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COMMUNET  April 1995, Week 4

COMMUNET April 1995, Week 4

Subject:

FINS of Apr 10

From:

Brent Wall <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Communet: Community and Civic Network Discussion List

Date:

Wed, 26 Apr 1995 09:05:01 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (47 lines)

Vigdor:
 
Bit late on couple of comments would like to make about the above
referenced item.  Couldn't get to it sooner as was tied down doing a
TIIAP grant.  In any event, here are some thoughts on some of the notions
you raised in the Apr 10 issue.
 
Some of us here have long thought that the fusion of infrastructure and
information content in the hands of one or a few companies will act to
smother freedom of expression, among other things.  Our view is that
government should own the electronic infrastructure just as it owns the
roads.  Then anyone could use the conduits.  Frankly, it is possible for
localities and states to issue revenue bonds to pay for the public
takeover of the electronic infrastructure.  Bonds could easily be paid
back from user fees.  We have run the numbers and they work.  What
doesn't seem to work is convincing politicians to take the step.
 
2.  The globalization of business and the concomitant reduction of most
values to economic value (price) is being felt here.  We have tried to
get local ISPs to put PEG info on their nets.  Silly us!  We thought they
would do it our of a spirit of public service.  Nope, seems that there is
no money in this type of virtue.  Imagine taking up disk space with
health care information that is not-for-profit (i.e, a low income health
clinic).  We fear that if the community network movement cannot solve the
problem of its long term financing, then PEG functions will go the way of
the Carrier pigeon.
 
3.  You claim that citizens in virtual space must learn to work and plan
together, else they will be swept aside by the golden fleece of
mercantilism.  The creation of self-supporting virtual communities, owned
by no one but themselves and controlled only by themselves, strikes fear
into the heart of the anal-retentives who cannot stand the thought of
having uncontrolled structures.  This notion of a loosely organized
anarchy of virtual communities brings Gramsci to mind.  He mused in the
twenties why did not the industrial west follow the Russian lead.  He
answered in part that workers were bought off by the material promises
made to them by the ruling class.  To combat this structuring of
consciousness, he suggested that the underclasses and, I would add for
that matter the middle classes today, create counterhegemonies where
values other than commodity fetishism could flourish.
 
I wonder if self-sufficient community networks that support PEGs, free
speech, etc. might be a modern model of a counterhegemony?  One large
flaw here is that if they do not own the infrastructure, it would be a
simple matter to censor and constrict the exchange of ideas within and
between these netizens.

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