Digital Public Institutions Part 2: New Organisations We Might See Soon
Tom Steinberg

Here is my reply to Part 1, which might fit better here:

Whenever I hear .com folks say we need to continue the tax breaks for the Internet or kick the state and local sales tax can down the road again from online commerce, I think about all the externalities or costs generated by bad things that have been empowered online from ransomware to cyber bullying to recruiting terrorists and wonder my the information age economic engine doesn’t cover more of its real costs.

I also I pondered since the late 1990s what potential great and awesome “public” things could be digitally powered and made equitably available to all if like public broadcasting there was sustained funding to support.

Here are two old relics of Internet archaeology:

What is notable to me is how my pre-Facebook diagram of the missing elements online have been filled mostly by Facebook and to some extent other players. I wrote these at a time when the dynamic interactivity of email lists, newsgroups were being replace with Web 1.0 non-interactive one-way content.

That said, the equity and for the public interest questions remain. The hard truth is that anything civic of decent interest to wealthiest and most educated masses will attract venture funds and models which seek to convert the attention of the advertiser desirable audience into sustained commercial models. Models that seek to bridge divides in society, connect people across differences be it income, race, immigrant/native born, etc. have a very hard time existing if the potential donors, purchasers, advertisees etc. are cleaved off. So, going forward when we think of doing good -for all- with public resources, government support, or non-profit models you need a level of investment and revenue generation that can compete with models that seek to serve just the most profitable few.

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