Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lessons from the History of the Internet & Bill Clinton's Speech

     Tonight, while watching Bill Clinton speak at the Democratic National Convention on television, I couldn't help but think about how the themes of his speech relate to the themes discussed in 'Lessons from the History of the Internet'. Castells repeatedly stresses the importance of working collaboratively in the development and growth of the Internet. Similarly, Clinton expresses his deep belief in cooperation [as it relates to political parties interacting with one another, and the people as a whole] for the success of the nation. The Internet's great advancement is a perfect working example of why and how taking a communitarian approach is advantageous.

     The Internet was built with a great deal of cooperation among groups and individuals with common goals and values. Significantly, those who were primarily responsible for setting the foundation for what the Internet has become were primarily concerned with acting in the public's interest.  Instead of seeking profit, they sought to improve university research and national defense. Another key factor was the preservation of free access to the information within the networks. Instead of being governed by greed, the history of the Internet is largely characterized by openness and receptivity to others- and its great success was generated through mutual support of all contributors. This closely parallels the ideas Clinton expressed about what this nation needs to 'achieve peace, justice and prosperity in a highly competitive world'. What he says is hard to summarize in just a few words, but the idea is that we must acknowledge that we are all in this together. Through this acknowledgement, we realize that we have shared responsibilities and opportunities, and in embracing this fact we can essentially overcome anything.

Here is a link to Clinton's speech:


  1. Jillian, thanks for the timely comparison to Clinton's speech last night at the Democratic National Convention. The fact that you were able to share a link of the speech with us and blog about it the same night gives us evidence that the Internet can be as open as its designers intended.

    Sources worth exploring in relation to Internet freedom: the Open Source Initiative; the Free Software Foundation; and the FreeBSD project, which started in Berkeley!

  2. Jillian, I could not agree with you more on the comparison between these two topics.
    Tonight, Clinton stood up in front of the people and raised the issue of unity. He
    emphasized that we as a nation must work together as one; whether we are republican
    or democratic, our ideas all count. By putting them together, we can create a
    stronger nation. As Jillian pointed out correctly, the internet is a great example
    of how groups of people worked together to bring about an idea that has become
    beneficial for every individual. In Lessons from the History of the Internet,
    Castells properly shows that the internet was not made by just one individual or one
    cooperation, but that it was created by many as a "cultural creation." What started
    off as computer network built for technological superiority over the Soviet Union,
    has evolved as a world wide web that has become available to the public.