Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Honest, I really do get it

Ever since I wrote about net neutrality a couple of weeks ago, some readers have suggested that if I only truly understood the concept I'd be in full support of it.

I appreciate the concern, but, honest, I think I've got this one. Boiled down, the idea behind net neutrality is that carriers (like, say Google or Verizon) must allow all content providers access to the Web. This is because the Internet, so the theory goes, is the new First Amendment, requiring that anyone who has something to say must have access to it distributive powers. Nonsense, I say.

An RFB (Roger's Favorite Bloggers), Patricia Hanschiegel has once again said it better than I:
The internet was not created for fun, it was not created by accident. It wasn't even necessarily created for you, the user. The government created it to track tanks in the battle field. The carriers put the money into it because it offered larger margins and a more stable infrastructure that cost less to run. How fitting that the giants let everybody else build up the platform only to step in and pull the cord! The walled garden. Sounds like lots of internet and technology companies we know.

I am not sure who sold all on the idea of it, but you must know: It was never an open platform. That was a lie.

It won't just be a case of more expensive innovation. The telcos have been generous in allowing it to date on what's been essentially their dime. The real battle will be whether or not all will be allowed to play at all. Carriers, like all big companies, do not ever truly play nice. I've written a lot about how the next phase of the Internet's disruption will be telecom, and that in the end the internet platform will likely shake the internet business the most. Here's why.

It'd be very important for all who do not own internet infrastructure to quickly learn how the platform works. Soon, all will need to know.
"It was never an open platform," she says. That'll tick some people off.

The Internet (remind me again why we capitalize it?) is not a magical, mysterious thing straight out of The Matrix. It is an ingenious and breathtakingly efficient way to distribute data. That's it. It doesn't defy gravity, end hunger, establish world peace (the folks at MIT actually once thought it would do just that), or create a flat world (sorry, Thomas Friedman).

The sooner we get used to the idea that the Internet is simply a tool, the better. Most of the data moving around it today is garbage -- fraudulent or downright dangerous (or illegal) Craigslist ads, sites for the latest Neos -- Nazis, Supremacists, general wackos. It has changed the world, but it doesn't deserve special government rules to ensure every nutjob, criminal or pervert has equal access to it.

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