A fairly nuanced article from Cory Doctorow in support of "net neutrality" is here. He makes hash of the phone companies' beef that internet companies are getting to "use their pipes for free," but at the same time lists the difficulties in crafting neutrality legislation that doesn't stifle future innovation. Here's a good way of understanding what's at stake in the argument, and why you the consumer should care about the issue:
Why does network neutrality need protecting? Craigslist co-founder Craig Newmark addressed this point in an editorial he wrote for CNN.com: "Let's say you call Joe's Pizza, and the first thing you hear is a message saying you'll be connected in a minute or two, but if you want, you can be connected to Pizza Hut right away. That's not fair, right? You called Joe's and want some Joe's pizza."Make no mistake, our phone and cable companies are spending millions and working Capitol Hill to take away some of the freedom you currently enjoy with the Internet. They hate it and want you to subscribe to their shitty programming the way you do with cable TV. On the other hand:
The most prominent voices for net neutrality have been calling for a regulatory solution. Regulation created this mess, so maybe regulation can solve it. Congress can pass a law directing the FCC to adopt rules to ensure neutrality.Read the rest, it's interesting, if complicated. I don't think we can just throw up our hands and say "the big companies will take care of this." Citizen involvement--Net user involvement--is going to be needed at every stage of the process.
I can't believe this isn't a topic on everyones blog. If net neutrality can't be maintained we can kiss our blogs goodbye. I don't think the government meant to qualify free speech with "to those who can afford it in" when they drew up the constitution.
I think the Craiglist example is a good way to get it across. Is the internet like a phone call or is it like your TV cable? Most people would say it should be the former.
I like the analogy to cable tv. Most people do not realize the difference between "push" and "pull" media. I know I didn't. I think it was the Amazon.com guy (best I can do to credit this analogy, sorry) who cleared that up in my mind by explaining the "get" command. We all pay for our service and then we can ask our browser to "get" the info we want, we ask it to send the info, there is nothing in the pipe before we do that- whereas with cable tv everything we pay for is just sitting there in the box on top of our television. I've been trying to use this analogy to rally the troops, but some still don't get it. For some reason the average American, in my experience, thinks that corporations SHOULD be able to charge us whatever they want, for whatever they want, that it is their right and somehow sacrosanct.
I goofed in my sentence above: "Most people would say it should be the former" (ie, like a phone call) is what I meant. I originally said "the latter" (like cable TV)--fixed now.
Great article. I also agree that the "get" command is a great distillation of the issue.