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7/03/2006
  Saving the Internet

Bob Frankston, the inventor of VisiCalc, has a series of essays that attempt to shift the way people think about the internet. He's worried about a lot more than net neutrality. He wants us to realize that:

I.e. instead of paying for the internet through tolls which the corrupt and opaque telcos collect, Bob wants us to free the internet. If we don't, he believes that everyone will suffer the regulatory and bureaucratic control in ways that limit our communication, education, commerce and freedom.

Wow. Big thoughts. And it all makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, Bob Frankston is not very good at encapsulating his ideas into talking points. Steve Jobs, he is not. In fact, his arguments are littered with difficult and incomplete analogies. He desperately needs an editor, a copywriter and a PR advisor. Bob Cringely tries to summarize the Frankson point of view, but he still doesn't clarify it that well.

Here's a good starting point for Bob Frankston's essays on how the telecoms are corrupting people's view of the internet. There are several important points, but they lack a coherent story that would motivate people into action. I'll highlight a fundamental thing that Frankston believes people are forgetting - and the telecoms are basically deceptive about:

The basic principle of the Internet is that we use any available transport and define meaning and services ourselves. The transport is infrastructure and any individual or enterprise can use the transport to create value and provide solutions.
The important thing is that more people realize what is happening and create a movement that keeps hope alive for the internet as a public good. Someone like John Doerr needs to find a way to appeal to the public and the government before it's too late.
 


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