The Struggle to Scale: Keeping Up With the Internet
Dr. Stuart Hamilton is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). He gained his PhD in Library and Information Science from the Royal School of Library and Information Science in Copenhagen, Denmark where his research examined freedom of access to information on the Internet worldwide, and the ways in which libraries can overcome barriers such as censorship or the digital divide to ensure that library users receive the best possible access to online information resources. He has lectured extensively around the world on his PhD subject and other intellectual freedom matters, and his findings have been published in print and online journals. In his position as Director of Policy and Advocacy, Dr. Hamilton co-ordinates the activities of IFLA’s FAIFE (Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression) and CLM (Copyright and other Legal Matters) Committees, as well as work relating to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and other IFLA global advocacy activities in the area of access to digital information.
Darren Moon is educational technology consultant living and working in the UK. Creating computer-based teaching and learning solutions, he has worked with NGOs, UK further and higher education institutions and is an adviser to the Association for Learning Technology on matters related to digital media policy and practice.
The staggering pace of the Internet’s growth since the introduction of the first web browser in 1993 can be seen as the story of a struggle to scale. Set against the motivations of users, governments and businesses, the key moments in the Internet’s cultural, economic, political and social development tell us about a varying ability to cope with ever accelerating growth and its consequences, intended and otherwise. Over the past twenty years, following an initial period of innovation and online exploration, we have witnessed a struggle to impose the frameworks of the old world – state control of borders and security, the unimpeded dominance of transnational corporations in the global marketplace-on the new landscape of the Internet, where the potential for individuals to take control of their own destiny is, arguably, far greater than it has ever been in the history of the modern world. The outcomes of this struggle shape the Internet that we use in our everyday lives-whether we are learning, consuming, sharing or protesting.
By looking back at and re-evaluating significant milestones in the Internet’s development, this article will assess what effect they had on reinforcing or diverting the interests and expectations of users, governments, and businesses. From this assessment potential future directions for the Internet will be outlined, particularly in relation to increasing calls for Internet regulation in the areas of security, commerce and sensitive information. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications these future scenarios could have for all those with a stake in the future of the Internet.
- Scope of the Paper
- Case 1 – Mosaic Browser
- Case 2 – eBayPayPalAmazon
- Case 3 – Google
- Case 4 – Napster
- Case 5 – The Great Firewall
- Case 6 – MySpace
- Case 7 – Technology Transparency
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