"There are a lot of other places in the world that are actively using the technology of the Internet to control the free communication among citizens, and to identify critics of the government and hurt them," he says. "We need to be mindful in what we advocate from our perspective that the tools that are implemented on the Net are tools for the global Net."
In other words, citizens of other countries already face actual, enforceable rules -- unlike the folkways established by Web users in the West. Witness the frictions of the Arab Spring, or the restrictions of societies such as North Korea.
It's the kind of perspective that provides a different context for the issues raised by a libertarian, anything-goes Internet. It's hard enough to stop "Star Wars" comment boards from devolving into flamebaiting, meme-generating files of NSFW Yodas.
So for now, we're still making our way through the Series of Tubes, and nobody knows where the boundaries lie. We joke, we grimace and we marvel at the creativity of the hive mind. The Internet is a big place, and countless cultures have set up residence. Eventually, what is now humor may lose its zing; what are now customs may become laws.
Will the rules ever become The Rules? Maybe some future generation will figure out the true guideposts of Internet life, and the singularity will be upon us.
Nah. It'll never happen.