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Drazen Pantic: The War, The Revolution and The Book

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Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 21:24:55 -0400
From: Drazen Pantic <>
Subject: The War, The Revolution and The Book

In one of my first postings on nettime, back in 1995 I have tried to relate
Internet and new media practice to the French revolution. Comparison was
probably overly optimistic and naive, out of high hopes we all had then and
out of enthusiastic feelings after OpenNet has started as the first ISP in,
at the moment, Internet desert of Serbia .

Few years later nothing is the same. Enthusiasm about Internet is replaced
by modest optimism with many fears,  few Internet revolutions took place -
one of which is taken to be related to OpenNet,   The War "NATO vs
Miloshevic against civilians" started, bringing crack down of independent
media in Serbia and brutal regime take over of OpenNet, hackers have made
few spectacular brake ins worldwide and change nothing doing it,  software
companies promised that they will operate your home appliances though the
Net tomorrow.

Still idea of some revolutionary activity related to Internet remains in
the background of any serious Net related discourse. The question is what
is the revolutionary contribution of Internet towards the set of ideas that
our generation is leave as a heritage to our children. Andew Shapiro, a
writer, lawyer, and consultant from New York offered answers to some of
those questions in his new book "Control Revolution"

Shapiro is director of the Aspen Institute Internet Policy Project, First
Amendment Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School, and a
Senior Advisor to the Markle Foundation. In Spring 1999, he taught a
seminar at Columbia Law School called New Media, Law, and Democracy.  He
has the unique ability to be an objective observer of the processes and the
CODE of the Net.

I read the book in one run - as a companion through the few cities, planes,
underground trains, in front of the computer screen. It is written with the
great skill, exposing material methodically and bringing the reader to the
point from various angles: social, individual and macro economical. I was
stuck by clear presentation of ideas  from the standpoint of the concept of
"the control revolution". Author defines it as:

1. the potentially monumental shift in control from institutions to
individuals made possible by new technology such as the Internet;

2. the conflict over such change between individuals and powerful entities
(governments, corporations, the media);

3. the unexpected, and not always desirable, ways in which such change
could reshape our lives.

or using a quote from Cervantes'  Don Quixote:
"I would have nobody to control me; I would be absolute ...."

In one of the promotional jingles at B92 there was a sound byte: "After
reading a book, one breaths clearer". After reading Shapiro's' book I can
certainly say one surfs on the Net with a clearer mind.