Category Archives: Education

Economists still calling computer networks “virtual” while interconnectivity is exposing economic externalities

While artists and designers have discovered there’s no sharp distinction between “real” and “virtual” (aka the New Aesthetic), economists are still talking about “virtual”, even as the networks of computers they’re referring to are exposing the economic externalities the greed of the “first economy” is built on.

Bill Davidow wrote for the Atlantic 10 April 2012, How Computers Are Creating a Second Economy Without Workers,

“Twenty years ago, if you went into an airport you would walk up to a counter and present paper tickets to a human being. That person would register you on a computer, notify the flight you’d arrived, and check your luggage in. All this was done by humans.”
Well, except for that part about “a computer”. And the flight computers in the airplane. And the FAA computers. And….

This is also true:

“Today, you walk into an airport and look for a machine. You put in a frequent-flier card or credit card, and it takes just three or four seconds to get back a boarding pass, receipt, and luggage tag. What interests me is what happens in those three or four seconds. The moment the card goes in, you are starting a huge conversation conducted entirely among machines. Once your name is recognized, computers are checking your flight status with the airlines, your past travel history, your name with the TSA (and possibly also with the National Security Agency). They are checking your seat choice, your frequent-flier status, and your access to lounges.”
While Bruce Sterling can (rightly, I think) say that’s not AI, nonetheless it all happens without much human intervention. And pixelated images of airplanes don’t start to indicate what’s going on in there.

The punchline:

“Here’s the challenge: In the past, every million-dollar increase in economic output generated on the order of ten jobs. In the future, in the productive Second Economy, it may generate only one or two.”
That’s not new. I’m a farmer, and 90% of farm jobs in this country Continue reading

Against SOPA and PIPA, for an open Internet

If you haven’t heard of SOPA and PIPA, you will today, as reddit, Wikipedia, Google, Craigslist, Free Software Foundation, and many other websites protest those Internet censorship bills today. The so-called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a House bill (H.R.3261) and the so-called PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is a Senate bill (S.968) (most recently renamed Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011). Both have nothing to do with promoting creativity and everything to do with giving a few large copyright holders priority over the Internet, requiring censorship of links to entire domains. Have you heard of the Great Firewall of China? That’s where the Chinese government censors entire domains such as facebook, youtube, and twitter because they contain some content that the Chinese government doesn’t want distributed. SOPA and PIPA would do the same thing, except putting Hollywood in charge of what would be censored. In a perfect example of the DC lobbying revolving door, former Senator Chris Dodd, now Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the anti-SOPA blackout an “abuse of power”. Funny how it’s only an abuse of power when we fight back.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Mythbuster Adam Savage.

Here’s a technical explanation. And here’s a letter of objection many of the engineers who built the Internet.

Here’s where the anti-SOPA blackout started: Continue reading

Stop Internet censorship —Internet Engineers

Parker Higgins and Peter Eckersley wrote for EFF 15 December 2011, An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the U.S. Congress
Today, a group of 83 prominent Internet inventors and engineers sent an open letter to members of the United States Congress, stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA Internet blacklist bills that are under consideration in the House and Senate respectively.
The signatories are people such as Vint Cerf you may have heard of even if you know nothing about the technical details of Internet, and many other people who helped produce the network you are using now. I know many of them, and they are right. If you want a free and open Internet, call or write your Senators and Congress members today, and tell them to vote against PIPA and SOPA.

The full text of the letter is appended below.


We, the undersigned, have played various parts in building a network called the Internet. We wrote and debugged the software; we defined the standards and protocols that talk over that network. Many of us invented parts of it. We’re just a little proud of the social and economic benefits that our project, the Internet, has brought with it.

Last year, many of us wrote to you and your colleagues to warn about the proposed “COICA” copyright and censorship legislation. Today, we are writing again to reiterate our concerns about the SOPA and PIPA derivatives of last year’s bill, that are under consideration in the House and Senate. In many respects, these proposals are worse than the one we were alarmed to read last year.

If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.

All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but these bills are particularly egregious in that regard because they cause entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under these proposals. In fact, it seems that this has already begun to happen under the nascent DHS/ICE seizures program.

Censorship of Internet infrastructure will inevitably cause network errors and security problems. This is true in China, Iran and other countries that censor the network today; it will be just as true of American censorship. It is also true regardless of whether censorship is implemented via the DNS, proxies, firewalls, or any other method. Types of network errors and insecurity that we wrestle with today will become more widespread, and will affect sites other than those blacklisted by the American government.

The current bills — SOPA explicitly and PIPA implicitly — also threaten engineers who build Internet systems or offer services that are not readily and automatically compliant with censorship actions by the U.S. government. When we designed the Internet the first time, our priorities were reliability, robustness and minimizing central points of failure or control. We are alarmed that Congress is so close to mandating censorship-compliance as a design requirement for new Internet innovations. This can only damage the security of the network, and give authoritarian governments more power over what their citizens can read and publish.

The US government has regularly claimed that it supports a free and open Internet, both domestically and abroad. We cannot have a free and open Internet unless its naming and routing systems sit above the political concerns and objectives of any one government or industry. To date, the leading role the US has played in this infrastructure has been fairly uncontroversial because America is seen as a trustworthy arbiter and a neutral bastion of free expression. If the US begins to use its central position in the network for censorship that advances its political and economic agenda, the consequences will be far-reaching and destructive.

Senators, Congressmen, we believe the Internet is too important and too valuable to be endangered in this way, and implore you to put these bills aside.


  • Vint Cerf, co-designer of TCP/IP, one of the “fathers of the Internet”, signing as private citizen
  • Paul Vixie, author of BIND, the most widely-used DNS server software, and President of the Internet Systems Consortium
  • Tony Li, co-author of BGP (the protocol used to arrange Internet routing); chair of the IRTF’s Routing Research Group; a Cisco Fellow; and architect for many of the systems that have actually been used to build the Internet
  • Steven Bellovin, invented the DNS cache contamination attack; co-authored the first book on Internet security; recipient of the 2007 NIST/NSA National Computer Systems Security Award and member of the DHS Science and Technology Advisory Committee
  • Jim Gettys, editor of the HTTP/1.1 protocol standards, which we use to do everything on the Web
  • Dave Kristol, co-author, RFCs 2109, 2965 (Web cookies); contributor, RFC 2616 (HTTP/1.1)
  • Steve Deering, Ph.D., invented the IP multicast feature of the Internet; lead designer of IPv6 (version 6 of the Internet Protocol)
  • David Ulevitch, David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS, which offers alternative DNS services for enhanced security.
  • Elizabeth Feinler, director of the Network Information Center (NIC) at SRI International, administered the Internet Name Space from 1970 until 1989 and developed the naming conventions for the internet top level domains (TLDs) of .mil, .gov, .com, .org, etc. under contracts to DoD
  • Robert W. Taylor, founded and funded the beginning of the ARPAnet; founded and managed the Xerox PARC Computer Science Lab which designed and built the first networked personal computer (Alto), the Ethernet, the first internet protocol and internet, and desktop publishing
  • Fred Baker, former IETF chair, has written about 50 RFCs and contributed to about 150 more, regarding widely used Internet technology
  • Dan Kaminsky, Chief Scientist, DKH
  • Esther Dyson, EDventure; founding chairman, ICANN; former chairman, EFF; active investor in many start-ups that support commerce, news and advertising on the Internet; director, Sunlight Foundation
  • Walt Daniels, IBM’s contributor to MIME, the mechanism used to add attachments to emails
  • Nathaniel Borenstein, Chief Scientist, Mimecast; one of the two authors of the MIME protocol, and has worked on many other software systems and protocols, mostly related to e-mail and payments
  • Simon Higgs, designed the role of the stealth DNS server that protects; worked on all versions of Draft Postel for creating new TLDs and addressed trademark issues with a complimentary Internet Draft; ran the shared-TLD mailing list back in 1995 which defined the domain name registry/registrar relationship; was a root server operator for the Open Root Server Consortium; founded in 1994
  • John Bartas, was the technical lead on the first commercial IP/TCP software for IBM PCs in 1985-1987 at The Wollongong Group. As part of that work, developed the first tunneling RFC, rfc-1088
  • Nathan Eisenberg, Atlas Networks Senior System Administrator; manager of 25K sq. ft. of data centers which provide services to Starbucks, Oracle, and local state
  • Dave Crocker, author of Internet standards including email, DKIM anti-abuse, electronic data interchange and facsimile, developer of CSNet and MCI national email services, former IETF Area Director for network management, DNS and standards, recipient of IEEE Internet Award for contributions to email, and serial entrepreneur
  • Craig Partridge, architect of how email is routed through the Internet; designed the world’s fastest router in the mid 1990s
  • Doug Moeller, Chief Technology Officer at Autonet Mobile
  • John Todd, Lead Designer/Maintainer – Freenum Project (DNS-based, free telephony/chat pointer system),
  • Alia Atlas, designed software in a core router (Avici) and has various RFCs around resiliency, MPLS, and ICMP
  • Kelly Kane, shared web hosting network operator
  • Robert Rodgers, distinguished engineer, Juniper Networks
  • Anthony Lauck, helped design and standardize routing protocols and local area network protocols and served on the Internet Architecture Board
  • Ramaswamy Aditya, built various networks and web/mail content and application hosting providers including AS10368 (DNAI) which is now part of AS6079 (RCN); did network engineering and peering for that provider; did network engineering for AS25 (UC Berkeley); currently does network engineering for AS177-179 and others (UMich)
  • Blake Pfankuch, Connecting Point of Greeley, Network Engineer
  • Jon Loeliger, has implemented OSPF, one of the main routing protocols used to determine IP packet delivery; at other companies, has helped design and build the actual computers used to implement core routers or storage delivery systems; at another company, installed network services (T-1 lines and ISP service) into Hotels and Airports across the country
  • Jim Deleskie, internetMCI Sr. Network Engineer, Teleglobe Principal Network Architect
  • David Barrett, Founder and CEO, Expensify
  • Mikki Barry, VP Engineering of InterCon Systems Corp., creators of the first commercial applications software for the Macintosh platform and the first commercial Internet Service Provider in Japan
  • Peter Rubenstein,helped to design and build the AOL backbone network, ATDN.
  • David Farber, distinguished Professor CMU; Principal in development of CSNET, NSFNET, NREN, GIGABIT TESTBED, and the first operational distributed computer system; EFF board member
  • Bradford Chatterjee, Network Engineer, helped design and operate the backbone network for a nationwide ISP serving about 450,000 users
  • Gary E. Miller Network Engineer specializing in eCommerce
  • Jon Callas, worked on a number of Internet security standards including OpenPGP, ZRTP, DKIM, Signed Syslog, SPKI, and others; also participated in other standards for applications and network routing
  • John Kemp, Principal Software Architect, Nokia; helped build the distributed authorization protocol OAuth and its predecessors; former member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group
  • Christian Huitema, worked on building the Internet in France and Europe in the 80’s, and authored many Internet standards related to IPv6, RTP, and SIP; a former member of the Internet Architecture Board
  • Steve Goldstein, Program Officer for International Networking Coordination at the National Science Foundation 1989-2003, initiated several projects that spread Internet and advanced Internet capabilities globally
  • David Newman, 20 years’ experience in performance testing of Internet
    infrastructure; author of three RFCs on measurement techniques (two on firewall performance, one on test traffic contents)
  • Justin Krejci, helped build and run the two biggest and most successful municipal wifi networks located in Minneapolis, MN and Riverside, CA; building and running a new FTTH network in Minneapolis
  • Christopher Liljenstolpe, was the chief architect for AS3561 (at the time about 30% of the Internet backbone by traffic), and AS1221 (Australia’s main Internet infrastructure)
  • Joe Hamelin, co-founder of Seattle Internet Exchange ( in 1997, and former peering engineer for Amazon in 2001
  • John Adams, operations engineer at Twitter, signing as a private citizen
  • David M. Miller, CTO / Exec VP for DNS Made Easy (IP Anycast Managed Enterprise DNS provider)
  • Seth Breidbart, helped build the Pluribus IMP/TIP for the ARPANET
  • Timothy McGinnis, co-chair of the African Network Information Center Policy Development Working Group, and active in various IETF Working Groups
  • Richard Kulawiec, 30 years designing/operating academic/commercial/ISP systems and networks
  • Larry Stewart, built the Etherphone at Xerox, the first telephone system working over a local area network; designed early e-commerce systems for the Internet at Open Market
  • John Pettitt, Internet commerce pioneer, online since 1983, CEO Free Range Content Inc.; founder/CTO CyberSource &; created online fraud protection software that processes over 2 billion transaction a year
  • Brandon Ross, Chief Network Architect and CEO of Network Utility Force LLC
  • Chris Boyd, runs a green hosting company and supports EFF-Austin as a board member
  • Dr. Richard Clayton, designer of Turnpike, widely used Windows-based Internet access suite; prominent Computer Security researcher at Cambridge University
  • Robert Bonomi, designed, built, and implemented, the Internet presence for a number of large corporations
  • Owen DeLong, member of the ARIN Advisory Council who has spent more than a decade developing better IP addressing policies for the internet in North America and around the world
  • Baudouin Schombe, blog design and content trainer
  • Lyndon Nerenberg, Creator of IMAP Binary extension (RFC 3516)
  • John Gilmore, co-designed BOOTP (RFC 951), which became DHCP, the way you get an IP address when you plug into an Ethernet or get on a WiFi access point; current EFF board member
  • John Bond, Systems Engineer at RIPE NCC maintaining AS25152 ( and AS197000 ( ,; signing as a private citizen
  • Stephen Farrell, co-author on about 15 RFCs
  • Samuel Moats, senior systems engineer for the Department of Defense; helps build and defend the networks that deliver data to Defense Department users
  • John Vittal, created the first full email client and the email standards still in use today
  • Ryan Rawdon, built out and maintains the network infrastructure for a rapidly growing company in our country’s bustling advertising industry; was on the technical operations team for one of our country’s largest residential ISPs
  • Brian Haberman, has been involved in the design of IPv6, IGMP/MLD, and NTP within the IETF for nearly 15 years
  • Eric Tykwinski, Network Engineer working for a small ISP based in the Philadelphia region; currently maintains the network as well as the DNS and server infrastructure
  • Noel Chiappa, has been working on the lowest level stuff (the IP protocol level) since 1977; name on the ‘Birth of the Internet’ plaque at Stanford); actively helping to develop new ‘plumbing’ at that level
  • Robert M. Hinden, worked on the gateways in the early Internet, author of many of the core IPv6 specifications, active in the IETF since the first IETF meeting, author of 37 RFCs, and current Internet Society Board of Trustee member
  • Alexander McKenzie, former member of the Network Working Group and participated in the design of the first ARPAnet Host protocols; was the manager of the ARPAnet Network Operation Center that kept the network running in the early 1970s; was a charter member of the International Network Working Group that developed the ideas used in TCP and IP
  • Keith Moore, was on the Internet Engineering Steering Group from 1996-2000, as one of two Area Directors for applications; wrote or co-wrote technical specification RFCs associated with email, WWW, and IPv6 transition
  • Guy Almes, led the connection of universities in Texas to the NSFnet during the late 1980s; served as Chief Engineer of Internet2 in the late 1990s
  • David Mercer, formerly of The River Internet, provided service to more of Arizona than any local or national ISP
  • Paul Timmins, designed and runs the multi-state network of a medium sized telephone and internet company in the Midwest
  • Stephen L. Casner, led the working group that designed the Real-time Transport Protocol that carries the voice signals in VoIP systems
  • Tim Rutherford, DNS and network administrator at C4
  • Mike Alexander, helped implement (on the Michigan Terminal System at the University of Michigan) one of the first EMail systems to be connected to the Internet (and to its predecessors such as Bitnet, Mailnet, and UUCP); helped with the basic work to connect MTS to the Internet; implemented various IP related drivers on early Macintosh systems: one allowed TCP/IP connections over ISDN lines and another made a TCP connection look like a serial port
  • John Klensin, Ph.D., early and ongoing role in the design of Internet applications and coordination and administrative policies
  • L. Jean Camp, former Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, focusing on computer security; eight years at Harvard’s Kennedy School; tenured Professor at Indiana Unviersity’s School of Informatics with research addressing security in society.
  • Louis Pouzin, designed and implemented the first computer network using datagrams (CYCLADES), from which TCP/IP was derived
  • Carl Page, helped found eGroups, the biggest social network
    of its day, 14 million users at the point of sale to Yahoo for around $430,000,000, at which point it became Yahoo Groups
  • Phil Lapsley, co-author of the Internet Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), RFC 977, and developer of the NNTP reference implementation
  • Jack Haverty (MSEE, BSEE MIT 1970), Principal Investigator for several DARPA projects including the first Internet development and operation; Corporate Network Architect for BBN; Founding member of the IAB/ICCB; Internet Architect and Corporate Founding Member of W3C for Oracle Corporation
  • Glenn Ricart, Managed the original (FIX) Internet interconnection point

a worldwide social network that has fomented revolution in multiple countries

Who would have thought that twitter and facebook could foment a revolution? Yet Wael Ghonim says it did. He’s one of the people behind the “We are all Khaled Said” facebook page, and he spent a dozen days in jail for it: Here’s his TED Talk:
“Because of the Internet, the truth prevailed.
And everyone knew the truth.
And everyone started to think that this guy can be my brother.”

Here’s a post from that facebook page on 3 March 2011:

“I really want you ALL to understand that your support to Free Egypt & Egyptians is vital. Don’t you ever think that sitting on FaceBook supporting & commenting help help Egypt. A whole revolution started on Facebook & is now bringing Freedom & starting a new modern Egypt.”

Other Egyptian organizers say similar things:

“Online organising is very important because activists have been able to discuss and take decisions without having to organise a meeting which could be broken up by the police,” he said.’
( “Internet role in Egypt’s protests,” by Anne Alexander, BBC, 9 February 2011.)

Many of the Egyptians involved were poor and not usually thought of as Internet users, but David D. Kirkpatrick expalined that in the NY Times 9 Feb 2011, Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt:

The day of the protest, the group tried a feint to throw off the police. The organizers let it be known that they intended to gather at a mosque in an upscale neighborhood in central Cairo, and the police gathered there in force. But the …organizers set out instead for a poor neighborhood nearby, Mr. Elaimy recalled.

Starting in a poor neighborhood was itself an experiment. “We always start from the elite, with the same faces,” Mr. Lotfi said. “So this time we thought, let’s try.” ‘

The NY Times story goes into detail about how the online organizing interfaced with and instigated the initial meatspace protests.

And you don’t need a laptop or a desktop computer to use social media. As Reese Jones points out,

in 2010 75% of the population of Egypt had cell phones (60 million phones in service likely with SMS) possible to message via Facebook via SMS at
And this was all after similar efforts in Tunisia had successfully exiled their tyrant and inspired the Egyptians, who in turn inspired the Lybians, etc. And what inspired the Tunisians to start was Wikileaks posts of U.S. cables showing the U.S. thought the Tunisian dictator was just as clueless and corrupt as the Tunisians thought.

So yes, social networking on the Internet has fomented multiple revolutions.


Kevin Martin’s Bottle: Weak Ruling Against Comcast Guarantees Court Challenges

The FCC recently ruled that Comcast has to stop throttling P2P. On the surface, that's a good thing. That Kevin Martin wanted it makes me wonder.

For once I agree with a net neutrality opponent:

By instituting this weird, weak, and barely legal regulation, Kevin Martin will get ‘net neutrality regulation bottled up in the courts for – what – the next five years?

Game, Set, and Match: Martin! by Jim Harper, Technology Liberation Front, 6 Aug 2008

Harper goes on to predict that meanwhile real competition could develop. And pigs could fly, but that's not the point.

This is the point:

The paragraph prior to the provocative line suggesting regulation of universities contains this sentence: “Allowing some Internet service providers to manage P2P traffic – much less to engage in complete blocking of P2P traffic – while prohibiting others from doing so would be arbitrary and capricious.” This is an administrative-law term of art – “arbitrary and capricious.” The use of it tells us that NCTA or Comcast will challenge the FCC’s decision to regulate only one provider of Internet access without regulating all similarly situated.

But Comcast is under a different regulatory regime!, says Harold and the others. Not in an enforcement of this “broad policy statement” thing-y. The FCC is claming free rein to regulate – not authority based firmly in statute – and if it can throw that rein over cable ISPs, it can throw that rein over universities, over Starbucks, and over the open wi-fi node in Harold’s house.

Now, given the free rein that the FCC is asserting, there is a darn good argument that it’s arbitrary (and “capricious”) to regulate only cable ISPs or commercial ISPs in this way. The FCC has to regulate the whole damn Internet this way if it’s going to regulate Comcast.

This is not just theoretical. Fox News recently refused to pay an FCC-imposed fine, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious". Fox cited a previous case in which a federal court slapped down the FCC for fining a show for swearing, saying it was "arbitrary and capricious".

All that plus if a court rules the FCC's recent decision is "arbitrary and capricious", that will be used as a precedent to require universities to regulate content on their networks in favor of big copyright holders, as elements in Congress have been trying to do for about a year now.

I think net neutrality advocates underestimate Kevin Martin at their (and our) peril.


Os Invasores: Brazilian Malware Education Videos

img-video02.png At the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) meeting in Pittsburgh, one common theme was that people still fall for scams like phishing, and have little comprehension of the various forms of malware that phishing uses.

The Brazilian Computer Emergency Reponse Team,, has one possible solution: animated videos from So far they’ve got a pair. Navegar e Preciso explains how the Internet works, and goes as far as firewalls. Os Invasores explains viruses, trojan horses, worms, bots, and spyware (keylogger and screenlogger). Both videos are in Portuguese, but it’s pretty easy to follow what’s going on. Spanish translations are already in progress, and other languages will probably follow.

A virus looks like a little purple crab with yellow eyese and welding torch. A worm has google eyes and a long cable-connector tail. A bot looks a bit like a worm, but with shady Doonesbury eyes, a mechanical-looking tail, and in the foreground in hand with a toy remote control. I wonder how long before somebody makes mass market toys out of these characters?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch these videos in Pittsburgh, because the hotel Internet “high speed” connection was so slow. Ironic, isn’t it? The most innovative approach to user education I’ve seen lately comes from Brazil, and back in the U.S. of A. there’s difficulty finding fast enough bandwidth to watch it. At the moment I’m elsewhere on a cable connection, which works, although the larger version of Os Invasores (22.4Mb) takes several minutes to get here.


Malamud Court Gadfly

gadfly.jpg Carl Malamud is at it again. After getting patents and SEC filings and Congressional subcommittee hearings available online, now he’s going for court case law.
Last week, Mr. Malamud began using advanced computer scanning technology to copy decisions, which have been available only in law libraries or via subscription from the Thomson West unit of the Canadian publishing conglomerate Thomson, and LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier, based in London.

The two companies control the bulk of the nearly $5 billion legal publishing market. (A third, but niche, player is the Commerce Clearing House division of Wolters Kluwer).

He has placed the first batch of 1,000 pages of court decisions from the 1880s online at the site. He obtained the documents from a used Thomson microfiche, he said.

A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free, By JOHN MARKOFF, New York Times, Published: August 20, 2007

Markoff refers to Malamud as a gadfly. Hey, Socrates was a gadfly, too. Not bad company.

Now what happens if the Internet first mile access duopoly decides to give Thomson and LexisNexis and Wolters Kluwer high-speed high-quality transit and deprioritizes the Internet Archive?


Education Entertainment

EDUCAUSE is up in arms about a proposed amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act that the Senate is supposed to be considering today. It basically makes the Secretary of Education an arm of the MPAA and requires institutions of higher education to police file sharing. I think this is the most interesting part of the amendment, where it’s saying it will:
(1) the 25 institutions of higher education participating in programs under this title, which have received during the previous calendar year the highest number of written notices fromm copyright owners, or persons authorized to act on behalf of copyright holders, alleging infringement of copyright by users of the institution’s information technology systems, where such notices identify with specificity the works alleged to the infringed, or a representative list of works alleged to be infringed, the date and time of the alleged infringing conduct together with information sufficient to identify the infringing user, and information sufficient to contact the copyright owner or its authorized representative; and

Text of Amendments, SA 2314, Congressional Record — Senate, 17 July 2007

So universities are supposed to keep lists of allegations against their students (or staff or faculty) and those lists can be used to determine their funding. Allegations, mind you, not convictions. This is once again the entertainment industry tail wagging the dog, in this case higher education. Hm, I suppose that’s a bad analogy, since the entertainment industry seems to only understand the big head, not the long tail….

And as if to demonstrate Republicans have no monopoly on horribly bad ideas, this amendment is proposed by the Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid. Is the Internet really that hard to understand?


TV, Literacy, and the Internet

Whether Ray Bradbury is right about the cause being TV or not, it appears that U.S. adults don’t read very well:
In the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) assessment, 1994-98:
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with primary or no education, ranked 14th out of 18 high-income countries;
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with some high school, but no diploma or GED, ranked 19th out of 19 high-income countries;
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with a high school diploma or GED (but no college), ranked 18th (tie) out of 19 countries;
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with 1-3 years of college, ranked 15th out of 19 countries; and
  • The mean prose literacy scores of U.S. adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, ranked 5th.

The Twin Challenges of Mediocrity and Inequality: Literacy in the U.S. from an International Perspective, Sum, Andrew, Irwin Kirsch, and Robert Taggart, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ, February 2002. Quoted in Fact Sheet Overview, National Institute for Literacy, accessed 7 June 2007.

Apparently U.S. adults only really learn to read in college, and not all that well even then. And if they can’t read very well, it’s a safe bet that they don’t read very much. Continue reading

EduCause Talking Points

EDUCAUSE, the higher education information technology organization, is active in net neutrality. Why? The first two points of their Talking Points on Net Neutrality answer that:
  1. Net neutrality is fundamentally important to allowing universities fulfill their educational mission. Universities’ goal is to deliver high-quality multimedia instructional material to as many students as possible, including off-campus students and those in rural areas. The widespread availability of open, affordable broadband communications makes distance learning more accessible and effective.
  2. Universities’ Internet research laboratories could be undermined if the Internet is not open to innovation and experimentation. Universities are developing next-generation Internet technologies that will drive the Internet economy. If Internet service providers are allowed to inhibit or degrade these research activities, the United States could lose its leadership role in the creation of Internet-based technologies.
Universities need net neutrality to do their two most basic jobs: teaching and research. Continue reading