Its the Internet, but not as we know it...
I think the story headline holds true for most El Reg readers but unfortunately don't think it holds true for the "Internet masses".
For me the Internet "essence" (to give it a name) has always been the fascination for that "awesome global network". And all CLI mind you. In the beginning it was using telnet to gain access to "digital cities" which were somewhat fun. Mostly Gopher based stuff, but still..
Later it was using Windows' netsock and Netscape (the other alternative 'Mosaic' wasn't that much fun). For me all using Win/OS2 and later (when I finally understood more about the way it worked) I even got OS/2 online. That was really nice.
But for me the real fun started when I finally got a good grasp of this "Unix" thing; I got sent out to a Sun Solaris course (which was the first Unix environment I fully learned, understood and grasped) and it didn't take me long to figure out that "Internet == Unix".
So when I started using Linux (ironically I only started using it to keep my Solaris knowledge fresh, man, did that take a change!) I also soon started messing with Linux to get my Internet access going at home. And that's where the real fun began.
For my parents the Internet started when I used to spent hours in the evening online (all using dial-up) but because I was using Linux I simply "shared" my connection with them as well. That was nice!
And then eventually we got ADSL, I "hacked" the modem / router to do bridging so that it wasn't the modem but my Linux box which would get the public IP address, that eventually led to hosting some websites on my own PC, setting up a FreeS/WAN IP/SEC network with some of my IRC friends (Epic / Splitfire script FTW for me). That led to learning how DNS /really/ worked (root zones) and all of a sudden I could wake up on a nice Saturday morning, get an e-mail telling me about this new cool thing called "irssi" and would simply go to (iirc, its been years): 10.2.1.1 which put me on a US Linux box hosted by a good friend of mine :-)
I honestly don't remember the domain names we came up with. Something ending in ".irc" that's for sure 8-)
"If we have this vpn thing, why not try setup a tunnel to get lan data across? You know; GRE packets or some other global unused protocol"
Some friends even routed their netbios data over it (I didn't use Windows at all back then) so they could simply copy/paste stuff to each other.
That is Internet for me. But for the common masses? I don't think so...
And can you really blame them? Back then we hacked Linux to copy/paste our X509 keys, passwords, etc. all to setup the VPN. Nowadays I have a DrayTek modem/router on both my end as well as my parents end (both online using cable) and setting up the VPN only requires a few mouse clicks and some common understanding of what you're doing.
Opening up Netbios used to be some iptables hacking now its merely enabling an option.
How many people use Linux to really "hack" and setup a cool global network of their own using the Internet? Without using some kind of wizard I mean ;-)