Why does net neutrality matter?

There are certain things a person, or any animal, needs to survive. Food, water, and shelter. A place to call home.

In the same respect, an economy, and a country, has things that it also needs to survive, and even thrive. Those things change over time as technology and the world evolves, but they are necessary just the same.

Before the invention of the telephone, people, and corporations, were limited in their ability to expand. They had to wait for correspondence through the mail, or short telegraphs. Or, travel, which at the time could take months to cross the ocean. Everything moved slower out of necessity.

After the invention of the telephone there was a period of adjustment. People understood the significance, but control of the phone and the lines involved, were regulated by one company, Bell. They, along with the help of the FCC, made it difficult to expand the network. Devices that were the precursors to faxes and modems were not allowed to be connected to the lines until the courts forced them to allow it. Bell wanted every device to be made and rented to consumers by them.

In 1974 the US Department of Justice filed an anti trust lawsuit against AT&T. It wasn’t until 1985 that they agreed to a settlement and broke up the monopoly.

They realized that the monopolistic tendency of Ma’Bell to suck every cent they could out of the industry was stiffling innovation, and technological advancement.

Now we have a similar situation. Companies and individuals depend on the internet for sales, marketing, communication, and entertainment. We get most of our content online. Indie creators have used services like KDP and youtube to promote and expand their reach.

All of this has been made possible because of “Net Neutrality”. Something a court ruling just overturned, and we no longer have.

Net Neutrality means that the internet provider is providing a service. Like a water company provides water. You can do whatever you want with the water, connect as many hoses as you like. Boil it, fill a pool. Freeze it and make an igloo. It doesn’t matter. You are just buying a service.

But internet providers are closely linked with cable companies, which means the increase of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu is a decrease in cable. Companies like Comcast and Verizon have been fighting for the right to charge users more to use these streaming services, thus making their $70 a month cable bill look more appealing.

This time it isn’t the FCC that is holding up the monopoly. It was a supreme court judge that said net neutrality wasn’t necessary because if you didn’t like your service you could just go to a different company. He failed to recognize the fact that many people do not have a choice in service providers, and even when they do the companies often work together to keep prices high. Only Google Fiber has given any real compatition

But don’t think this will stop with cable and netflix. Indie music, books, and cames also give competition to established corporations, and they will be looking for ways to use this to their advantage. What happens if youtube, or amazon get slowed down, or even blocked to make other publishers happy?

We simply don’t know how this is going to effect us, but one thing has always proven itself to be true: as long as monopolies hold onto the old ways innovation will be difficult, slow, or even non existent.

What can you do? Sign this petition. Spread the word. Send a letter to your congressmen, and the FCC. Email your representative. CALL THEM. Make some noise.

This is incredibly important. We are thriving because we have access to this marvelous technology. Don’t let them destroy it.

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The Internet is Weird

Over the last year I have made some new, wonderful friends. People who have helped, and encouraged me. People I have laughed with, made fun of, and in general caused mayhem.

People I have never actually met in real life.

I don’t know a great deal about these men and women on the internet. But I like them. They tell great stories. We have similar senses of humor, and love writing, and reading, and share a lot of similar goals.

I count them as friends.

I suppose this isn’t quite as unusual as it would have been just ten years ago. Many of us now have friends that we’ve never actually seen face to face. Never had a cup of coffee with. Never hugged, or shook hands. But the people on the other side of that google hang out are just as wonderful, and I would miss them just as much, as any other of my friends. (Especially Cyndi 😉 )

I am unsure if this development in our culture is good, or bad. It has allowed me, a person who is uncomfortable in crowds and often socially inept, the safety of a computer screen to feel completely at peace with chatting with more then two people at once. And has even bled over into my physical life.

On the other hand, there is still a distance. If something were to happen to one of my friends that live down the street I would know within a matter of days, if not hours. If something were to happen to one of my internet friends… would I ever know?

I suppose it is no different then if I had a pen pal back in ye old Victorian days, and the letters simply stopped coming. This is probably also why living wills and wills now sometimes include passwords, or other information to inform those who might be interested.

In a world that is increasingly becoming connected, and at the same time disconnecting from one another, we are adjusting to technology, and the idea that boarders, and distance rarely matter.

Perhaps there is a story in this idea… one in which a boy, smitten by a girl in a city far away, suddenly loses contact, and travels across the country, or the world, to find her.

Perhaps it’s just a reminder that life is fragile, and precious, and we should all take the time to appreciate our friends weather they live down the block, or on the other side of the world.