paths. We have open protocols for file
transfer, for e-mail and for much else.
For specialized communications, such as
that provided by Skype, there are many
choices, and opportunities for many
more. But none excludes any other.
The latest threat to general-purpose
computing is UEFI, the Unified Extensible
Firmware Interface. Intended as a
security measure, it adds a layer of
complication to running an operating
system other than preinstalled Windows
on otherwise generic PC hardware. To
make installs easy, Fedora has elected
to pay what Cory Doctorow calls
“blood money” to make booting a
non-hassle ( http://boingboing.net/
(Go to Implementing UEFI Secure
Boot in Fedora for the details at
It won’t give you warm fuzzies.) The
direction this development points is
toward less general purposefulness.
And this isn’t good.
One of the best characterizations
of the Internet I’ve ever heard was
“a way, not a place”, which was the
title and key point of a speech Phil
Windley gave at a conference earlier
this year. (He makes the same point
in this post: http://www.windley.com/
122 / SEPTEMBER 2012 / WWW.LINUXJOURNAL.COM
A protocol is a way. And thus, so is the
Internet. We may talk about spaces,
domains, locations, sites and addresses,
all of which frame the Net as real estate.
But TCP/IP is a way, not a place. All it
does is make a best effort to connect any
two end points by any means possible. Its
purpose could not be more general.