Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Out of the Mists of Antiquity...

The only way to really understand something is to go back to the beginning, and the dark side of the Internet is no different. Without light there can be no dark so that is where I'll start.

In the beginning there was ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) which begat the Internet.

First understand that in sharp contrast to the standard mainframe centric standard of the day (1960s) one of the main requirements was that it should be able to sustain 80% failure and the remaining portion or portions had to continue to function. The original project was designed by university students, and in order to document standards, but not offend the professors, the new standards became know as RFCs or Request For Comment.

From these humble origins sprang Richard Stallman, Open Source, VoIP, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, and the Internet we know and love.

Much of the culture remains a mystery to the majority of the world, even those that participate in it.

There are a few books that help understand the culture.

One of these is The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. This book gives evidence that averaging the responses of a group of average people can be more accurate that a single or small group of experts. While this concept is counter intuitive, an least to me it was, Mr Surwiecki provides evidence to back theory.

Another is The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. Here the authors show how decentralized organizations can overwhelm centralized entities. As an example take Napster and it's descendants...

And this last one may be surprising, but I submit Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell as well. Anyone that has ever know something without knowing why has experienced this. I submit with the anonymity of the Internet more people are following their "instincts" with out fear of ridicule.

Next I'll use the light provided here to explore the dark side

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