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On Wed, 5 Jul 1995, Daniel D. Todd wrote:
 
....
> Vigdor,
>
> Many ISP's (especialy Community Networks) are both publishers and common
> carriers.  It is in the publishing arena in which we differentiate
> ourselves from most large ISP's such as NetCom, BBN, WilTel, PSI, etc.
> There are some very large providers such as Compuserve, Prodigy and AoL
> which are both ISP's and publishers. I don't agree with your statement
> that "the only function they properly have..."  I do feel that the
> publishing and common carrier aspects of the services should be more
> accurately defined.
>
> I am not sure where your aversion to strongly directed discussion is
> rooted.  I have been part of BBS's which had very specific topics (Amateur
> Radio and Avaiation) and I have been very thankful on the rare occasions
> when the moderators have stepped in to stop "off topic" discussions.
 
  I have no problem with the legitimate function of maintaining discussion
on topic.  Nevertheless, in the several years that I have participated in
discussion lists on the Net it has been my experience that moderators far
too often use this function to narrowly censor political speech they don't
favor. Rarely, is the issue one of topical focus.
 
>
> We do not need a "disciplined methodology to assure free and fair
> discussion" in most cases.  Certainly where the government is footing
> part of the bill, as is the case in most Community Networks, this is a
> concern.  Where the ISP is a private business they have the right to do
> as they wish with their resources.
>
> The reason for treating the two ISP types diferently is that one is
> subject to the market and the other is not.  When the government pays
> your bills the only reason you are responsive to your users or their
> needs is some form of altruism (if you believe such a thing exists) or
> perhaps your desires are such that they coincide with the needs of your
> users.  Since this model doen't work terribly well the government must
> regulate entities to which it gives away money.  The government, in
> essence, becomes your market. They pay so they get to choose how the money
> is spent and they get to create or endorse a "disciplined methodology to
> assure free and fair discussion" if they see fit.
 
  This is a strange way to analyze public goods.  One of the most powerful
human motivations is to be engaged in some profound way in the shaping of
society.  This is the source of enlightened good will, public service, non
profit enterprise, and voluntary associations that are essential to the
democratic mission and the delivery of public goods.  Marketplace
mechanisms have nothing to do with this.  It is only when individuals and
organizations wish to use public property for commerical purposes that
regulation is required.  Commercial entities that are focused not on
serving the public good but on maximizing private profit destroy the innate
human motivation that is ordinarily at work.
 
  A separate issue is the need for "disciplined mthodologies to assure
free and fair discussion."  Again, this has nothing to do with government
regulation of commercial conduct.  The methodologies that I speak of are
voluntary methodologies that one may use to enlarge the quality of
discussion beyond the free-for-all that normaly prevails in this place.
 
>
> The business whose bills are not being paid by the government should have
> no such constraint.  This business must respond to the needs of its
> cients directly. If it doesn't, their clients can vote with their
> pocketbooks and force the ISP out of business.  There is no need for a
> "disciplined methodology to assure free and fair discussion" coming from
> a centralized government because the company is forced to meet the
> demands of its clients or go out of business.
 
  Conduct of "centralized government" has nothing to do with methodologies
that are employed on a voluntary basis to improve the quality of
discussion.  The latter is a concern to all providers and users, in an age
of communications that is interactive.
 
Vigdor Schreibman - FINS <[log in to unmask]>