TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: NY Times Editorial: Protecting Internet Democracy

Re: NY Times Editorial: Protecting Internet Democracy
10 Jan 2007 09:58:07 -0800

NY Times Editorial Desk wrote:

> Internet users now get access to any Web site on an equal basis. Foreign
> and domestic sites, big corporate home pages and little-guy blogs all
> show up on a user's screen in the same way when their addresses are
> typed into a browser.

> Cable and telephone companies are talking, however, about creating a
> two-tiered Internet with a fast lane and a slow lane.

Well, here's another point of view on this subject.

Other posters have previously pointed out that message traffic _now_ is
of various priority. VOIP phone calls, for example, need a higher
priority than say an FTP download.

I'm not so sure the two-tiered approach is such a bad idea.

A major problem of the Internet is content BLOAT. As soon as end users
get faster speed, the web pages grew in bells and whistles to make full
use of it. It's extremely rare these days to find a web page that is
mostly text and usable on a slow dial up (e.g. 14.4). Indeed, even 56k
dial up users find many pages too slow.

The reality is that many of these "bells and whistles" are utterly
useless and just an excuse for the web programmer to play around with
new features. That's fine for kids playing around with each other, but
for people trying to get information and place an order, it is very
wasteful. Very attractive web pages can be prepared without the
datawidth bloat. We don't need pictures everywhere, a million fonts,
dancing teddy bears, etc.

> Creating these sorts of tiers would destroy the democratic quality of
> the Internet. Big, wealthy voices would start to overpower the smaller,
> poorer ones. Innovation would be threatened if start-ups and small
> companies could not afford the new fees. The next eBay or Google might
> never be born.

I hate to break this to you, but the "big wealthly" voices have always
overpowered the poor, be it on the Internet or anything else. This
business about the Internet being "democratic" is a myth. Here's why:

Go do a search on most topics and you'll find hundreds of thousands of
hits. How can a person possibly sift through all those hits? It's
impossible. If my web page is now buried at the bottom, no one will
see it today, let alone in the future.

I learned long ago many porn sites flood the search engine indexes with
common words so that they come up first in searches. Nothing has
changed about that.

Some sites pay a fee to show up first on search engines. What's
democratic about that?

Lastly, I suspect some business interests have their own selfish
motives for pushing this "neutrality" business. Their ads, showing an
old rotary telephone and the "bad old days" were quite misleading.
Anyone who puts such an ad out must be questioned.

On the flip side, if someone has something really special, word will
get around and people will still get to it, even if it's on the "slow
side". This is true on the Internet as well as in real life. For
example, if there's a really good restaurant in a lousy location,
people will still seek it out and the restaurant will thrive despite
the location.

Another problem that perhaps a two-tiered system address is the mass
of spam and sabotage viruses. Right now their distributors make use
of the free Internet. The rest of us pay dearly in costs for unneeded
server space

> A net neutrality law would require cable and telephone companies to
> continue to provide Web sites to Internet users on an equal basis.

Real life isn't "equal". Should a hospital emergency room give "equal"
priority to a person with the flu vs. a person with a heart attack?
Should a bank give equal treatment to a regular customer vs. a bank
robber? Should the parking lot of a small store provide equal space
for both automobiles and 53' tractor trailers?

As you can see, there are very legitimate reasons for disparate
treatment of services and customers.

> But there is growing support from individuals and groups
> across the political spectrum, from to the Gun Owners of
> America, who worry about what will happen to their free speech if
> Internet service providers are allowed to pick and choose the traffic
> they carry.

The New York Times, as does most newspapers, is selective about what
advertisements it will carry (even from paying customers), as well as
what news stories it runs.

One of my concerns is that extremists, who usually reflect a very tiny
number of people, will get a free use of medium. If I want to stand on
a soapbox in Union Square that is my right, but is the City of New York
obligated to provide me with a free bullhorn? If I want to hand out
leaflets on the street corner, that is my right, but is the city
obligated to print and distribute them for me?

What do you think?

[public replies, please]

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, you do have a good point when you
allude to the New York Times hypocrisy on this and other social
topics. NY Times, for instance, has long been a foe of handguns, and
editorialized against them on many occassions. Yet, their long-time
publisher _always_ carried a handgun weapon with him when he came to
work each day (in a chauffer-driven limousine, I might add). I think
the way you have to understand the NY Times, they are saying "we here
are special and different; we can trust ourselves to do the 'right
thing', but it's the rest of you who are worrisome."

Conditions must be getting sort of hard where NY Times is concerned.
They give all their news away for free these days; (oh, you still pay
fifty cents or a dollar if you want the print edition, to partially
pay for the paper and ink) but every headline and news report they
offer can be obtained for _free_ via RSS. Just look at our very own for a couple hundred
news reports daily as proof of this. No need to register, no need to
login, no cookies, etc, although I could impose those 'features' on
readers if I wished to do so. PAT]

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: RJ: "Re: Off Topic: Teens Same Worldwide: [Movie, Texting, Cell Phones]"
Go to Previous message: Rick Merrill: "Re: NY Times Editorial: Protecting Internet Democracy"
May be in reply to: NY Times Editorial Desk: "NY Times Editorial: Protecting Internet Democracy"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page