Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Net Neutrality Revisited

I wrote earlier about "net neutrality," and how important it was for network providers to not have complete control over which communications can go over their wires. But I'm starting to hear another side to the story, and I think it's only fair to say that I may need to modulate my position.

I still think it's dangerous to provide a legal position for a network provider to be able to arbitrarily censure content -- like AOL blocking certain emails from their competitors from being delivered to their subscribers, or Time Warner suppressing certain web sites that take political positions they don't like.

The problem is that future services that are provided over the internet may be radically different from the things we currently get over the internet. Sending 10 kilobytes of data in an email is not really comparable to a 10 MB/sec high-def video feed. If the network companies are investing huge sums into building high-speed architecture that will ultimately provide us with really cool services, we could be shooting ourselves in the foot by not giving them a viable economic model for profiting from those investments. An online video provider is going to need more bandwidth than an Amazon.com, and I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed to pay more to get it.

I don't think this is necessarily an either/or proposition, though. It seems like there ought to be some middle position, where networks can provide tiers of bandwidth for different prices, but still provide some protections against selective censorship. All I care about is that the network providers are content-neutral: that they can't provide a different level of service to two different websites purely based on the content rather than the pricing structure.



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