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Net Neutrality

Tuesday 4 July 2006 - Filed under Default

There’s been a lot of talk recently about something called net neutrality. What is it? Is Switzerland taking over the net? No. Are we doing a slow transition from Drive into Reverse? Possibly.

It’s about keeping the speed of the internet neutral with respect to what you’re trying to do on it. That means watching video or talking on AIM should be the same speed as going to Comcast’s or AT&T’s websiteand we all know how much you like to go to those two hot destinations.

When I was in 3rd grade I had a (fictional) teacher, Mrs. Osterhouse, who had a few favorite students and she made it quite clear who they were. She’d constantly call on them, was very patient when they didn’t know the answer, and generally spent more time helping them than any of the rest of us. If they had trouble, she covered their faults by taking over the answer. Horrible!

There’s a reason why a teacher shouldn’t “play favorites”. The rest of us who weren’t her favorites didn’t really want to raise our hands to ask or answer questions and if we were called on we weren’t mentally prepared to perform like her favorites. So the end effect was her favorites got a little encouragement, maybe they learned a little more or felt a little better, but the other 90% of us became disillusioned. This was net loss on the educational balance sheet. It was at that time, that we started small steps towards a life listening to Nine Inch Nails, painting our fingernails black, and working at Mr. Smiley’s Hamburger Joint.

Now imagine instead of 3rd grade, we’re talking about the Internet. Instead of Mrs. Osterhouse controlling the classroom, it’s Verizon, Sprint and AT&T controlling the internet. Their favorites would be websites that have paid them cash(some would say bribes) and all the rest of us – including innovative startups that we love so much because they shoot some awesome web 2.0 spitwads – just become disillusioned. It’s not the way the net should be.

So what can you do about it? You can go here: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and take a look at the bill itself. You can also visit MoveOn.org and click on the Save The Internet link.

2006-07-04  »  David Sterry