cr> re: Straits of Consumption & Net OS


Richard Moore

David S. Bennahum wrote:
>Your distinction about consumer-hours being the only scarce resournce
>online and that therefore controlling access to the home is a natural
>monopolistic objective makes sense.

>There is, however, another essential
>variable in the equation that's missing, which acts as a bulwark against
>monopoly control, and that's ownership of the "network operating system."

Dear David,

        Please note that, generally speaking, one monopoly does not cancel
out another.  A case can be made, for example, that the OPEC-Cartel (to the
extent it's effective at all) simply _adds_ to the chain of oil-price
markups -- it doesn't neutralize the Seven-Sisters-Cartel, nor wrest
market-control from it.

        As J D Rockefeller demonstrated, in his classic confrontation with
the oil producers, DISTRIBUTION RULES -- other players fits into their

>for a corporation to monopolize cyberspace, control of the "local
>loop", or access to the consumer, is not enough.  The corporation must also
>control the standard for multimedia communications itself.

        Secondary note: there won't be a single corporation that
monopolizes cyberspace -- it'll be more like a gang of them, reminiscent of
the Big-Three TV Networks era, or the Hollywood Studios stystem of the 30s,
or even the Seven Sisters, archetype of the multinational
distributor-cartel phenomenon.

        To your main point: I don't think the gang would need to control
the OS.  They do need commodity-terms rights to it.  But they only need to
control a _single_ Straits, so long as all traffic passes through it, in
order to control the info-product marketplace.

        Suppose someone, say AT&T, _did_ own software which everyone else
was obliged to license to sell or operate a cyber-server, or a
cyber-capable pc.  By the MS-DOS model, the market-structure impacts would
        (1) Hardware vendors would be forced into a commodity marketplace.
        (2) Communications vendors would have to cough up an AT&T royalty.

        But there's no reason to expect that the AT&T royalty would modify
the architecture of the Cyerspace Inc regime, as described in the Straits
of Consumption message.  No more than a Dolby royalty changes the movie or
CD distribution system, or who runs them.

>The point is, in plain English, that at least AT&T understands how
>important it is to own the basic protocols of the future "network utility."

        Yes, if they could get a piece of all the action, as Gates does
with pc's, that'd be quite a successful business coup.  But the phrase
"network utility", which refers to only the lowest level of cyber
architecture, reveals the limits of AT&T's thinking here: they're not going
for control of the info-marketplace, just a piece of the action.

>We must... keep producing truly "open" standards -- i.e.
>standards whose source code and copyright are not exclusively owned by a
>corporation.  This is an immediate, and essential antidote to the very
>real, non-hypothetical, threat of a return to monopoly, a la Bill Gates, in
>network communications.

        The most such an effort could hope to accomplish, IMHO, is to
slightly lower cyber prices by giving away public software and destroying
the AT&T-OS marketplace, as happened with Unix.  The bigger Cyberspace Inc
monopoly would be completely unaffected by such a standards coup.


        There are many interesting topics in the standards domain we could
talk about if you're interested.  I predict that the Baby Bells will
collaborate on protocols (or already have), and voila, that will be the
standard, PERIOD.

        An interesting question is what will happen to
Internet-as-we-know-it when telco circuit-oriented technology is deployed
in synch with drastic tarrif restructurings.  They have bootstrap & timing
problems here, and we have various ways of responding.

Stay in touch,

    Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
     Cyberlib:  www | ftp -->