Thanks back to you Jon for furthering the discussion of some of the
tough issues raised by the new networked communication technologies.
To be clear, my intent in my first response was to address the
question posed in the subject line. That is, I wanted to make the
point that Internet2 is not orchestrating the end of the internet,
and that in fact they are extending and enhancing the very virtues
that you and many others hold to be valuable. I tried to do this by
correcting a number of technical misunderstandings that seemed to
indict Internet2 as a villain, when in fact the opposite is the case.
So I hope it won't be too disappointing if I don't respond to your
second post in a point by point manner. It seems to me that most of
the concern there is really more about the MPAA and the broadcast
flag than Internet2.
Internet2 is indeed talking to the MPAA, but they are talking to
literally hundreds of organizations and interest groups. Some of
those groups hold opposing views and differing visions of the future.
It is in everyone's interest that Internet2 provide a forum for as
broad a discussion of advanced networks as possible.
And I don't want to be put in the position of defending the broadcast
flag. I can see issues and interests on both sides, and find myself
somewhere in the middle. But I'll toss in a few thoughts
First, it's important to remember that more than one market force is
at play here. Yes the MPAA (and RIAA) wants to protect the property
rights of those who create and market media. But the consumer
electronics industry doesn't want to see the end of home recording.
The carrier companies (cable, satellite, ISPs, etc) don't either.
And consumer groups still have a voice. (And so does our
democratically elected government.)
I'm convinced that when all is said and done the typical consumer
will still be able to record at home for all the fair use reasons
currently available to them. The MPAA has said that even they want
home recording to be preserved. Will there be transitional problems?
Will old equipment become obsolete? Sure...as always. Ask anyone
who went with Beta rather than VHS. Or audiophiles who thought the
Elcassette would lead them to sonic nirvana. Such is the nature of
Next, regarding hackers and the ability to innovate and experiment
with broadcast media. The broadcast flag, to my best understanding,
has to allow for not only hardware recording devices, but also
computers used as home entertainment centers. Can you imagine
Microsoft not demanding this? And to keep the competition fair third
party software vendors will have to have some way to create products
As a programmer what this says to me is that operating systems will
have to provide a software layer that will allow
playing/recording/skipping/looping video media while preventing (or
attempting to prevent) massive piracy. Those software hooks will
have to be available to any programmer...even kids and
hackers...because ultimately they will be impossible to hide anyway.
Perhaps someone else will come up with an example, but under such a
scenario I can't imagine functionality that is short of piracy and
yet unavailable to random programmers. I'll admit that there is some
speculation in the above...but this is all a work-in-progress and
there is speculation on all sides...even on the EFF site.
Getting back to Internet2. A few quick points.
"Pick-up collaboration" on Internet2 is indeed live and well. But
guess what? Artists didn't invent it. Scientists are leading the
way there. They are also the ones who invented the World Wide Web.
Nevertheless, both are available to artists as open platforms for
creativity. Have at it!
And yes, the Internet2 Commons has a fee attached to it, but you have
to understand what you are getting. Standard videoconferencing (with
Polycoms and Tandbergs and so on) is limited to 3 or 4 sites at a
time. If you want to include, say, a dozen locations you need a
device called an MCU. Along with the MCU hardware cost there are
also maintenance costs and administrative hassles. For many schools
buying and supporting their own MCU's is prohibitively expensive.
And contracting for external MCU services is really expensive too.
For many schools the Internet2 Commons provides very useful
functionality. Rather than tax every Internet2 member they decided
to fund the effort by only charging the schools that want to use it.
Compared to the commercial alternatives the I2 Commons fees are a
really good deal.
There are, of course, other ways to videoconference. iChat on the
Mac is cool...as long as everyone else is using a Mac and you only
need to connect to a couple other people. The Access Grid is great,
but it requires multicast (perhaps via a unicast gateway) and isn't
exactly plug and play or commonly used.
For connecting random sites nothing is as ubiquitous as good old
H.323 and H.320. Check out last years megaconference. *372* sites
on every continent but Antarctica connected via video and voice.http://www.megaconference.org/
Regarding putting low level DRM into routers. All I can suggest is
looking into what it would really take to get such a protocol, or
*any* new extension, into IPv6. At most Internet2 could sponsor a
proposal...not that I think they ever would. And then there would be
an *international* standards process to contend with. I don't care
what the MPAA may or may not want...it just ain't going to happen.
Finally, regarding the better documented Internet2 performing arts
events. You have to remember that many of these events are designed
for a certain kind of setting. More often than not the setting is a
large conference for an audience of several hundred university
technicians and administrators. Such a setting invites a rather
standard "concert" type presentation...and comfortable mainstream
But this is hardly built into the network!
And the master class thing may not be your cup of tea, but in large
parts of the country distance education, and access to the talented
people that tend to migrate to urban centers like NYC, is a
There are all kinds of other options waiting to be explored. Way
back in 1999 NYU's first use of Internet2 involved small
performances, intimate improvisations, and other artistic "pick up"
experiments with theater students at MIT. More recently NYU
Professor and performance artist Barbara Rose Haum did a very nice
piece with collaborators at the University of Kansas.
Personally, when it comes to MARCEL I am less interested in more
academic theory. What I'd love to see MARCEL spawn is more actual
art. And I am sure that as soon as an Alan Kaprow for the network
age wants to reinvent what we mean by "art" and "performance"
Internet2 will be there for them.