Monday, 8 February 2016

weary giants of flesh and steel

Writing for Quartz magazine Gideon Lichfield presents an interesting long look back at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s charter statement—the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace—which was proclaimed two decades ago this week.

Fresh from the World Economic Forum in Davos (amid the conflicts in Chechnya, the implication of First Lady Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater real estate scandal, and various other –gates enough to sour the most hopeful souls) and responding to a palpable, puritanical tension over the efforts of the US government to censor objectionable language with the same prudish quiver that applies to inter-state trafficking and cinema-goers, John Perry Barlow drafted his vision for a free and unfettered world-wide web. Analysing each article, one finds through the lens of 1996 both the naïve and the far-sighted expressed in rather poetic conceits and rousing construction that evokes other lofty mission-statements. I especially find the arguments for self-regulation and emergent governance forming organically, as mediated through quid pro quo and the prisoner’s dilemma, and manifest in the economics of gigs and journeymen. What do you think? Has the perceived draining of internet liberties come from outside menaces and frightened tyrants of industry or is its architecture a victim of its own success?