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Friday, 17 January 2014

Net neutrality a grand opera for punk geeks

This is the kind of image you see on stories in IT magazines that deal with this thing that's happening in the United States called "net neutrality". Freedom is apparently under threat in the US because "a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday" that internet providers could "[restrict] speeds or even [block] visits to different sites". The case was brought to the Federal Communications Commission by ISP Verizon, which also produces content. Now it's had a win although the story is not over it would seem.

I read a BuzzFeed story about this a couple of days ago which put the nutgraf - the paragraph that actually explained the situation - right at the end of the story. This kind of editing is symptomatic of the coverage of net neutrality because it shows that there is a big readership who are already in-the-know about the issue. What I also see is that that readership is also very much of a single mind in the matter. As in the case of publishers - of books, music or movies and TV - in the minds of these people you've got big, evil corporations arrayed against the serried ranks of virtuous punk geek ninjas. An uneven fight, it would seem, but there have been wins for the underdogs, for example getting SOPA killed in Congress.

The blogpost linked to above dates from January 2012, which shows how long this war has been going on. Net neutrality is just the most recent skirmish in a protracted battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker - if you get the drift.

The thing is that net neutrality is only a US issue. I think that the situation differs in Australia because here the ISPs are not so deeply involved in content as they are Stateside, so there's less incentive for them to get bolshy with the punk geeks and their legions of greedy vassals - the regular people out in the community who use the innovations created by the geeks to source their content without paying for it. That's my take anyway. I would be happy to be able to read more on net neutrality from an Australian perspective. When HootSuite started to ask for payment in order for the user to avoid sticky ads in their tweetstream, I switched to TweetDeck. But I wonder if there might not be a way to use the demise of net neutrality to do some good. ISPs might be able to charge more for certain websites and then funnel some of that income off to the actual content creators, for example. Maybe this grand opera for propeller heads is not such a bad thing after all.

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