This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste.
Yesterday my partner Brad announced our investment in Duolingo. Duolingo is an ambitious attempt to provide free language learning and use all the work by the learners to provide a translation service. You can watch Luis von Ahn’s TED Talk where he describes the genesis of Duolingo from his work on Captcha and Recaptcha. The critical take away is that at the heart of Duolingo is the realization that with the Internet you can cost-effectively assemble tiny units of work from a very large number of people.
This is exactly the kind of thing that is unique about the Internet. No prior technology available to humanity came even close. We are not talking about doing something 10% cheaper or faster. We are talking about fundamentally redefining what is possible. And we face two challenges: the first is applying these newfound capabilities to many more problems (science, government, etc) and the second is protecting them from the onslaught of those who would like to deny us these capabilities because they disrupt their existing positions of profit and/or power.
The latest attempt to surface is the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) holding the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in December with a previously secret agenda. This is very much reminiscent of the secrecy surrounding ACTA which once it was removed resulted in a massive backlash from people everywhere. Thankfully someone has set up a WCIT leaks site and documents have started to come in. Not surprisingly the picture isn’t pretty with all sorts of restrictions on the Internet being proposed. It is easy to dismiss this as the mumblings of some UN agency that won’t ever result in anything until you focus on the alignment of interest between politicians in all countries to preserve their power.