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<nettime> Re: [MARCEL-members] Re: Internet2: Orchestrating the End of t
Philip Galanter on Thu, 10 Mar 2005 04:01:46 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Re: [MARCEL-members] Re: Internet2: Orchestrating the End of the


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 
nevertheless.

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 
progress.

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 well.

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 
content.

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 
significant breakthrough.

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.

Phil


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