Just When You Thought It Was Safe...

Way back in the Fall of 07, I decided to vote for Obama based on his policies concerning media and technology, specifically the internet. Obama was the only candidate who opposed private regulation of information--comparing the internet to a public resource, like phone lines, highways, waterworks. That earned my vote: government regulation of the internet..

I bring this up after reading a story on Slash.dot today. Seems even the "sane" countries are looking at China with a bit of envy. This is not the kind of regulation I'm looking for. At least the ISP is confident that the plan will fail, and fail utterly (and they plan to publicize every little failure, no doubt alongside the near 100,000,000 million dollar price tag).

One of my favorite Derrida essays is "The University in the Eyes of Its Pupils." In the essay, Derrida describes the landscape surrounding Cornell: built high on a hill, there is a dangerous precipice along the edge of the campus. University administrators were contemplating building a large fence to protect students from failing off the cliff. But Derrida argued that such a fence would not only spoil the view, it would undermine the integrity of the institution. Education is a risky business; to create the sublime transformative moment in the mind of a student requires taking risks. Risking the worst.

I believe such an anecdote applies to the internet. While the idea of a firewall might sound appealing, attempting to filter the Good from the noise, to reduce the risk, threatens the integrity of the whole. I only wonder when such an idea will catch on around here.

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