Law in the Internet Society
The Onion News Network, Google Opt Out Feature, September 2009.

Since this course is about the “end of the world,” I thought a bit of humor (The Onion) would be appropriate here –- to break the ice. Although humor can function in many different ways (e.g. by increasing or decreasing the psychological distances between people in groups), I hope its use as a defense mechanism in this case is mature in the sense that it might facilitate group discussion by easing tension. See generally,

A few initial impressions from class:

Professor Moglen’s thesis, at this early point in the course, seems to revolve around a kind of theoretical utopia of social transformation, which necessarily adds unexplored socio-psychological propositions to his argument. As of now, I am unclear as to the extent of these propositions.

If the internet is a social condition of interconnection, and if we presume for the sake of argument that the ideal condition is one that is absent of any controlling intermediary, what then is an accurate description of the resulting social transformation that evolves over time? Is there a social end-product? How long might it take until that product is ripe, and why is that product desirable?

Presumably, public networks (that do not currently exist) would house this ideal social condition of interconnection. Software and content that were once proprietary would now be shared, and citizens would be able to learn from each other in relatively unimpeded network space.

Although the following thought is not yet fully formed, I would wager that a general deficiency of altruism throughout humankind is the greatest threat to Moglen’s utopia. Ultimately, human beings have a range of both individual and social desires, and happiness is derived from the satisfaction of these desires. Given the previous sentence, one might be inclined to debate the contours of human nature at this point -- a worthwhile debate -- but it is difficult to argue with the concept of a roughly stable normal curve that governs the variance of nearly all human traits. If the median of an altruism-narcissism normal curve is too narcissistic, Moglen’s utopia of public networks and unimpeded social transformation may never survive the democratic process. For some, if not most, I imagine it just feels really, really good to design a software program (or a 3rd grade curriculum plan for that matter) and then experience the self-derived “honor” that accompanies ownership and profits.

-- JonathanBoyer - 24 Sep 2009


Thanks for posting the Onion link. Substantive, no, but enjoyable nevertheless, absolutely. I'll join the altruism, etc., discussion once I digest my thoughts more.

-- BrianS - 27 Sep 2009

So as to avoid cluttering substantive discussions, I'll put this here.

We've had a few mentions in the last few classes about the all-seeing eyes of Google. This video came to mind on that topic from the Vacationeers. It's worth watching (only about 2 minutes) if you haven't seen it:

-- BrianS - 05 Oct 2009



Webs Webs

r4 - 07 Sep 2011 - 00:52:24 - IanSullivan
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM