Not the Usual Suspects
Tuesday, June 20, 1995 by Dave Winer.
The wire services are carrying a report that IBM has licensed the Mac OS to run on its new Power PCs. So far, no press releases from either Apple or IBM.
You must know how I feel about this!
To quote a famous 1981 Apple ad -- Welcome IBM. Seriously.
This is good news for everyone, I think even for Microsoft. Remember, Microsoft is one of the largest Macintosh software vendors, if not the largest. Standard Microsoft hype on the Mac: we make more money on every Mac sold than we do on each IBM-compatible.
Now Microsoft can make even more money.
And please don't forget that Microsoft can be a very creative company. Wouldn't it be great if Microsoft decided to get creative with the Macintosh platform again? I think it would.
Yesterday America OnLine announced that they're becoming a member of the Billions of Websites club. Yes! Soon, every AOL member will be able to do their own structure of pages on the worldwide web. This is cool. I've written about this many times, and have talked with AOL execs about it even more times.
But there's one problem... It's a closed system!
They have their own software for creating and managing web material. Maybe it's not the best software for all people? Maybe it doesn't run on all the client platforms people want to use to create web material? Maybe this was just an oversight?
Lots of questions, and here's the answer to all of them -- AOL, open this sytem up to other developers. Let us flow content thru your servers. We need a really reliable no-brainer choice for storing web pages. Glad to see you're going to provide one. Now, let other people use it.
An edited version of my Talk & Vote piece, 6/2/95, is the current DaveNet piece running on HotWired. In that piece I asked people to talk across the new generation gap. I like the way it's going, because most of the mail is coming from people who are under 30. They're talking! And I'm talking back...
Andrew Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org, is 27, lives in New York City and works at an ad agency as an imaging specialist. He says "I'll be leaving that behind to attend Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism this fall. I do a lot of freelance writing (mainly about rock music), and have written about the Internet and about the Clinton administration's information and technlogy policies."
Please address any email to email@example.com, cc'd to me. Thanks!
Your points about the baby boom generation having lost touch with the youth movement that computers and the online revolution represent was a good one, but what really struck me was, shortly after I read your essay, stumbling across a list of the names of the 16 Senators who voted against the Communications Decency Act.
To a dittohead, the list reads like a roll-call of the "usual suspects" of the East Coast liberal establishment (Edward Kennedy, Joseph Biden, Daniel P. Moynihan), but at a closer glance there are interesting exceptions. Patty Murray of Washington voted against the act. She campaigned as "a mom in tennis shoes," and is the kind of person you'd expect to want to "protect kids" no matter what. So did Charles Robb of my home state, Virginia.
You see, Dave, the sixteen Senators who voted against Exon are essentially the only sixteen people in the Senate who either learned the lessons of the sixties while they were cutting their teeth as politicians (Moynihan, Kennedy) or who were involved more actively, such as Robb, who was an officer on the front lines in Vietnam who later spoke out against the war in spite of the fact that LBJ was his father-in-law! And you may say that Patty Murray voted against it to appease the lobbyists from Microsoft and other Washington-based high-tech firms, but at least it shows she's in touch with the zeitgeist.
As I see it, people who were in a position to learn the lessons of the sixties never made a concentrated effort to enter mainstream politics and transform things from within, with the result that the US Senate is very old, very white and very isolated. If the Exon bill had originated in the House, it never would have passed in the form that it did -- because the House (last November notwithstanding) is way more pluralistic, diverse and young than the Senate. I may hate Newt Gingrich, but I do respect him, and I know that as a major SciFi fan who made the famous "let-them-eat-laptops" speech, he would have risen to the occasion and denounced it had it come up for a vote on his watch.
IMHO, it'll take a good twenty years before enough new blood hits the Senate for them to make the right vote on issues like this. Until then, we just gotta bite the bullet.
Andrew Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cooool piece! But...There's no reason we have to bite the bullet. It's our country, and it's our Internet. Let's take it back! Twenty years is way too long to wait. That's a major chunk of all of our lives.
My senators (Boxer and Feinstein) may not remember the generational dislocation of the sixties and early seventies, but I do. I was involved in anti-war movement. I published an underground newspaper. I participated in student strikes. I remember the kind of dislocation the war caused, and the opportunities for growth that it presented for our country.
I don't think we took full advantage of those opportunities. Look where we're at, less than thirty years later and we're repeating the mistakes. The Exon bill may be the equivalent of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. The people of the Internet, an international crowd, are confused and dismayed. There are so many parallels. In high tech today the USA is the major world power. Before Vietnam we were the world's policeman. The judgement of our political leaders may be as disastrous now as it was in the sixties.
"Bring the War Home" was one of the slogans of the sixties. And for sure, that's exactly what happened. It could happen again.
I hoped we could heal on this one, that the voice of the Internet would speak clearly and loudly and that the politicians in Washington would listen and decide that it's political suicide to try to shut down free speech on the net.
I love my country. We're lucky to have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And, as you point out, the Senate is not the House. There are the courts. Don't forget, freedom of assembly is one of our inalienable rights. This attempt to censor our free speech and limit our right to assemble is clearly unconsitutional.
And if all that doesn't work, we still have our votes and we can replace our senators and change the law.
So: talk with your friends.
And vote your issues.
There's a national election in 1996.
Dig we must!
PS: Here's a list of the sixteen senators who voted against the Communications Decency Act: Lieberman-D-CT, Biden-D-DE, Simon-D-IL, Moseley-Braun-D-IL, Kennedy-D-MA, Levin-D-MI, Wellstone-D-MN, Bingaman-D-NM, Moynihan-D-NY, Glenn-D-OH, Chafee-D-RI, Robb-D-VA, Leahy-D-VT, Jeffords-R-VT, Murray-D-WA, Feingold-D-WI.
PPS: Here's the full text of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified on December 15, 1791: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
PPPS: Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the age; trend of thought and feeling in a period."
PPPPS: Inalienable means "that may not be taken away or transferred."
PPPPPS: IMHO is an acronym for In My Humble Opinion.