[Reader-list] The Lowest Common Denominator (July Posting)
bhatt_rudra at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 1 14:22:19 IST 2006
Apologies for the delay.
In the middle of 2003, the then recently-formed
Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) ordered
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in India to block a
discussion group on Yahoo! The group in question was
called Kynhun and it was a discussion forum for the
Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), one of
North-east India's many banned separatist groups.
Unfortunately, the ISPs ended up blocking all
discussion groups on Yahoo!, thus managing to incur
the wrath of the cyber community and bring the banned
outfit some much-needed visibility. But why did the
ISPs exceed their brief? Why did they end up blocking
all groups on Yahoo!?
Earlier this year, (in May to be precise) I posed this
question to Mr. Deepak Maheshawri, the Secretary of
the Internet Service Providers Association of India
(ISPAI), an umbrella organizatiion of ISPs in India.
It was a technical problem, he explained. At that
point in time, ISPs in India did not have the
technology to do this kind of 'targetted blocking',
thus ending up causing a 'blanket ban'. However, he
assured me, they were now equipped to do such a thing.
But, as it appears, he was wrong. Or was he?
In my last posting, I had tried to re-evaluate the
project and had listed out the 'debates' the film was
going to focus on, trying to make things more
structured, yet simpler. Well, it's better news this
time around. I have finally worked out a way to
sructure the sprawling narrative. The film will be
divided into five separate sections:
The State, The Corporation, The Public and The Network
(which, incidentally, is the title)
The story of the Internet, as I see it, is a story of
increasing 'barriers', all technological in nature but
mostly prompted by traditional political, commercial
and cultural factors. At every level, the individual,
the corporate, the national, in that order, there are
entry barriers. Hence, this structure, which, if you
wish to be persuaded, can be pictured as a series of
concentric circles, an onion if you like. The final
section, which is outside this series of concentric
circles) will examine the idea of Internet governance.
This project, which had initially started out as a
30-minute thingy, is now an ambitious feature-length
documentary. Yes, this is going to be a 'traditional'
documentary in many ways, replete with archival
footage and interviews! But that is a small price to
pay for narrative clarity, something which this
project needs. I have maintained from the very
beginning that this a film targetted at a general
audience, people like myself and probably like quite a
few of you reading this, people who are not geeks, nor
hackers, probably not even bloggers; they might use
e-mail sometimes but probably not even that. The
challenge is to make the film informative, yet
entertaining, and more so to make it relevant to
people who would not normally think so.
Looking forward to meeting the other Fellows in August
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