Life Liberty and Blazing Broadband

Internet Freedom is a fairly obtuse concept. But ask anyone under the age of twenty five abouut the things that are important to them in the world today and you'll heard strands of Internet Freedom in their words.

I met with a politician from a farm state the other day. He told me a story about being driven around his home state by a young college educated farmer. He asked the young farmer about a number of key internet issues and the young man recited the key points on the issues back to him replete with the rallying cries of the Internet crowd on each issue. The farmer was as conversant on the points as the tech crowd in San Francisco or New York. The politician took notice and relayed the story to me a month or two later like it had happened to him that day.

I drove with my middle child and two of her friends back to college at the end of winter break back in January when SOPA and PIPA were still very much a live issue. I was right smack in the middle of the fight but I did not bring it up in the car ride. My daughter was driving, I was in the passenger's seat, and her two friends were in the back seat. At one point in the ride one of the young women in the back seat said something like "can you believe this nonsense about SOPA?" and the other young women said "where are we going to get our content if they do this to us?". I didn't take the bait and join the conversation. I just listened. They were outraged by the PIPA/SOPA discussion and the Megaupload takedown and the broader desire to limit what as available to them on the Internet.

I have watched my kids closely over the years. I am a noticer. I pay a lot of attention to what they and their friends do, say, and think. It is a guidepost for me in terms of where we are going and how we are going to get there.

Their generation grew up with a computer on their lap and now in their pocket. They were on Facebook before they were supposed to be. Their first phone was a smartphone. They prefer to watch a movie on their laptop lying on their bed than in the movie theater. And as a young woman said at Princeton last week, they want "life, liberty, and blazing broadband".

I loved that line, wrote it down, and used it to anchor this post. It defines this generation to me. They grew up with Internet Freedom, it is a birthright as far as they are concerned, and woe the person or people who ever try to take it away from them.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Julien

    Well, the web is young enough that we’re really in effect borrowing from future generations and we have a huge responsability to not break it. It is clearly as important to most kids these days than the physical world.

  2. William Mougayar

    This is the Age of Online Advocacy and it’s just getting started.SOPA/PIPA was defeated online in the blogs and comment sections like this one. It was started with old-fashioned lobbying in the hallways of Washington, but the power of Online Debates and Communities defeated it.Online win vs. offline. New habits trump old ones. New thinking is better than old tricks.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      SOPA/PIPA “backed into an Internet buzz saw”!It used to be, never argue with someone (e.g., a newspaper) who buys ink by the barrel.Well, now never argue with a billion people who communicate at trillions of bits per second!Besides, they are carrying in their pockets a 2-4 core processor with about a 1 GHz clock when, as I recall, the last water heater mainframe was heavy for an 18 wheel truck and had a clock of about 150 MHz.And the communications and power of those billion people are growing explosively.The Internet is one of the most powerful forces and some of the best news not just recently but in all of civilization. For all the nonsense in the world, the Internet is really something amazingly good.I kick myself until sore on my back side for not seeing even 0.1% of the potential back when I first learned about TCP/IP at Network Analysis Corporation and R. van Slyke out on Long Island and ever since. I didn’t see it when I first used NSFNET or first heard about the first browsers or the Netscape IPO. I missed it when I did TCP/IP socket programming and saw a TCP/IP stack in hardware. And now Fred’s observation here jerked me forward into reality again.I believe, based on some fairly solid principles, I can see some of the next big things (NBTs), but I’m torqued that likely some, nearly all, of the NBTs coming I’m not seeing.I remember, we overestimate how much change can occur in one year but underestimate how much can occur in 10 years.Maybe Fred should start some posts on crowd sourcing thoughts, reasoning, ideas, etc. on what the NBTs will be. I wouldn’t care so much except the NBTs stand to be bigger than bronze, coal, iron, steel, electric power, gasoline engines, airplanes, radio, TV, little things like those.I don’t mind not sweating the small stuff, but we’ve seen Craig’s List, Google, and Amazon eviscerate newspaper classifieds, reference librarians, retail book and record shops, book and record publishers, and associated paper and ink suppliers. Amazon’s doing a big number on much of all of retailing including Sears, shopping malls, boutiques, etc. A lot of Web sites have put a lot of Willy Loman salesman out of work. TCP/IP and HTTP, the real Death of a Salesman.We’re talking massive deflation of huge parts of the economy and blazingly fast growth of some other parts. Some cases of economic productivity are going through the roof like a skyrocket.I don’t want to underestimate or miss being accurate on the Internet again.Fred’s politician was correct: Citizens are becoming informed in ways that stand to shake and scare, shock and awe, Capitol Hill.”After all, the Internet is just moving some bits around, is just a ‘series of tubes’. How big could that be?” Right!

      1. William Mougayar

        Yes. Well said.

  3. Patrick Morris

    Spot on. The internet gives power to a much broader and diverse group compared to the way things are structured now (i.e. the young people who naturally know how to use the web and make things on it). Young people respect freedom, online and offline, and know that our interests are being limited by old, entrenched industries trying to impede further progress.

  4. John Revay

    Interesting – “At one point in the ride one of the young women in the back seat said something like “can you believe this nonsense about SOPA?” and the other young women said “where are we going to get our content if they do this to us?”. I didn’t take the bait and join the conversation. I just listened”So – I wonder if they brought this up b/c they knew you were invested in this argument…or if it was really on their mind re: would this have come up – if Fred was not in the passenger seat.We have two older daughters and one younger son (just about 5-7 yrs behind the Wilsons) – I once recall siting at a talk when our oldest started HS, and one of the school counselors who lead the program…commented/joked about when he is in the w/ his children ( & their friends) – he said he does not play any music, he drives slower…and even does full stops at stop signs…..his point was to listen to what they are saying and resist the urge to talk. I struggle w/ this as I want to engage w/ them.

    1. fredwilson

      i wondered that too. my daughter knew i was involved. i am not sure if her friends did

  5. John Revay

    I was looking for a lively discussion of the FB/Instagram deal today

    1. JamesHRH

      Not that interesting.Defensive move, overpaid on the face – but you do that to cut off a threat.

      1. fredwilson

        exactement mon ami

      2. Ricardo Diz

        Agreed. Still wonder what will happen to Instagram in the long run though. I expected others to acquire them and gain traction against FB. Oh well…

        1. fredwilson

          that will be someone else at some point

          1. Ricardo Diz

            I guess you’re right

          2. sigmaalgebra

            So FB is like a BBQ in the backyard in August with flies arriving by the bushel.  So, spray, swat, and zap some, but more bushels of them keep coming.Why?  Weak barrier to entry.Or FB’s barrier to entry is their large network of engaged users, but at times others can get such, too.So, what FB bought was not the site, that the FB hackers could duplicate in two weeks, but its engaged users?I’m not seeing who will win this one, the flies or the fly swatter.I’d want a stronger barrier to entry and otherwise would wonder what the heck to do. 

      3. Yaniv Tal

        A billion dollars for 10 people? That’s a bargain! They’re worth at least a billion each 😉

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I snickered..

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Luckily for us, Fred’s a Contrarian 😉

    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      B = 13*(2**2).13-people * 2+ years. = 1b. The latest E = mc**2.

    4. fredwilson

      i’m not interested in that discussion really. somehow that takes energy from me. i am not inspired.

      1. markslater

        thus your comment last week about FB being a photosharing site! talk about validation!

        1. karen_e

          Fred’s been calling FB a photo sharing site for ages! I worked that idea into an industry talk I give about a year ago, hat tip to Fred. I am giving the talk again today in Cambridge and it’s still relevant and makes people think – connects to the timeline layout, the way corporations use FB, the Instagram purchase, etc. // Also, I think the Instagram discussion is boring for Fred because the numbers are just too big. FB or Apple could buy a small nation or two, never mind Newt Gingrich or any other candidate they choose. Fred would rather seed! 😉

          1. JLM

            Brilliant comment, really. Well played. FB is a photo sharing site.

        2. fredwilson

          i could give a shit about validation

      2. John Revay

        Sorry did not mean to diverge – just seemed to grab some headlines yesterdayI thought back to your networks vs utilities post

    5. kidmercury

      since you brought it up, some quick thoughts…..1. valley investors came in days before to jack up valuation and flip shares. lol classic bubble move! daytraders, and that’s exactly what they are, flock to bubbles because of the easy speculative opportunities. i’m not hating on it (i actually like daytrading), just observing. it is the type of price action that creates parabolic booms — and busts.2. 1bn price tag is deceptive. i bet the deal was largely paid in stock and by the time the shares vest it’ll be worth a lot less.3. instagram has 12 employees, no revenue, a lot of the same users fb does, and a strong foothold on only one platform (iOS). this deal is 100m tops IMO. now, maybe by the time the shares vest, if we re-calculate what was actually paid, it actually does come out to 100m NPV. does anyone know the braekdown of cash vs shares in this deal, and the timetable for when those shares vest?  4. fb would’ve better off spending the money and resources to get into the hardware game. everybody just needs to imitate amazon…..the HTC status phone, which has a dedicated “share on facebook” button is way more valuable and the kind of innovation fb needs, IMHO. if they invested in their own hardware, OS, and app store it could be huge. given that MSFT are shareholders i would imagine this is within reach. 

      1. John Revay


        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Facebook is about as mobile as a fridge.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I giggled..

      2. fredwilson

        we are lucky to have you here Kid. you are refreshing.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        You forget what Facebook’s root is, otherwise they may have the insight on where to focus efforts. The founder/”inventor” didn’t come up with the initial successful leading metrics on his own. Now they just use observations of what others are doing to make future decisions, and internal stats – but that doesn’t guide you in the way it would if it was ‘intuitively-driven,’ from a basis of theory that developed and evolved.

      4. sigmaalgebra

        Your analysis of the quick flip of the $50 million round just before the sale was nice!> a lot of the same users fb does,I wondered about that.For the software from 12 people that FB bought, the FB hackers could have duplicated that in two weeks?So, FB bought Instagram’s users and not the Instagram software.If FB users liked Instagram’s software, then FB should have just upgraded the FB photo sharing functionality?Net, given that FB already had the Instagram users, I’m missing just what FB bought. 

    6. davidgeller

      And that fact that no one is talking about the irony of an iOS app and 12 people being worth more than Kodak and Polaroid combined.

      1. JLM

        Haha, what an observation. Well played!

      2. ShanaC

        Polaroid still exists?  And Istagram has serious capital expenses?

        1. davidgeller

          that’s the irony

          1. ShanaC

            exactly 😉

      3. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Indeed. Bricks and Mortar companies, ultimately.Software isn’t easy, but hardware is, typically, hard. And slow. And expensive. When your product is (eg) a piece of software that exploits the power of hardware developed at someone else’s cost… Perfect.

    7. ShanaC

      Not much to be said – facebook needs to buy mobile social network startups because they can’t figure out how to do it themselves, and they have lots of cash and are about to go public, so why not?

  6. andyswan

    Last year we were rolling out the red carpet for government interlopers, because the market wasn’t correcting fast enough in our particular direction.Now we’re appalled that they’ve started to rearrange the furniture.When will we ever learn?

    1. BillSeitz

      Yes, in many conversations about education-system idiocy, I interject “And what else would you expect to happen given that most schools are run by the government? And what might that imply for that single-payer healthcare system you want?” But they still want a pony…

    2. Mark Essel

      Kid hit it with multiple “internets”. Access is paid for one way or another

    3. JLM

      Government is rarely the answer and almost never the right answer.

  7. JamesHRH

    Your partner Albert (I think you reblogged it on Tumblr) and Stewart Butterfield (founder of Flickr – saw him speak at a small session talk in Vancouver) said nearly the exact same thing, within 7 days of each other, last fall:”the internet’s impact on society will equal the domestication of animals.”Farming allowed people to gather in groups that were larger than a family. The internet allows you to find, join and participate in your groups, regardless of location.Big stuff.The young folks can sense the importance of the web as it is more natural to them.I also liked Stewart’s line about ” it should (with an emphasis on, really, it should!) take 30 or 40 years for us to figure this out “.

    1. Dale Allyn

      I think you’re referring to this one:  (My daughter works at Tiny Speck / Glitch )

      1. JamesHRH

        This is the talk – worth :45 of your life.Thx Dale.I assume your daughter is having a blast.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Yes, James, having a blast… and working harder and longer than many would imagine. We’re work-aholics, so it’s a good fit for her. She loves it. 

  8. jason wright

    Internet Freedom – the web now shows us just how suppressed western societies have been. A few TV networks and newspaper businesses shaping our view of ourselves was never a healthy culture to live in. Blaze away. 

  9. BillSeitz

    Fred, does “where will we get our content” refer to censorship of outsider ideas, or blocking their access to stolen music?

    1. fredwilson

      all of that and more

  10. Aviah Laor

    Internet freedom is an understatement.It’s the freedom to find better work. It’s the freedom to open your own gig. It’s the freedom to buy without intermediates that take 50% of the value. It’s the freedom to speak to a doctor and know what the hell he is talking about. It’s the freedom to talk to a lawyer and know what the hell he is talking about. It’s the freedom to get education without mortgage your next 20 years for college fees and textbook publishers. It’s the freedom to follow politicians real actions and not their spin doctors.It’s the freedom to exchange goods, services and needs instead of being milked for the next marketing driven nothing. It’s the freedom of artists to spread their art directly to fans, and to fans to get the art. It’s the freedom of never ending creativity. it’s freedom. Period.

    1. fredwilson

      upvoted. awesome comment/rant/stump speech Aviah. i love it.

      1. Joe

        I think kids are confusing freedom from “free.”Kids want free, mostly. It’s a big distinction.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Life is a BitTorrent…

        2. Cam MacRae

          Disagree. They want content on their terms (pull), at a fair price.

        3. fredwilson

          i think you are wrong. my kids are happy to pay and do pay.

          1. Vineeth Kariappa

            Don’t mean to offend you at all.Difference here is “kids”. The average “kid” gets to spend 10$ a day, at the max.? When there are pirates out there, you think any average income kid is really going to spend money on paying for something that is available for free? Your quote,”other young women said “where are we going to get our content if they do this to us?””, which does imply,” FREE”.

          2. fredwilson

            No it doesnt. These are college kids. They have netflix and spotify and rdio subscriptions

          3. Vineeth Kariappa

            No offense, but you sure your kids have never downloaded or you hope they have never downloaded?

          4. JakePutin

            Your kids are out of touch with average kids.Trust fund kids have money and are of the 1%.Most kids simply steal. Even more so in foreign countries.Sad stuff.

          5. Joe

            Hardly any kids steal, except for the so-called flash mobs that take candy and chips from convenience stores, and that hasn’t really caught on. I’m sure many experiment with shoplifting once or twice, but stealing is essentially a physical provocation – you’re picking a fight with the people who work in the store.In any case, what does that have to do with feeling a close personal connection to data streaming back and forth over the Internet? The way the Internet works, every member of the network has to be a consenting participant in a data swap, regardless of the software  used to make that swap. So we’re talking about consenting people sending communications to each other. I don’t know, I guess you’ve lost me.

    2. markslater

      its the intention driven internet not the attention driven internet. this generation is the first generation to challenge CRM, and hopefully the last to have to deal with it.

      1. karen_e

        Walk me through this, please? How is this generation challenging CRM? Why is CRM something we don’t want to deal with? I’m mired in a relationship-based industry, that’s why I ask.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          CRM is an interesting one – interested to hear Mark’s feedback – it is a sector in midst of huge transition, for sure. But seems very slow to adapt. Haven’t read into it as yet, but I recall SugarCRM got a big round of funding recently? Wonder if they could take the initiative here…

          1. ShanaC

            Read More Doc Searles.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith


          3. kidmercury

            i love sugarcrm. well, it’s been a while since i was involved in CRM stuff (at my last job 6 years ago) but i loved it at the time. i thought they were head and shoulders above salesforce and i couldnt understand why people were choosing salesforce over sugar. 

          4. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Had only heard good things about it over the years, but have forgotten about it, really, over recent years – until the recent funding news.’s party about to get seriously gate-crashed?Here it is…

          5. leigh himel

            VHS over Beta.  Sense has nothing to do with it.  

          6. Luke Chamberlin

            Salesforce has better sales people and the right inside connections to sign up those Fortune 500 accounts.

        2. ShanaC

          It isn’t CRM – It is CRM plus ads plus data.It is this idea  that people will tell you what they wanted versus you telling them what to what.Reality is something in between – there are times where you are sure of what you want, and sometimes there are time you will need to be told you want x.

          1. markslater

            yes agree shana – the basic premise of CRM is to learn about the user and to take un-requested action to gain the users attention.this new generation want to take control of their relationships with vendors, not for vendors to find ways to learn more about them and then go and try and grab their attention. technology has seen us now to the top of this hill where we can take control. 

          2. ShanaC

            You still haven’t articulated a good reason of how this control actually works in practice. Frankly, I interact with 10s of vendors for just my daily life, probably much more, into the hundred thousands, if I think about the supply chains involved. I’m not capable of handling those relationships by myself. And what if I need to change something in these relationships?

          3. markslater

            @ShanaC:disqus can you give me a use case. I am not clear on what you are asking. 

        3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. fredwilson

        i love that line. i may steal it as i stole the headline to this post.

        1. markslater

          its a big theme. i could see it as a theme you guys and gals could dig deep in to and potential get behind as an investment thesis. Its early – the big question is how early! but that’s what you are paid to guess right!the other line that gets me every timemy attention is no longer for sale, my intention is. 

    3. William Mougayar

      Exactly. It’s what freedom ENABLES which is more important than freedom itself. Well said.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        William,That is the same logic that was used to pass the Patriot Act. Does freedom “enable” anything? Or is it the social contract that “enables” freedom?

        1. William Mougayar

          I think both work well hand in hand.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            I think “freedom” and “social contract” is the true social movement today and thus, I agree with you.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Absolutely. Sadly. some of the most democratic ‘free’ societies around are the most apathetic and – ironically – passively choose to not leverage their freedom. Seems those societies that have been suppressed for generations appreciate freedom and what it enables more than ‘we’ do…

        1. William Mougayar

          I think the people do want that freedom, but their governments are suppressing it.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Or more the dinosaurs and status quo influencing politics that are suppressing it. Once a few key things get easier online, and government starts to be actively responsible, and people actively engaged in their local politics/city and then also in their national politics then things will start to be great.

          2. Yaniv Tal

            “and people actively engage in their local politics/city and then also in their national politics” [through the internet]That’s a life long goal right there and one worth fighting for.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            @yanivtalmusic:disqus I’m workin’ on it! It’s an exciting challenge which has synergy with my business projects. It’s all apart of my ever-evolving plan. :)I had tea this morning with a city councillor from my city. We had a good chat for ~2 hours. My city’s broken at the moment for various reasons. It just takes time for change, and educating people, which means engaging with the community.I think once the proper tools are built to facilitate what needs to happen then change will happen relatively quickly.Tools like Engagio that lessen friction of engagement means people can be more and more fluid, more productive, more social, more can happen.

    4. John Best

      It’s nothing short of free access to collective knowledge.Economists talk about “perfect knowledge” – the internet enables anyone to achieve something near that for their private, working and family lives.

      1. Yaniv Tal


      2. ShanaC

        It isn’t perfect knowledge in the economic sense.  We still need to find it and organize it.

      3. leigh himel

        In an emergent system there is no such thing as perfect knowledge 🙂

        1. John Best

          Which would you say is the emergent system? 

    5. Mark Essel

      well said, its the freedom to decide for oneself

    6. ShanaC

      it is the freedom to be able to make choices you didn’t know was there, until you found it by accident.

    7. LE

      “It’s the freedom to buy without intermediates that take 50% of the value.”Where are you getting your figure of 50% from? 

      1. JamesHRH

        can’t nitpick a rant LE.

  11. Carl Rahn Griffith

    “Their first phone was a smartphone.”Love that line. Bang – there’s the difference, encapsulated in those few words.Add the fact many have grown-up with WiFi being all-pervasive, so making access to knowledge and opinion ubiquitous, it’s a whole different ball-game, now…

    1. fredwilson

      my kids don’t grab wifi on their phones when its available the way i do. i’m not sure what to make of that

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Interesting. Maybe your cellular coverage over there is generally better/with better bandwidth nowadays when compared to parts of UK/Europe – also, better data plans, maybe? In which case WiFi isn’t such a benefit, I guess…

      2. karen_e

        I don’t grab Wi-fi on my phone, either, and I’m closer to your age. For me it’s because the 3G or 4G is essentially “free”. I stomach my large AT&T bill with unlimited service each month, and play away, figuring I’m paying for that convenience. My husband prefers to hack his phones and keep the bills low, on the other hand, so he is always grabbing the Wi-fi when it is available. That means on road trips I’m the one using Google Maps to navigate while he drives; it wouldn’t work the opposite way!

        1. ShanaC

          Same!This whole switchoff thing is just a pain to do.  It isn’t worth the time and effort to switch back and forth between 3g and wifi.What I would like to see is ways to increase the bandwidth available, especially because we now have the phsyics models to do so.  No reason people should be paying through the nose for spectrum they technically already own.

      3. Mark Essel

        I subsist on only free/paid wifi. Interesting how wireless to them is sufficient. Same with my wife, she doesn’t even use wifi at home on her phone

      4. davidgeller

        I’d guess that, in many cases, the types of communications they’re enjoying are short bursts and exchanges of data that are fine over 3G which, in lots of places, is always “there” and relatively reliable. Fishing for WiFi and going through the machinations to connect isn’t always faster. And, WiFi in shared spaces (airports, coffee shops, etc.) is sometimes slower than your own little slice of a cell tower’s data pipe.

      5. FlavioGomes

        Do they pay their own phone bills? Economics affects behaviour

      6. JamesHRH

        their roommate pays the bills?

  12. awaldstein

    Change happens when the generation that is already living the future comes of age.I think that is now…

  13. Tom Labus

    GOOG’s most interesting project is the broadband test in Kansas City. Someone is going to deliver better speed and win a huge market.Look at South Korea!

    1. JLM

      Agree completely. I have blazing fast 60MBS service and I am an egg sucking dog expecting more and more.Funny thing I am willing to pay for it.I feel the need for speed.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Turn On, Tune In, Switch On. (as it were) 😉

      2. panterosa,

        Speed is the new kool aid.Drink.

      3. JamesHRH

        people always pay for richer experience, configurability & flat out speed.its coming not just to the pipe……

  14. Brandon Marker

    Only thing I need to be 100% dependent on the internet? An alarm clock that signals you to wake-up through a streamed song. Other than the alarm, my entire day is based around the internet.  

  15. LIAD

    We don’t want blazing broadband.We want instant access to all the information in the world & the ability to connect with anyone anywhere.The delivery mechanism is not the underlying desire.

    1. Mark Essel

      “free Internet” is a head fake, free access to information and one massive shared state machine is the prize. Eventual consistency

  16. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    I wish this generation all the luck in the world as they set out to change the world.Let us not forget history….I remember a generation that set out to end wars, end discrimination, and promoted the concept of freedom and individualism, I believe they were called “hippies.”Should we view the current generation as a social movement or should we view the internet as an innovation movement? Should we compare this generation to the hippies or should we view this age as simliar to the development of the automobile?

    1. William Mougayar

      Right on Carl. Not just this generation, but any consumer that feels empowered by the online and social web is a change agent. It’s you, me and our kids and grand- kids.Whoever understands the power of the Online Levers is a change agent.

    2. John Best

      The hippies of the 60s turned into the cynical yuppies of the 80s and 90s. My fervent hope is that this generation maintains that desire for social change without getting jaded.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        No, not really, and being of the generation that found themselves squeezed between the hippies and the yuppies I know.The hippies were about “us” while the yuppies were about “me.”

      2. awaldstein

        This generalization is simply not true.This is like saying the 60s bred malaise and discontent rather than massive change in music, social freedoms and the arts.Sure I get what you are trying to say but I have an aversion to generational generalizations. They are almost always incorrect.

        1. John Best

          Fair point, I was possibly being too cynical myself.It’s a big soundbite-y generalisation on re-reading. For all the change that the 60s brought, the swing the other way was just as hard, but you can draw the lines between the hippies of the 60s and the anti-nuke protesters of the 80s. I guess what I was trying to say was that I hope that the social change that’s being driven for is both altruistic and realisable.

          1. awaldstein

            Got it.Thanks for clarifying.

          2. JLM

            Haha, not to put too fine a note on things but most of these folks on this blog were not alive in the 1960s.I remember that there was a sexual revolution going on but none of those good Catholic girls I went to school with had apparently gotten the memo.

          3. awaldstein

            True… and funny.Very cool time to be alive and aware and of age.

          4. JLM

            I remember taping two sets 4 quarters each together and that was my gas money and emergency gas money. I would borrow my father’s ’56 Chevy Belair and howl. Those were the days.

          5. Tom Labus

            I think the nuns switched memos on us!!

          6. fredwilson

            i was alive in the 60s. but not old enough to participate in the sexual revolution sadly

        2. Tom Labus

          So nicely said.

        3. JLM

          “Won’t get fooled again.”I agree with everything you have said and I want it to be true but I am astounded at our ability to fail to learn from some of our most horrific national experiences.The fact that we are engaged in a couple of wars, a handful of skirmishes under a Nobel Peace laureate President makes me think we learned nothing from Viet Nam.The failure to run the numbers for wars is just pure nonsense. Where are those guys who said the Iraq war would pay for itself w/ oil revenue.I would whip those financial idiots in the public square with a bull whip (bit longer whip).When will we ever really learn? “Where have all the flowers gone?”

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Our news media follows their old business model of passing out entertainment to get attention instead of information to get informed citizens.So, we forget Viet Nam, and even very simple but important information about our two current wars and various interventions are not brought forward.For a biggie, The Great Recession was caused by the popping of the housing bubble largely caused by the Federal government in some wildly wrong attempt to put people in houses they couldn’t afford. It was classic financial asset bubble blowing, this time of real estate instead of common stocks or tulips. Yet, our news media never made clear the causes, and, really, still won’t.We are flying blind through dangerous skies.Such financial crashes have been known to start world wars and kill 50 million people plus or minus, and WWIII could kill everyone. Still our news media cares more about Lindsay Lohan than the economy, foreign policy, or finance.I see much of the solution the Internet, streams of focused content for focused personal interests. Then some people can be informed, and then there can be viral growth in informed, concerned citizens and, then, politicians who get the message or encounter an Internet buzz saw.

          2. fredwilson

            we did not learn the lesson of vietnam. the men who served there did though. at least the men i know.

        4. JamesHRH

          generational generalizations are often true.Kids of boomers are exactly the same as their parents – just totally different.- they are socially motivated (not achievement or principle based)- they are aware of their power in society, driven by their sheer volume of bodies (hence the change addiction)- they wave technology in your face to prove they are different / special (TV for the parents, web for the kids)- on the whole they are superficial, shallow and self absorbedAnd yet, they both did some good stuff.DISCLOSURE – i was born in the first year of the Baby Bust, have 3 older siblings who are all Boomers and totally have a chip on my shoulder about being caught between them & their kids!

          1. awaldstein

            James…Don’t really understand this comment.If you are saying these characteristics are correct for my son and his generation, they are not true.Thinking in sweeps as broad as a generation may make some metaphorical sense but they actionless to understand and work with individuals and always a poor point of view to build a product or community around.

      3. ShanaC

        As a millennial, I’m already a tad jaded, just in an upbeat sort of way!

    3. Elia Freedman

      The hippy movement captured popular culture but was it as wide spread as everyone thinks it was? I don’t get that impression. I think it was a small group of people that made a lot of noise and culminated at the same time as civil unrest. There was a large swatch of the public that didn’t believe in the things that drove the hippies, including a very strong religious faction that took it upon themselves to become political to counter-act the hippy influences. (This is my impression. I was born after this period.)The “internet revolution” seems to effect all dimensions of the current generation.

      1. awaldstein

        Well said.It’s impact was greater than the number of people involved.The internet is a change agent on steroids.Local is now global. Niches are now markets in themselves. Connections run through every singular idea. Language is now common regardless of which you speak.The power of today and now can’t be compared. But the importance of events that didn’t have this advantage aren’t minimalized.

      2. LE

        TV did the trick as it was in its formative years in the 60’s. Visual images are key. What the media thinks is important (and will attract viewers so they can sell advertising) is what is “fit to print”. With some other stuff mixed in so it doesn’t seem that obvious. 

      3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        You had a variety of movements, the Hippies, civil rights, and the women’s movement…none of which were widespread. All of them were a small group of people…The reality is this whole internet phenom, this whole “entrepreneurship” phenom, is not a whole lot different.It also must be remembered that television was instrumental in all of these movements because all of the sudden we had Vietnam in our living rooms every night, we had the freedom riders getting beat up and dogs released on innocent people in our living rooms every night…AVC represents the true believers, the evangelicals of the current movement…in 2012 AVC represents the Haight Ashbury of this generation.All change is always began with small groups that make alot of noise and culminates in civil unrest (Arab Spring ring a bell)….Where is the “silent majority” for this generation?

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Exactly.What’s interesting is there is less and less silos as voices of discontent – government likes fragmented, partisan groups of dissent so it can perpetuate an ‘us and them’ mindset and in some cases – in cohort with mainstream legacy media – can train the middle-classes to align more and more to the old ways/system and against these fragmented groups, who can be distorted and presented as ‘extremists’ and a threat to order.Not any longer.Dissent is getting more and more mainstream.Government/Corporations, watch out. We’re onto you…

  17. markslater

    and they don’t want to make a call. the telephone is going the way of the dinosaur – why do we even call it a phone anymore?

    1. karen_e

      Mark, I know that you and I both have small children. Every day, Zac (just 2) spots my iPhone on a shelf at some point, hands it to me, smiles, and says coyly, like an experienced sales person, “Mama’s phone. Video?” I think the same thing. Why do we call it a phone? The main thing we do on it (as he is concerned) is navigate to the TuTiTu helicopter video!

      1. markslater

        this is so true!

      2. ShanaC


    2. panterosa,

      especially when video “call” is way more fun much of the time.

  18. Eric Pratum

    Sadly, I believe there is a large lag time in the realization of the importance of these issues when you move from your average college educated person or even just intelligent, autodidact to the less go-getter segments of our population, and this is in part what will hamper the efforts to keep broadband as open and cheap as possible or to keep online freedom as alive as possible.Too many people (especially young people in my mind) will trade away their online freedom for a deal or because they did not read the fine print or because they simply do not understand the implications, and as a whole, the population of internet users will find itself fighting to regain freedom rather than to simply hold onto the freedom it should already have.Well, poop. Reading back over that now, I feel like I’m quite the naysayer… Not at all the impression I wanted to give.

    1. Yaniv Tal

      Privacy Agreements don’t count. Only an insane person would read those every time.

    2. fredwilson

      naysayers are welcome here. we need them to keep us honest.

  19. kidmercury

    freedom is a tricky thing. the interent is already free and it is always going to be that way. it is a bit like loving your friends and family; that can never be outlawed and enforced, no matter who wants to. the only question is whether or not society as a whole will do the work involved to actualize a free put it more bluntly, SOPA/PIPA only have teeth so long as we use the ICANN DNS system. the more we do the work of developing alternative DNS systems, alternative ISP systems, and alternative banking systems, the more we have the free internet we want. actually, doing all that gives us multiple internets, so that we can all choose the internet we want. some will want one free of porn, free of copyright violation, free of copyright restrictions, etc.    

    1. John Best

      I suppose that’s always the case. Its an arms race. As control is exerted over a medium, so the activity moves to another.

      1. kidmercury

        yes. there is always the opportunity to use the adversity life gives us to pull the best out of us…….i think it is the same with SOPA/PIPA and wahtever else they want to pass. 

        1. John Best

          I (in my current day job) visited the IWF recently and asked them how they got round abusers blocking their IP ranges. Their reply I found really interesting – they use the same methods copyright infringers use to get around detection. This means that a) any restriction placed on those methods would potentially have a massive impact on their ability to stop abuse and b) the medium isn’t the message – development of detection and protection systems had been used to infringe the law, and circumvention systems had been used to uphold it. I completely agree about adversity bringing out the best.

    2. JLM

      Wow, what an insightful comment. Well played!

    3. Mark Essel

      up voted for damn right

    4. davidgeller

      Internet isn’t free. There’s a cost to every facet of it. While we may not think much of spending $30-$120/month for it in our homes at $30/handset/month, we do. I suppose you can access it for free at your library, but, even there, you’re paying for it through your taxes.With regard to DNS – it’s a wonderfully resilient system that has been serving our needs for decades. While some governmental control maneuvers present issues we should all be concerned about, there’s no easy way to replace it with something else that wouldn’t fall prey to the same issues (blocking/sequestering in some countries, rate limiting, etc.).That is – unless – you consider ubiquitous wireless broadband supporting massive mesh networks. Remove the copper or buried glass and you have a fighting chance of controlling (or democratizing) communications. But, even here, you’re challenged by the laws of physics and, well, laws of radio communications in most countries.

      1. kidmercury

        free for users, not free for platforms. the google/amazon/facebook/next big thing will take care of it. DNS is controlled by ICANN; it is a monopoly. we simply need private networks to work around this. the way the mobile world is shaping up, in which apple is its own ecosystem, so is android, amazon, etc is the way the whole web will be, IMHO. massive mesh networks at first, yes. eventually we can graduate to where the cloud host is designed to communicate with specific client computers (amazon is down this path with AWS and kindle; kindle has the silk browser which does a lot of its processing on AWS servers. a mesh network of kindle users is at least conceivable, though obviously not without challenge). radio communication laws do need to be violated and spectrum policy is in need of massive overhaul. i don’t see this as a negative, rather a necessity as the idea that spectrum is scarce is ultimately going to limit the internet anyway… we need to graduate beyond it and explore computing models in which spectrum is not treated as as a scarce asset managed by government. government loves to pretend things are scarce so as to justify its involvement.   

        1. LE

          “DNS is controlled by ICANN; it is a monopoly. we simply need private networks to work around this.”Why?Please address the specific issues encountered by every day typical internet users as a result of “DNS controlled by ICANN” being a problem. I deal with ICANN directly and pay them money (as a registrar). I was there at (and prior) to ICANN’s formation. What is the specific complaint you have about ICANN that is a problem for a “typical” user of the Internet?

          1. kidmercury

            a couple problems:1. ICANN is what gives SOPA/PIPA/etc enforcement of the internet teeth. sure, domain seizures do not occur that often. do you think the seizure rate is going up or down? do you trust government to deal with this responsibly? i dont, and judging by how political silicon valley has reluctanntly become, it seems as though inviting government into the internet is increasingly unpopular. the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. 2. what purpose does ICANN serve? i would argue it stifles innovation and that what is really needed is multiple internets that develop their own cooperative agreements. i believe multiple internets is how we get past the spectrum crisis as well and get a faster internet too. these problems, especially spectrum and internet architecture, affect all users. also, to clarify, ICANN can exist and do what it wants. internet platforms can always work around domain seizures and should begin doing so. so i am not so much calling for destroying ICANN or anything like that, but rather moving away from being reliant upon it. this is something we can already do. we lack the motivation to do this because of the convenience ICANN affords — but as domain seizures and flawed, authoritarian legislation become more common and as spectrum becomes more “scarce” (or that there are problems with it) the more incentive we have to move away from reliance upon ICANN and towards a world of multiple internets and multiple domain systems. 

          2. LE

            “do you think the seizure rate is going up or down?”Ok so let’s assume the answer is “up”. My question is then “how much up?”. And more importantly what sites are getting seized?  “what purpose does ICANN serve?” One thing it does is ride herd over registrars and keep us somewhat in line.”i would argue it stifles innovation”I’m not seeing that at all.By the way, “multiple internets” doesn’t make any sense. It’s not the internet if it’s not all tied together somehow.  Which of course it is now which is why it’s the internet. So tying together what you would call 5 separate internets still puts you in the same place. And as far as DNS you can’t solve the problem of typing “” and coming to this website without someone keeping the master directory.  And whether that be ICANN or another group of people you still run the risk of someone messing with that directory and the fact that somebody is in charge.

          3. kidmercury

            this reply is to LE’s reply below mine. @disqus:disqus , please consider adopting facebook’s method of threaded discussion. yes, the seizure rate is obviously up. of course it is not up too much — my site is running, fred’s site, most people’s are — but it’s clear that it’s on the rise. how much longer do we want to tolerate this? if we wait until everyone’s name is seized, we’ve waited too long. i don’t find the seizures to be justified either. megaupload, the alleged copyright stuff…..they are using ICE and DHS to do domain seizures. that is completely messed up and this is in your face tyranny. sure, it is not out of control yet in the sense that the internet still works, but they are trying to put in a china style internet — that was literally what SOPA/PIPA were about. if people stop relying on the ICANN DNS system, it becomes much harder to enforce SOPA type legislation. agreed?let’s compare the idea of “multiple internets” to how the mobile world is evolving. in mobile you have apple’s platform and android’s platform (kindle in development). people love apple because it is so tightly integrated. everything is designed to work together. extending this concept to the web, “multiple internets” means a faster experience. if all web pages in amazon world are hosted on AWS and go to kindle computers, it is going to be a MUCH faster experience. it also gives amazon out of control tracking capabilities which sets the stage for social networking and personalization innovations that are simply not possible in the current paradigm. moreover, it puts to rest all the governance issues that are such a problem. using amazon as an example, they can establish what is copyright violation and what is not; they are, for all practical purposes, the government. this type of vertical integration is going to become more necessary as the spectrum crisis kicks into high gear. right now the feds allocate blocks of spectrum and only one party can use each block. it is just like land in this model. there is simply not enough to go around from this perspective, and old media is hogging spectrum too. in reality we need to have multiple computers using the same block of spectrum, and computers designed to communicate specifically to each other so that they can block out other computers on the same spectrum frequency. in other words, AWS to kindle can go over the same spectrum frequency as microsoft azure (their cloud thing) to windows computers. of course getting to this world is a large challenge. but it will yield a faster internet experience, which is not to be underestimated — speed is very important. moreover, if we don’t allow for frequency sharing, the whole internet experience is going to slower and sloppier. vertical integration enables frequency sharing and higher speeds. that’s why “multiple webs” is important. now i’m open to other ideas on how we get past the spectrum crisis. but almost no one talks about that. there is still a lot of misunderstanding on the issue and i dont claim to be an expert on it, but if we dont do something within the next few years, it’s going to be a slower internet experience. unless, perhaps, you’re on amazon’s vertically integrated network…… 

          4. sigmaalgebra

            From…how to send more data over wireless over the last mile from existing bandwidth:Pick an area, say, a neighborhood of NYC. There get FCC permission to broadcast in a narrow band of frequencies. Also pick some positive integer n for the maximum number of customers want to serve at once. Agree that want to serve each customer at some nicely high data rate, say, 100 million bits per second (Mbps). Really, roughly, want to serve each of the n customers, all at the same time, with the full bandwidth allocated by the FCC.Partition time into some time windows, say, 1 millisecond each. Get a nicely fast, say, 100 billion bit per second (Gbps) per connection with a few such connections, connection to the Internet backbone. At that connection, install a server with some high performance and some special software and maybe some special hardware. At each of n points in the area, install a transmitter. Connect all the n transmitters to the server.Suppose there are n customers connected. Suppose in the next time window, for i = 1, 2, …, n, customer i wants to receive digital signal s_i(t) for time t in the 1 millisecond time window. During that time window, transmitter j = 1, 2, …, n will transmit digital signal u_j(t). For frequency w, let S_i(w) be the Fourier transform (‘frequency spectrum’) of signal s_i(t), and let U_j(w) be the Fourier transform of signal u_j(t). Then during the window there will exist ‘transfer functions’ H_ij(w) so that, for each frequency w, S_i(w) = H_ij(w) U_j(w). So, at each frequency w, we can find U_j(w) by inverting the n x n matrix whose component in row i and column j is H_ij(w) and multiplying on the right by an n x 1 vector whose component in row i is S_i(w). With U_j(w) for all the frequencies w, we can take the inverse Fourier transform and get signal u_j(t). Recall the Cooley-Tukey fast Fourier transform (from about 45 miles east of Wall Street and about 45 miles north of Wall Street). Do this for each j and get all the n signals to transmit u_j(t). Now, are getting, say, n times more bandwidth through the FCC frequency band than would get with usual wireless approaches. “Look, Ma, I’ve got my full 100 Mbps, and so does everyone in the neighborhood, and it’s all wireless!”.So, use wireless for the last mile and from the little beam forming trick above have plenty of data rate there from existing spectrum.Then when get to the hardware that connects the wireless last mile to the optical fibers, specify what Internet want to go to and, there, what URL want to go to. So, just have one extra layer of addressing.And at the final destination server, e.g.,, no reason not to be connected to several Internets.Then when some gumment messes with one Internet, use another one and likely get to most of the same servers anyway.

      2. ShanaC

        It isn’t free, but I expect that in the west internet will be seen and charged for like a water utility.except without drought problems 🙂

      3. Yaniv Tal

        I’d like to see ad hoc mesh networks in the white space with one simple rule: no cops.Each city would have their own. We’d be bringing “local” to the internet.

        1. kidmercury

          yes……i’m hopeful we’ll get there

    5. LE

      Although I don’t agree with everything the government does obviously, in general, I like the fact that there are adults in charge and making decisions. 

      1. kidmercury

        so long as there are adults, there will always be adults in charge and making decisions……

    6. fredwilson

      i worry that a balkanized internet will not be as open and transparent

      1. kidmercury

        yes, a legitimate concern, and i believe you will be proven correct at times…..but i think ultimately multiple webs will have incentive to talk to each other so as to recreate what we now regard as an open web. i.e. amazon and google will have incentives for their ecosystems to be interoperable to a certain degree because that is what users want, and drawing off each other’s ecosystems also helps push price down (which is what the market ultimately pushes for and what amazon did by forking android). android and kindle are going to have a lot of similarities (obviously, given their shared origin)  and i suspect developers will find porting apps to be a much easier process — and one that will only get easier as services come up to facilitate this (unless amazon/google block this, although i think customers will get angry and will work around this if they try……and i think both these platforms, and others that will emerge in the future, will understand it is to their advantage to pursue cooperative policies that push prices down for all). apple has a different strategy which is why i view it as a scam, they dont serve their customers but use them as pawns in wars. sort of like how nation-states don’t do a good job serving their citizens but rather use them as soldiers for their money wars. and because they have such an isolationist foreign policy their operating costs are much higher… other words, it costs higher to live in apple. amazon has much more of a free trade policy and so the cost of living there is much lower. if you’re working class and trying to build a bright future for your family, you’re better off living in amazon! and of course more ecosystems will emerge…..

      2. David Semeria

        But the flurry of posts today saying that Instagram proves “the web is dead” fly in the face of the ICANN argument.ICANN controls DNS but not ip addressesMobile apps don’t need domain addresses to communicate with their APIs, an ip address is just as good, in fact it’s preferred because it obviates dns lookup.Food for thought….

        1. LE

          “Mobile apps don’t need domain addresses to communicate with their APIs, an ip address is just as good”I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near “just as good”. There are cases where the IP address needs to change and it is generally bad practice to hard code in IP addresses. 

      3. JamesHRH

        I agree.Even a free and open market puts up natural borders. The net needs to be, at the foundation, open.

  20. kskobac

    My favorite related quote, from a generational perspective, is “We Don’t Want Everything For Free. We Just Want Everything.”

    1. JamesHRH

      and a lot of them want it now and don’t really want to pay their dues….

  21. Tommy E

    What do you think about Google’s claims to be able to offer broadband 100 times faster than what is currently available?  If this is true, how do you see the internet changing?….and if the technology is available, why is it the cable/internet providers have been so slow to increase their speed? profit > progress = current situation when it comes to IP’s

    1. Yaniv Tal

      Networking equipment is still advancing pretty rapidly. There’s a lot that can be done with fiber optics and we’re only starting to put the stuff in the ground! There’s an easy way to get 1000 times more bandwidth with the same technology we use today: put 1000 times more cable in the ground (and add more switches/routers).Living in America’s great but there’s one thing that really keeps sticking us: this country is HUGE. It’s incredibly expensive to build out infrastructure across such big distances, and that’s why the cable/internet providers have been so slow to increase their speed. They just won’t do it unless they have to (competition).Now what do I think the internet will look like with much higher speeds? It’ll be sick! You’ll have HD video on all your devices. You’ll be able to “Skype” with a friend over your TV with almost no lag and all in high def. Right now the big rage is 3D but even that’s going to improve, in 10-15 years we’re going to have sensors that give you an immersive virtual reality experience and we’ll be able to stream all of that data over broadband so you can play rich games and interact with friends.You know it’s funny regardless of how fast innovation takes place, big companies and governments are always going to be trudging far behind.

      1. Tommy E

        Great response, thank you for your insight!

    2. fredwilson

      i say bring it!!!!!!

      1. LE

        Part of the issue I have with that (and possibly one of the reasons google is pushing) is that you can’t get those speeds without the “serving” end (equipment and connections) also being upgraded. (As well as the final mile for that matter.)So if your is hosted at dreamhost and you want to serve up data to the world at that top speed you won’t be able to do that at the prices you are paying. The equipment you are sharing is (now) not setup to do that transfer most likely.This is similar to the planned obsolescence which is done with OS’s which force you to always upgrade your hardware. Or a little like creating a superhighway that runs around Manhattan but in order to get to the onramp you still waste time in traffic going cross town.Added: My point is that “Google’s claims to be able to offer broadband 100 times faster than what is currently available?” does not in any way mean that any particular users actual experience on the Internet will be able to take advantage of that as there are other parts involved in achieving those speeds.2nd Add: Could be a play to compete with Amazon, datacenters or other parts of the infrastructure necessary which they are only nominally involved with now.

      2. Tommy E

        You say bring it, as I am sure many internet-lovers would.  However, I guess the hidden skepticism of my first comment is the fact I am not so sure that the internet companies are saying “bring it”.  The way I see it-  most internet providers are also TV providers.  They often offer both (and possibly a phone service) as a bundle.  They see higher speeds as a threat to their other services.  Google TV, Apple TV, TiVo, etc are just waiting for internet speeds to catch up to the technology.  They will be able to offer their own TV service through an internet connection.  It will be taking out the middle man. Not to mention the fact that having skype home service (through the internet) available will simply be an attack on these service provider’s “other” part of their bundle.  You can’t tell me that the Comcast’s and Verizon’s don’t know this.  They are doing everything in their power to prevent it from happening too soon until they figure out how to keep a strong-hold on the services they provide for years to come.

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      It’d be great for listening to thrash-metal 🙂

    4. sigmaalgebra

      As I understand the costing, an ISP pays for his last mile and then a connection, likely usually not very long, to the Internet ‘backbone’.The backbone leases bandwidth from the long haul providers.There’s a lot of long haul cable in the ground, so much that for a while Corning couldn’t sell any more.As I understand, it’s routine now to put 100 Gbps per wavelength and have several dozen wavelengths on one fiber and about 144 fibers per cable. Add that up across the US, and I suspect we are awash in available data rate.Then the high end guys manage to put about 1 Tbps per wavelength for another factor of 10.For more cable, my guess is that the main issue was rights of way, but a lot of those have long since been obtained. So, for more cables, just put some more next to the old ones along pipelines, long distance high voltage electric power transmission lines, railroads, highways, and lakes, rivers, and coastlines. The US remains awash in railroad rights of way left over from the last big ‘Internet’ that would let one take a train from nearly any town to nearly any other town.As in…here above, end to end I see it fairly easy to have many Internets with no great bottlenecks on data rates.I can believe that, end to end, there will be more data rate, at relatively small marginal cost, just as soon as there is demand. E.g., as I recall, little Chattanooga has a municipal run ISP that provides 1 Gbps GbE standard.Electronic engineering is amazing stuff!Thank you J. Fourier, J. Tukey, etc.!

  22. testtest

    i would be fucked without the internet. total fucked! it doesn’t only help one to gain intellectual capital, but put it to use as well. to access information on any subject at a click(s) of a button has changed the world. are we yet to see the true product? as the youth of today grow up having accumulated tremendous skill under the weight of petabytes (exabyte? zettabytes?) of books is a huge step forward; to be able to access another layer of expert information at the click of a button. a Library of Alexandria for our times open to all (well, unfortunately not all).the information is still disorganised, to some extent. after all, what is information without knowledge, or knowledge without wisdom.

    1. JLM

      Chris, I have been in business since before the invention of the personal computer and way, way, way before the invention of the Internet.I used to lay out deals on green paper manually and then have them typed up for presentation.I bought the first Apple II in Austin, Texas plus a copy of VisiCalc and an impact printer for almost $8K. I had two 64K floppies, one for the program and one for the files.I made a model of a commercial real estate loan with a 55% AOLB, two different interest rates and a full amortization.Standing behind me were four of the smartest guys in the world and I told them —“You are not going to believe this. I am going to change the interest rate and in less than 30 seconds, we will be able to see the difference in interest given the change in assumptions.”We marveled at the outcome as it took about 30 seconds of screen blinking for the answers to appear.And the world has never been the same since then.

      1. testtest

        and who could have imagined what it could become.waiting for the next twist. there’s always another twist in the plot.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          In simple terms in practice, often there are ‘layers’ to the solution where each solution begets another problem and another solution.So, start with green paper and get a solution via and Apple II and VisaCalc. Great!Only do much of that and want a 5 MB hard disk instead of two 64 KB floppies. Great!Do that for a while and want a graphics screen instead of a character screen!Then since have a graphics screen, want a graphics printer instead of a character printer.Then get a color graphics screen and a color graphics printer!Notice that when are printing one graph, would like to be working on another one so get an operating system that has multiple threads.,,,And we retrace computing history to the present.And we are no longer trying to solve problems based on green paper, but we still have problems apparent from the last solution and want bigger screens, more bandwidth, better security, good mobility, and much more.

          1. JLM

            We now make 20 x as many decisions in a day as we did 20 years ago? I think so.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            In some respects, our economic productivity has gone up like a skyrocket, and some significant areas of our economy have suffered massive deflation.  

          3. testtest

            interesting. a perspective that’s hard to come by without that experience.imo, once a certain level of mastery is obtained in an area it becomes easier to make a distinction of what should be focused on and what should not at a given point in time.

          4. testtest

            i agree with that. i’m most partial to asymmetric competition. new technology or world views open up the chance to disrupt incumbents in ways they can’t defend against.

  23. Jason Keramidas

    Now if we can just convince the government of Iran that this is the case:… The current regime’s belief that this is even remotely appropriate (though understandable given the events transpiring in the Muslim world over the last year) highlights the degree to which they feel repression is the only means to hold onto power. If Internet Freedom is indeed a right, and a key component of the freedom to communicate and share ideas, then we need to work to promote that notion around the globe.

  24. tgodin

    “I am a noticer.”Feld tweeted the other day that he had started reading “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews.Coincidence, or have you read that book too? 

    1. fredwilson

      not yet#addtokindle

  25. testtest

    the echo of the 99%:but i, being poor, have only my dreamsi have spread my dreams under your feettread softly because you tread on my dreams

  26. Florian Bösch

    Life liberty and blazing broadband is paying for my food and shelter, letting me live a fuller life with more freetime and more interesting work time then I every had during my employeedom. I could not survive without blazing broadband, literally.

  27. gregorylent

    any age mind can recognize free-flowing consciousness .. it’s just that older or more established career-holders find it counter-productive for remaining in their ossified life pattern.

  28. Richard

    We need to tackle the big four : student loan debt, health insurance costs, and income tax rates, corporate taxes….that’s liberty.

    1. thatbram

      Those are mere symptoms…

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Student loan debt:Go to an inexpensive college, e.g., a state school. Try to get scholarships and not pay list price. For most purposes for learning, learn how to learn, learn what you need to learn, and then learn mostly on your own. Computer science is a good example: It’s a waste to pay good money for that junk!Programming languages? Pick one, read the documentation, and use it.Algorithms and data structures? There are several good books, going back to Knuth’s. Pick one. A two hour lecture can cover all the important points.For more, read…For more from the computer science department? Mostly f’get about it! If you want more, go to the math department and get the real stuff with high quality.Once you learn how to learn math, do the rest mostly on your own. E.g., at times the Princeton math department, a good candidate for the best in the world, has stated that their graduate courses are introductions to research by world experts in their fields and for the qualifying exams no courses are offered and graduate students are expected to learn on their own. Also, graduate students are expected to have some independent, original research underway starting in their first year. This is all GOOD advice. And for both the study and the research, there’s little reason to be on campus.Health insurance costs: Let health insurance companies and HMOs operate across state lines. That is, repeal the anti-trust exemption that lets Blue Cross/Blue Shield, etc. have partial monopolies state by state. Then competition for insurance coverage will drive competition for the medical services.Next, push for tort reform to lower malpractice insurance premiums and the costs of defensive medicine.For people with documented financial need, have government subsidized clinics.Next, use the Internet to get better information on good service providers.For taxes, become an informed citizen and use the Internet to ram an Internet buzz saw at the back side of any politician wasting money on absurd foreign adventures, passing out pork to get campaign kickbacks, voting for absurdly wasteful laws and regulations, etc.E.g., Condi, the aluminum tubes were never suitable for centrifuges for separating uranium isotopes, and the Department of Energy knew that and told you that, but you chose to ignore it; W had it in his big speech; and so did Colin at the UN. Bummer.Uh, first cut, Iran can’t try to use one before they have successfully tested one, and they can’t do that without our knowing about it. Continue to do INTEL, and when they have successfully tested one, let me know. Then make their top few guys an offer they can’t refuse.

  29. Jason Keramidas

    Your post is especially timely given what is going on in Iran… The efforts we make to protect Internet freedom here pale in comparison to the challenges faced overseas when regimes try to restrict access altogether. If Internet Freedom is in fact a right that we all have come to enjoy, and fight to protect here in the US, then we need to help those abroad who are facing much stiffer challenges to their rights

    1. davidgeller

      I fear that Iran’s Internet model will be a blueprint for something the US government will try to do here – to “protect” us.

      1. Jason Keramidas

        I’m more concerned that it will serve as a model for other countries looking to isolate movements to democracy

  30. Elia Freedman

    My kids are the generation after yours, Fred, or maybe the tail end of the same generation. My daughters, 6 and 4, stare in amazement at commercials (what are these and why are they interrupting my show?), have no clue what a TV channel is and don’t understand why they have to wait to watch something because it isn’t on until a fixed time.Maybe it is the way we raise them but it seems they are so much less attached to television sets than we were. Instead of reaching for the remote and Saturday morning cartoons they reach instead of an iPad and play Cut the Rope (learning basic physic), draw in an art app, watch Sesame Street podcasts and read interactive books.I’m really excited for them. They have such opportunities and only hope they take advantage.

    1. Rohan

      “With great power comes great responsibility….”(Who am I? I am Yoda-man)

      1. ShanaC

        Yoda-Man to the rescue!

    2. sigmaalgebra

      TV:  Have it face the wall and move it only under very special circumstances.TV is noisy, frustrating, and tiring. A few weeks ago I finally just canceled it,  Now it’s quieter here and easier to concentrate.  Besides, all I lost was “a great wasteland”.  Nearly anything good on TV is in better form on the Internet anyway.

  31. Samir

    Internet freedom is ALSO about having the ability to commercially sell content that you produce without worrying about that content being sold, distributed, or acquired by someone else without your consent (online or not). This is a fundamental protection that has been provided by the government offline and should continue to be provided online.If you want to distribute content for free, that’s great. But if you’re a business or a person that wants to make money, you should be able to do that without others encroaching. People have freedom until it encroaches on another person’s freedom…just because you don’t think it’s “fair” that you have to pay $1.29 for a song, doesn’t mean you should have the freedom to acquire it for free from somewhere without the creator’s consent…I don’t understand how people forget about that side of the argument…

  32. Pete Griffiths

    Totally agree. The point is that whatever you may think about what the culture embraced by the digital natives it is indeed a culture – a way of being. And ways of being do not easily change.On a related point, with respect to my own venture, it is truly shocking the difference between introducing what we are doing to 14-24 year old natives and to, for example, 40+ no matter how smart of well informed the latter may be!!!!!! The 40+ you have to explain things to, the younger group just gets it instantly. They don’t have to translate, they don’t have to figure out implications – they just grok it.A ‘way of being’ is a powerful thing and if you want to keep up you have to immerse yourself and listen. Play with the toys and listen to the natives.

  33. JLM

    Freedom, FREEDOM — what a simple word and yet it has been the core value of our Nation since the first day of its founding. Unchanged and unaltered.A sublime word which is made all the more powerful by its universal application to — EVERYTHING.In this context, one has to bow to and acknowledge Aviah Laor’s comments which capture the essence of this universal concept writ large on a computer which has truly become our gateway to the entire world.While I think there are many applications of this concept, the most telling is the natural instinctive American reaction that all things should be free and that the knee jerk of all Americans is that freedom trumps every other concept.The people seem to understand the importance of FREEDOM and yet when our government gets involved there seems to be a universal outcome of screwing it up.Damn, we are lucky to be born in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Is this a great country or what?Let’s NOT screw it up.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      A lot of politicians want to get power, promise to provide security, and take freedom.  That bargain will provide neither security nor freedom.

  34. Ido Salama


  35. ShanaC

    we need a way of rethinking of how to write them, and how to deal with privacy.

  36. ShanaC

    Personal thought:It used to be that the way we thought of freedom (and wealth creation, a lot of the guys who were thinking of this stuff during the Enlightenment were Political Economists) was “Life, Liberty, and Estate,” and that these were forms of Property.The internet is an indirect conflict of that attitude. It’s not about what you own, it is about what and who you know.Protecting knowledge is a much more complicated problem, because knowledge is both ephemeral and everlasting, and has more than the usual common problems associated with communal property. I think until we have a new model of freedom not driven around money and estate, we’re going to always run into problems like SOPA/PIPA, Iran running around crazy, etc. Those problems are pretty much driven by “who owns what” in which knowledge radically can shift the power structure inherent to property.

  37. Yaniv Tal

    Speaking of internet access, how much do you think it would be worth to have CDMA/GSM/3G/4G access in the NYC subway system? I can’t imagine that it would cost more than $100M to install Femtocells throughout the lines. Is that not an investment worth making?

      1. Yaniv Tal

        Thanks for the link. But as the article highlights, this isn’t a technical problem, it’s a political/capital investment one.As far as economic value goes, 1.4B people use the NYC subway a year. You could tack on $.10 a ride and pay for it within a year.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Absolutely. Interesting thing is that the market-research showed such a low appetite for online access, however.

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      I for one am very happy that people can’t talk on the phone in the subway. Would make my commute 100% more annoying.

      1. Yaniv Tal

        What about on the platform? This is a common type of critique I get when proposing forward thinking ideas and my answer is pretty simple: whenever technology changes it has social implications. People will always find a way to adapt the technology in a way that makes their lives better.My phone still works when I’m in a restaurant but I don’t use it to talk out of courtesy. Maybe people think that wouldn’t work on the subway, I don’t know, but in general and this is the design part of my brain talking: this isn’t a policy that should be enforced at the technology layer.

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          I am sure you are very courteous but there’s always that one person who ruins it for everyone…

        2. JamesHRH

          You want a neat idea?Blue rings. These are virtual phone booths that shoot high power white noise down, in a circle, that is illuminated / outlined by roof installed LEDs. The idea is that the white noise allows radio signals thru but holds sound waves in.I have no idea if it is feasible and the guy who suggested it never brought any invention to a conclusion……but I have always loved it.Mental image of me standing in a blue ring, peacefully talking on my phone while a loud background environment floated by always appealed to me.

          1. Yaniv Tal

            Haha I thought you were joking at first but I see why somebody would think this was feasible… but I’m pretty sure it’s not.White noise (sound waves) would never interfere with radio signals so that part is sound (no pun intended) and the LED’s too – super cool… but that’s about it.The physics of the sound waves are pretty complicated for this system but the short answer is that 1) there actually is a way to produce directional sound (pretty new and complicated tech). The problem is that 2) the sound would bounce off the surface it’s pointing at and radiate out spherically so it would still get out. also 3) sound isn’t reflected by other sound waves, it can only reflect off objects with mass. The white noise could overpower and essentially “scramble” the voice inside but you would basically end up with a cool looking portal that makes a ton of horrendous noise.You could try to make something like a 3 dimensional Bose noise canceler but at that point you might as well just make sound proof booths.I hope I didn’t ruin the mental image for you. We could always just scatter blue rings around for the hell of it 🙂

    2. fredwilson

      coming. the L train from 8th to union square (my ride) has it

  38. FlavioGomes

    I precisely remember that day in 93 when I lit up a 56k frame relay connection in a room full of 9600 baud modems.   I think it cost me upwards of 7 large (a month) for that 56K relay alone.  It was the first of its kind in my region.I also remember the day a year or so after when I gave a talk to a lecture hall full of curious teenagers, concerned parents and seniors all suffering from media induced anxiety…:”if you didn’t get on the net you’d get left behind”.  I did my best to allay their fears and make it as friendly and accessible as possible. I felt good about thatAt that time I knew it was going to be big…but I didn’t think it was going to be *everything*.

  39. Matthew DeBord

    Fred, I think you’re seriously confusing competing business models here with An Internet Revolution that sort of pales in comparison with the real deal. Also, it’s not “their content” — copyright does mean that it legally belongs to someone else — although it seems silly to try to obsessively restrict “their access” to it. But isn’t this debate supposed to be about the chilling effect that SOPA/PIPA would have on Internet innovation, not who owns what?A completely exasperating post. I assume that’s what you intended.

    1. fredwilson

      it is not intentionally exasperating. i didn’t set out to exasperate.

      1. Matthew DeBord

        OK, I figured you set out to portray the other side, by implication, as rowing against the tide of history and innovation. In your blog you have a way of cutting to chase, which is good but can also seem provocative. The “life, liberty, broadband” rallying cry is exactly the opposite of what Big Content wants to hear. Not because Hollywood is opposed to liberty but because the business model is under such profound threat.

  40. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    According to the folks at Forensic the internet is actually ruining our brains: http://www.forensicpsycholo…

  41. sigmaalgebra

    GOOD observations.GOOD for them!NICE to know!GLAD to know that!

  42. Perler

    I think this is all just a case of classic overthink. The Internet is now a utility in much the same way as free to air TV and Telephony, both of which are regulated and there is not a lot of contention in this, beyond competition issues and a fairly benign level of content censure.I greatly admire many aspects of Gen X and Y, who have rightly enjoyed freedoms and lifestyle choices that were unimaginable to Gen Baby Boomer parents. What is troubling to me and many people over 40 is the almost obsessive self centred-ness and feelings of entitlement that pervades these younger generations. Of course the Internet is a brilliant and now essential service and facilitator for enabling access to information and developing opportunity for anybody that wishes to utilise it.In a perfect world, this would seem almost natural to expect. But we live in a far from perfect world and while many regions are struggling in a desperate fight for the most basic rights that these western generations take for granted, Internet freedoms are a lower priority to self determination, freedom of speech, security, food and clean water. So let us not get too carried away with ourselves and our expensive digital devices that we think we can’t live without.

    1. Cylon1980

      I’m 42 and I think Gen Y is the least entitled and self-centered generation currently walking the country. They have had to fight and will have to continue to fight for every freedom and benefit they have, something us Gen Xers did not have to suffer through. All things considered, they’re pretty polite about it.The Internet is what you say it is, but it is also the only thing that “works” in a culture that is otherwise relatively restrictive in so many ways right now. The idea that some suits would want a person to be afraid of being a “thief” every time they click on a hyperlink is repellant is so many ways, only one of which is that it denies two generations the only thing wwe’ve really given them to call their own so far.

  43. Louis Chatriot

    The Internet has become so important for the young that not having access to it means a worse social life and less chances to find a job later on. That’s why initiatives such as the Raspberry Pi should be encouraged. We can now have a computer for less than $30, when will we be able to access the Internet for $1 per months?

  44. Benjamin Bloom

    What’s interesting about the rural angle is how so manycommunities have decided this is a problem they wish to solve from a utilityperspective.  The places with the fastestbroadband in the nation? Among them are Chattanooga, TN, Bristol, VA, andLafayette, LA They are all-fiber Gig-E networks built by localgovernments.  More here:  Broadband At the Speed of Light: How ThreeCommunities Built Next-Generation Networks:

  45. << Work at home, $45/h, link

     Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.

  46. paramendra

    Give Me Blazing Broadband, Or Give Me, Give Me