Class notes for Tuesday, March 7, 2000.
In 1998, John Chambers, then president of Cisco Systems (an Internet networking company) spoke about the Internet revolution:
The Internet will change how people live, work, play and learn. The Industrial Revolution brought people together with machines in factories, and the Internet revolution will bring together people with knowledge and information in virtual communities. And it will have every bit as much impact on society as the Industrial Revolution. It will promote globalization at an incredible pace. But instead of happening over 100 years, like the Industrial Revolution, it will happen over 100 years.
Some characteristics of the Internet:
(1) Immediacy: right now, 24 hours a day (2) Ubiquity: Wherever you are (3) Transparency: everything is available (4) Relevancy: Directly relates to you, not to a mass market.
A. Origins and Early Development.
1. Cold War origins
Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA); Create communication. network that could survive nuclear war.; Decentralized, Redundant , Packet switching (packets of digital information in cyber- space
2. ARPANET (1969-70s)
ARPA scientists share computer power and ideas; Computers huge; access limited; At this time, computers the size of rooms, so few had access to using them.
3. 1980s: Internet growth.
Rise of PC s ; Rise of E-mail (1989: 159K users; 1993: 2m users; 2000: 33m users); Exponential demand and growth in Internet use.
Media scholar Stanley Baran writes: "In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, Earth’s first human-constructed satellite. The once undisputed supremacy of the United States in science and technology had been usurped, and U.S. scientists and military officials were in shock. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was immediately established to sponsor and coordinate sophisticated defense-related research. In 1962, as part of a larger drive to promote the use of computers in national defense, ARPA commissioned Paul Baran of the Rand Corporation to produce a plan that would allow the U.S. military to maintain command over its missiles and planes if a nuclear attack knocked out conventional means of communication. The military thought a decentralized communication network was necessary. In that way, no matter where the bombing occurred, other locations would be available to launch a counterattack.
"Using Honeywell computers at Stanford University, UCLA, the University of Santa Barbara and the University of Utah, the switching network, called ARPAnet, went on-line in 1969 and became fully operation and reliable within one year. Other developments soon followed. In 1972, an engineer named Ray Tomlinson created the first e-mail program.
Media scholar John Vivian writes: "In 1983, the National Science Foundation, whose mandate is to promote science, took over part of the network to give researchers access to four costly supercomputers at Cornell, Illinois, Pittsburgh and San Diego. The new civilian network was an expensive undertaking, but the ARPAnet infrastructure was already in place. Also, the expense of the new component was far less than installing dozens of additional $10m supercomputers that would have duplicated those at the original four core computer sites.
"This new National Science Foundation network attracted more and more institutional users, many of which had their own internal networks. For example, most universities that joined the NSF network had intracampus computer networks. The NSF network, then, became a connector for thousands of other networks. As a backbone system that interconnects networks, INTERNET was a name that fit.
"The expense of operating the Internet is borne by the institutions and organizations that tie their computers into it. The institutions pay an average of $43K a year to hook in.
Media scholar Baran writes: "A crucial part of the story of the Internet is the development and diffusion of personal computers. IBM was fantastically successful at exciting businesses, schools and universities and other organizations about computers. But IBM’s and other companies’ mainframe and mini-computers employed terminals, and these stations at which users worked were connected to larger, centralized machines. As a result, the Internet at first was the province of the people who worked in those settings.
"When the semiconductor (or integrated circuit, or chip) replaced the vacuum tube as the essential information processor in computers, its tiny size, absence of heat, and low cost made possible the design and production of small, affording personal or micro computers (P Cs). This, of course, opened the Net to anyone, anywhere....
"The leaders of the personal computer revolution were Bill Gates and the duo of Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak.
"The Internet is most appropriately thought of as a ‘network of networks’ that is growing at an incredibly fast rate. These networks consist of LANs (Local Area Networks) connecting two or more computers, usually within the same building or campus, and WANS (Wide Area Networks), connecting several LANS in different locations. When people access the Internet from a computer in a university library, they are most likely on a LAN. But when several universities (or businesses or other organizations) link their computer systems, their users are part of a WAN.
B. Current Uses of Internet
The average user in the US spends 5.3 hours on-line a week. 43 percent of U.S. homes have Internet access in 2000 (compared to just 28 percent in 1998).
1. Electronic Mail. With an Internet email account, users can communicate with anyone else on-line, any place in the world, with no long distance fees. Email can also be used to join mailing lists, bulletin boards, or discussion groups that cover a huge variety of subjects. According to a 1999 study (the 1999 Consumer Technology Survey), email has replaced research as the leading reason given by people in the US for using the Internet. Approximately 48 percent of U.S. consumers said email was the primarily reason to go on-line, followed by research (28 percent).
2. World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is not a physical place, not a set of files, nor even a network of computers. The heart of the WEB lies in the protocols (common communication rules and languages) that define its use. The WWW uses hypertext transfer protocols (http) to transport files from one place to another.
What makes the www unique is the striking appearance of the information when it gets to your computer. In addition to text, the web presents color, images, sounds and video. This, combined with its ease of use, makes the web the most popular aspect of the Internet for a large majority of users.
One 1995 estimate said that there were 27,000 web sites and that the number were doubling daily. This growth rate would be difficult to maintain, but it is true that the web is the single fastest growing neighborhood on the Internet.
Media scholar Richard Campbell writes: "By the early 1990s, the world wide web had become the most frequently visited region of the Internet. Developed in the 1980s by software engineer Tim Berners-Lee, the Web was initially a text-only data-linking system that allowed computer-accessed information to associate with, or link to, other information no matter where it was on the Internet. Known as hypertext, this data-linking feature of the Web was a breakthrough for those attempting to use the Internet. Hypertext is a non-linear way of organizing information, allowing a user to click on a highlighted word, phrase, picture or icon and skip directly to other files related to that subject in other computer systems.
"By using standardized software, today users can navigate through most features of the Internet, including text data such as email, photo-image files, and video and audio clips. HTML (HyperTextMarkup Language), the written code that creates Web pages and links, is a language that all computers can read, so computers with varying operating systems (such as Windows and Macintosh) can communicate easily. JAVA, a HTML compatible language developed by Sun Microsystems in the mid 1990s, is also universally readable by computers and allows small interactive programs to run on Web pages, creating moving graphic elements such as three-dimensional animations and menus....."
Uses of the World Wide Web include: Research, Personal web sites , On line shopping , Shareware
3. Threaded Conference . Systems (USENET) or network news. Users enter messages and within a day or so, the messages are delivered to nearly every other USENET host for everyone to read. (Not synchronous).
4. On-Line Chat Rooms (Synchronous , Conversations/reaction)
5. Multi-User Dummies (M.U.D.s). Text-based VR ; Role playing games ; Same time
6. Streamed Broadcast (receiving, sending audio and video)
7. Internet telephone and video telephone.
C. Internet Growth
More users; Access easier (many Internet Service Providers). WWW: easy to use; Hardware prices down. Access increases (Computers in schools, libraries). Americans with some Internet access (at work, school or home): 1994: 3.2 m; 1996: 12.2m; 1998: 100m; 2000: 110m
D. Internet Demographics
Gender and class.
1. General Demographics: More men than women Income (‘98) 47% > $50K Education (‘98) 73% > 12th grade
2. Changing Demographics since 1998. More women Lower education. Lower income. Internet has been dominated by male college graduates with household incomes in excess of $50K. But changing. November 1998 survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press show that Internet use has nearly doubled in the past 2 years, with 41 per cent of adults (nearly 74m Americans) saying that they use the Internet. About one third of them say they go on line for news at least once a week. The growth in 1998 was driven by women and younger people with more modest incomes and without college educations.
Andrew Kohut, exec Director, Pew Research Center: "They are more middle class; they are less affluent." Still, average Net surfer is younger, better educated and more affluent than the population at large.
Among new Net users, 40 per cent say they never attended college; 23 per cent have household incomes under $30k; 80% of all Internet users are under the age of 50.
a. Weather most popular subject sought on Internet. 64% of Internet users say they looked for weather information on-line, up from 47% in 1996. b. Local news. Use of Internet for local news increased to 42 per cent of all users, up from 27 per cent. c. Growth in sports use, too (statistics, updates on scores, etc.). Internet not cutting into traditional sources of information, though. Internet users tend to be more politically active, more conservative, less supportive of Clinton and more likely to distrust government than the population at large.
3. Use by children.
According to a report from the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, 42 percent of all children use a computer each day. There are some additional breakdowns.
Percentage of children using computers each day:
4. Interests by age
80% of users under 50.
Uses: 18-24: Entertainment, socializing. > 50: Financial services, Political discussions
5. Where? Mostly at work. 30% at home
E. Internet Usage: Cyber Addiction
"Pathological Internet Use." 10% of users who spend 38 hours/average/week
Attractions: Anonymous; Community; Easy to form relationships; Sense of control; Exciting
Addiction doesn’t characterize most Internet users -- but recent studies have shown some particular characteristics among people who use the Internet heavily. A political scientist at Stanford University argues that "the more hours people use the Internet, the less time they spend with real human beings." Norman Nie asserts that the Internet is creating a new broad wave of social isolation in the United States. His conclusions are hotly contested, however, and many contend that the issue is not a simple as Nie may be presenting it.
The Stanford study documents the extent to which the Internet is leading to a rapid shift away from the mass media. The study reported that 60 per cent of regular Internet users said they had reduced their TV viewing, and one-third said they spent less time reading newspapers. Regular users, spending at least 5 hours a week on-line, represented about 20 per cent of those surveyed. In all, the study found that 55 percent of those polled had Internet access at home or at work, and that 43 percent of households were on-line. The Internet, the study shows, had allowed the workplace to invade the home. A quarter of regular Internet users employed at least part time said the Internet had increased the time they spent working at home, without reducing the time spent a t work. The key findings deal with heavier users -- those spending 5 or more hours on-line a week. Of those people (constituting 20 per cent of the survey):
F. Political Information and the Internet
2000: So far, about 8 percent of voters say that the web is their main source of information. In 1998: 6% said the web was their main source of information; 3 per cent in 1996. There are a lot of web sites out there: from candidates, Advocacy groups and independent groups and individuals. It’s hard to get very specific information on use at this point, other than to note that it is booming.
New York Times (10/19/99): "The modern campaign headquarters is no longer a rented storefront decorate with bumper stickers, bunting and empty soda cans. Increasingly, it has an annex pen any hour of the day or night, at any address starting with www. If in 1996, a candidate could prove hipness simply by posting an electronic version of a campaign brochure on the World Wide Web, White House hopefuls for 2000 are learning to use their Internet sites to raise money and rally troops. The Web page is the new whistle-stop (train), a way for candidates to carry their messages daily to more people than they can reach on the campaign trail. By posting everything from their baby pictures (as George W. Bush has done) to their favorite Bible stories (an offering from Elizabeth Dole), candidates are using the Internet as a fireside chat room, to portray themselves as just plain folks."
John McCain’s press secretary, Hoard Opinsky, refers to the Internet as "the 51st state." "It has no boundaries. The Internet has progressed from being a billboard to a two-way street, and I think it’s probably good in the end for the political process."
Why? A good way to reach people, especially young voters. For less-established candidates (such as Bill Bradley or John McCain), the Internet provides a chance to compete against an established political machine. And sites are cheap. George W. Bush spent just $57K on his site during the fist 8 months of 1999. In the world of multimillion dollar campaigns, Internet sites are a real bargain.
Why the popularity for voters?
1. Growing Internet population.
2. Increasing quality and quantity of campaign information available on-line.
Many campaigns and independent Wet sites are moving beyond words and posting video clips. Non profit sites have collected candidate position statements in more races than ever -- including less publicized races on the ballot; more organizations are providing searchable databases of campaign contributions on-line.
Some people distrust traditional media. Think web is much more trustworthy.
Studies have shown that campaigns can usually get 45 seconds of a voter’s attention by phone or 30 seconds in a TV ad, compared with 8 minutes through a web site (says Emilienne Ireland, president of Campaign Advantage, an Internet campaign services company in Bethesda Md).
Type of Information. Preliminary research on traffic patterns showed that hard information -- such as issue statements -- and comparison charts -- got the most traffic and the most time.
Politicians’ web sites.
For Profit Web sites on politics, too.
These are sites that hope to be gatekeepers, of a sort, in the campaign this year (2000), offering information on all of the candidates in just one visit (rather than having to go to a lot of sites). They hope to raise money by getting campaigns to pay for placing information on these new sites; they also hope to get advertising support. Some sites include Voter.com, SpeakOut.com and GoVote.com.
Politics and E-mail.
Web site not enough. Email very important because it lets candidates reach out to supporters and mobilize volunteers. In 1998, Jesse Ventura’s campaign in Minnesota made extensive use of Email -- a 3K member email list. Ventura’s campaign says that email won the campaign for him. Makes it much easier to pull in volunteers. In 2000, Steve Forbes used the Internet a lot during his effort to win the GOP presidential nomination (Wall Street Journal, 1/26/00). College students who were Forbes supporters -- at schools in New York or New Hampshire -- were actively engaged in Forbes’ campaign in Iowa -- through the Internet, sending emails and attempting to organize the campaign. Forbes volunteers would start contacting people by email. "E precinct" volunteers (about 84K across the US) would contact Iowa email addresses (compiled by a marketing firm) -- trying to mobilize people who might be likely to support Forbes. Some threat of overkill; some Forbes supporters say they had been inundated with emails and just wanted to be left alone.
When a few thousand constituents of U.S. Rep. Bob Riley checked their email just before Christmas 1999, they got a little surprise. Upon clicking an icon in the message, up popped the Congressman himself. "Hi. I’m Congressman Bob Riley. For my family, this is a special time of year when we reflect on the Lord’s many blessings. So I’d like to use this unique opportunity to wish you and your family all the best in the coming year." The video message is Congress’s high technology update to the hallowed perquisite of free mail, a privilege known as franking that began in the first Continental Congress. Instead of bombarding their constituents with letters detailing their diligent labors for the public, a few lawmakers are test driving video e-mail. The messages feature a 30-second to 40-second video next to a list of options that constituents can click, sending them to a lawmaker’s web site or allowing them to send a reply. One of Rep. Riley’s aides says that there is a 20% response rate (which is quite good). A 5% response rate from regular mail is considered good. Downsides? Taxpayers are paying for this, and there could be concerns over privacy (how did that congressman get my email address, anyway?).
2000 candidates’ sites
1. Bill Bradley (www.billbradley.com). The site posts pictures of campaign workers who have completed 3 or 15 possible campaign tasks. Also available is a Dinner Party Kit, for holding a party to introduce friends to the Bradley candidacy. The site also includes recipes.
2. Al Gore (www.algore2000.com). The home-page picture changes every time a user logs in.
3. George W. Bush (www.georgewbush.com). His site also is available in Spanish (as is Gore’s). The site also includes family photos and baby pictures of the candidate, plus family pets (a dog and three cats).
4. John McCain (www.mccain2000.com). The Cain campaign also maintains other sites (itsyourcountry.com, focusing on campaign reform; www.mccainpatriots.com - focusing on veterans -- and www.mccaininteractive.com -- designed to deploy volunteers).
G. News and the Web
1. Starr Report: transforming the web as a source of political information.
445 page report. Within minutes of its posting, traffic on the Net reportedly jumped 75% from normal levels. Dozens of sites reproduced the document in full, so as not to freeze up one or two sites. Chat groups dedicated to the report’s contents sprang up to supplement whatever impressions people might glean from mainstream news sources about what everyone else was thinking. Computer users has access almost immediately to text and video over their own PCs. America Online said its users downloads about 800K complete copies. Millions more viewed portions. It was released on a Friday. Traffic on Friday and Saturday: CNN Interactive: 1.7m; AOL.com: 1.2 m; MSNBC: 1.0m One person: defining moment for politics and Internet. The way that JFK-Nixon debates defined TV and politics.
2. Quality of News? Gatekeepers? Internet and "news" and rumors.
(A) Internet story that James Carville beat his wife. Bounced around the Internet. False story. But strikingly specifics. Said Clinton’s pal had fired a semi automatic pistol, wielded an oversize hunting knife and spent a night in a Montgomery County, Md., jail. Phony report aired by American Family Radio, a conservative network run by a Christian activist that reaches 25 stets. The network says it got the news from a publication called the Montgomery County Ledger -- which does not appear to exist -- that was posted on an anti Clinton site on the Internet. Gaping holes in the story.
(B) Drudge report on second intern, on Blumenthal wife-beating episode. Both false.
H. Decency and the Internet About 3% of all porn sites contain pornography -- but this means, given the rapid expansion of the Internet, that there are more than 10K such sites. They are usually easy to get to. Efforts to restrict the Internet run into the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and press. The feeling is that the number of porn sites will grow, especially as efforts to control the Internet have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
1. Communications Decency Act
Passed by Congress in 1996. Made it a crime punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $250K in fines to publish indecent material on the Internet in a manner available to those under 18 years of age.
Proponents: (a) Law needed to prevent children from having access to pornography on the world wide web and other parts of the Internet. (b) Protection of children a basic function of government (c)Law needed to shield young people from proliferation of smut on the Internet -- everything from erotic depictions of cartoon characters to graphic scenes of bestiality.
Opponents said the law was so vaguely and broadly written that it would censor legitimate expression as well, everything from depictions of museum nudes to AIDS prevention information. Opponents included: ACLU (http://www.aclu.org) , Am. Library Association (http://www.ala.org), Microsoft, Operator of an AIDS prevention sites,about 40 free speech groups, Internet related companies and some individual. (http://www.aclu.org
In the case, Reno v. ACLU, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Communications Decency Act. 7-2. 1997. Justice John Paul Stevens: Internet not like traditional communications media, but rather is a unique home of vast democratic fora that are open to all comers. One forum of the Internet, he said, consists of thousands of newsgroups, "each serving to foster an exchange of information or opinion on a particular topic running the gamut from, say, the music of Wagner to Balkan politics to AIDS prevention to the Chicago Bulls." In another part of the net, chat rooms "any person with a phone line can become a town crier." And yet other parts of the Net that feature Web pages and automated emailers, a person can become a "pamphleteer." Not like TV: No scarcity. And indecent messages do not invade your home by accident. Have to seek them out. This was particularly important because government can regulate indecency over TV and radio -- but not in print. For more information on Reno v. ACLU, see http://www.aclu.org/issues/cyber/trial/appeal.html
State efforts to regulate also have problems.
New York State in 1997. Law that criminalized on line dissemination to those under 17 years of age of indecent sexual material that is harmful to minors. Courts have said: only Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce.
46 state legislatures are considering some sort of Internet regulation this year. There are about 1200 to 1550 proposals dealing with the Internet. Paul Rusinoff, state policy counsel for Internet Alliance, largest high tech and Internet trade assn. in the country. says: 1995: 3 bills dealing with Internet. Last year: 700. "There’s no question that this is a very hot topic." Types of bills: Protect children from adult material; Protect kids from online predators; Measures to outlaw to try to regulate unsolicited commercial email (spam).
Difficulty: this is not a state based medium. It is international. Even well intentioned attempts to protect kids from indecent materials and online predators, even those involving junk e-mail, often raise Constitutional questions regarding free speech and censorship. Civil libertarians have, so far, won every major court challenge of attempts to limit minors’ access to the dark side of the Internet, including the CDA (1996) and state laws in New Mexico and NY.
What can happen at the state level? One expert: Not much content control legislation. Rather: bills to empower parents to more intelligently supervise their children’s online time with filter and other new technology.
Spam bills. Last year, legislation attempting to control commercial email was introduced in 17 states. Two bills were passed, in Washington and California, bringing to 3 the number of states with spam laws now on the books. Nevada was the first, passing a bill in 1997. One expert: "Obviously, the medium itself is intensely local and intensely global, all at the same time. In the sense that it touches people in states and issues develops, states are going to want to regulate, but there’s always been questions about states regulating things in the stream of interstate commerce."
While some argue that it seems futile for a state to try to regulate email on a global network, proponents say such laws can help slow the barrage of unsolicited messages that often tout get rich quick schemes and adult oriented products.
Other proposals at the state level: outlawing online gambling; methods of establishing online identities on Internet so that more private and government business can be conducted online.
2. Child Online Protection Act (CDA II)
A second federal law, Child Online Protection Act --nicknamed CDA II -- being challenged in federal court in Philadelphia. It requires commercial Web sites containing sexually explicit material deemed harmful to minors to cordon off the content or face criminal penalties of up to six months in jail and fines of $50K per violation. 17 groups and businesses are fighting it. They say: the Child Online Protection Act is too expensive for many commercial Web sites to comply with the law. Government lawyers contend that operators of Web sites that contain material deemed inappropriate for kids have a reasonable way to keep minors out: Internet adult verification services. Some of these are not expensive.
Adult verification systems work as a virtual bouncer. An individual must present some form of id verifying that he or she is an adult, such as a credit card, before receiving a number. The PIN then grants access to the adult site, as well as about 46K others affiliated with adult verification. Plaintiffs range from online bookstores to online news organizations, an Internet art gallery. All argue that they host sexually explicit material that would put them at risk under the law. The Act’s supporters say that the law is clearly aimed at commercial Web pornography and note that sites, among other things, must lack scientific, literary, artistic or political merit for kids under 17 in order to be defined as harmful to kid
February 1999. Federal judge blocked its implementation. Child Online Protection Act. Federal judge says major Constitutional issues involved. As of March 2000: no decision yet from the appellate courts.
Cyber Patrol, Cyber sitter, Surf Watch Value: Some filtering; Problems: inaccurate
1. Popular. Allow parents and others to control content.
2. Problems. A skilled and determined teen age programmer can generally find his or her way to any filtered site.
3. Non-offending sites often filtered, too. Defense of filters, even if inaccurate: One expert says, "People market these products as if they protect a child 100%. What if it protects a child 40%?"
Cyber Patrol. "Cyber Patrol provides parents, teachers, day care professionals -- anyone who is responsible for children’s access to the Internet -- with the tools they will need to get a handle on an area which can be very dangerous for kids. (http://www.cyberpatrol.com)
Censorware.Org. (www.censorware.org). Censorware.org is the home of Censorware Project, a group dedicated to exposing and fighting censorware (software that is designed to prevent ANOTHER PERSON from sending or receiving information, usually on the web). C.org says: "A gag or blindfold is the physical equivalent of what such software does. The best known examples are Cybersitter, Cyber Patrol, Surf Watch (http://www.surfwatch.com) and others." Censorware in general got a big boost from Congressional attempts to censor Internet (e.g., the 1997 CDA). This group warns that filters are just very dangerous: "Blacklists are secret. Anyone or anything can be banned, without public notice, without any notice at all. Nike shoes, biochemistry, a dog walking service, the Quakers -- all can (and have) been banned as if their websites contained full frontal nudity and graphic sexual test.
Censorware.Org: "Surfing the net is safer than crossing the street, going to school, or riding in a car to the supermarket. No one has ever been killed by reading something or seeing a picture. But this isn’t the impression you’ll get from reading newspaper stories or listening to your 5 o’clock news. They won’t tell you about the millions of people who go on line every day and suffer no ill effects. They won’t tell you about the kids who get homework help from university websites or who discover a love of reading from sties made by others their own age."
One writer: "When I was growing up, my parents purchased a set of World Book encyclopedias. This set of 20 or so thick volumes took up an entire bookcase shelf, and included a yearly update volume. It costs hundreds of dollars, and I was the only one who ever read anything form it. It served as a base for several grade school papers, and as a reference for some in high school as well. For a far lower price, assuming you already have the computer, parents today can provide Internet access which has thousands of times the information crammed in to the World Books. Libraries can provide a universe of knowledge in a few cubic feet of space. Schools can provide a better textbook than anything ever written. The utility of the Internet is beyond doubt."
"Censorware chips that away. One site, ten sites, a hundred thousand sites at a time, gags are wrapped around out mouths....
4. Loudoun county, Va.Loudoun Public Library used computer filters to prevent kids from viewing sexually explicit material on the Internet. October 20, 1997, the Loudoun County Library Board of Trustees voted 5-4 to require the county’s libraries to install a censorware product on any terminal with Internet access. The censorware would be installed even on terminals used only by adults and would not be turned off at anyone’s request. Policy intent: to protect library users and employees against unwelcome sexual material. Policy: "Pornographic Internet displays may intimidate patrons or staff, denying them equal access to public facilities. Such displays would transform the library environment from one of reading and scholarship to one which invites unwelcome sexual advances and sexual harassment." Therefore, site block software would be installed on all computers. They library system installed a product called X-Stop, from Log On Data. LOD claimed that the filter blocked only legally obscene material. In reality, it had blocked American Assn. of University Women, Aids Quilt Site and a Quaker home page. December 22, 1997. a non profit organization, Mainstream Loudoun, filed a lawsuit against the Board’s policy. They contended the filters were a violation of First Amendment rights. -- because it blocked material that was not obscene or lacking in constitutional protection. Noted that this filtering was applied to adults, too, thus reducing adults to level of kids.
Federal courts ruled against the library’s request for dismissal of the lawsuit.
"By purchasing Internet access, each Loudoun library has made all Internet publications instantly accessible to its patrons. Unlike an Interlibrary loan or outright book purchase, no appreciable expenditure of library time or resources is requires to make a particular Internet publication available to a library patron. In contrast, a library must actually expend resources to restrict Internet access to a publication that is otherwise immediately available."
Judge Leonie Brinkema. Agreed with Mainstream Loudoun that the Internet is akin to a set of encyclopedias from which the board laboriously cut out sections deemed unfit for its patrons. Xstop’s blocking of webs sites therefore constituted a removal of a resource from the library rather than a failure to acquire it. November 24, 1998. Judge Brinkema ruled against the library, saying it had violated First Amendment rights of free speech; ;failed to serve a compelling government interest. Judge noted that the library’s policies put a high premium on "offering the widest possible diversity of views and expressions." For more on the case, see http://eff.org/pub/Legal/Cases/Loudoun_library/
Other library methods.
1. Library requires Internet users to sign a form that says, in essence, that they won’t look at cyber porn. That has led to another lawsuit. 11 adult residents of Ventura County, California, and the local branch of the Libertarian Party, filed a complaint in federal court in LA in April 1998. Challenged their library system’s requirement that patrons who wish to use library computers must sign a form agreeing to refrain from "displaying sexually explicit" material online.
2. A group of 23 Yakima County politicians has threatened to take steps against the local library system unless it changes its policy of granting library users unfiltered Internet access. The group, which includes a Yakima county commissioner and majors and city council members from 10 cities, urged the 19-branch Yakima Valley Regional Library system to install software on library computers that can prevent users from accessing porn and other objectionable material. The Library’s current policy lets users access the Internet at their own discretion. The Library is exploring options: (a) filtering ALL access (b) filtering only objectionable sites (c) ending all Internet access or (d) keeping the current policy.
I. Dissent and the Internet
Hard to regulate. No way to block information. Many new users/sites daily. It is hard to censor the Internet. Around the world, governments, schools, special interest groups, families and governments are trying to find acceptable ways of tapping into the riches of the internet without hitting problems. With its ability to carry all kinds of information across borders and oceans in a flash, the Internet has evolved faster than the lies and technical infrastructures of the nations it touches. Internet experts say: no way to effectively block information. Brian Ek, one industry expert: First, no matter what technologies we come up with, somewhere, somehow, someone is going to figure out a way to circumvent them. That’s the nature of programming. Second, there is an ocean of Web pages and news groups already out there, and being able to rate them all, with several hundred new ones coming on line every day, is an impossibility.
Biggest obstacle to control: the design of the Internet itself. It was created during the cold war to allow uninterrupted routing of data traffic even in the event of a nuclear war. Millions of host computers today. It is as easy to retrieve data files from halfway around the world as it is to get a file from the computer on the next desk -- and the data path may snake through dozens of cities and countries along the way. Trying to keep certain kinds of information from entering a jurisdiction is as difficult as keeping certain kinds of molecules from entering a country’s air space, or certain kinds of fish from swimming in its waters.
China.Internet eroding China’s strong control over national media. Truly International medium; hard to control. Access can be very easy.
China: Murder of Wang Han. 23 year old was strangled and stabbed in a Shanghai hotel room in August 1998. Her parents were devastated -- not only because they lost a daughter but because the hotel also rebuffed their appeals to check on her around the time of the murder. China’s state-run media gave the story little coverage. So, frustrated and angry, the family turned to its local Internet provider to get its story out. WEB PAGES about her death, shoddy security at the hotel and insensitivity to the victim’s family after the crime. Within a few weeks, her murder was the talk of China’s cyberspace community, now about 2m strong and growing about 40% a year. Back to Ms.Wang. Family suing the hotel. Family says that a hotel security videotape shows an agitated man stalking Ms.Wang and then leaving the premises wearing her white Italian overcoat and carrying her shopping bag. Ms.Wang’s body wasn’t discovered until 17 hours later. At least a half dozen Chinese Internet sites picked up the original web story. A few newspapers covered it too. None were approached by government in this.
Eroding Control. China generally ensures that its newspapers, magazines, radio and TV adhere to the upbeat, narrowly circumscribed script of the Communist party. A few editors push the limits with investigative articles or minor corruption-busting broadcasts, but that is relatively rare.
No explicit laws in China yet on the Internet. Because the Internet is so new, no agency has responsibility for it. Internet gradually becoming a source of news in China. Some Chinese media expanding into the Web. Dissident journals now are widely distributed over the Internet. On the day that veteran dissident Wei Jing Sheng was released from prison and sent to the US in 1998, political tracts trumpeting the event popped up in e mailboxes all over the country. Making the rounds more recently were copies of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights that China recently signed, together with a report on the arrest of democracy activists.
China has been cracking down some. December 1998: Shanghai prosecutors charged a local Internet entrepreneur, Lin Hai, with conspiring to bring down the government. His crime: swapping 30K e-mail addressees with a Chinese-dissident magazine based in the US. His wife says: he did not care about the politics; only wanted to expand his business by doubling the mailing list. The case has chilled China’s growing electronic commerce, which depends on email lists as its primary marketing tool. While China blocks some WWW news sites that originate overseas, many others remain open. For more on this general issue, see the Electronic Frontier Foundation's site (http://www.eff.org). For more on the Lin Hai case, see http://www.eff.org/udhr/lin_hai_release.html)
Dissident journal: CHINESE VIP REFERENCE, based in US. Claims 250K Chinese receive its electronic publication. The journal plays a cat and mouse game with government censors, sending its email s from a different address almost daily. "We are destined to destroy the Chinese system of censorship over the Internet," says the journal’s New York based editor, Richard Long.
Korea.New York Times. "Internet Recharges Reformers in Korea." (2/29/2000). Koreans who were in the streets, protesting, in the 1980s, today are relying increasingly on the Internet as a means of getting their message to the public. The result has been a snowballing of reform in the country (aided, too, by the current President, Kim Dae Jung). "In a country where political demonstrations remain tightly restricted, the new groups have invented what they call Internet rallies, for recruiting members, exchanging opinions, organizing letter-writing, debating and publishing policies." "Simply put, our goal is political reform," said Jang Won, 44, a professor of environmental studies, whose group is a major player in the civic coalition. "We want to drive out corrupt politicians. We want to force the parties to adopt transparent processes for selecting candidates, and we want to break the pattern of politics run by charismatic leaders who play on regional differences." Normally cautious traditional media (such as newspapers and TV) have rushed to try to match the civic groups’ information, or at least report it, so as not to appear irrelevant.
J. Community and the Internet
For those who do not see themselves much in the traditional media, Internet can provide a gateway to a wider community. Derrick Brown, a grad student at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta: visited various African American sites for years. "Basically, they present a perspective and news you are not going to see every week" at other sites. But hard to keep up with all of this. So he started UNIVERSAL BLACK PAGES, a directory to keep abreast of African American sites. The directory initially listed 800 sites; now includes thousands. Huge range of things from Black Scuba Divers, to Young Black Entrepreneurs, on line edition of Ebony, Essence and Black Enterprise, Urban Sports Network, Black Golfers. --- Minority Golf Assn of America. The result: Universal Black pages: http://www.ubp.com. Other sources include Ebony magazine: http://www.ebonymag. com, Essence: http://www.essence.com, Black Enterprise: http://www.blackenterprise.com, Urban Sports Network: http://urbansportsnetwork.com
Other web communities includeHispanic sites (such as http://www.hispanic.com) and Asian American sites (such as http://amagazine.com and http://www.a-space.com).
K. Commerce and the Internet
The growing number of users and their apparent willingness to go online to find commercial and to buy products have been at the heart of the debate over the future of the Internet. The Internet was developed, nurtured and popularized by hackers -- people interested in technology, information and communication through computers. The ideal of many of these hackers was an egalitarian, decentralized, experimental, anarchic and non commercial medium. Business is very different in its perspective of all this: it tends to be hierarchical, centralized, systematized, organized and for profit.
The traditionalists (hackers) argue commercialization will turn the Internet into just another one of the type of media we have today -- run not for the interests of the public at large but for the commercial interests of advertisers. They point particularly to television as a medium that has been shaped almost entirely by commercial interests -- where non-advertising content is influenced by commercial concerns.
Defenders of online commerce argue, however, that the Internet will always be accessible and open. There is no spectrum scarcity to limit access, as there is in broadcasting, so any analogy to TV is inappropriate.
Advertising on the Internet -- it is growing.
(WSJ. Nov. 30, 1998). Before 1998, few companies outside of the technology field wanted to advertise on the Internet, and those that tried were hardly dazzled by the results. By some estimates, more than 80% of the Internet’s available ad slots in 1997 went unsold. 1999. Online advertising is booming. First half of 1998: spending totally $774 million, double the pace a year before. Full year 1998 outlays are expected to reach $2b.
Surge: because advertisers see new ways cyberspace can fit their strategies.
Other aspects in the rise of Internet advertising:
Problems with Internet ads.