[rumori] Re: pho: Pho: cDc To Release 'No Limits' P2P Browser - Peekabooty

From: Don Joyce (djATwebbnet.com)
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 16:48:41 PDT

Every once in a while we might step back and try to see what's happening
regardless of separate interests. At its operational core, the Net
represents a profound shift, an extreme alteration in the traditional
producer/consumer relationship capitalism has always found crucial in its
evolution right up to this time. That evolution to its modern economic
success throughout the last two centuries was always and increasingly based
on selling products the consumer had less and less personal control over.
Very few people can now fix their own cars, radios, TVs, air conditioning,
or much of any of the other common products/services in their own homes.
The level of specialized technology involved in bringing us all this stuff
has also insured that we have no way of fixing them when they break or
altering them for our own purposes. The thought doesn't even occur to us
anymore. The back of everything says "Do not remove" and if you do, you
don't have a clue what to do or the tools to do it if you did. All repairs
to our products, our media, our equipment require a factory to fix or at
least a "specialist" who has had training not generally available. The
economic "squeeze" potential of this is obvious - if you want this thing
you've got to pay specialists to make it, explain it, and repair it.

This has been a "natural" evolution produced by our desire for and use of
sophisticated technology, happening to fall right into convenient line with
age-old, tried and true techniques for squeezing the consumer such as the
way the law and lawyers operate. A very long time ago the law succeeded in
deflecting popular access to their craft with WORDING alone, becoming
effectively submerged from public comprehension, access, and popular
usability. Lawyers became the specially educated, arcane priesthood of this
secret language, the only ones capable of interpreting it for the average,
dumbstruck Joe it's supposed to be for. None of us can persue, protect,
uphold, or defend our own rights without one of these priests of
incomprehensible legal dialects in tow because none of us actually knows
what it means or how it works.
This indespensibility produces the ultimate job security. Religions used
the same methods even earlier. Nothing was seen as more dangerous than
letting the public interpret the religious texts which were presumably
miraculously produced for THEIR benefit. WE are not capable = somebody
else's job security.

Now most technologically based consumer products are marketed in the same way.
The consumer is in a strictly hands off position with regard to them. You
can USE them, but you can't do anything with or to them that is not
intended by the producer. Everything is "foolproof" and WE are the fools.

But computers snuck up and changed this product/consumer relationship. At
least in terms of their function, the computer manufacturer is no longer in
charge of the uses their own product will allow. And every kid's education
began to include how to not only use it, but how to ALTER that use in many
ways. And they could do it ALONE, with no help from specialists at all. A
keyboard and a little public education is all that's required. Suddenly we
had a high tech product that INVITED personal involvement and all kinds of
personally invented alterations in its function. There hardly even was an
"intended" use, just many, many possibilities. Now computer manufacturers
know that their product is meant to be for whatever WE want it to be for,
and continue to push the product in that direction, even supplying them to
schools, insuring the population will be capable of using them in ANY way
they can think of. The computer hardware philosophy is the most admirable,
non-coercive commercial philosophy in operation today and we LOVE them for

But the rest of our capitalist empire of hands-off specialism and enforced
exclusivity now jumps on the back of this hardware and fully expects to
maintain their exclusive priesthood business models there as well. There
was no discernment of the situation before they jumped in and now,
SURPRISE, there's something wrong with their assumptions in this new
context. Suddenly, all their former, helplessly dependent consumers have
become their pro-active COMPETITORS, able to alter the producer's
procedures, their intentions, their PRODUCTS all by themselves, completely
unpreventable, in their own homes. If producers are unwilling to change
their economic assumptions, and I have yet to see any who are, they MUST
begin seeing their own consumers as THE ENEMY, capable of destroying them
if they are not brought under the kind of consumer controls formally
enjoyed. But the hardware and software they want to usurp for their usual
purposes are now opposed in a hard-wired way, and the consumer's desires
have ALWAYS been opposed. They are outnumbered, outflanked, outrun, and out
of time. The Net has become a giant BEAR TRAP for them, and consumers are
the trappers. The tables are turned.

The already desparate struggle for their view of economics has now come
down to whether they can hire smarter programmers than may exist elsewhere
all over America. The percentages are stacked overwhelmingly against them.
The battle itself only increases the pride and determination of their
potential customers to work against them - and for free, for the goddam FUN
of it. Paid and pressurized programming employees can rarely compete with
the determination of somebody doing the same thing for the FUN of it. The
difference resides in PURPOSE being more important than profit. People
without much in their bank account are often more purely purpose prone than
those who have a lot because they do not labor under any of the demands or
FEARS that modulate the latter. Those without much are never quite as
fearful that they will not get any as those with a lot are in fear of
losing it. This is why the corporate mentality can not win in THIS case,
where all their machinations are finally and continuously open to hands-on
public alteration.

So, yes, this is dangerous to capitalism in the digital domain. But it's
NOT dangerous to capitalism's EVOLUTION in the digital domain. Evolution
entails CHANGE, and IF it can change its basic assumptions which do not
apply there, it will find a role to play. Everybody wants the answer that
does not yet exist. It seems to me that the first step toward that answer
lies in realizing that the message of this medium is not about limiting or
controling access or usage. It never was there, and thanks to the eager
intrusions of unknown and unknowable, ever so adept public "mechanics" out
there "fixing" all the contrary efforts just as fast as private interests
can come up with them, it never will be. Capitalists are NO LONGER IN
CHARGE OF THEIR OWN PRODUCT there. An acceptance of THAT is the only thing
that effortlessly flies and is welcomed on line. I suggest the Net's
overall role in society will be much more similar to advertising than it is
to producing points of sale, especially for former products like IP or
music. To go on fighting this basic nature that always wants to and
therefore always will strive to free us from the cultural alienation of
private exclusivity and withholding, is to go on demonizing the
no-longer-under-your-control user as if success in that will serve you
well. Moral indignance about what things are "worth" changes none of this
and has no power to do so. If it could, private capitalism never could have
got going in the first place! Because of the Net, private morality IS being
overridden and superceeded by a yearned for public morality, and things
will forever be DIFFERENT with regard to these two areas of moral
constraint and in particular, which will make way for the other in that

I've heard many silly, overblown little exclaimations about how much
"progess" we've seen in this or that. It's usually not REALLY much progress
at all. But THIS is PROGRES! It is astounding progress in BASIC
ASSUMPTIONS, and it seems we are not actually ready or willing for the REAL
thing when we see it at all.


>"The music industry, the film industry, the police and repressive
>governments have a new nightmare. A group of hackers are developing a web
>browser that it claims will make it easier for people to circumvent
>censorship and avoid the attentions of law enforcers.
>The software, which is due to be unveiled in July, uses a combination of
>encryption and a Gnutella-like network to avoid any of the limits
>corporations and governments are trying to place on anyone using the web."
>Full Story:
>John Avignone
>Shutup and listen...
>Attachment converted: FRIDAY:John Avignone.vcf (TEXT/ttxt) (00025875)

Rumori, the Detritus.net Discussion List
to unsubscribe, send mail to majordomoATdetritus.net
with "unsubscribe rumori" in the message body.
Rumori list archives & other information are at

Home | Detrivores | Rhizome | Archive | Projects | Contact | Help | Text Index

[an error occurred while processing this directive] N© Detritus.net. Sharerights extended to all.