This piece in the Guardian arguing against Net Neutrality has me doing a mental double-check to make sure I'm not one of those people the article accuses of being out of touch with reality. Here are the two sides as I understand them. Let me know if I'm missing something:
Pro Net Neutrality - Greedy telecoms want to charge Web content providers for the service of delivering their Web pages to web surfers even though Web surfers are already paying their ISPs for that service. If this happens, only the wealthiest content providers will be able to pay to distribute their stuff over the Web and the little guy loses the use of this valuable tool for democracy.
Anti Net Neutrality - Greedy Internet giants want to make money on the Web without paying to support its infrastructure. Put-upon telecoms can't improve the capacity of the Web if they see their investment going straight into the pockets of the aforementioned Internet giants who continue to flood the Web with bigger bandwidth offerings like Internet TV, movies and games. The little guy still loses because the Web becomes a morass - a bandwidth traffic jam that ruins the online experience for everyone. The little guy does not, however, lose a valuable tool for democracy because it's already been shown that the Web doesn't promote democracy, it promotes echo chamber driven digital lynch mobs and weirdo niche groups. And furthermore, no one has actually proposed charging the those greedy Internet giants and even if we did, we're certainly not seeing any little guys being priced out of anything so Net Neutrality legislation would be solving a phantom problem.
The Guardian piece also argues that Net Neutrality is built on a misunderstanding of how the Web works. Unfortunately the only explanation we get is "it's a network of networks, and experimentation on private networks must be encouraged." I think this means we're supposed to let the ISPs do as much restricting as they want so they're free to experiment and improve the system. But does it also mean that the solution bandwidth bottlenecks is that we should add more networks to the network?
While calling Net Neutrality "an Intelligent Design for the Left" is enough to give me pause to reaffirm my understanding of things, here's why I'm not quite ready to take of my "The end is nigh" sandwich board:
- Verizon bans P2P - The idea is that they're protecting their mobile internet system from being burdened with a lot of high bandwidth applications. Understandable? Or a proverbial dead canary?
- Comcast cuts off bandwidth hogs - (Note there are actually three articles beginning with the one at this link.) It is explained that the people getting cut off are using exponentially more bandwidth than the average user. In the third article there's a suggestion for tiered pricing based on bandwidth use. That would give the ISP more money, but does it give the low bandwidth users better service or does it just mean people with money will eventually be able to do more online? Again, it could be an understandable move by Comcast or it could be a dead canary.
- Rogers Traffic Shaping Making It Difficult For Users To Use Secure Email - Here's more on what traffic shaping is. The use I hear most often is that an ISP will identify the types of files in its bandwidth stream and assign them different rates of transfer, essentially throttling some activities like downloading torrents. The way around this is to encrypt what you're transferring - unless the ISP decides to choke all encrypted traffic even including some e-mail, which is what this story is about.
It's clear that bandwidth capacity is becoming a problem for ISPs that's only going to get worse. How you expect that problem will be solved will determine whether you see Net Neutrality as a hindrance or a vital protection.
Related: Net Neutrality: Do it for the girl at Hot Dog on a Stick.
Google's new MyMaps has been on my wishlist since map sites were invented. (I know there's Frappr but this is much easier.) It's unreal that it's taken this long to be able to easily draw your own driving directions. I once wanted to show a co-worker my back-road routes to New York City from MSNBC's New Jersey headquarters. I had to use a stack of printed maps and all the highlighters I could find. Last night I did it with Google in no time at all. And since people can share maps publicly, soon there will be a nice database of hopefully useful and/or interesting routes that go beyond basic driving directions. How nice would it be if motorcycle riding clubs shared their favorite routes on here?
Speaking of mapping routes, when I showed my Google map to my colleague Dave he told me about the jogging routes people are sharing on NikePlus. In the Community menu on the bottom choose "map it" to find routes near you.
Speaking of drawing routes, if the line racer game were with a race car in 3-D it'd look like this.
Speaking of games, this one has a peculiar means of playing. You have to trace the shape in order to use it as a tool in the game. For me the game was figuring out how to play, never mind actually winning.
Still speaking of games, Top 5 most addictive games - I could almost trade Desktop Defense for late night reruns of CSI.
There's such a thing as trick shot bowling? The old spinning ball spare conversion?
A plane that produces its own cloud may actually be cooler than Wonder Woman's invisible jet if only for the fact that it's real. (It's not really a cloaking device, it has to do with the air reacting to the plane's speed.)
Seeing the business end of a mosquito makes a bite seem a lot more gross than the simple straw I always envisioned.
Dave Sifry is back again, this time with his customary State of the Blogosphere report, though now he's calling it The State of the Live Web (We're post-blog now. Haven't you heard?). Steve Rubel takes the opportunity to reiterate his "blogging has peaked" theory.
Make Congress read the bills it passes. Help pass the Read the Bills Act - I don't think this is a left over April Fool's joke, and if it is, it shouldn't be.
Speaking of missed jokes, a photo of Karl Rove carrying an envelope with the name of an Internet company on it recently roiled the political blogosphere. Rove haters jumped to the conclusion that it was proof that Rove was running White House e-mails through a private company in the wake of embarrassing Justice Department e-mails. The company's Vice President describes it as a viral marketing idea, not exactly a prank of the magnitude it became.
Back up your photos with a no-click external hard drive. I clicked on one of the vender links. They want $140 bucks.
Back in the olden days when I worked with chat rooms, one of the great revelations was that people often went to chat rooms because they had something to say, not because they want to see what others had to say. (This is why the blog explosion of people going off by themselves to talk was not a surprise to me.) I have to think there's a similar dynamic at play in the video reviews on Smarter.com. Watching some of the videos I have to wonder if the point is really for me to learn about the product or for the reviewer to talk about this thing he just bought.
David Lynch on product placement - NOTE: Contains distinct curses
Dick Dale on why the music industry is a rip-off - I wonder when experts will begin to speculate that drops in music sales are offset in part untracked sales of music from trunks of cars.
iPod saves a soldier's life - Like the old metal flask in the coat pocket trick, he was shot in a pocket containing an iPod which slowed the bullet enough to keep it from penetrating his armor (and more importantly, him). UPDATE: As is mentioned in the comments, it wasn't quite the "metal flask in the coat pocket" trick. Still a good story, particularly how it spread.