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Good morning and welcome to focus 580 it's our morning telephone calling program my name is Jack Brighton glad you could tune in today. It used to be that only computer geeks pardon the term cared about the Internet. First of all you had to know an operating system called Unix to use it. If you did you could communicate with other hackers and researchers in a growing network of fairly serious institutions around the world the ability to instantly send and receive electronic mail and batches of scientific data seem pretty revolutionary at the time. But again only for those who master the arcane dialect of Unix. But now far up any Mac or PC launcher free Netscape or Explorer web browser program and try to see what you cannot get through the Internet even for a dummy like me it's easy as click click click. It's easy it's fun it's amazing and all that but something has been kind of bothering me about it. I mean where did all these advertisements come from. The internet used to be a serious if somewhat tedious tool for research and collaboration. Then it morphed into the World Wide Web and suddenly it looks more and more like television and all this seems to happen in about the past five years. What we're seeing is a rapid emergence of the mother of all of
trying media. And even though it's a lot more interactive and useful than television suddenly it's following the commercial media model that is paid for by advertising. And this is happened so fast that it seems relevant to ask how did it happen and what does it mean what are the implications of this. During this our focus 580 Our guest is Dan Schiller professor of communication at the University of California at San Diego and author of the book Digital capitalism networking the global market system just published by the MIT Press. In the book Professor Schiller details the evolution of the Internet from its nonprofit governmental and scientific beginnings to its for profit commercial present. He also examines the growing role of large media corporations in shaping this evolution. And he documents the elimination of national barriers to telecommunications following the end of the Cold War which coincided with the emergence of Internet technology and the bling the consumer driven model of the web to take on international dimensions. As we talk with Dan Schiller you are invited
into the conversation you can join us around Champaign-Urbana that is within the 2 1 7 area code at 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We also have a toll free line. Anywhere you hear us 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 any time during our conversation if you're calling within the 2 1 7 area code dial 3 3 3 W I L L toll free elsewhere. Eight hundred two two two. Well Dan Schiller Good morning good morning Jack. Thanks very much for joining us. My pleasure. Very interesting book. Well you've described it so well I don't know if I have anything better. Well well I there was a nutshell So let's let's go into some details and maybe to start with let me ask you to describe in more detail the origins of the Internet as a project of really does the defense. Department in a few scientific researchers. Yes well the Internet's origins is broadly known why in an earlier and much more limited system called the ARPAnet which was funded by
d o d agency the Advanced Research Projects Agency beginning in 1969 and contracting out to a few preferred military suppliers. The paradox of this and the thing that I kind of find fascinating is that the the Arpanet the origin of the Internet technology and all of the subsequent developments around the Internet that followed are aimed at information sharing across the islands you might say of computer power that linking together otherwise unlinked islands of computer intelligence or processing power. And yet this motivation for information sharing which sounds so attractive and which in many ways is attractive originates at the heart of the garrison state. Inside the very very depths of the military industrial complex with you know every kind of
guard and. In an active way of keeping the general public from making use of the capability this is the early history of this fantastically effective means for information sharing today and that's a very paradoxical thing. So unless you were involved in those projects you really wouldn't have even known about it. No way you wouldn't have heard about it at all. It was completely something that was within the larger project of building up systems in this case computer network systems that were responsible and I sassed pensively because I simply don't find it a credible idea to prove that there was to be a nuclear exchange as it so euphemistically put in the lingo going back to the early 1970s and earlier that we would have a system that the Russians. Couldn't shatter at our computer science our
defense community would be able to continue functioning within the post a cop aka limp dick scenarios that the planners were creating. Does this account for the origins of the the design of the information transfer known as packets. This is seems like an arcane little term here but it's pretty important to the way the unit functions yes. Well yes packet switching originates with the ARPANET and with some allied projects that were going on around it. And the key point is that in the initial development of the system what was being linked was individual mainframe computers. This is the classic period of so-called big iron where in order to go to well in order to get access to computer functionality to computer processing power you had to actually do. Physically get to the computer and it would be this giant machine huddled in some basement somewhere. I recall there being
such machines actually on the campus of the University of Illinois or not far from where I grew up. And so you had to go to the machine. Well the origins of the Internet lie in this Arpanet system which made it possible for the machines these individual islands of computer processing power to be interconnected through a system known as packet switching which basically rather than keeping a single circuit open as we are at the moment on this telephone call for the duration of our exchange. The computer data is sent out serially in a whole set of little packets that contain an address each of them and are sent out over multiple paths across a network and reassembled at the destination in the proper order. So this is both more efficient and more robust. Absolutely it is demonstrably more efficient in the sense that today
after a long period in which the major telecommunications operators pooh poohed the efficiency of packet switching they're all investing billions of dollars in it as the necessary infrastructure for an internet based or a pro internet based. Extension of the general telecommunications system. There are other features that are also attractive but the efficiency meaning you can cram more data you can cram more information down that network for the same amount of money or for less money than you can using the earlier technology of telecommunications which is known as a circuit switch. Right. And plus you can lose some of the data actually and some of it still be useful. Yes. Well the there are error correcting features in a packet switching network so that if a single packet doesn't arrive the system automatically says to the initiator Please send out the message again so we can try over. This is an attractive option.
You might take a few seconds but it'll actually correct itself yes I mean this is. Pretty evident and routine use of the Internet today you know there's a lot of individual problems there even some general outages from time to time. You know Bank of modems goes down as AOL had happened a couple years ago but the the system as a whole works pretty well. OK well I want to set that up because it seems pretty important for you know the way as you as you mentioned the way the Internet is used these days. Well in this scenario you have these big iron computers and a few researchers using them in the Defense Department you know sort of setting up as a very robust system in case of you know whatever eventuality a nuclear attack as opposed to being the worst. But then more and more people more and more scientists are using this and along came personal computers and that seemed to change just about everything. Well yes. Yes and no I mean there was there are a whole variety of initiatives here bundled together in what you're saying in the early 80s the National Science Foundation was another U.S. agency gets into the act and starts to develop a
civilian version if you will the. By then Internet technology and it's in the early mid 80s that people begin to speak of an Internet network of networks because what's new here is that we're not just linking individual computers. As I said before it was characteristic of the Arpanet but actually linking individual networks into a network of networks. This is to be sure massively expedited by the growth of PC based systems in offices across corporate America. Governments across universities government agencies across universities as well and so yes the PC is responsible but I would rather give it an organizational accent than a technological accent in the sense that it is the the massive and completely uncontained need by corporate America in particular for a series of cascading information sharing functions that accounts for the rise of networking in any mode
and eventually converging around this Internet technology. And we're talking about the rapid growth of corporates local area networks or labs. Yes that's of course a very major part of it you've got corporate local area networks. They're not just limited to corporations but corporations account for the lion's share of demand for these systems and what they do is very prosaic in many cases simply allowing a particular department or office to share computer files. Joint access to certain kinds of instrumentation printers and the like. But as a result of putting in such networks at first on a very modest scale within a particular office or within a particular department it's very rapidly Information System Managers that why should we be content with the limits that are there on the system. Why shouldn't we continue to try to expand them and expand the domain and range of information sharing potential. And it's the Internet's
spectacular ability to accommodate this objective to to to contribute to massively extended information sharing potential that is specifically a sort of emblem of ties to round the mail but which has a broader significance that that accounts for its wildfire success. Sure. No I seem to recall in the early days of some of the local area networks or lands as we called in their wide area networks are different scales of these networks that were sort of you know in-house or you know within one corporation maybe using some of the you know the telephone systems backbone of you know lines crossing the country of the world. A lot of the system. We're sort of reply proprietary didn't use the same software and wouldn't necessarily be able to communicate with other similar networks in other circumstances. You have raised an important point here Jack because in fact the rights to Internet technology in particular to the software
protocols that create or establish cyberspace as a domain. These rights and I'm speaking of intellectual property rights lie in the public domain because of the fact that the technology was funded by government. The rights to the Internet as a technical matter are not proprietary and there is no way that the system could have taken on the significance and the rapidity accelerating rapidity of growth that it has. Absent this publicly shared access under underlying technology this is important because the Internet's development had nothing to do with the free market despite the almost you know relentless refrain. That's what it's all about keep the government out of the business or so forth. That's now when we're in the process of full scale commercialization
at the moments and it was an extended moment decades one might say when the system was taking shape. It was a very different tune altogether. The tune that was being sung was let's have special perquisites Let's make special rules let's try to set this thing up as as the government trough so the actual software or the design of the software that makes the Internet possible was developed and put into the public domain by the government essentially what it was. Government contract contract with squabbles between some of these contractors who didn't want to take proprietary control over the Internet technology that they contracted to create. But the government didn't let it. And so the system remained in the public domain and this accounts for the ease of access to it that others have enjoyed. OK what about the actual pipeline or the you know the the system itself the wires and cables that connect you know NSF
funded a number of supercomputer centers such as the NCSA here in Champaign-Urbana one at Stanford you know several other places around the country who constructed those were what did the actual physical structure of the Internet consist of and in who owned it. Well in the first instance the system was again a not for profit system and the bulk of the specialized instrumentation that was established to set up Internet functionality if you will was in the public institutions by and large NSF contracting universities supplied the basis of it. It is only in the 1990s in the middle of the 1990s that the NSA in its wisdom spun off this system as they say and privatized it to allow the Internet. System as a whole and all return to some of the other elements and in a minute to become
a corporate fiefdom in which major telecommunications vendors and a small group of other companies obtained a priority in controlling the infrastructure. Now to return to the point before the tangle of wires and circuits that the Internet has always built on have in fact always been part of the established telecommunications infrastructure than the United States at least has been run by private companies. But it is the special software or other instrument Haitian that is applied to these circuits that sets up cyberspace cyberspace as a special domain as an electronic space. And this material this software this hardware as I said in the early years. Significantly within the public domain that is no longer the case. Let me just take a moment to reintroduce our guest this morning. We're talking with Dan Schiller He's a professor of
communications at the University of California San Diego and we're talking about his book just published entitled digital capitalism. Working the global market system published by the MIT Press. We do have one caller waiting to talk and will welcome others if you'd like to join the conversation within the 2 1 7 area code you can call us at 3 3 3 W I L L toll free anywhere you here is 800 1:58 oil. Let's talk with the first caller here. This is a listener in Champaign County NY number one. Good morning. You're in focus. I wanted to applaud you for appearing on your father's legacy. I was saying to myself This is in form and content very much like her pillar and I was wondering if indeed that was the case I think you can get from that quickly and your manner of vocal mannerisms are very reminiscent. So who do I have the pleasure of speaking with. Well I only know him from his audio broadcast and have I met him at one conference so he wouldn't remember me and I'd rather be anonymous actually.
I don't come out here I shouldn't also but just in the interest of some sort of public dialogue yes there's a legacy here and a lot of arguments by you if I press one could be worse than mass communication in the American Empire. I'll pass along the compliments and that's very nice of you to remember. Well it's very pertinent stuff. So I didn't want to carry too far into this little side story about who is registering the domain names if they haven't changed it. But because it it would probably lend too much of a conspiratorial tone to it but the fact that this company out in Herndon Virginia near Foggy Bottom is the one that's printing money by having the right to register domain names if it hasn't been altered yet is it full of all sorts of spooks types. It seems like that is the legacy of the National Security State. Followed the internet along in a large extent I'm sure of that. You know you can look at them just the mechanisms of concentration of economic power and
and see that the this is the way that the course of privacy so-called privatization the socialization of the costs and the privatization of the profits kind of thing that's so characteristic of America's military Keynesian teams unison overall. Yes it would it is right there probably but but there's also the Side Story I don't know how much time you investigated it of the rather spooky. If it were good if you had the money making. And you know the subsidiary to do that to me names right. Yeah well there's no question that there continues to be a very very tight interlock between the military and the industrial PACs of the U.S. system there's no question that this is so and that's abundantly confirmed in a whole variety of ways and a recurrent pattern but the key point I think needs to be made that whereas in the early years of
the Arpanet and then the Internet technology the military interest was uppermost and definitive in insulating the system from every kind of public process or control. That being a quote from one of the policy framers for Internet policy a man named Anthony Wright Koski. That is not as much the case today because the dominant role today the lead role is taken by what's called the private sector which as you suggest is still very much interlocked with military and intelligence concerns but which has still its own objectives and its own needs or so any you know and in some context for example in the context of a debate over whether encryption technologies ought to be allowed to be exported. You see the actual conflict between these two members of the American decision making complex in which the military and the enforcement agencies are intent on preventing exports of the
sensitive encryption technology whereas the commercial companies that are increasingly calling the shots they know it gotta be all out. You know it well it is also not a surprise that the way it would go since we have G.E. which is phoning NBC is also I think number in the top five military contractors so strange in some ways. Thanks a lot Melissa and with Colin too thanks nice to talk to you. Thanks for the call. I want to get your answer to this maybe perhaps you know a series of questions that relate to the privatization of the Internet. You know we always talk about the origins and talk a little bit about. The fact that it has changed in character radically toward the commercial sort of free free enterprise sector. HELEN When was the Internet privatized to what extent is a government still involved and was there any discussion of how this would happen. And you know some of the public
interest issues that are involved in this change. You know it's interesting there is discussion and nominally you can be a part of such discussions but it has been true in a series of contexts pertaining to telecommunications policy in the United States for many many decades the work that you have to do to become an effective participant in the discussion and the expense really of becoming an effective party to such discussions effectively forestalls anything approaching truly democratic participation because for example just one example of the kinds of news sources that you need to be able to pay attention to and to ingest and to use as the basis of a policy response depending on whatever end of the system you're trying to work in these these news sources not being here specialized newsletters that in fact of internet based news sources that are created by on
subscription basis. They can cost upwards of a thousand two thousand dollars a year. Well any kind of you know public system any public interest group that wants to play a role in effect of way has to be cued into this news on a breaking news basis every day and it costs too much money for many of them to have that kind of access particularly if they're located outside the beltway which many of them of course are and should be. So that's one factor that prevents the kind of democratic participation that one would like to see about such critical decisions as building up the Internet or privatizing the Internet. The government of course as we've just said does remain vitally involved as a matter of national policy. But perhaps the overarching and again paradoxical feature of the government's role is to insist time and time and time again against all comers that the internet must as a matter of principle remain free of the regulations that they argue have scarred and in other ways punished the prevailing
telecommunication system outside the internet. In other words the internet must be free of regulation it must be free of any kind of government intrusion all that that will do is to create a punishing and disturbing and debilitating disfiguring features that will fall would take away from the ultimate goal the ultimate goal never being mentioned other than the extension of market relationships. Right. So this is another paradox around the Internet the government is the most forceful advocate almost besides the business sector itself of keeping the government itself out of Internet regulation. So what in fact was spun off from government control during the transition in the past few years. Well the National Science Foundation had as you said Jack you know contracted out the creation of certain key points for the interchange of data across the growing Internet system and the ease network access points
were just a few in number and located at supercomputer facilities and a couple of them in Washington and more sensitive sorts of areas you might say. And the government contractor built those and it helped underwrite the specialized circuits the telecommunications circuits that link them across the country even more generally across the world in a in a budding way. In the mid 90s the National Science Foundation privatized the system turning the network access points over to the leading telecommunications contractors. MC I was one IBM. And it opens the way for private providers of Internet backbone services it's called the aggregators the big telecom companies that work to distribute aggregated traffic from point to point across the system and that the local
retail Internet service providers hook up to in order to exchange their traffic these network access providers. We're free now to build their own network access points as a private matter. And so the Internet shifted through this process at its at its wholesale level you might see into corporate hands. At the same time there was very rapid expansion of demand for Internet services and the networks that make it possible the backbone is as you put it. In fact there was a very rapid global expansion of these networks. You know as I sort of. Today add in the introduction of the program. This coincided with you know the post-Cold War decade and really you detail this had a very powerful driving effect on U.S. economic policy of the developing countries around the world. You know sort of driving the wholesale elimination of national barriers in favor of private development
and enabling these large becoming very large transnational corporations who had the technology in the capital to take control of the former nationalized systems and really make a global infrastructure. You know you're pointing to another absolutely critical change that's occurring in the present. Even as we speak. Used to be that national telecommunication systems including the U.S. national system to an extent were framed by truly domestic networks networks that. We're built up as a matter of national development either by public actors government actors as occurred through most of the world or by publicly regulated private companies as occurred exceptionally in the United States. Companies like AT&T preeminently and that these national networks would effectively hand off signals from one to another as signals as was called for when the signals were sent.
Telephone calls or increasingly data across national borders today and for the last really couple of decades. The thrust has been in a very different direction towards the creation of supranational that is transnational telecommunications networks that do not handoff between national entities but which increasingly work to distribute signals within an entirely proprietary system that spans political borders. So a company like MCI WorldCom for example is building out a network throughout capital cities of Europe Asia and of course building on its established very extensive U.S. network so as to provide for a very elite group of clients specialized services that allow a linkage is more efficient and more effective from the point of view of transnational corporate users of telecommunications. Directly between head office and factory floor head office a stock car
factory floor in Detroit we were using the example of more lies. At this as this process progressed and the desire to connect an interconnect in as you say established supernational networks progressed there were international negotiations which essentially broke down a lot of the national barriers in the U.S. government was at the forefront of pushing for a liberalizing of of telecommunications policy around the world. How did that how did that all unfold and when. Were these decisions made in by who. Well this is a very complicated story and it's an extremely important story. Let me stress in the preface to my comment on this that the for the part of the story that has to do with internet negotiations specifically remains largely untold.
And I hope that some historians of the Internet as an international system or I should say a transnational system will soon take on the challenge of trying to document and analyze the specific features of Internet related negotiations that account for the the spread of the Internet across national borders like wildfire. In the last five to 10 years. Having made that point yes the US government was the preeminent actor in the liberalization of global telecommunications systems liberalization sounds like a nice word liberal I suppose unless you're. Focused on a more conservative self-identity it sounds like a good word but liberalisation basically means making room for a corporate takeover. And in this case preeminently a transnational corporate takeover of what had been more often a welfarist kind of function a public
service which to be sure did not always perform anywhere nearly as adequately as the US telecommunications system performed but nevertheless made room for in a limited way certain public service features not least in the employment features of telecommunications telecommunications assist or been most heavily unionized industries around the world in the international union body that exists and continues to have. I think something like 4 or 5 million members around the world from unionized telecommunications. Systems. But the point is that with liberalization there is a frontal attack on these public service features on the publicly public accountability features and it's a very again paradoxical situation. There is no question but that the current build out of telecommunications systems and I'm not speaking here just of the Internet system of telecommunications more broadly cellular based systems
land based systems satellite systems submarine cables. The current build out of telecommunication systems around the world is absolutely unprecedented. There are 50 million new landlines coming in a year around the world and there are now something like a hundred million land telephone lines in the world which is eight fold since 1960. An unprecedented build out. The key point is it is a build out that despite making more room for more users more household users is in the hands of transnational corporations not even seeing any particular public accountability or responsibility. And in particular not giving any sense or any promise of addressing what to my eyes is the defining feature of the emerging era which is what might be called digital
divide. The Consumer Federation of America has labeled it but it's not just a domestic digital divide. It's a transnational digital divide. They want to go where the market is profitable to the little markets or not. Off the table then they're not interested in providing service and you can't blame them right. As ordinary business practice you see I mean let's take a domestic example so I can make the point plain here because it's a mistake to think that it exists only in you know say Latin America or Africa or South Asia. It's also all there will be it's in a better register. The same tendency toward digital divide as Evan in the United States. In a recent study almost half of American households can be called modest users of telecommunications services and they have say only one phone line no cell phone. Possibly they have internet access and at most one of what's called a vertical service like Call waiting for caller ID. The average monthly bill
for all of the telecommunications and TV services of these modest users. So in other words includes cable TV is about $60. And the study by the way is a Consumer Federation of America survey. On the other side are what they call premier households which account for about a quarter of the total in the United States of these 70 percent have a second line. Eighty seven percent have internet access. Ninety one percent have a cell phone. Half phone a fax machine and 70 percent buy at least three vertical services. Their average monthly bill for all telecommunications and TV service is about $200. So the differential is between 60 and $200. That's one hundred forty dollar differential. If you were a diversified telephone or telecommunications carrier who would you cater to. You have to cater to the $200 family. And in fact what we find scattered through the business reporting that dominates
coverage of these issues is just this. It is said in The Wall Street Journal not too long ago that about 20 percent of AT&T customers account for about 80 percent of AT&T is profit. That's why AT&T like the other major carriers is doing what it can to discourage people who do not make a lot of long distance calls who do not have cell phones who are not interested in vertical services. AT&T is doing what it can to discourage such people from staying on its network by imposing minimum fees and so forth well you know I mean the supreme historical achievement of American telecommunications and make no mistake about it it is an achievement has been the thing called universal service which means something like 95 percent of American households and there are on evenness isn't the term universal is really not still quite adequate but it's closer in the United States to the universal service ideal than anywhere else. At least historically in the universe
the United States realized this idea earlier than any other part of the world. The Supreme historical achievement of universal service is in danger of becoming irrelevant. I think that is a very very significant and alarming trend and one that requires exactly the sort of massive public debate and discussion that we were they had earlier might well be needed. We have just about 12 minutes left in this hour. I want to mention our guest again Dan Schiller professor of communications at the University of California at San Diego and his book were discussing digital capitalism networking the global market system recently published by the MIT Press. And as I say we have just about 10 or 12 minutes left if you'd like to join our conversation. Please do so before we run out of time the number around champagne Urbana 3 3 3. Well elsewhere 800 1:58 oil well I want to make sure we talk a bit more
about the commercialization of the web and the sort of grab for dominance on the part of advertising media. I mean advertising you know. Advertising looking at the Web as an advertising medium which which it never was intended to be but you know suddenly it clearly is. And there's a there's a point in the book you mentioned in 1994 speech by the CEO of Procter and Gamble sort of a call to arms declaring that advertisers and corporate marketers must make the new media dependent on commercial sponsorship. This is a major change in the nature of the web. Yes it's it's a great speech. And by Edwin arts that was that then CEO of Procter Gamble it's what made it important was that Procter Gamble is one of the two largest commercial advertisers in the United States and indeed in the world. And so when the CEO of the largest advertiser in the world says
we've got to turn the Web into a commercial medium the advertising community as it called stands up and listens. And so there was a you know organizational initiatives that followed quickly in the wake of that speech. Insert one other point which is that the speech was written by Robert Herbold Robert Herbold went on from the very top position in marketing at Procter and Gamble to become one of the inner suite of advisors and executives. He isn't one of the top executives at the Microsoft Corporation So there's in the career of this one individual a kind of emblem of the shift towards commercialization that we're talking about the Web. Yes the there are a whole variety of features about the web that made it attractive to advertisers although they've had some skepticism as well you know putting their toe in the water checking it out and saying well let's wait till it gets warmer then we'll really dive in. But there's no question now that the Web
has become a very very pervasively saturated commercial medium and there is no way that that's going to be relinquished. The web will remain a commercial medium and indeed I would venture to say that unless there's a fundamental restructuring effort requiring government intervention there will be an occasion of the kinds of commercial services that piggyback on the web and that connect the web to imitate. Tiller the television system you go on to quote the head of Procter and Gamble advertising in 1998 stating quote We have a vested interest in making the web the most effective marketing medium in history. Well you know that's quite a challenge to make the Web a more effective marketing medium and television. And there is still skepticism that that it will replace television and I think that in a limited way that is well-founded skepticism. I say a limited way because it's not an either or proposition. The fact
is that advertising and sponsorship and commercial control over media in the United States are growing more and more powerful rather than less across the entire front of media activity including Now of course the web. And so the challenge of making the Web more signal. Against that television is is in a way a misnomer. The point that's really significant is that all of the media are being increasingly commercialized if that's possible in the case of television in particular and the one of the entry points for this discussion is the Web's interactive features. There is a whole host of experimentation going on to try to mold the. Interactive nature of the web and the beautiful qualities for communication and the potential for exchange that that interactivity makes possible underwrites to
mold that to the sales apparatuses. And that is I would say the primary task at hand it's still a very open question which commercial media will predominate which will be most successful in spearheading what is still a very unstable and on fixed medium. And turning it into a stable feature of the media scape whether it's going to be the established television networks the conglomerates that own most of the television networks or you know interlopers like Yahoo America Online remains an open question there is a tremendous industrial conflict and a great fluidity as a result over which. Specific industry members and indeed industry sectors are going to succeed. You know you might say preempting the Web site's functionality but that it will be preempted for
and on behalf of major consumer product advertisers. It is at this point I think a settled question. We have a call to talk with a warning to them before in the time we about five minutes left so let's do that. This is a listener in Salem online before. Good morning you're in focus 580. Good morning. If I may just mention a few areas and then I'll hang up and like to hear your response. It does seem like a kind of uncontrolled evolution has occurred you know by the way. And but yet now it's going to come back and be limited to just some being in control and having access. Which is why I believe we need the role of government. You know in regulating legislating and forcing and deciding what's best for all the people of our country and then I don't understand too much the mechanical aspects. But you know I remember in the 70s where they had the computers in a big room to keep them cool. And I just wondered the more you buy energy does that create more you know and I know they give
off radiation so you repeat concerned if they are contributing to global warming. The computers. I'm not knowledgeable about the second question that you ask about global warming I'm certainly in a shared position with you that that it's a problem I anything that might be a factor there contributing to it should be looked at but I'm not aware that computers are a major feature in that process. Save it for another day. The role of government in legislating and regulating that you started off with I think is absolutely critical. We've come to the point the United States where there's a widespread and largely almost created sense that government is an evil no matter what it's not any longer as it was for the Framers. A necessary evil and I'm emphasizing necessary. It's just an evil. And this is an untenable position. It is an untenable position for anything that
approximates democracy. And regardless of where you put the balance of the accent that the framers believed it was a necessary evil has got to be emphasized and here is a prime occasion for emphasizing it. You're absolutely right. The government and we behind it have got to find ways of turning the supreme Lee capacious perspectively vitalizing medium of the Internet back to the citizenry of this country. There's so much more to talk about. And we're going to run out of time in about three minutes. We're not going to get to a lot of things but there is you know as you suggest the web has a tremendous potential to be useful for a lot of things and I use it every day for research. And it is very useful despite whatever qualms or concerns we have about the way it's evolving. But there is one issue that I think you know bears a little bit of emphasis. You know I like to ask about you know to what extent is editorial content on the web
which we count on are influenced by this increasing advertising support. Is this any different than say television magazines etc.. Well if anything as many commentators have noted the web is showing a willingness that is to say the institutions that are active in providing news on the web are showing a willingness to buy and editorial categories to to make possible incursions by the commercial side or the advertising side on editorial matter. That what up to this point have been unthinkable and on Internet media and the results has been and the the the key feature has been a more general tendency within the media system to to give greater power to sponsors in defining editorial matter and shaping it and conforming it to the needs of finding most needed audience. As advertisers put it and then excluding others so that there's no doubt that the last of the paradoxes I'll mention that the web remains
an incredibly useful tool for finding information but it is already the case that a few hundred sites gather in the. By far the largest share of total Internet traffic and a few hundred sites. Not so far from John Long's old idea of a 500 channel television system and the comets that run television have shown themselves perfectly able to deal with 500 channels. That means a growing concentration of power or editorial matters by a very few number of entities. I'm worried about that. I think people should be OK. Well we're going to have to leave it there and with the proviso that there is much in the book we've been discussing that we didn't get to as as per usual. There's a whole chapter on the impact of the Internet on the higher learning industry. And I think that might bear a conversation in itself but we'll have to save that for another day. And I would just tell folks if you like to read more on the subject you could
certainly look for the book Digital capitalism. The subtitle networking the global market system and the author has been our guest Dan Schiller S C H I L L E R and it's published by MIT Press and to you Dan Schiller thanks very much for talking with us. Thank you Jack I've enjoyed it very much. Broadcast a focus 580 is made possible in part by a grant from the art Mart in Lincoln Square Mall Urbana is pleased to support public radio in the central Illinois. We'll take a break when we come back. We will be talking with Stewart Brand author of numerous books including The Media Lab. He's also the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and his newest book is entitled The clock of the Long Now time and responsibility the ideas behind the world's slowest computer. Interesting set of ideas we'll talk with him in a few minutes. First we'll take a break for some news and a market update.
Focus 580
Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Market System
Producing Organization
WILL Illinois Public Media
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WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
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With Dan Schiller, professor, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois. Hosted by Jack Brighton
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Talk Show
Business; Consumer issues; digital technology; Telecommunications; Technology; Economics; global economy; community; Computers; internet; Capitalism; telecommunication
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Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
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Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-75f1ec3d85e (unknown)
Generation: Copy
Duration: 48:39
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-2d89689a108 (unknown)
Generation: Master
Duration: 48:39
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Chicago: “Focus 580; Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Market System,” 1999-05-20, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Focus 580; Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Market System.” 1999-05-20. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Focus 580; Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Market System. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from