seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy


The Birth of the Web

I recently finished You Say You Want a Revolution by Reed Hundt, Chairman of the FCC during Clinton's first term and the beginning of the second term. It is a fascinating and apparently candid account of how the Federal Communications Commission made decisions and dealt with the politics of DC. Beware that Hundt clearly has an ego and point of view -- one would expect nothing less from anyone in that position.

It was a fascinating time - the transition from heavily regulated cable to the birth of the Internet for the masses. It was a transition we were not destined to make merely because Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web. Cable companies and the AT&T behemoth wanted to use advances in communications technology to build a network they would control... one where people and businesses would undoubtedly have to ask permission in order to innovate, creating new applications and uses for the network. Perhaps the best feature of the modern Internet is that no one needs to ask permission to create eBay, twitter, or stream Netflix movies... though if Comcast had its way to day, Netflix would certainly have to beg its permission to do that.

At any rate, I found this book quite believable in how the Commission operates and how real decisions are made in DC. Without some of the important decisions that are detailed in this book, we would not have the Internet we do today. That said, some of the decisions could have been better decided... but then Chairman Hundt was no dictator but rather a sort of team leader with some rather petulant teammates who were more interested in themselves than serving the public. Some things just don't change...

Support Network Neutrality

I just wrote to my Congressional Representative Betty McCollum to encourage her to sponsor a bill on Network Neutrality. You can learn more about the issue here as well as how your representatives have acted. If you recognize the benefits of freedom on the Internet (as compared to commercial-dominated FM radio and TV) to be a part of the conversation, you should take a few minutes to act.

The text of my letter is below:

I see the Representative McCollum is not a co-sponsor of the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (HR 3458) and I find that a disappointment.

In a time when the Supreme Court has just greatly increased the power of major corporations to shape our government and country, I think we need to preserve freedom from corporate control on the only mass communications medium they do not currently dominate (compare to TV, radio).

Network Neutrality is, at best, a flawed approach to preserving freedom on the Internet but it is the best option Congress has today. Network Neutrality is necessary to prevent major companies from becoming gatekeepers to content.

Comcast is already the only real option for Internet in your district (Qwest is pathetically slow by comparison) - if they are able to exert even more control over how people use the Internet, nothing good will result.

Thank you for your time.

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