THE INTERNET AT ITS TURNING POINT

10 07 2010

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(re Net Neutrality)

Both of the brand new mass media that technology produced in the USA in the last century started out in freedom, with a burst of diverse creativity. Then the Money People got hold of them. To maximize “delivery of eyeballs [or ears, in the case of radio]” for advertising purposes they proceeded to restrict, censor, and dumb down the brave new medium.

It happened with:

Radio in 1922 – 1930. (Lots of different kinds of stuff was presented at first—even classical music!—, followed swiftly by the lockdown to “popular culture” fare only, shows that were the forerunners of the situation comedies that later became so over-familiar to us on TV);

then

Television in the late 1940s and early 1950s (A broad range of stuff was broadcast in the first few years—including even highly respected plays written just for TV! You know what happened later.).

Today people are abandoning broadcast TV and radio steadily, because those media have become so narrow in the classes of content they will broadcast and so controlled in what can be said/addressed/played in those broadcasts that they are mostly boring and irrelevant to our lives.

Instead, now we have the Internet: so vastly diverse it’s a joy for every taste! But it won’t last folks, unless the current de facto freedom, aka “net neutrality”, is preserved.

Diversity requires a low initial entry cost, and  continued equality of cost of the Internet medium for all producers. Would we have, say, YouTube now if, when it was starting out as a new concept, Internet carriers had been able to charge it for its bandwidth at a rate 100 or a 1000 times what they charge Google (which, being already gigantic, could always have afforded to buy carrier-rationed bandwidth “in bulk” to get the best deal)?  I doubt it.

And ditto for all the wonderful, unpredictable forms of entertainment and instruction  that the minds of the creative can be counted to produce for us on the Internet over the next several decades—IF they can get their new stuff into the Internet “pipes”.

If today you let your bought-and-paid for Congresspersons pass something that authorizes ISPs to install lucrative “valves” on those pipes to limit what goes through them, then get ready for several decades of whatever becomes the Internet version of situation comedies and reality shows.

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Here’s how a group of important economists have said the above:

http://www.multichannel.com/article/454622-Econmists_Argue_For_Third_Way.php

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Here you can follow the doings of THE premier activist organization trying to protect net neutrality:

http://www.facebook.com/freepress

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And here’s a blog on why broadcast radio is growing increasingly popular these days. This guy pulls no punches!

http://insidemusicmedia.blogspot.com/


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