TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: What is Net Neutrality all About?

Re: What is Net Neutrality all About?
15 Jun 2006 10:49:09 -0700

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Do you agree with all this, or do you
find it just a bit shrill? There are several additional essays in
the collection presented here today, please continue reading. PAT]

No, I don't agree with it. Yes, I do find it shrill. I responded to
a separate issue, here are some more comments:

> This is about Internet freedom. "Network Neutrality" -- the First
> Amendment of the Internet -- ensures that the public can view the
> smallest blog just as easily as the largest corporate Web site by
> preventing Internet companies like AT&T from rigging the playing field
> for only the highest-paying sites.

It also will mean the public can get hit with the nastiest virus,
phising scam, porn, etc. without protection.

The automobile offers us "freedom". But we can't drive any way we
feel like -- we must drive on prescribed roads (not across fields) per
motor vehicle laws. Our vehicles must meet safety standards. Back in
the 1950s the automakers fought safety standards and lots of people
were killed until they were made mandatory in the 1960s.

"Freedom" is a very loaded word. It sounds good on the surface, but
one must look closer.

> Net Neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run
> the applications and devices of their choice. With Net Neutrality, the
> network's only job is to move data -- not choose which data to
> privilege with higher quality service.

Given the abuses on the net perhaps we do need a gatekeeper. Real life
has gatekeepers.

> Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic
> innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It's why
> the Internet has become an unrivaled environment for open
> communications, civic involvement and free speech.

Without doubt the Internet is a powerful tool just as the automobile
and chain saws are powerful tools. But all tools must be used with
care and built with safety standards. The Internet is no different.

I do work as a community activist and the value of the Internet as
described above is vastly overrated. It does help, but not to the
extent above. First, a great many citizens do not have a computer at
home at all. Second, those who do limit their Internet work
(presuming they even do so) to very specific things; they don't sit
there all night and surf away. Third, the easy way to create web
pages and talk means that everyone and anyone is creating web pages.
To the end user, it is nothing but a lot of noise (mixed in with porn,
scams, and the like). Fourth, a lot of web sites are poorly
maintained -- put up once but never updated or supported. Having the
Internet will not fix a sloppy organization.

Go look at the newsgroup of alt.prisons. You'll see it dominated by
one poster's tirades. Legitimate discussions of prison issues are
nowhere to be found. Other unmoderated newsgroups have similar
problems with outside trolls. Open access is open access, and will
bring in people you don't want.

Let's discuss the reality of functional "free speech". At a town
meeting, a citizen inquired about a recent fire, he wanted to know if
it was arson. The town council assured the citizen that the fire
marshall had checked and found the source (accidental discarded
cigarette) and there was no arson. But the citizen said it could've
been arson and thus the town had an arsonist in its midst. Again the
council assured the citizen that wasn't the case. The citizen
persisted. This went on for a few more rounds when finally council
thanked the citizen for his comments and moved on to the next agenda.
The citizen was cut off from further staements.

On the unmoderated Internet, there is no one to say "ok, we have to
move on now". The passionate and persistent will keep posting their
issue, drowning out those not as vocal. That's not free speech, that
is mob rule and much of the Internet is mob rule.

> Before long, all media -- TV, phone and the Web -- will come
> to your home via the same broadband connection.

Nonsense! It will take years before each and every house has an
affordable broadband connection. There is no way today's existing
cable and telephone network could support every household and business
pounding away on broadband connections, doing streaming video
downloads, etc. No where near enough capacity.

Further, not everyone _wants_ such connections. I fear the writers of
these articles are isolated in their own little techie world and don't
understand there are plenty of people out there who get by with rabbit
ears and POTS. Those that have cable get it only for better reception
(cable's original mission). Those who do have the Internet have it
only to get emails to their grandchildren. Just because these
technies are willing to stay out all night to buy the latest Windows
or Flash or whatever upgrade doesn't mean the rest of society is too.
They're not.

> The Internet has always been driven by innovation.

That is not always a good thing!

For an article that rants against big corporations, this "innovation
business" is exactly the General Motors model of planned obsolesense
of the new model year. Got Win 95 on a Pentium 120? My goodness,
you're old fashioned! Buy new! Buy new! Buy new!

> Web sites and services succeeded or failed on their own merit.

Success has NOTHING to do with "innovation". A successful website is
so for the same reasons anything else is successful--it works
properly, is easy to use, and serves the customers needs. This may or
not may not make use of the latest and greatest features.

How often have you wasted time in a bank or store because the "new"
computer system didn't work right to handle your transaction? Every
time I buy clothes the clerk tries to scan the tag, it doesn't work,
so the clerk then has to key in 16 digits of a product code. Error
prone and time consuming. Annoying when they ring up a $300 suit when
I bought $3 pair of socks. This is 2006 and they still don't get it.

My comments are based on my observations of 35 years in the
technological, government, and business worlds. In these posts I have
attacked 'technies' for the reasons described. If any techies want to
respond, please do so.

> the Internet has driven economic innovation

Allow me to elaborate on this issue of "innovation":

There's a growing family owned department store chain that is doing
well. In contrast, large national chains (ie Federated, May Co.) are
consolidating. This small chain is buying up stores closed by the big

How is this small chain thriving? The paper had a feature article on
its President.

To be sure, they do use computer generated reports to track buying,
trends, etc.

But the head guy and his mgmt staff does something else a little old
fashioned: they visit the stores and see for themselves. They speak
to the customers themselves. None of this can be done remotely by
computers. No such "virtual visits" or virtual simualtions. They
have the real thing.

Early in the morning a chartered bus picks up mgmt at the HQ and then
goes to visit the stores. In each store they inspect the
displays -- are they neat? Attractive? Are sales clerks on duty and
helpful? Are the customers finding what they sought? Are the
promotions bringing in people? How's the stock rooms?

I don't know if this would be called "innovative" since it's rather
old fashioned. The computer trade press promotes remote visuals
through cameras and the like to automate this sort of thing a la 1984.

But this approach does work since this chain is flourishing. Because
the visits are face to face, it's a two-way street. The clerks and
customers get to talk and listen and the mgmt gets to talk and listen.

This is how the old time "merchant princes" built up their stores.

Computers can and do supplement this sort of thing but cannot replace

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