Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Introduction

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p. ix

At the beginning of 1997, when I was finishing net.wars, Netscape was the hot tech stock. Amazon.com only sold books and had yet to become a public company. Yahoo! was proud of losing less money than Wired. Freedom of speech activists were waiting for the...

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1 The Internet Gets the Bomb

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pp. 1-13

Can you catch a virus from your computer? That used to be one of those questions a technical support person would tell you about to make you understand how little the people they dealt with knew about the computers they were trying to use...

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2 Selling Community

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pp. 14-31

One reason so many media folk have trouble understanding the workings of the online world is that they themselves have not really become part of it except in the shallowest sense—they have email addresses and perhaps use the Web for research. Many may not even do...

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3 Who Owns the Net?

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pp. 32-41

On a sunny southern California November day in 1998, several hundred people turned up at an auditorium on the University of Southern California campus to remember Jon Postel.1 The service, filled with live chamber music and the world’s most famous geeks...

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4 The Heart of the Net

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pp. 42-58

One of Jon Postel’s most significant contributions to the Internet’s development was running the domain name system (DNS) from the time he and Information Sciences Institute colleague Paul Mockapetris wrote the original RFCs defining it until his unexpected death in...

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5 A Thousand Points of Failure

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pp. 59-66

“How many bombs would it take to bring the Net down, and where would you drop them?” This is the kind of question that can silence a room full of Netheads, and so it did at a panel presented at the 1998 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP98) conference in Austin,...

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6 The Empire Strikes Back

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pp. 67-79

On November 5, 1999, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson released his “Finding of Fact” in the long-running Department of Justice (DoJ) antitrust case against Microsoft.1 The case was still a long way from assessing penalties, and everyone knew there...

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7 Free Speech, Not Free Beer

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pp. 80-94

Back to the future. As the lights spun out of the Eiffel Tower on Millennium Eve, the hot operating system was a clone of the hot operating system of the 1960s. How retro can you get? The operating system is known as Linux, and its single most famous distinguishing characteristic from Microsoft’s Windows is: it’s free....

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8 The Innocent Pleasure of Reading

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pp. 95-116

The free/open-source software movement’s concerns about what kinds of rights people should be allowed over the software they use are just one piece of a much larger conflict that is popping up in every area of business and society: where should we draw the line between...

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9 The Future of Public Information

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pp. 117-127

In 1993, Wired magazine considered the future of libraries. At the time, it seemed as though electronic books might take over the world, and writer John Browning mulled over the possibility that libraries might need to charge for access to them...

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10 Falling into the Gap

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pp. 128-139

Vinton Cerf, one of the authors of the TCP/IP protocols and now a vice-president at MCI Worldcom, has a stock speech that begins, “The Internet is for everyone. But it won’t be if . . .” The great dream of the Net in the early days—and, of course, in many quarters still—was that it could act as a leveler to promote...

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11 Divide by Zero

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pp. 140-153

A lot of elements had to come together before Amazon.com could set up its operation in Seattle and start selling books online, go public, sign up 13.1 million customer accounts, hit $2.6 billion in annual sales, reach a market capitalization (on January 4, 2000) of $27.9...

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12 The Haunted Goldfish Bowl

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pp. 154-176

In the end, all roads lead to privacy. Or rather, all of these debates lead to debates about privacy: how much people should have, who should enforce the limits beyond which outsiders may not intrude, whom we most need to be protected from. Deciding what we may read,...

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13 Twenty-first Century Snow

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pp. 177-186

The two great dangers for the Net have always seemed to me to be, first, that it would become dominated by a very few large players and therefore turn into a closed, proprietary system, and second, that the Net and its freedom would be strangled by government...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 187-188

This book thing started when an editor for NYU Press posted a message to the Usenet newsgroup rec.sport.tennis in early 1995 to the effect that he’d been reading everyone’s thoughts on tennis for four years but had no idea what anybody did outside of watch or...

Notes

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pp. 189-216

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 217-218

Index

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pp. 219-222

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About the Author

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p. 223

Wendy M. Grossman is an American freelance writer based in London, where she writes for the Daily Telegraph and Scientific American, among many other publications. Her books include net.wars (1997), which looks at the development of the Net as a commercial...