Saturday, April 22, 2017

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

While it's true that there are a variety of subsidiary issues that fall under the rubric of net neutrality, I have selected a small selection to illustrate its power and impact with just a few crucial threads.

Paramount to me is a concern that arose back when the internet was very young.

The path that this very fresh very exotic communications medium would take as this network, that had started as a research and university tool funded and expanded by ARPANET to serve military needs as well was not initially home to commerce. When the question arose, as to whether commerce should provide a third leg adding to academia and military a commercial thread many of us could see a long way down that road and while we knew there would be benefits.
We knew with the launching of corporate media on the web with narrow commercial interests, (at that point the text only internet) might add a richer experience the capacity to convey their messages adding graphics... then sound... then animation... and eventually ultimately video.

Since many of us were media enthusiasts these "out there on the horizon" ((from a mid-eighties)) text only, vantage point, seemed a near impossible dream.

However some of us recognized the thirst and power that commercial investment would bring and we realized with the revolutionary zeal of new converts that the egalitarian nature of the web that we loved, its facility to allow anyone conversant with a simple easy to understand language, could for the first time publish to the entire world on an equal footing with any other mortal, constrained only by our imagination and vision. No mediating publisher to limit our voice.

However, while we loved, how our beloved medium would be enhanced with these investments, we knew unless carefully nurtured and with business interests constrained, it would be a devil's bargain.

What if along with corporate investment gatekeepers came not only graphics, sound, and video but ads, and promotions, billboards and the screech of salesmen. What if speeds were not universal, and along with these data highways came tollways which would invariably evolve to divide the users into the digital haves and have-nots.

How would the troubadour of tomorrow compete with the Disney's, and the 20th Century Foxes, or the Time/Life or Universals. Maybe in some future hybridization, could even determine whose content was delivered in a timely manner, and whose information would be delivered over a digital "cobblestone" byway.

I voted to include ".Com" as part of the upper tier of domains. Hoping that the harvest of rich media would convince people of its criticality its importance, so that part of that egalitarian vision of the "web" could be preserved.

We have held on with fingertips while the threat of a "two-tier" internet still looms or more accurately an "N-Tier" Internet where multiple speeds and delivery systems will ultimately evolve into one level of service for the poor cyber-citizens (dial up or worse) and high-speed cable or even fiber delivered GIGABITS PER SECOND for the economically empowered upper class and the "corporate" citizens.

Even more critical is some subtle thorns in the NON- NEUTRAL SCHEMA - where content delivery monoliths like (Time/Life or Warner or Paramount-NBC-UNIVERSAL - can hyperspeed deliver their proprietary content... and drag their "digital feet" when delivering less commercially significant (to them) content like "Netflix, or Hulu" or especially on the political side "Green Party" (slow) content and "REPUBLICAN CONTENT" (( FAST)) no roadblocks for corporate content.

One last point, another even subtle threat grows along with the loss of net neutrality- you may have already noticed. When a search for "lawn mowers" produces ads on the next website you visit. The more sinister aspect of this tracking is revealed when Facebook released results of their internal "testing" when they provided "upbeat" news items to one group, and "sad" news items to emotionally "color" the emotions to others of their users (experimental-subjects) - I leave the potential of this kind of unregulated social engineering to your "private" conjecture.

One last point, since we have recently been made aware of the omnipresence of domestic and foreign surveillance of our complete cyber experience- the capability of NON- NEUTRAL AGENTS to mediate not only your personal cyber experience but your commercial and even social experience of not just your life online - but your unmediated offline life as well.

RW Spisak


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