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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, September 20, 2018

Oracle’s new Internet Intelligence Map

Cloud Services, Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 15, 2018
10:38 am

This is pretty cool.  Oracle is making a free tool available to the public that shows the impact of Internet problems throughout the world.  According to a SiliconAngle article by Mike Wheatley

Available for anyone to use, Oracle’s Internet Intelligence Map constantly tracks the state of the Internet in real-time, allowing people to see how events such as cyberattacks and natural disasters impact on connectivity in different parts of the world.

Internet Intelligence Map

 

Did you know, for example, that as I write this post, the two most impactful trouble spots in the world right now are in Congo and Comoros? Do you care?

This map starkly revealed my geographic ignorance.  I didn’t know that places like Eritrea, Wallis and Futuna and Lesotho even existed!  Yet there they are on this Internet Intelligence Map!  Enjoy!

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Tiananmen Square, the Internet and Freedom

Communications, Freedom, History
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 3, 2016
11:10 am

Twenty-seven years ago today, on June 3, 1989, government officials in the People’s Republic of China authorized its soldiers and tanks to reclaim Beijing’s Tiananmen Square from protesting students and others seeking democratic reform. By nightfall on June 4, Chinese troops had forcibly cleared the square, killing hundreds and arresting thousands of demonstrators and suspected dissidents.

China

During this time, a graduate student from China was working at the same company where I was employed.  I witnessed him using the Internet to exchange messages with freedom-loving compatriots all over the world.  He was somewhat frightened that the Chinese government would discover what he was doing and harm his family back in China, so he asked me to not tell others what he was doing at that time.

As I watched what he was doing, I realized what a powerful force global electronic communications could be in the support of personal freedom. I’m sure the tremendous advances in personal freedom that have occurred in China since that time are due at least in part, to interpersonal communications via the Internet.  If people can communicate, it is really difficult for governments to suppress them and deny freedom.

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We Passed!

Technology
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 7, 2015
3:10 pm

In order to register for an interesting online service this afternoon, I had to perform an Internet speed test.  It was nice to know that we (my computer, my internet connection and I) passed quite handily!

A lot of water has passed beneath the proverbial bridge since 300 baud acoustic coupler modems!

Internetspeed

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Are We Addicted to Broadband Internet?

Humor, Social Media
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, April 29, 2011
3:33 pm

Jeremy Duncan seems to be addicted.  Are you?

I thing my family would rather have a full-scale electrical blackout that an Internet interruption.

 

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Tim Berners-Lee: Open Standards and Net Neutrality

General
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, November 22, 2010
6:51 pm

Scientific American MagazineIn his provocative Scientific American article entitled, “Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality,” Tim Berners-Lee concludes, “The Web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity—and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending.”

I don’t agree with all Tim says in the article, but enjoyed reading the article and considering what he had to say.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.

It was the subject of “threat” that caught my eye first. I know that government regulation is a threat, but how does Facebook threaten the Web?

Social-networking sites present a different kind of problem. Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site. Each site is a silo, walled off from the others. Yes, your site’s pages are on the Web, but your data are not. You can access a Web page about a list of people you have created in one site, but you cannot send that list, or items from it, to another site.

So what?  Why is that a problem?

Because the Web is yours. It is a public resource on which you, your business, your community and your government depend. The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age: freedom from being snooped on, filtered, censored and disconnected.

I like the focus on personal freedom.  I do believe that governments have difficulty oppressing their citizens if the right to communicate openly is assured – a philosophy the Web supports – if remains an open, easily accessible medium of information interchange.

Speaking of open-ness and closed-ness:

Open standards also foster serendipitous creation: someone may use them in ways no one imagined. We discover that on the Web every day.

In contrast, not using open standards creates closed worlds. Apple’s iTunes system, for example, identifies songs and videos using URIs that are open. But instead of “http:” the addresses begin with “itunes:,” which is proprietary. You can access an “itunes:” link only using Apple’s proprietary iTunes program. You can’t make a link to any information in the iTunes world—a song or information about a band. You can’t send that link to someone else to see. You are no longer on the Web. The iTunes world is centralized and walled off. You are trapped in a single store, rather than being on the open marketplace. For all the store’s wonderful features, its evolution is limited to what one company thinks up.

So what about net neutrality?

A neutral communications medium is the basis of a fair, competitive market economy, of democracy, and of science. Debate has risen again in the past year about whether government legislation is needed to protect net neutrality. It is. Although the Internet and Web generally thrive on lack of regulation, some basic values have to be legally preserved.

This is an area where I may differ a bit with Tim.  It seems to me that we could have an Internet with different classes of service with different price tags, just like we have an automobile industry with different levels of luxury in the cars we buy.  It certainly is a timely topic and Tim’s comments are definitely worth reading.

One area where my thought’s converge closely with Tim’s are in governments’ violation of due process of law …

Totalitarian governments aren’t the only ones violating the network rights of their citizens. …

In these cases, no due process of law protects people before they are disconnected or their sites are blocked. Given the many ways the Web is crucial to our lives and our work, disconnection is a form of deprivation of liberty. Looking back to the Magna Carta, we should perhaps now affirm: “No person or organization shall be deprived of the ability to connect to others without due process of law and the presumption of innocence.”

All in all, a great article by a giant in our industry.  Thanks, Tim, for taking the time to write it.

About the Author:

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Today he is director of the international World Wide Web Consortium, based in the U.S. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a professor of engineering at M.I.T. and a professor of electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton in England.

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