A brief digression: saving net neutrality

UPDATE: I can own my mistakes. Looks like a lot of people, myself included, were wrong about exactly how this deal went down. (See http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2014/02/media-botching-coverage-netflix-comcast-deal-getting-basics-wrong.html for more details.) HOWEVER, regardless of how much this particular instance is about net neutrality, net neutrality is still something to be aware of and to be protected. That part I will not be changing my mind on...probably.

The internet is as necessary to a proper education today as are the piles of textbooks, notebooks, and perhaps even the chairs and tables in our classrooms. If it as we know it goes away, the world takes a giant step backwards. I'd rather not give our students ONE MORE problem we caused and they have to solve. 

The headline reads, "Netflix Agrees to Pay Comcast to End Traffic Jam" and I vomit a little in my mouth. 

This is EXACTLY how net neutrality - which, BTW, is how the internet was "designed" - dies. Netflix already pays carriers for better peering through their networks, now the carrier here is getting paid again. Let's see, that's you and me for our internet access, Netflix for its basic access, Netflix for peering priority, and Netflix for normal (NOT special) treatment of its bits through Comcast's network. 

Can you see the trouble with this model? Simplified: if this sort of thing continues to expand, parties without Netflix-like cash won't be able to pay the extortion charges to carriers in order to get their bits to their customers. Then the internet becomes yet another 1-to-many road controlled by the rich. For some history which, as we all know, loves to repeat itself, read on:

Newspapers began from printings created by average citizens which spawned the idea of modern journalism and has grown into an entire market controlled by uber-corporations. Sure, you can send in your letters to the editor, and they'll pick the ones that get printed...

Radio started a world-wide creative and innovative marketplace of ideas as early users built their own hardware and began communicating with folks half a world away. Then, the American government and its favorite lobbyists decided that the entire electro-magnetic spectrum was actually theirs to rent out to people - voila, the FCC is born in 1934 and now anyone who would like to use the airwaves must pay them for the privilege. 

TV wasn't ever open to average citizens due to the high costs of startup. However, sites like YouTube, Ustream, Vimeo, and many, many others have democratized the creation and distribution of video around the world and the world is arguably a better place because of it. Creativity is at an all-time high, citizen journalists are working from feeds of raw video from every conflict and celebration on the planet. Imagine if this rich environment is stifled and information about what is going on around the world again is controlled, filtered, and doled out by corporations large enough to own both the networks that make up the internet AND the governments that want to control it.

The internet is unlike anything else that has ever come along in its power to unite people around the world and connect humanity. At the same time it is still in its fragile infancy and is susceptible to attacks to its basic ideologies and founding principles. Principles that are worth preserving and fighting for. Please head to the following link and do what you can. Thank you.