Monday, June 13, 2005

Rheingold Pt. 2: Owning a Piece of the Internet

As Rheingold says in his interview with Reason in 2003, "You don’t have to buy a license to own a piece of the Internet. Anyone can send bits on the Internet. No one owns the whole thing."

Unless I'm wrong, the television and radio air waves are also considered the "commons" -- owned by no one in particular. Rheingold compares the Internet to the highways, in that you don't need to own a highway to use it. But the government does get to regulate it -- the speed we go, the toll rates, etc. -- and maintain it. In reality, though, the Internet is like a circuit of roads that are maintained by private citizens and provided for public use, kind of like when the Jaycees sponsor a road and keep it litter-free.

Just thinking about all of the grey areas surrounding the Internet, ownership and government regulation makes me feel like I just got off the Tilt-a-Whirl. What does it take to "own" a piece of the Internet? I'm running this blog, but it's hosted on Blogger? And when I paid for the webspace on which I post my band's website, whom exactly did I pay? If "no one owns the whole thing," who owned the chunk that I registered before I did? Do I "own" this space now? Am I renting it? Or am I just the litter-free sponsor? Someone please explain.

No comments: