Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Save the internet: The rationale


"Fight the Power"

New York University Professor of culture and communication, Siva Vaidhyanathan; in an interview with Brooke Gladstone of On the Media; explains why net neutrality is essential to the consumer and why American ISPs want to see the back of it:
They're rational actors...They're trying to maximize the rents they can charge...And so, like any rational company, they've spent a tremendous amount of money on lawyers and lobbyists, and they have the ear of Congress. So that has tilted the debate...

There are a couple of different ways to look at this. There's the romantic way, right? The romantic way is that we want to have the Internet as the wild frontier for entrepreneurship, and that's a strong case. There's also the liberal free speech argument, which says we want the Internet to be a level playing field so a variety of voices can enter the public sphere. That's a fairly strong argument. But then you've got the economic argument, which is those of us who write checks every month to these companies, we want to be able to know that we are getting decent service for what we're paying. If my broadband company next week starts dialing down my Skype speed so Skype doesn't work as well for me, I might not even know it or notice it for a long time, until Skype starts frustrating me, and out of frustration, I'm just going to pick up my old phone and dial India the old-fashioned way and just pay for it because I know the call's going to go through. That's the sort of frustration and opacity we might start seeing on the Internet. So it is a service question, a competition question, an economic development question, a consumer question. And it really is dollars and cents.
(Link, Audio Clip, Image credit: NYU)

Look here, I've got enough tsoris dealing with my own ISP's bullshit idiosyncracies - yeah let's call 'em that - idiosyncracies; without having this sort of excessively vòwas¹ thinking taking root in the Western Hemisphere. Now, now; before you start smarting off about me being a commie-pinko again; just hear me out. I've no problem with a little corporate greed. All things in moderation, I say. But this thing, this Communications Opportunity Promotion and Efficiency (COPE) Act of 2006 and the other similarly ill begotten bits of paper floating about Capitol Hill, is dog-and-his-bone type foolishness. So it's no wonder why I've got anarchist rap lyrics stuck in my head.
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power
'Nuff said America? 'Cause I can't do a gosh darned thing about this except bitch, what with being a Caribbean national and all. We clear? Good. Now go harass a Congressman. Not sure who your representatives are? Call 202-224-3121 and ask nicely. While you're at it you might want to drop your reps a note or five reminding them of the upcoming November polls. They're really busy people, so they might have forgotten.


¹ vòwas=greedy (Kwéyòl)

5 Ninjas, 1 Kitten and a Fifth of Vodka!