Copyright Rosie Cross 94 +
transcript of "surfing the internet":
as follows....

Surfing the Internet

aired April 3, 94
Radio Eye, Sunday Night on Radio National
Produced and written by Rosie Cross,
McKenize Wark.
rx1@sydgate.apana.org.au
mwark@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au


Transcription..
Bruce Sterling:
Now I'm pulling down, I'm getting off my internet uplink-- alright, garbage characters, no carrier, OK!!!
Elise Mathieson:
I usually log on and check my mail, so I am working in Minesota and take my coffee breaks in California.
Lead/Ken Wark:
Every morning I turn on my computer and log on to the Internet, usually I just check my electronic mail but sometimes if I feel like it I go surfing in all the weird and wonderful data thats out there, being passed around the thousands of computers that the Internet joins together --- all around the world.
Bruce Sterling:
It's very difficult to get your bearings in the world of cyberspace it really is a place of fun house mirrors.

It was rough today (Elise) Your telling me (Ken)

Ken Wark:/Script
The Internet is a way of getting information on just about anything! If you wanna find out something on particle physics or something about trout fishing---its out there--and with about half a days training you can go out there and find it for yourself. Or you can just surf, you can paddle about in pools of data looking for the next wave in cool information.
Bruce Sterling:
People are always asking me. Gee, Mr Sterling whats this cyberpunk thing all about. Now I can tell them look get on the gopher at pic.com ok, they got a mega byte of stuff there, you read that, if you don't know what cyberpunk is after that YOU'RE BRAIN DEAD OK.!! Tell them to turn off the oxygen
Ken Wark:/Script
Another neat thing about the Internet is that it connects you with an amazing amount of cool people, whether your interested in the temple dancing of Southern India, or the science of super computing or S&M sex you can find people on the Internet who are into such things too.
Elise Mathieson:
There's so much information out there its like walking into Ali Baba's treasure cave. You know there's treasure chests of jewels and diamonds lying all over the floor, and you don't even know which one to open first.
Robert David Steele:
You know there's an information war going on in Asia, and Japan is to the North, Australia is to the South and Lee Kwan U (sp) is sitting in Sigapore laughing his head off.
Ken Wark:/Script
Once you've been surfing for awhile, you meet the people who's Silicon Beach it is. Here are some of the voices from the endless wav in love over the Internet without ever seeing anyone's faces.
John Perry Barlow:
Cyberspace has really been with us ever since Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Watson had a meeting back there in 1876.
Ken Wark:Script/Intro
To begin with what does it feel like to be out there surfing on the internet.
Elise Mathieson:
Well one of the things that works well for me is specific to my situation. I'm hearing impaired and its something that's been happening to me as an adult, that seems to be getting worse. I wear a hearing aid but when I'm on the Internet everything is in print and I hear print just fine, its not a problem. I've always been a big reader and I really like having all the words on the screen, I don't miss anything in the conversation, I can talk to anybody in a conversation or 1 to 1 and I'm not disadvantaged---which is a little different from daily life.
Ken Wark:
Elise Mathieson likes to hang out in places called Muses.
Elise Mathieson:
Well its really hard to explain, its like living in a story book. You log on and your a character in a story, and you walk around and talk to other people who are logged on from other places, who are characters in a story, and one of the neat things there was that I happened to run into a bunch of other people who were deaf. One was a young woman from England, about 14, who had just found a muse and it was really neat cos we spent sometime chatting about what it was like for us. I'm 33 and my hearing impairment has come in my adult life and it was neat talking to somebody who had a different experience in a different place. And yet we met in this electronic fantasy world that comes out of a machine at MIT in Boston....it's funny, there was a cartoon over here in the New Yorker that has 2 dogs sitting at a keyboard. 1 of the dogs says to the other, 'its great on the Internet; nobody knows you're a dog'.
Ken Wark:
With all these people and dogs hanging out on the Internet board walk communicating for the most part in pure written text do they ever come together as a community or is it just a bunch of random atoms colliding with each other.
John Perry Barlow:
Community really arises to a large extent in response to shared adversity, you know. Unless you count unix as shared adversity (laughs) which I certainly do but it ain't no Amish barn raising in there, not yet. It seems like you have a lot of the things that go in a small town, a lot of those things are purely imaginery. So much depends on inter- relatedness based on necessity in a small town-- you need each other. In Cybersapce you don't really need each other, its not like a life or death matter, and there aren't real good ways to communicate emotional information or cultural information. There are just a lot of things that are missing at the moment and its gunna take awhile for them to emerge.
Elise Mathieson:
I have a bunch of friends who call themselves netcruisers they roam around and they find neat things and tell other people about them.
Ken Wark:/Script
You can dip into the Internet to play or some people go there to work. Some people don't know there's much of a difference between work and play on the Internet when what you do with your life is live and breath information. Here's Cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling...
Bruce Sterling:
Most days I do very little. I get up and take my kid to the local scholastic gulag, and I read the tonnage of specialized magazines that show up in the house---security management, interactive entertainment design, nature, science, various other weird meterological stuff---maybe I mosey down to the university and pick out a few odd 19th century tomes, then I go hang out at the local cool bookstore and see if any bizarre postmodernist tattoo mags have arrived. Then I'll come home and log on to my Internet account and deal with the megabyte of fan mail, various electronic publications I get every week and if I see something that's really interesting, I generally cut and paste it out and fax/modem it to 20/30 other people---just sort of keeping them up to date. Then I'll go in and hang out with the usual magazine publishers on the WELL. The boing-boing conference. The Whole Earth Review conference. I'm pretty personally tied with these people now and it's like a giant electronic Bay Area Coffee Shop, we're all sitting there busily trading ideas and puffing one another basically. Then I'll come and log off and try and save some of my mail and deal with it and throw the rest in the trash and try not to be crushed under my toppling heap of data here. And then possibly I might write something.
Ken Wark:/Script
Aust, author Dale Spender also finds she spends much of her time on the Internet, and its changed the way she feels about being a writer.
Dale Spender:
Whereas I used to get into bed at night about eleven o'clock and read books, what I tend to do now is about half past ten-eleven o'clock I go turn on my computer and get on the nets. I've got one particular friend with whom I'm editing an International Data Base and because we send each other E-mail messages, just about every night, I never feel as though I have lost contact. And its this sort of fun thing that replaces my reading books and browsing through stacks in libraries, and its a real intellectual smorgasboard. Particularly for people who have been about information quests and information production, suddenly seeing on the women's studies conference and women's studies bulletin board that there are 46 new messages/items.

And am I going to be let myself go into them and find out whats there or am I going to be disciplined and just do my 37 new E-mail messages, and go through some of those. But its this sense that there---sitting there in my study is access to the information of the world.

Ken Wark:
But will the Internet ever become a mass medium or will it remain the private beach of an expanding but elite information class?
Bruce Sterling:
I wanna be able to see things I have no business seeing and sort of think about them. I don't want my life or thoughts to be regimented. I'm a person with a very hungry imagination and my imagination needs constant feeding, from the least likely sources. And you find those sources on the Internet and when I can help other people find them, its not only in my personal interest but in a funny way my class interest.There are lots of people like me actually, if you go out and look around at the number of people who are earning their livings in the U.S just by sitting in front of their computer terminals all day. There's something like 12 million of us, and we are self employed,. we don't work for IBM or anything else.

These group of people as a group are not very group aware but I think they are going to become that way. Especially more so as the old industrial structures of life time employment and so forth dies out.

Dale Spender:
Information is the wealth generator of the future, its as important to think about what we are setting up here as it was to think about the factory system that was set up in Britain last century---at the moment its very clear that we are creating haves and have nots on a grand scale---and I think we have to see its a form of insider trading that people who know things are able to use it to gain wealth-- and people who don't are going to be completely locked out of the discourse of our society. A lot of Americans have said to me by the year 2000 everybody will be connected anyway. And I say 14 million homeless, and they say oh no not them!!
Ken Wark:
One hears a lot perhaps too much about hackers who illegally use computer networks including the Internet but perhaps we have just as much to worry about from the authorities who police it.
Bruce Sterling:
The computer police up to now have been a bit quick on the draw, at least in the U.S. But you have to draw the line between what is possible and what has actually occurred. Now if you think about what could be done by acts of computer intrusion, yeah the potential is truly frightening. There are possibilities for Digital Chernobyls on a global scale.
Ken Wark:
On the other hand the Internet has certain design features that make it rather difficult to centrally control.
John Perry Barlow:
In the case of the Internet, who is the service provider who you can go to to tap an Internet connection, and the answer is you can't because you know when I send a packet out of my computer towards yours, it could go anyone of a gizillion different ways to get there and it would probably take a different route than the next packet out. I think this technology definitely has politics and they are anarchistic in nature. But, by the same token life in the digital world makes it very easy for gov'ts to monitor you because everytime you make any kind of financial transaction you smear your finger prints all over cyberspace and if you fling out a wide enough net (you know) and just go through a very massive search of all digital data thats flowing around in the data cloud you can start to assemble simulacra of people---in their commercial and personal dealings.
Elise Mathieson:
It's great on the Internet. Nobody knows your a dog
Amy Bruckman:
The Internet is growing at a tremendous rate and this raises some interesting issues for how this space with so many people in it is going to be managed. Is it simply the person who controls the resources, controls the computer or controls the transmission medium---controls the content--- or do people have certain rights and I think the kinds of decisions we make now will have tremendous long term implications for the future of a medium which is increasingly going to become part of our daily lives.
Ken Wark:/Script
The Internet is a wonderfully anarchic form of communication where a lot of the rules are made by consensus between parties who are there. But sometimes its hard to agree on what are acceptable ways of being on the Internet and what are not.
Dale Spender:
I've heard the word Netiquette used again and again.
Elise Mathieson:
Since it's a written communication it's simultaneously more distant and more intimate then face to face.
Anna Couey:
How you get to know somebody is by what they say and that cuts across a lot of social and economic barriers.
Libby Reid:
People who seem to be female on things like IRC and other network programs are often given a lof of attention, and that can be quite enjoyable for some people, for others it can create quite a problem. That comes into the realms of sexual harrassment; the other thing is for a lot of people to get attention or sometimes to just find out what its like to be on the other side, pretend to be a gender that they are not.
Anna Couey:
One of the things with harassment on-line is that I think its exacerbated in an on-line environment, than it is in the physical environment and I'm not sure part of that has to do with the ratio of men to women on-line, but also again I think it gets back to that disembodiment---because in a way your freer to interact with people than you would on the street. People are not likely to walk up to you on the street and say do you wanna talk dirty?? When they are on-line, the preliminaries are kinda cut out.
Ken Wark:
So who gets access to this imperfect but functional communications anarchy?
Geoff Huston:
Our future right now is that of a public information utility, that increasingly the asset of the network is the information resources that populate it, so in some ways what we are is a massive computerized information resource for this country. As well as that I suppose there is a valuable role within the research domain itself these days --research is a collaborative effort---and increasingly big business. Particularly when you look at the hard sciences these days, a large amount of experimentation is never performed physically, we try to model reality as closely as possible on super computing resources, and ship the results of that model or that experiment back to the researcher involved.

So communications networks allows a researcher in say Adelaide to utilize computing and communications facilties in Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Boston, Paris and in London.

Dale Spender:
And there certainly were haves and have nots when it came to print which is one of the reasons we got State Libraries. When it was recognised that not everybody could purchase books---the State had an obligation to provide people with that sort of information. And maybe thats a role that State libraries should take on in the electronic era, that they have to provide 500 public computer terminals. We can talk about the issue of the fact that we are going to become consumers of white male californian culture in a very short space of time.
Ken Wark:/Script
But can the Internet ever be a mass medium? How many surfers really wanna paddle into the digital sunset? Is it all California Dreamin'?
Bruce Sterling:
I think its absurd to think that everybody on the planet is going to want to do the sort of things that are done on the Internet. I mean everybody on the planet probably does want to watch TV. Even people in Tibet like to watch Madonna, I don't understand why that is---but its true. So I don't think your average Yak herder with a satellite dish is really gonna wanna sit down and punch their deck all day. I think that there will likely be entertainment media that uses some of the same packet switching technology---but I think there is also likely to be a kind of International research and eductaional network that's used basically for scholastic activity and I think that's gonna be the Internet. And I don't think thats going to be owned by Ted Turner, or have a board of directors or president. I think the Internet will remain as a common good.
Dale Spender:
With print there was a creation of a mass reading public and some people have referred to it as the democratization of reading, that up until books, we had only a few people in society who could read. They generally did so from the pulpit and it was called reading the lesson for the week. Then suddenly there's print, there are books, and everybody gets to learn to read---what we have to realize is that everybody is going to get the chance to become an author in a way the computer heralds the deomcratization of authorship and once everybody can do it, once there's no distinct individual effort what does copyright mean anyway?
Ken Wark:
Or will the Internet perhaps have other uses?? Robert David Steele is a civilian intelligence officer with the U.S Marine Intelligence Service..
Robert David Steele:
My Colonel, the Director of the Marine Corps Intelligence Centre, and I the Senior Civilian, spent 10Mill$ on a classified information handling system only to turn it on and find out that the CIA databases on the 3rd world were empty. And at that point I went looking for and discovered open sources. What we are finding is that the various pipelines---the secrecy compartments are counterproductive. The Internet is breaking down the barriers in the information continuum in the U.S. I talk about how we have an information continuum, that is a virtual intelligence community; except that each sector K3.12, the universities, libraries, business, media, the private investigators and so on. There is an iron curtain between each sector---there is a bamboo curtain between each institution and each sector---and there is a plastic curtain between each individual and each sector. And what the Internet does is blows holes through those curtains.

There are a number of people in universities, researchers and think tanks, business and newspapers, etc. who have absolutely 1st class information, and I include foreign gov'ts. For instance the Australian gov't has absolutely 1st class information about Papua New Guinea, a place where marines might have to go one day.

It makes a lot of sense to me for us to xchange information with Australia or indeed Papua New Guinea-- about what we call encyclopedic intelligence---the ports, the air fields, just basic unclassified stuff. It's in the strategic interest of every country to harness its information contiuum, and the Internet is an absolutely vital element of that National strategy.

Bruce Sterling:
Computer communications has turned out to be a far more social influential thing than the space program ever was.
Ken Wark:
On a more mundane level are the polices we have in Australia for the development of the Internet adequate? Are we keeping up with our rivals for the Clever Country tag?
Geoff Huston:
Back in around 1987/88 the need for a specialist data communications network was evident to the sector. What we were seeing is that our investment in computing was quite extensive. But when we looked overseas what we saw was not only were similar investments being made but they were being productively linked together with data networks. At that stage the U.S APAR/Internet was well under way, providing amazing connectivity amongst the university and research community in the U.S. When we look here in Australia we spent some time trying to find if there was a publically available facility that we could use that could provide similar functionality both domestically within Australia and also to link us with those computing and communication projects going on overseas. What we found was that plainly and simply there was nothing in the public domain. So after some soul searching the only answer came through, that if we really wanted this facility, then as universities we had to work together and build it ourselves from the bottom up.
Dale Spender:
There's a slogan about us being a clever country and we'll export intellectual resources but made by some people who have absolutely no idea and knowledge of the way in which the culture is changing, as we even speak.
Geoff Huston:
Today AARNET connects together some 105,000 computers in Australians. If you contrast that and include our population of some 17.6 million people, if you compare that to the U.K., the current academic and research network there---Janet---links together about 106,000 comps and Germany 110,000 comps, Japan 47,000...so in some respects we have been far more successful than other countries in terms of hooking vast numbers of individuals together---so from that metric over the last 3yrs we have done astonishingly well. The other kind of metric is how well do we service this community, what kind of bandwidth can we provide them that actually ships volumes of data around quickly and efficiently and in that metric I don't think we are doingas well.
Robert David Steele:
Part of the problem and I had a long talk with Vince Surf about this, President of the Internet Society when we were out at a Internet Conference in San Fransisco, a few months back. Vince is a man that I greatly admire, he and Bob Kahn(sp??) are in many ways fathers of the Internet throught the Arpanet. And unfortuanely they are so beholden to their original concept of their baby they are not willing to consider applications or content as new directions, for Internet management. And so right now the whole focus of the Internet society and its magnificant working group is on increasing the size of the pipe.

Unfortunately, all that really does is contribute to the amountof noise that can flow. One of the things I've been working on in support of the Vice Presidents NII is to put a content element into Al Gore's connectivity program. I mean right now God Bless him, Al Gore is all connectivity and no content.

There is no National knowledge strategy in the U.S.

Bruce Sterling:
Al Gore the American Vice President is a cyberpunk---I found that truly hilarious!!
Ken Wark:
For some people the Internet is as much about spirit as it is politics.
John Perry Barlow:
The EFF was started because Mitch Kapor (who wrote Lotus 1.2.3) and I realized that people were moving into this environment at a very rapid rate. Like all new frontier areas the prevailing codes of ethics and law and social interaction and property management were not worked out-- and the gov't was behaving as though all the rules that had worked perfectly well for the physical world were going to work for the virtual world.

We wanted to see the gov't stay the hell out til something like a social contract had been developed. Most of the current inhabitants of the net are people who have very little awareness or interest in the type of hippy mysticism I bring to bear---its mostly computer jocks at this point. Its seems kinda obvious to me that if you're in a place where there's no physical substance, where its all immateriality---that you can't miss the relationship to that place that people have always been trying to go--- which is composed entirely of spirit and mind. Cos thats what its all about---now is the flesh become word..

Ken Wark:
WE NO LONGER HAVE ORIGINS WE HAVE TERMINALS.
end

Copyright Wark & Cross 1994.


Return to the Alternative-X home page. Surfing the Internet Copyright Rosie Cross 94 +
transcript of "surfing the internet":
as follows....

Surfing the Internet

aired April 3, 94
Radio Eye, Sunday Night on Radio National
Produced and written by Rosie Cross,
McKenize Wark.
rx1@sydgate.apana.org.au
mwark@laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au


Transcription..
Bruce Sterling:
Now I'm pulling down, I'm getting off my internet uplink-- alright, garbage characters, no carrier, OK!!!
Elise Mathieson:
I usually log on and check my mail, so I am working in Minesota and take my coffee breaks in California.
Lead/Ken Wark:
Every morning I turn on my computer and log on to the Internet, usually I just check my electronic mail but sometimes if I feel like it I go surfing in all the weird and wonderful data thats out there, being passed around the thousands of computers that the Internet joins together --- all around the world.
Bruce Sterling:
It's very difficult to get your bearings in the world of cyberspace it really is a place of fun house mirrors.

It was rough today (Elise) Your telling me (Ken)

Ken Wark:/Script
The Internet is a way of getting information on just about anything! If you wanna find out something on particle physics or something about trout fishing---its out there--and with about half a days training you can go out there and find it for yourself. Or you can just surf, you can paddle about in pools of data looking for the next wave in cool information.
Bruce Sterling:
People are always asking me. Gee, Mr Sterling whats this cyberpunk thing all about. Now I can tell them look get on the gopher at pic.com ok, they got a mega byte of stuff there, you read that, if you don't know what cyberpunk is after that YOU'RE BRAIN DEAD OK.!! Tell them to turn off the oxygen
Ken Wark:/Script
Another neat thing about the Internet is that it connects you with an amazing amount of cool people, whether your interested in the temple dancing of Southern India, or the science of super computing or S&M sex you can find people on the Internet who are into such things too.
Elise Mathieson:
There's so much information out there its like walking into Ali Baba's treasure cave. You know there's treasure chests of jewels and diamonds lying all over the floor, and you don't even know which one to open first.
Robert David Steele:
You know there's an information war going on in Asia, and Japan is to the North, Australia is to the South and Lee Kwan U (sp) is sitting in Sigapore laughing his head off.
Ken Wark:/Script
Once you've been surfing for awhile, you meet the people who's Silicon Beach it is. Here are some of the voices from the endless wave of the Internet.
Elise Mathieson:
I have known people to fall in love over the Internet without ever seeing anyone's faces.
John Perry Barlow:
Cyberspace has really been with us ever since Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Watson had a meeting back there in 1876.
Ken Wark:Script/Intro
To begin with what does it feel like to be out there surfing on the internet.
Elise Mathieson:
Well one of the things that works well for me is specific to my situation. I'm hearing impaired and its something that's been happening to me as an adult, that seems to be getting worse. I wear a hearing aid but when I'm on the Internet everything is in print and I hear print just fine, its not a problem. I've always been a big reader and I really like having all the words on the screen, I don't miss anything in the conversation, I can talk to anybody in a conversation or 1 to 1 and I'm not disadvantaged---which is a little different from daily life.
Ken Wark:
Elise Mathieson likes to hang out in places called Muses.
Elise Mathieson:
Well its really hard to explain, its like living in a story book. You log on and your a character in a story, and you walk around and talk to other people who are logged on from other places, who are characters in a story, and one of the neat things there was that I happened to run into a bunch of other people who were deaf. One was a young woman from England, about 14, who had just found a muse and it was really neat cos we spent sometime chatting about what it was like for us. I'm 33 and my hearing impairment has come in my adult life and it was neat talking to somebody who had a different experience in a different place. And yet we met in this electronic fantasy world that comes out of a machine at MIT in Boston....it's funny, there was a cartoon over here in the New Yorker that has 2 dogs sitting at a keyboard. 1 of the dogs says to the other, 'its great on the Internet; nobody knows you're a dog'.
Ken Wark:
With all these people and dogs hanging out on the Internet board walk communicating for the most part in pure written text do they ever come together as a community or is it just a bunch of random atoms colliding with each other.
John Perry Barlow:
Community really arises to a large extent in response to shared adversity, you know. Unless you count unix as shared adversity (laughs) which I certainly do but it ain't no Amish barn raising in there, not yet. It seems like you have a lot of the things that go in a small town, a lot of those things are purely imaginery. So much depends on inter- relatedness based on necessity in a small town-- you need each other. In Cybersapce you don't really need each other, its not like a life or death matter, and there aren't real good ways to communicate emotional information or cultural information. There are just a lot of things that are missing at the moment and its gunna take awhile for the about them.
Ken Wark:/Script
You can dip into the Internet to play or some people go there to work. Some people don't know there's much of a difference between work and play on the Internet when what you do with your life is live and breath information. Here's Cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling...
Bruce Sterling:
Most days I do very little. I get up and take my kid to the local scholastic gulag, and I read the tonnage of specialized magazines that show up in the house---security management, interactive entertainment design, nature, science, various other weird meterological stuff---maybe I mosey down to the university and pick out a few odd 19th century tomes, then I go hang out at the local cool bookstore and see if any bizarre postmodernist tattoo mags have arrived. Then I'll come home and log on to my Internet account and deal with the megabyte of fan mail, various electronic publications I get every week and if I see something that's really interesting, I generally cut and paste it out and fax/modem it to 20/30 other people---just sort of keeping them up to date. Then I'll go in and hang out with the usual magazine publishers on the WELL. The boing-boing conference. The Whole Earth Review conference. I'm pretty personally tied with these people now and it's like a giant electronic Bay Area Coffee Shop, we're all sitting there busily trading ideas and puffing one another basically. Then I'll come and log off and try and save some of my mail and deal with it and throw the rest in the trash and try not to be crushed under my toppling heap of data here. And then possibly I might write something.
Ken Wark:/Script
Aust, author Dale Spender also finds she spends much of her time on the Internet, and its changed the way she feels about being a writer.
Dale Spender:
Whereas I used to get into bed at night about eleven o'clock and read books, what I tend to do now is about half past ten-eleven o'clock I go turn on my computer and get on the nets. I've got one particular friend with whom I'm editing an International Data Base and because we send each other E-mail messages, just about every night, I never feel as though I have lost contact. And its this sort of fun thing that replaces my reading books and browsing through stacks in libraries, and its a real intellectual smorgasboard. Particularly for people who have been about information quests and information production, suddenly seeing on the women's studies conference and women's studies bulletin board that there are 46 new messages/items.

And am I going to be let myself go into them and find out whats there or am I going to be disciplined and just do my 37 new E-mail messages, and go through some of those. But its this sense that there---sitting there in my study is access to the information of the world.

Ken Wark:
But will the Internet ever become a mass medium or will it remain the private beach of an expanding but elite information class?
Bruce Sterling:
I wanna be able to see things I have no business seeing and sort of think about them. I don't want my life or thoughts to be regimented. I'm a person with a very hungry imagination and my imagination needs constant feeding, from the least likely sources. And you find those sources on the Internet and when I can help other people find them, its not only in my personal interest but in a funny way my class interest.There are lots of people like me actually, if you go out and look around at the number of people who are earning their livings in the U.S just by sitting in front of their computer terminals all day. There's something like 12 million of us, and we are self employed,. we don't work for IBM or anything else.

These group of people as a group are not very group aware but I think they are going to become that way. Especially more so as the old industrial structures of life time employment and so forth dies out.

Dale Spender:
Information is the wealth generator of the future, its as important to think about what we are setting up here as it was to think about the factory system that was set up in Britain last century---at the moment its very clear that we are creating haves and have nots on a grand scale---and I think we have to see its a form of insider trading that people who know things are able to use it to gain wealth-- and people who don't are going to be completely locked out of the discourse of our society. A lot of Americans have said to me by the year 2000 everybody will be connected anyway. And I say 14 million homeless, and they say oh no not them!!
Ken Wark:
One hears a lot perhaps too much about hackers who illegally use computer networks including the Internet but perhaps we have just as much to worry about from the authorities who police it.
Bruce Sterling:
The computer police up to now have been a bit quick on the draw, at least in the U.S. But you have to draw the line between what is possible and what has actually occurred. Now if you think about what could be done by acts of computer intrusion, yeah the potential is truly frightening. There are possibilities for Digital Chernobyls on a global scale.
Ken Wark:
On the other hand the Internet has certain design features that make it rather difficult to centrally control.
John Perry Barlow:
In the case of the Internet, who is the service provider who you can go to to tap an Internet connection, and the answer is you can't because you know when I send a packet out of my computer towards yours, it could go anyone of a gizillion different ways to get there and it would probably take a different route than the next packet out. I think this technology definitely has politics and they are anarchistic in nature. But, by the same token life in the digital world makes it very easy for gov'ts to monitor you because everytime you make any kind of financial transaction you smear your finger prints all over cyberspace and if you fling out a wide enough net (you know) and just go through a very massive search of all digital data thats flowing around in the data cloud you can start to assemble simulacra of people---in their commercial and personal dealings.
Elise Mathieson:
It's great on the Internet. Nobody knows your a dog
Amy Bruckman:
The Internet is growing at a tremendous rate and this raises some interesting issues for how this space with so many people in it is going to be managed. Is it simply the person who controls the resources, controls the computer or controls the transmission medium---controls the content--- or do people have certain rights and I think the kinds of decisions we make now will have tremendous long term implications for the future of a medium which is increasingly going to become part of our daily lives.
Ken Wark:/Script
The Internet is a wonderfully anarchic form of communication where a lot of the rules are made by consensus between parties who are there. But sometimes its hard to agree on what are acceptable ways of being on the Internet and what are not.
Dale Spender:
I've heard the word Netiquette used again and again.
Elise Mathieson:
Since it's a written communication it's simultaneously more distant and more intimate then face to face.
Anna Couey:
How you get to know somebody is by what they say and that cuts across a lot of social and economic barriers.
Libby Reid:
People who seem to be female on things like IRC and other network programs are often given a lof of attention, and that can be quite enjoyable for some people, for others it can create quite a problem. That comes into the realms of sexual harrassment; the other thing is for a lot of people to get attention or sometimes to just find out what its like to be on the other side, pretend to be a gender that they are not.
Anna Couey:
One of the things with harassment on-line is that I think its exacerbated in an on-line environment, than it is in the physical environment and I'm not sure part of that has to do with the ratio of men to women on-line, but also again I think it gets back to that disembodiment---because in a way your freer to interact with people than you would on the street. People are not likely to walk up to you on the street and say do you wanna talk dirty?? When they are on-line, the preliminaries are kinda cut out.
Ken Wark:
So who gets access to this imperfect but functional communications anarchy?
Geoff Huston:
Our future right now is that of a public information utility, that increasingly the asset of the network is the information resources that populate it, so in some ways what we are is a massive computerized information resource for this country. As well as that I suppose there is a valuable role within the research domain itself these days --research is a collaborative effort---and increasingly big business. Particularly when you look at the hard sciences these days, a large amount of experimentation is never performed physically, we try to model reality as closely as possible on super computing resources, and ship the results of that model or that experiment back to the researcher involved.

So communications networks allows a researcher in say Adelaide to utilize computing and communications facilties in Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Boston, Paris and in London.

Dale Spender:
And there certainly were haves and have nots when it came to print which is one of the reasons we got State Libraries. When it was recognised that not everybody could purchase books---the State had an obligation to provide people with that sort of information. And maybe thats a role that State libraries should take on in the electronic era, that they have to provide 500 public computer terminals. We can talk about the issue of the fact that we are going to become consumers of white male californian culture in a very short space of time.
Ken Wark:/Script
But can the Internet ever be a mass medium? How many surfers really wanna paddle into the digital sunset? Is it all California Dreamin'?
Bruce Sterling:
I think its absurd to think that everybody on the planet is going to want to do the sort of things that are done on the Internet. I mean everybody on the planet probably does want to watch TV. Even people in Tibet like to watch Madonna, I don't understand why that is---but its true. So I don't think your average Yak herder with a satellite dish is really gonna wanna sit down and punch their deck all day. I think that there will likely be entertainment media that uses some of the same packet switching technology---but I think there is also likely to be a kind of International research and eductaional network that's used basically for scholastic activity and I think that's gonna be the Internet. And I don't think thats going to be owned by Ted Turner, or have a board of directors or president. I think the Internet will remain as a common good.
Dale Spender:
With print there was a creation of a mass reading public and some people have referred to it as the democratization of reading, that up until books, we had only a few people in society who could read. They generally did so from the pulpit and it was called reading the lesson for the week. Then suddenly there's print, there are books, and everybody gets to learn to read---what we have to realize is that everybody is going to get the chance to become an author in a way the computer heralds the deomcratization of authorship and once everybody can do it, once there's no distinct individual effort what does copyright mean anyway?
Ken Wark:
Or will the Internet perhaps have other uses?? Robert David Steele is a civilian intelligence officer with the U.S Marine Intelligence Service..
Robert David Steele:
My Colonel, the Director of the Marine Corps Intelligence Centre, and I the Senior Civilian, spent 10Mill$ on a classified information handling system only to turn it on and find out that the CIA databases on the 3rd world were empty. And at that point I went looking for and discovered open sources. What we are finding is that the various pipelines---the secrecy compartments are counterproductive. The Internet is breaking down the barriers in the information continuum in the U.S. I talk about how we have an information continuum, that is a virtual intelligence community; except that each sector K3.12, the universities, libraries, business, media, the private investigators and so on. There is an iron curtain between each sector---there is a bamboo curtain between each iss information, and I include foreign gov'ts. For instance the Australian gov't has absolutely 1st class information about Papua New Guinea, a place where marines might have to go one day.

It makes a lot of sense to me for us to xchange information with Australia or indeed Papua New Guinea-- about what we call encyclopedic intelligence---the ports, the air fields, just basic unclassified stuff. It's in the strategic interest of every country to harness its information contiuum, and the Internet is an absolutely vital element of that National strategy.

Bruce Sterling:
Computer communications has turned out to be a far more social influential thing than the space program ever was.
Ken Wark:
On a more mundane level are the polices we have in Australia for the development of the Internet adequate? Are we keeping up with our rivals for the Clever Country tag?
Geoff Huston:
Back in around 1987/88 the need for a specialist data communications network was evident to the sector. What we were seeing is that our investment in computing was quite extensive. But when we looked overseas what we saw was not only were similar investments being made but they were being productively linked together with data networks. At that stage the U.S APAR/Internet was well under way, providing amazing connectivity amongst the university and research community in the U.S. When we look here in Australia we spent some time trying to find if there was a publically available facility that we could use that could provide similar functionality both domestically within Australia and also to link us with those computing and communication projects going on overseas. What we found was that plainly and simply there was nothing in the public domain. So after some soul searching the only answer came through, that if we really wanted this facility, then as universities we had to work together and build it ourselves from the bottom up.
Dale Spender:
There's a slogan about us being a clever country and we'll export intellectual resources but made by some people who have absolutely no idea and knowledge of the way in which the culture is changing, as we even speak.
Geoff Huston:
Today AARNET connects together some 105,000 computers in Australians. If you contrast that and include our population of some 17.6 million people, if you compare that to the U.K., the current academic and research network there---Janet---links together about 106,000 comps and Germany 110,000 comps, Japan 47,000...so in some respects we have been far more successful than other countries in terms of hooking vast numbers of individuals together---so from that metric over the last 3yrs we have done astonishingly well. The other kind of metric is how well do we service this community, what kind of bandwidth can we provide them that actually ships volumes of data around quickly and efficiently and in that metric I don't think we are doingas well.
Robert David Steele:
Part of the problem and I had a long talk with Vince Surf about this, President of the Internet Society when we were out at a Internet Conference in San Fransisco, a few months back. Vince is a man that I greatly admire, he and Bob Kahn(sp??) are in many ways fathers of the Internet throught the Arpanet. And unfortuanely they are so beholden to their original concept of their baby they are not willing to consider applications or content as new directions, for Internet management. And so right now the whole focus of the Internet society and its magnificant working group is on increasing the size of the pipe.

Unfortunately, all that really does is contribute to the amountof noise that can flow. One of the things I've been working on in support of the Vice Presidents NII is to put a content element into Al Gore's connectivity program. I mean right now God Bless him, Al Gore is all connectivity and no content.

There is no National knowledge strategy in the U.S.

Bruce Sterling:
Al Gore the American Vice President is a cyberpunk---I found that truly hilarious!!
Ken Wark:
For some people the Internet is as much about spirit as it is politics.
John Perry Barlow:
The EFF was started because Mitch Kapor (who wrote Lotus 1.2.3) and I realized that people were moving into this environment at a very rapid rate. Like all new frontier areas the prevailing codes of ethics and law and social interaction and property management were not worked out-- and the gov't was behaving as though all the rules that had worked perfectly well for the physical world were going to work for the virtual world.

We wanted to see the gov't stay the hell out til something like a social contract had been developed. Most of the current inhabitants of the net are people who have very little awareness or interest in the type of hippy mysticism I bring to bear---its mostly computer jocks at this point. Its seems kinda obvious to me that if you're in a place where there's no physical substance, where its all immateriality---that you can't miss the relationship to that place that people have always been trying to go--- which is composed entirely of spirit and mind. Cos thats what its all about---now is the flesh become word..

Ken Wark:
WE NO LONGER HAVE ORIGINS WE HAVE TERMINALS.
end

Copyright Wark & Cross 1994.



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