcoming business vision
>> and profitability of his employer, Google Inc.
>>
>> Perhaps Google's increasingly paternalistic vision of Internet users, in
>> which they decide for us what we should do next, and presume that we don't
>> really want Google to simply provide information at our choosing, will one
>> day give new meaning to the phrase Cerfing the Net, which perhaps will be
>> spelled Serfing the Net, in honor of Vinton G. Cerf's feudalistic
>> exposition on their new internet reality in which one's rights of access to
>> the Internet are predetermined, as in feudal days, by the land (or
>> operating system) one is born on or born into.
>>
>>
>> The masters of the universe at Google are indeed on the very precipice of
>> being the Lords of the Internet, not evangelists of the Internet.  Lords do
>> not simply answer searching questions, Lords tell us what we should be
>> doing next.  Evangelists hope and pray that ALL will access the Internet or
>> the Bible, but by saying there is no right of access to the Internet, Mr.
>> Serf is made himself and fellow executives at Google our Lords, and
>> abandoned his post as Chief evangelist of the Internet, at Google.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Paul R Lehto, J.D.
>> P.O. Box 1
>> Ishpeming, MI  49849
>> lehto.paul at gmail.com
>> 906-204-4026 (cell)
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
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>
>
> --
> Aldo Matteucci
> 65, Pourtal├Ęsstr.
> CH 3074 MURI b. Bern
> Switzerland
> aldo.matteucci at gmail.com
>
>
>
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