2006.05.19

Network Neutrality

12.06.52 - Mark

Since I've brought my iBook back online I've been catching up on some of the news circulating the tech world, and aside from the MacBooks (which I certainly want) Network Neutrality seems to be one of the dominating topics. I've seen a lot of people spouting off the "Information want's to be free" line without remembering that it's only part of the dynamic Stewart Brand was talking about when he stung the words together.

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other


Network providers are of course going to want to charge more for bandwidth as the amount of information traveling over the networks. They know that your information - no matter which end of the transmission you're on - is valuable to you in some way. They want the quickest, easiest way to turn the largest profit on those little bits of information and because most executives seem to be shortsighted penny pinching technically illiterate baboons the answer is to simply charge more for premium service, conveniently dropping those that they offer as other products if you the customer don't want to pony up the extra cash.

Now look at the other side. Information wants to be free. We have the technology to put a laptop into the hands of every kid in the world if we were so inclined, and we have networks where the overwhelming majority of traffic is free in nature, and the simple fact is that the internet has spent it's entire lifetime as a free and unregulated entity. We're dealing with something that was designed to withstand nuclear war. Meager attempts at building a pay wall between a handful of nodes will not be enough to stop the traffic. Unless I'm wrong it's essentially the same type of mentality that goes into web-blockers. Erect them all you want, but the internet and it's ever adapting nature will quickly cut off the parts that don't work and find alternative routes that do.

What this gets to is network neutrality, and the fights going on over it won't be solving anything. In the end, it's all about the bandwidth. Data doesn't need to be sorted and prioritized when you have a big enough pipe, and based on the the miserably low standard America accepts as "broadband" this country is in serious need of some good bandwidth (admittedly, not as much as Africa)

Links (because I'm too lazy to fit them into the body)
Net Neutrality and High Def Video -- Considering Alternative Views
Information wants to be free
Cost of internet access in Africa

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2006.01.30

Incomplete thought of the day

22.54.21 - Mark

While I was writing my rant about online video distribution I started thinking about how much money networks get from commercials compared to selling content online (since we all know they don't put the commercials into the videos). I've been doing some research, but TV finances are a deep dark hole of uncertainty. Especially when you don't want to sign up for Nielsen Reports.

Then I realized I messed up some numbers, and that I didn't have the time to fix those and write it up properly. It's probably for the better that I draft it for a day or two. I'm not sure what my final point is.

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