Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi
Mon Jan 25 11:55:48 +0000 2021

It's interesting to see so many artists, curators, activists are trying to make physical public spaces available as the public to a lesser extent offers them. We should replicate this understanding to the digital realm -- where public spaces never existed at all.

The Internets as an invention was revolutionary because it was so unregulated and open. The mindset that ruled then, that the network was equalising people, that it would connect erveyone regardless of background, is falsely still the narrative used for the services online.

The private sector has captured this story, and capitalised and taken control of what we believed would be the world's public platform.

But since the network left tje academic sphere (where most of it started), almost all of the ownership and control had been in the hands of private equity.

From the physical layer -- the fiber cables that connect nations, households, organisations -- to the top layer of services such as the platforms we think of as public spaces, are owned by for profit companies.

We think of the Internet as a library, but it's mostly private libraries that we are granted access to by enriching the owners with either more immovable content (our locked in words) or by payment through mostly advertising. The successful exceptions can be counted on two hands.

The discussion regarding twitters suspension of Donald Trump from these platforms must be viewed in the light of what the internet is not; a public sphere.

"the series of tubes" might have been funded with public money, but without democratic requirements. We have believed that the Internet is inherently good, which was never the case; it was just an innocent baby with academic caretakers.

Later the Internet made friends with the wolfs of Wall Street, that had the idea that greed is good. But we never stopped looking at the now grown up kid as our innocent baby.

Now, I have a personal belief and view that infrastructure that we as a society are dependent on, should not be a tradable commodity. Roads, parks, beaches, water, education, government etc. The Internet is one of these, and the basis for other infrastructures to function.

Whenever we talk about the issues brought on by the internet, we must go to the core issue: we are not in control but yet we think we are.

I find it limiting when we phrase these controlling organisations "big tech" when we should understand it's way passed tech. It's just capitalism. If we think of these organisations as a couple of technicians, we're limiting our understanding & thus we bring out the wrong tools.

If we want a functioning democracy in a highly digital age, we need to first talk about who owns and controls what. We, the public, should own the physical infrastructure just like we (used to) do with water, electricity, roads. Fibers should be a commons.

Then we need to discuss our own data. There's no technical reason why ownership of that is in the hands of a few companies, it's just because it was built so. We lived in caves tens of thousands of years ago too. It doesn't mean we have to.

If we had legal ownership of the physical infrastructure, it means we'll have to regulate it. Not just what one can't do with it, but also what rights we have.

If we had legal ownership of our data, it means we'll have to regulate it. Not just what companies can do with it, but what rights we have to stop them from doing with it.

The internet first great success was the idea of many smaller peers instead of giant Centralised data centers. However, we decided to not only build these data centers, but we subsidised them, without even getting shares in return.

Since we clearly realised this by now, we need to stop giving away money and ownership to undemocratic institutions. No matter how nice they might be now, they're still not a common.

If you think about it: the phone you're most likely reading this on, is as fast and powerful as most servers from not that long ago. With 4g and 5g you have a connection that is faster as well. Why do you even upload your pictures etc to somewhere, it's already online!

The reason is: using those decentralised technologies, which are exactly the ones the centralised ones use as well, does not have a business model. Because the business model is control: not your control though.

Mon Jan 25 11:55:56 +0000 2021