August 9: Taking Back the Edge – Freedom and the Internet Model

I believe that historians will come to see the development of the Internet as an event comparable to the development of movable type in importance because of the way it has revolutionized human communication.

The original decentralized, edge-based design of the Internet allowed every connected computer to act as both a client and a server — both to be a publisher and a reader, a broadcaster and an audience.

As the Internet continues to grow, maintaining it requires ongoing development of both the technology and the standards and protocols that are used to send and receive information across the Net.

While some of the issues involved seem highly technical, even esoteric, the decisions that are maintained can potentially change the Internet from it’s open architecture to a closed one that is more condusive to repressive social structures where a only small group can send messages and everyone else can only receive them, and where the inner workings of the technology are kept secret and cannot be altered by
anyone except for a small elite.

                                                                   — David Solomonoff, President
Internet Society of New York

president@isoc-ny.org
isoc-ny.org

The mission of the Internet Society (ISOC) is to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.

In pursuit of this mission, ISOC is actively involved in the open development of standards, protocols, and the technical infrastructure of the Internet ISOC’s activities are founded upon the principles of open,
unencumbered, beneficial use of the Internet. This requires, among other things, freedom of self-expression without censorship, the right to privacy and the use of encryption to that end, and cooperation
between network providers using openly developed standards and protocols.

I’ll discuss the long-term benefits that the current Internet model brings to an open society and some the challenges to that model that come both from repressive political forces and monopolistic interests that seek to convert the Internet to closed, highly centralized, proprietary technologies.

David Solomonoff is the President of the New York Chapter of the Internet Society as well as the Library Systems Manager of the SUNY Downstate Medical Research Library. He has worked in an IT capacity for libraries and educational publishers for twenty years and is an active open source software advocate.