First was the word. And the word was Doc’s…

Doc Searls writes a very important post/article/screed/curriculum/manifesto that explains very well a vital argument he has tried to make before: that our language about the net is crucial to saving the net from those who would turn it into a closed pipe or private filing cabinet.

I’ll see whether I can summarize it this way: The net is about our space, not their stuff.

This is a vital distinction that will directly affect whether we keep the net free from mortal danger via regulation or legislation or litigation. Says Doc:

We need to make clear that the Public Domain is the market’s underlying geology–a place akin to the ownerless bulk of the Earth–rather than a public preserve in the midst of private holdings. This won’t be easy, but it can be done.

We need to stress the fact that the primary “end” in the Net’s end-to-end architecture is the individual. The Net’s success is due far more to the freedoms enjoyed by individuals than to the advantages enjoyed by large companies whose existence predates the Net.

We need to remind policy makers that the Net’s biggest success stories–Amazon, Google, eBay and Yahoo–are the stories of Bezos, Page, Brin, Omidyar, Yang and Filo.

We need to make clear that the Net is the best public place ever created for private enterprise, and that the success of the Net owes infinitely more to personal initiative than to the mesh of pipes in the ground beneath it.

We need to show how the Net has its own nature, and that this nature is too dynamic–too original, too wild and free, too self-creating and self-correcting–for new lawmaking to comprehend, much less control.

We need to stress how the pipe-centric view of the world is responsible for the crippled and asymmetrical “consumer” service the carriers call “broadband”.

Doc says he is speaking to the technical community because he wrote his piece at Linux Journal.

But he also should be speaking to the creative community, the political community, the international community, and — importantly — the commercial community. We are all depending on the net if we want to grow and succeed in the future. We need to take Doc’s lesson seriously. So spread the word.

  • Isn’t this the same old “net is doomed” stuff he’s been writing since the Internet was all tin cans and string?

    It’s hard to know how much of it to take seriously, because it just doesn’t relate to what’s taking place at a technical level.

  • It’s about Conversation, not Content….as long as we keep talking we’ll keep them baffled.

  • Dear Richard and Tish,

    The point I think Doc is trying to make is one about control and who has the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the legacy mindset of command and control of the industrialsed age still resides in the DNA of companies that once had control of all distribution and all media.

    That is no longer true today.

    He is not saying the net is doomed, he is satying you need to reframe how you perceive the internet and its value to us all

  • Alan…that’s what I’m talking about. The old way of viewing the net is that it is all about content and the creation of content–that’s the pipeline. Things are shifting though, as is evidence even in the way you addressed your comment to both myself and Richard. We, as in people across disciplines (or however you want to view business/tech/journalism/academe, etc.) are learning that this is not just about creating “kick-ass content” (how stupid a phrase), but about engaging with others. “Buzz” is about what we say to one another, not about an effective pitch. Sometimes even simple content is about putting a thought out there (the old Mike Myers/Linda Richman paradigm) and allowing people to form a discussion around that content.

    The “Net is the new public square–we shop here, some work here, some meet and date here, and now more and more we are conversing here. People are adapting to the changes–corporations are despising it because they can’t map, model and control it. As Jeff says, it’s about our space, not their stuff.