Friday, August 6, 2010

The End Of The Internet?

Yesterday the Federal Communications Commision meeting on Net Neutrality broke down.
Earlier, The New York Times reported that Google and Verizon were working on a deal to end Net neutrality. Google and Verizon are denying this.  These two news items may be specters of doom for the Internet.

Net neutrality is a principal that states that there are no restrictions by anyone, internet service providers or government on the content of the internet. This means that over my Comcast broadband it’s just as easy for me to reach a enormous site like amazon.com as it is to reach my favorite comic book message boards on comicgeekspeak.com. If what people are speculating is true, this could all quickly end.

The idea that is that internet service provider (ISP) can offer a premium fee and get better access to websites. For example, you pay $10 more a month and cnn.com, amazon.com and apple.com are now faster websites to use on your computer. What’s bad about that?

By offering a tiered system ISPs are indirectly controlling content. Why would you use an up and coming search engine when bing.com loads faster with your premium Internet package?

The Internet has been called the greatest expression of democracy. It’s a place where a couple people with a great idea can change the world. I still remember going on youtube.com the week was launched and there were only 30 videos uploaded, facebook.com when it was limited college students and google.com back when search engines like metacrawler.com and altavista.com were still around. If an ISP gives us a faster premium for sites that are backed by large business that can afford to pay the ISP fees than what happens to the little guy?

You can argue, “well, whatever, we live in a capitalistic society, this is how business works, big companies who have more capital have an advantage because of that.” My response is “so what?” Go ahead, call me a communist or whatever, God forbid that we have something in culture, something in our society that isn’t dictated by the almighty dollar.  The paradigm that makes the internet so great explains why it's been so difficult to make money for traditional business to figure out how to make money online.  

I love how the internet puts everyone on the same playing field. I love how the access we have to information is really access to people around the world and I love how even the smallest website can bring people together.

Maybe everything will change and when my kids are using the Internet they will only be going to the “premium sites” and scoff at the idea of going to a site created by a fan. I hope not.

If that does happen I will fondly reminisce about the time when a blog written just some guy who loved music could be reached just as easily as the New York Times.

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