I still dont believe its meaningful to say that “principles” “underpin” the Internet, as the author of this Guardian article does:
The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
What can it mean for a “principle” to “underpin” the creation of the Internet? Do these words refer to anything which can reasonably be said to exist?
Does it mean that if the principle were false, the Internet would not have been created? Could not have been created? Would have failed once created? I’m pretty sure that “universal access” was not a consideration, design goal or logical prerequisite in the development of packet-switched networking in the academic and military research projects which created the software, hardware and protocols that now form the Internet. I think its much more likely that “universal access” is a policy goal of Ian Katz which he wishes somehow to associate with the Internet, and which he therefore imputes to the creators of the network by means of linguistic clumsiness.
The construction “X underpins Y” means “I want to make an argument about X, which, if it even exists in any causal relation with Y, does so in a manner which I cannot or will not explain.”
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