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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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June 6, 2008 12:56 PM

Future of the Internet Part Two

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - A question was asked about how cell phones fit in to the battle over and open Internet during the Q&A period of the Future of the Internet panel. Tim Wu said that because cell phones have grown differently than the Internet the battle will be uphill.

"The culture of the cell phones is different than the culture of the Internet."

What he meant by this is that the Internet has been developed as an open system. This open system has allowed for all sorts of free-wheeling innovations. Where as the cell phone is rooted in the centrally controlled culture of the old Bell system.

Because of this centrally controlled history it will be harder for mobile devices to be a part of an open system. He held up his iPhone as an example. He said he hacked his open.

That has been my problem with the iPhone. I do not want to use AT&T but would have to because Apple has a contract that forces its users to use AT&T. Could you imagine if you had to sign up for Comcast if you bought an Apple? Or had to use Qwest with your Sony computer.

When the notion of an open Internet on cell phones is viewed through this lens, the prospects of an open iPhone or other cell phones seems a long way off.

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