Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Red Internet

Ever wonder why the Soviet Union didn't develop an internet?

(BTW, Happy May Day two days late, comrade)!

It is Mr. Benjamin Peters contention, filled out in book form, that the Soviet internet failed to materialize (and the American internet did materialize), because the Soviets approached the problem as having a competitive free market solution, whereas the Americans arrived at a solution via a cooperative effort.

In other words:
The first global civilian computer networks developed among cooperative capitalists, not among competitive socialists. The capitalists behaved like socialists while the socialists behaved like capitalists.
I guess I'll have to read the book to follow his argument. The book is How Not To Network A Nation: The Uneasy History of The Soviet Internet by Benjamin Peters.

Excerpts may be read here.

I'll not spend $40 to read it. I requested of my local socialist book depository that they purchase a copy.

(As an aside, ever seen a picture of the two sides of the Berlin Wall? One side was covered in colorful graffiti, the other side the bleak institutional prison gray of bare concrete. Ever seen a picture of the two sides of the border wall between the El Paso and Ciudad Juarez? Guess which looks like which? Guess where the US of A is heading based upon this graffiti analogy? Bonus Guess. Guess where Web 3.0 is going?*)

Peter's contention is probably a safe one. Having read about the byzantine machinations that occur in a corporation, the power struggles that enervate any effort to produce a product - having worked in four (three failed, and good riddance) multi-billion-dollar international corporations, seeing what is basically a seething mass of creepy crawlies underneath the upturned rock - I can tell you that there is no difference between either side of the Iron Curtain when you are a prolecat slaving in the salt mines of an organization beyond the Dunbar number.

(As an another aside, I would note that one time someone asked if I was an atheist, and I said "It requires entirely too much faith to entertain that notion". Agnostic then? Believer? I replied with a wry smile  "A woman once told she couldn't believe in Fate, but she was a big fan of coincidence". The Dunbar number, pegged at around 150 is roughly the organizational limit where a group could adequately keep track of itself. Thus, platoons, etc. are usually this number. I would also note that the Bulk number, the number of atoms needed to start seeing global properties emerge from out of the quantum realm, is also pegged at about 150. Coincidence?)

In fact, it is to your advantage, since force and fraud is visited upon you every day within the hierarchy, to use what little force and fraud is available to you. ("Got that report done, Kurman?" "By Friday, boss!")

I lost my train of thought. Isn't it an irony that both nations sought out a network solution to a command and control problem? Isn't it an irony that the very solution to this command and control problem, presented as an enhancement towards further egalitarianism will probably someday enslave us all?


  1. * Web 3.0. I have been told that Web "3.0 relies on replacing the browser entirely with an app, often a minimal browser in its own right executing custom widgets to communicate with said back-end (without requiring the user to run a program -- a browser -- that can see over the walls of the deep, deep silo they're stuck in)".

    History neither repeats itself nor rhymes, but here is my Web 3.0 analogy: "sherman set the swayback machine for Sumeria circa 2500 BCE. The city of Lagash, although any will do. The city is run by corrupt priests and the rich. The wekt and poor live in hunger and fear. Temple land to be used for the benefit of the people has been seized by greedy temple bureaucrats. Workmen beg for bread, craftsmen go unpaid, and officials demand fees for every public service. The king's cohort, the double barrel of elders and young hot heads, vie for partition of the lands. The established elders grasping to keep their holdings, the young hot heads petitioning the king to wage war on other cities so they may possess land. It is a serpentine warren of feudal pens and dismal brick pits. That's Web 3.0.

  2. Quit whining bitch. Borgification is inevitable.