World of Ends

Essay by outlawz_5683High School, 12th gradeB+, May 2004

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What the Internet Is and

How to Stop Mistaking It

for Something Else.

There are mistakes and there are mistakes.

Some mistakes we learn from. For example: Thinking that selling toys for pets on the Web is a great way to get rich. We're not going to do that again.

Other mistakes we insist on making over and over. For example, thinking that:

...the Web, like television, is a way to hold eyeballs still while advertisers spray them with messages.

...the Net is something that telcos and cable companies should filter, control and otherwise "improve."

... it's a bad thing for users to communicate between different kinds of instant messaging systems on the Net.

...the Net suffers from a lack of regulation to protect industries that feel threatened by it.

When it comes to the Net, a lot of us suffer from Repetitive Mistake Syndrome. This is especially true for magazine and newspaper publishing, broadcasting, cable television, the record industry, the movie industry, and the telephone industry, to name just six.

Thanks to the enormous influence of those industries in Washington, Repetitive Mistake Syndrome also afflicts lawmakers, regulators and even the courts. Last year Internet radio, a promising new industry that threatened to give listeners choices far exceeding anything on the increasingly variety-less (and technologically stone-age) AM and FM bands, was shot in its cradle. Guns, ammo and the occasional "Yee-Haw!" were provided by the recording industry and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which embodies all the fears felt by Hollywood's alpha dinosaurs when they lobbied the Act through Congress in 1998.

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it," John Gilmore famously said. And it's true. In the long run, Internet radio will succeed. Instant messaging systems will interoperate. Dumb companies will get smart or die. Stupid...