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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Paris - the Louvre, the Irish pub, the Hotel Monge

It was a very big effort to get to Paris - after teaching cybercrime and data protection seminars until 7pm, first weeks of each and very nice group (9 of the group are the same for both classes - so it's like a 4 hour seminar for them, poor sods!). Drove back to Oxford in 2 hours, woke at 4.21am for drive to Heathrow. Then got to Paris 9.45, spoke from 10-11, listened hard to the discussion til 1.20, lunch til 2.45 (pretty good but no gastronauts' miracles - has Barcelona spoilt me?).
I slept for 3 hours at charming little hotel, went for a walk on the evening, very quiet around Notre Dame, beautiful, and then popped into an Irish pub by Place St Michel, ended up having about half a dozen Guiness and chatting to very nice people, French language students from Espana, Italia, UK. Saturday Louvre, great 'Christ and the adulteress' by Italian artist I'd never heard of before, and back to UK. It woke me up from my winter's sleep for a day or so...
Now planning vaguely to be in Seville for Easter - which would be fantastic!! Alex is keen - and it'd be a nice return from my teaching til end-March.

Reflections on Internet governance and the international system

Back from Paris where I spoke on a panel at Vox-Internet’s conference with Herbert Berkert, who was wry, penetrating and charming as always.

It was very interesting to meet a representative of the free software tribe, who was vociferous in criticism of Assocation for Progressive Communications, and particularly what he saw as their 4 reps on the WGIG. The passion was undeniable, but also the complete lack of diplomatic skills.

He and Herbert confirmed in my mind that 3 incompatible systems (in the LUhmann sense) are trying to co-exist in the Internet governance discussion. First, government reasserting its sovereignty over the Internet, what Herbert calls the ‘repatriation’. domestication or ‘regeographicisation’ of the net (including DRM, IPv6 and firewalling. But also biological/trusted identity creation). He also called it the postmodernisation of the infrastructure, because all these dainty old-fashioned techniques are reimposed on the 21st century, rather like stressed steel and plate glass being topped by fake spires and cupolas in architecture. Not surprising, and demonstrating that we have moved forward, from ‘code is law’ to ‘code is not law’ – and certainly not back to ‘l’etat c’est moi’ (and my corporate feudal lords) as some French Foucaultists claim.

Second, civil society – in the post-ideological state, the politically correct rainbow coalitions are everywhere – even in the UN. This is not new, the World Social Summit is 5 years old, the actions against the MAI from OECD were almost a decade ago, the resistance to the New World Order is passionate – as Herbert said, it’s déjà vu all over again, to NWICO in the 1980s and the anti-capitalist movement then.

Third, the nweebs, the tecchies – and the Stallmanites will lose, just as the Cerfs are reduced to well-meaning advocates wrapped in corporate clothes. Cerf or Stallman, Andreesen or Ted Nelson – visionary loses to pragmatist. The problem is that most of these guys have no social or political skills.

In contrast, the civil society advocates have lots of political skills – and have taken over from the techies. Given that the functionalists in the ITU are anti-IP, or at least pro-capitalist, and that leaves few places for free software to go (despite its merits and integrity). So Lessig might try, but increasingly ‘law is code’ is the future. Herbert called it the Law of the Suppression of the Radical Potential of Technology’ after a book of the mid-80s, ‘Misunderstanding Media’, and it’s true. With ITU seeing next generation networks absorbing IP into its carrier-class networks, is the Internet over?

So the beast is tamed by the power system and by its failure to engage in the language of politics. Might is right, and political correctness more important than technical correctness. JP Barlow would weep…

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

WorldCom and crooks getting theirs...

Bernie Ebbers goes on trial today! See how old the crooked bastard suddenly looks. Unlike his SVP International Mergers ALF, who is apparently indestructible - just like Dorian Gray - emotional leukemia must make her bones very brittle by now, though...could shatter at any moment.

IIC Young Professionals and Internet policy

Email to organisers of

Good to see you last night and to chat with a few other IIC-ers. I bent Julie, Andrew T. and Martin’s ears for a while too.

The reason I never became a member is that, for the price (not negligible for an itinerant academic!) the only real benefit is Intermedia – and as I write for it so much, I tend to get author’s copies anyway. I could never afford a conference.

So to present a more compelling case, IIC really needs to get round the chicken-and-egg of having so many incumbent interests (who have the time and money to get involved, plus their attendant law firms!) and such an elderly crew – it looked like the Conservative Party conference!

Here’s 2 ideas:
[1] a blog – perhaps run by the young professionals and the board – to update members on what’s happening – requires no maintenance and just a bit of enthusiastic posting to it – like our

[2] trying to get the Young Pros really happening – which needs a UK chapter head – a youngish person (I tried to persuade Martin last night). The catchment is the type of person we have as ofcomwatch bloggers: There are now about a dozen – the bios page needs updating…

So to do this, you need an introductory rate for Young Pros (say 60 quid) and perhaps also one for student/academic members (say 30 quid – the latter not including Intermedia). There are so many Masters students who can later become Young Pros and then full members – think of all the Stanhope associates who are not members…

It might also help to talk about more than telecoms and broadcasting policy to include the word Internet – Brian last night mentioned Voice over IP but not the Internet. And AOL is not a bright shining star of Internet innovation – rather the opposite!!!

The Young Pros possibly could be tasked with running the Internet section of the Annual Conference – that would really get them involved.

I’m only suggesting all this because I’d like it to work – but it desperately needs a massive injection of young blood!

Pinches and politics

I never made it to London Friday - neck was in agony for the third time in a year - Tom K's girlfriend needs an RSI operation - am I far behind? Hope so, because I've been quite fit by my standards...

Did go up Saturday for an evening of City lawyers - people I've known for years but not known - in such a deceitful business how can they be openly emotional or honest in their private lives?

Sunday saw a few staggers from Budapest - really nice people, wierd that we knew each other for a decade in London but never got so close - London friendships, 'fun' and totally artificial because no-one makes time for anyone else.

Which brings me to yesterday - Milena and Lena both not home to visitors - like Sam I've seen each of them once in a year - that's not friendship, not even acquaintanceship - that's 'London friendship' - meaningless and I'm stopping it now. Bad for the soul to be so full of BS as people who label that as 'friendship'.

Made me realise what emotional cripples we London-oriented professionals are - with no honesty or pulse to speak of - like anti-leukemia neurotics, we run away from anyone or anything that can get into our marrow and slowly eat into us - to make us wake up and smell the roses. Makes me want to get back to Barcelona to live!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

London and spam

I'm in London tomorrow for the CII-Cambridge anti-DOS (Denial of Service) workshop, giving a little presentation on government activities. It fits in with my memebership of the DTI anti-spam working group, and advice (for what it's worth) to WGIG. Then meeting Daffy fresh from her Vulgaria trip, followed by the Russian New Year in Trafalgar Square with Pip and maybe Will...bizarre.
Trips to follow:
Paris 28-29th Jan;
Norwich 9th March - staying at Gissing Hall en route to teaching at Essex on return;
weekly teaching at Essex from 27th Jan for 9 weeks.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

10 ways to see Barcelona

1. Flight into town.
2. Golondrina - boats along coast from old port
3. Hotel Arts roof - over Port Olympic
4. Telepherique - cable car across the port to Montjiuc
5. Castell de Montjiuc - the traditional control point of the old town
6. MNAC above Placa Espana - the sensational view across Eixample
7. La Pedrera roof - Gaudi and Passeig de Gracia
8. Sagrada Familia - up the tower in the modernista meisterwerk
9. Tibidabo - from the mountain Catalans believe you can see all the world's treasures
10. Foster´s communications tower - Majorca! Warter!

Oxford computing lab: 15 February abstract - Law and the Internet; Money, Power and Responsibility

Law legitimizes power in relationships between individuals and states. It is the means by which we allocate property, decide on risk and responsibility and determine our relationship with government. However, it is not the only – or most important – way in which we regulate the Internet. The Internet is a space built on software code, and an international ‘cyberspace’ also, which presents two challenges to law: how to regulate code, and how to regulate internationally. That by no means makes the Internet ungovernable or ‘unregulable’ – it does make it more complex and requires more international coordination. However, arguably the same applies to other ‘global public goods’ – international environments in which the good produced is not privately available, non-excludable and not diminished by this ‘unauthorised’ public sharing – such as the environment, financial markets and the legal system itself.
This seminar discusses law’s effect on the Internet by its policy goals: to allocate rewards to participants, to decide on the allocation of power between states and individuals, and to distribute risk and reward in the use of the Internet. It finishes by describing innovative legal doctrines to better enable the continued development of the Internet, such as Science Commons and Creative Commons for intellectual property, and unlicensed mesh wireless networks for connectivity.

My reading chair Posted by Hello

Barcelona New Year's Eve - Mercado de Santa Caterina almost compete! Posted by Hello