If you only read one mind-blowing, prescient essay today on the architecture of the internet, read Karma Vertigo: or Considering The Excessive Responsibilities Placed On Us By The Dawn Of The Information Infrastructure (1994) by Jaron Lanier [via Heckler & Coch]. On democracy, the formative nature of the network design and how abstraction layers are calcified in, and - wonderfully - a vision of the net that encourages a version of the free market that helps everyone, rather than merely interating the old one (this new market emerging from Ted Nelson's ideas). Wow:
"Architecture, alas, is so much more than politics, that it is almost impossible to capture its importance. Architecture will also be a foundation for the language, society, and culture of the future. At first, the design of the network will seem less important than the content that is moved over it. This will be true only for the first generation or two of users. After that it will become apparent that the network's design is like genetic material out of which our culture unfolds, an intimate and pervasive presence, a thing, like the structure of our spoken language, whose influence is too great to be isolated or measured".
Read more of Jaron Lanier's writings.