limited thoughts on universal access
Of all the readings, what caught my attention the most was “Long-Live the Web,” Tim Berners-Lee’s call for foundational, open access. I come from landscape and logistics, an arena obsessed with LTS (large technological systems) and the very real politics of utility provisions. I honestly don’t know exactly how early web (web 1.0?) compares to the current situation of access, but some of his discussion of isp limits, Comcast bandwidth allocation, and the absence of net-neutrality for mobile devices makes me wonder whether there are lessons from the history of LTS that we might use in strategizing policy, legislation, etc. for net neutrality. At one point, Berner’s compares the internet (infrastructure) with the web (platform) as similar to electricity vs. appliances. He clearly doesn’t intend us to carry the metaphor forward, but what, speculatively speaking, would it mean if today’s web was an appliance caught in the early days of d.c. district electricity and the Edison/Tesla battles? Or if we wanted to use ‘web’ in the Tennessee Valley before TVA?
I don’t have any conclusions or even very elaborate speculative conjectures (damn flu, my brain is off), but I think most of our seemingly stable infrastructural systems are much more socially/economically determined and dynamic than we think. Like, technologically speaking, the idea of the smart grid; innovation (here the appliances/instruments of renewable energy generation) are not simply compatible with the utility system, but rather require new types of transfer, new types of storage. I guess I’m wondering what positive examples of universal expansion (granted that sounds contradictory) might be lurking in contemporary developments aside the fairly typical ‘utility’-esque contests to control access.