The Information Toll Road and Information Markets

As the reality of an Information Toll Road draws near, people from all points of cyberspace are rallying around Net Neutrality, and airing their grievances in terms of that concept. 

This is a strategic mistake that is going to allow the corporate Communications Cartel to push through their agenda and lock down the internet. 

The internet is built around open standards and reliable and cheap access. 

I run a few websites for communities that I am involved with and for my small business. I depend on these open standards to allow me to share information with my communities and my perspective customers. I built my web presence on Open Source software, so I am greatly indebted to the Open Source movement for both creating and protecting my ability to do the things that I do online. 

The same could be said of the Communications Cartel. They have co-opted many ideas and concepts from the Open Source movement, and have made them widespread realities for most of the planet. But let's be clear on one thing: the wonders of the private sector and markets did not create these things, it was a level playing field, open standards and access that made these things happen. 

Firefox went global, even in the absence of a level playing field, because of open standards and access. Thousands of useful products, plug-ins, and extensions have made huge impacts on Information Technology, and since been integrated into the Internet as we know it. Most of these came from people and companies that would be left out in the cold if we allow corporate cartels to create the Information Toll Road

The Information Toll Road is a dead end. 

Information Markets and the Internet

In the United States, before the Internet, a citizen had the right to free speech, but did not have the right to be heard. With the advent of the internet, that changed; all of a sudden everyone had not only the ability to speak freely, but they had the ability to be heard. 

When the Telecom Bill was pushed through by the corporate Communications Cartel in 1996, there was all kinds of talk of equality and redistributing information power: "Every man a publisher and content creator". Never mind the fact that the Telecom Bill consolidated the power of the corporate Communications Cartel, the people were going to get something out of it. 

Most never guessed it would be the shaft. 

Decreased competition and relaxed regulation allowed access costs to skyrocket as options for the consumer were limited. When several controlling entities act as a cartel, limiting access and usability to drive up profit, an unhealthy market is created. When we talk about something as important as the freeflow of information, we are talking about something as important to society as air and water are to people. 

Fortunately society nor people matter in markets, all that matters is profit. By this standard, the Information Toll Road Bill is an extremely important, and wonderful piece of legislation. At this point in time, so much information is shared instead of sold for profit. We are using their markets to share information; the nerve! Not only are we using their markets to share information, costing them profits, but we are sharing information that threatens the very concept of profit today, future profits for tomorrow, and to shed a light on nefarious past profits. 

Rest assured that if the Information Toll Road Bill passes, we will pay to share important information. Information harmful to powerful interests will be scrubbed from the internet through restricted access and bandwidth and oppressive costs. The corporate Communications Cartel wants to lock you into their captive market, and they want you to pay. We should not allow ourselves and the internet to be taken hostage by the corporate Communication Cartel.

Ron Watson





Comments and critique welcome.

Ron Watson

Pawsitive Vybe Canines
12 E Bridge St Suite G
Rockford, MI 49341
301.524.6670





On May 6, 2006, at 1:50 PM, Ron Watson wrote:

Hey everyone. 

I might be pretty active on this thread. Some of you might remember me going off on list and video conference about this issue and how it relates to creeping corporate power. 

Let's just say this issue is important to me. 


I would like to talk to you all about our messaging as we try to Save the Internet: Messaging is important. It is more important than reality, which we have seen from our governments for the last 20 years. The current message, focusing on 'Net Neutrality' is a sure loser. Yes, it is real. It is literal, it is correct. But it is not going to work. 

We are going up against the 'wonders of the private sector'. Free markets. De-regulation- concepts that are so ingrained into the Average American's brain that they are nearly unchallengeable. We are doing so with a message that needs 10 paragraphs to explain. They say 'private sector needs to be free to create', probably something like,"At this time, it is very important that the private sector be free to innovate and create as only the private sector can."

Then we follow with 10 paragraphs of what Net Neutrality is. 

We are going to get killed!

Save the internet is a great phrase: 
The internet needs saving.
Why? 
Because giant companies are trying to steal it. 

"Ok, so I won't be able to write what I want in my email?"

No you can write what you want, but you better make it short. Too many words and they'll charge you more.  And of course will have to pay for any emails to people far away, or outside your network. And of course you will have to wait forever for it to download. No more sharing pics.

"Um. But don't you have to pay for faster connections now anyway? When I moved to cable it cost me more than dial-up did. And my company pays even more for our fast office connection."

Can you afford hi-speed internet today? Better enjoy it while it lasts because if this goes through you will be stuck on perpetual dialup. You and me can keep up with the Jones' in terms of internet pricing, but we can't keep up with the Dow Jones'.


Let's look at the text from save the internet, and just inject a little personal stuff and see what happens:


From Save the Internet.com:
Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most. Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.
Net Neutrality allows everyone to compete on a level playing field and is the reason that the Internet is a force for economic innovation, civic participation and free speech. If the public doesn't speak up now, Congress will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by telephone and cable companies that want to decide what you do, where you go, and what you watch online.
This isn’t just speculation -- we've already seen what happens elsewhere when the Internet's gatekeepers get too much control. Last year, Telus -- Canada's version of AT&T -- blocked their Internet customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to workers with whom the company was having a labor dispute. And Madison River, a North Carolina ISP, blocked its customers from using any competing Internet phone service.

A Little rework:
Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the principle of Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment. This means that giant companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast get to decide what sites you may see, and how quickly you can get there based on who pays them the most. Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.

The internet has always been a level playing field. This is the reason that the Internet has brought about economic innovation, increased civic participation and given us all the ability, not only to speak, but to be heard. If the public doesn't speak up now, Congress will cave to the demands of the corporate Communications Cartel and their multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by telephone and cable companies that want to decide what you do, where you go, and what you watch online. 

This will mean that the Information Superhighway that was promised but abandoned the last time the Communications Cartel muscled their way into politics, will turn into the Internet Toll Road where speed and access are available only to the highest bidders. 

This isn’t just speculation -- we've already seen what happens elsewhere when the Internet's gatekeepers get too much control. Last year, Telus -- Canada's version of AT&T -- blocked their Internet customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to workers with whom the company was having a labor dispute. And Madison River, a North Carolina ISP, blocked its customers from using any competing Internet phone service.

Granted this is not a good rewrite, as it is off the top of my head, but I believe it is better than what is on the page right now. 

Who the hell gives a rats ass about Network Neutrality? Sure we do, but we're video geeks. You know how hard it is explaining RSS? How people's eyes glaze over? That is what Net Neutrality does to people. 

The language we use has to be far more visceral. 

...a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most. 

That's pretty crappy, really. It is soft. Not at all like what we are going to experience. 

This, on the other hand, is a real gem!

Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.

It is visceral. It is simple to understand. "Whoa! Wait a minute...WTF? Libraries shouldn't have to pay like B & N to have their website open up quickly."

I like the idea of the Internet Toll Road, as well. It is something people can really understand. Especially people in big cities. It also allows us to talk about the good old 'Information Superhighway'; back when the internet was supposed to change everything, not just from where you shopped. 

We are going to get killed if the Internet Superhighway becomes the Internet Toll Road, and it's BULLSHIT! You guys created this video revolution. Open standards made all of this possible! 

If we are going to be part of turning this around, we have got to choose better language. We need to make people feel this issue. 

Using 'Net Neutrality' to talk about this issue is like leading with 'RSS' when you talk about videoblogging. 

I look forward to hearing from all of you on this. 

Talk to you later, 
Ron

oh yeah let me take a little more of your time: If you have a few minutes, please check out the http://pawsitivevybe.com/mambo . I just re-did the whole site, and could use some help in debugging and proofing it.

Comments and critique are welcome privately. 

Ron Watson

Pawsitive Vybe Canines
12 E Bridge St Suite G
Rockford, MI 49341
301.524.6670





On May 3, 2006, at 11:28 AM, Casey McKinnon wrote:

Forget "Save the Internet", have you seen what filth the UN is hoping
to pass?

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/05/02/un_cooking_podcastki.html

If this passes, the UN has lost my complete respect... and we will all
become outlaws.

Casey






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