Esther Dyson, CNET, The Accountable Net
Synopsis: Informal Q&A style on the implications of reputation, privacy, anonymity, and governance of the Internet. Dyson also adds her international perspective several times. Talking about her recent trip to Africa: "If you don't eat then all this [technical] stuff is irrelevant. Eroding power of authority is secondary - after you are surviving. I think Internet as an economic tool is more important in those countries. She ends the talk with this food-for-thought:
"I don't want a [master] list from government of credible people. Give people power to do things, not to power over other people."
The Accountable Net, Esther Dyson
I want this talk to be a model of what I'm going to talk about. If you don't like what I'm going to talk about, you can get up and go hear Terry Winograd [speaker in concurrent session]. Or you can go out to lobby and protest. Or go out and start your own conference. That's the kind of governance and freedom that is part of the Internet.
Accountable peer-to-peer rather than some elected authority that can be corrupted, etc.
One version is you just leave it alone. [Runs itself.] However, the rule sets you create do make a difference [and determine nature of the environment]. Gives example of 'rules' for use: Vizu for polls as Flickr is for photos. Letting users create the rules is one possibility; but you may start out with wrong set of users. Market-placed mechanisms.
One place it doesn't work is internet security. How do you protect clueless grandmother (or clueless white male not to be stereotypical). Focus on designing for 80% people. A staggered hierachy of rules and protection for spectrum of "I need help" to "I'm a hacker, I know what I'm doing."
Q: What about the nonaccountable Net? For instance, people into kinky sex or political dissenters or just wanting anonymity.
A: Stay private. And the gray line should be moved a little bit in case of China. In general, I think transparency is best. You can say "I won't tell you my name." Fine. But you should be accountable to who you say you are. There are rules that apply when you are physically in China even if they are different when you are virtually on the Internet using anonymizer. I'd like to change the world, but I can't.
Large group of anti-spyware companies making judgments - some [folks] think they'ree too vigilante, some just fine. It's a messy process, but I think it'll turn out well in the end.
I don't think Soviet Union fell apart because of Internet. CNN did it. People saw how the other half lived. SMS played a large part in Phillipines. And Ukraine. More about organizing protest. Blogging is now big in China. I just came back from Africa - if you don't eat then all this [technical] stuff is irrelevant. Eroding power of authority is secondary - after you are surviving. I think Internet as an economic tool is more important in those countries.
Q: I'm thinking about the Darknet - the part of Internet we can't see into.
A: You can protect yourself from everything. The problem isn't search. It's filtering through all of it - getting the information you need. If you really knew all the things that could be happening to you, you'd stay in bed. Some of Darknet is also the freedom lovers [i.e. political dissenters] - not all bad.
I'm a big fan of clean well-lighted places. And I believe in privacy. I don't want a [master] list from government of credible people. Give people power to do things, not to power over other people.