• http://www.interflect.com mark seery

    Bit of mixed feelings about this Larry. It started off so well, articulately so clearly the threat to and opportunity provided by a digital democracy, but then fell into a marrass of rage and hatred that did little to build on the good message that had initially been built (perhaps the hatred will provide a short term inspiration for further involvement, but what are the long term consequences??).

    The problem with going down this road is other arguments made will dominate the lasting impression and credibility of the message. To say that an industry that was prevented from being involved in the computer industry (as it was in the 60′s) did not contribute anything to what was essentially a computer-based innovation is to be misleading in the extreme, even if true, and even if it is unknown what direction they would have taken innovation if they had been allowed to.

    The argument is made here that two people with the same QoS should get the same experience. That is a reasonable position, but it does not begin to illuminate the complexity and discord over the issue. For example, are the majority of NN proponents in favor of this same position? Does the pro NN position support someone paying for QoS and getting a better and more consistent experience than someone who does not? Does the allowance of QoS schemes address the logical, as opposed to the physical, digital divide concerns that people have? Is the NN debate focused on achieving for consumers the same opportunities as businesses have enjoyed for decades: transparent transport services (including choice of DNS provider for example), guaranteed bandwidth services, the ability to pay for an enhanced MBTF/MTTR, etc? The SLA/QoS issues that are inferred by the NN debate can not be easily swept under the rug by simply saying people with the same QoS should have the same QoS; the issue is much more complex than that; and remains an unresolved aspect of the debate, and it is misleading to say that we are at the point where we can simply summarize a QoS position as easily as we can summarize the position that a digital democracy has benefits.

    To say that entities did not deliver something during a period where there was not regulatory stability is misleading as well. Perhaps the discussion should be about the problem of giving (changing) politically appointed agencies (FCC for example) so much power and the essential equal force of legislation; or the problem with giving any form of big business subsidies under the direction of agencies; or simply giving big business subsidies under any circumstances. Perhaps the real issue is the public can not decide whether they want operators to be publicly traded enterprises with shareholders or fully/quasi owned government agencies. This tension is much clearer in a country like Australia where the government and public clearly can not make up their mind about this on the road to privatization, but I suspect this underpins much of the context of this debate as well.

    So people should evangelize the potential of the digital democracy, but they should take care not to let the construction of the rest of the arguments not be the lasting impression from the communication.

    Apologize for the long winded comment……..

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Good comment, Mark. The NN debate raises some difficult and complex issues, and the video treatment by NN zealots doesn’t illuminate them. Lessig and Wu should know better.

  • http://andydonnan.com B. Andy

    The issue is very complex. As a undergrad I don’t begin to pick sides on the issue personally. Unfortunately, I am required to pick sides, but it’s great to hear both.
    @ First I had to wiki QoS (Quality of Service) but really… it should be that simple. I won’t claim to know the innerworkings of the 1st “internet” but isn’t that how this medium has evolved? Me & you sending information to eachother, however big or small. Everything gets there with the same chance as anything else being distributed online. While there may be caveats to this, that is how the net has evolved. It has adapted to new technologies in the past, so why all of a sudden does that model need to be changed? (model i mean, i pay to use the internet, but i don’t pay again based on my activity, file types, bandwidth etc)
    Sadly the internet I think will one day be like the other medias (radio/tv) and this will have a negative effect on the online user. People will still find ways to get their voice out.

  • http://www.interflect.com mark seery


    When the Internet was born, the transport layer separated it from the existing PSTN so that wild, creative, unstable innovation could occur without impacting the critical services the country was dependent on – private sector and public sector (the regulations formed under the Computer Inquiries also were critical in enabling this). The argument could equally be made, why would we want to change? Bandwidth partitioning was as essential to the nurturing of the Internet as to whatever comes next. The challenge is to do it in such a way that we protect the democratic and liberal (classic definition) potential of the Internet.

  • Jeff


    While I agree that the fifteen year old boy sobbing in the video was a little over the top, I have to disagree with your comment. This film isn’t intended to convince law makers, it’s trying to get people riled up enough to get involved. You have to show passion, emotion, and anger to get people motivated, otherwise they have a tendency to sit passively by and let things happen to them (myself included). The most reasoned arguments have a tendency to fall flat.

    The core argument and facts are there. The Internet was not designed by AT&T and they have no “Natural Right” to control it. Once it became obvious that the Internet could be monetized, the bandwidth provides started pushing for industry deregulation . They have previously received a massive payout to built out the Internet, but have failed to do so (showing that they are more interested in short-term profit than long-term progress. No benevolent dictators there!). Now they are arguing that they should be allowed to charge fees which effectively entrench the current market leaders. Under this system we would never have had a Google because they couldn’t have afforded the bandwidth to effectively compete with Yahoo despite offering a superior service.

    I think the video does an excellent job of conveying both good information as well as a passioned plea for support.

  • http://www.interflect.com mark seery


    I happen to believe in common sense common carriage requirements, just like every other transport infrastructure, and I happen to also believe that structural separation is the ultimate answer to the problem, just like it is in every other form of transport infrastructure (federal express does not compete with most of its customers), but there are an enormous number of inaccuracies in this video, and it is not the correct basis for debate. As to getting people emotionally involved, the pieces of the video that dealt with the issue of cost of information spread and the benefits of a citizen press would have been sufficient IMHO. If I get time I will write up a detailed critique and post a link to it.

    And the fundamentals are not correct. Yes they have no natural right to control it. They also have no natural obligation to provide guaranteed bandwidth – that also has never been a part of the legacy of the Internet (even the portions that were legal acquired by Verizon such as UUNET – ehh one of the builders of the Internet). Property rights are an important and fundamental part of our civilization. If you want certain private sector entities to do something, make a deal with them, keep the committments of the deal (stable regulatory interpretation and enforcement), or create clear and simple legislation and keep it out of the hands of unaccoutable (to the electorate) government agencies and tell the supreme court to stop passing the buck on interpreting legislation.

  • http://atpicaljoe.com joe


    The video invites everyone “to do anything they would like with the above edit or any future edits you make.” Don’t write a “detailed critique.” Correct the video! Please. I’d be interested to see it. And I’d link to it.

  • Andy McDonald

    Hi there,

    Forgive me but is the whole point of the argument not that the Internet represents a virtual world where none of the physical limitations of time, space and matter exist (well… not nearly to the same extent)? For me, to equate the network of storage & transportation within the physical world to that of the virtual world seems to undermine the significance and value of the Internet.

    With regards to the issue of QoS; I agree that it is perhaps a slightly clumsy way to summarise the issue. My understanding is that the difference between the best and worst QoS is not one of capability in that they should both be able to ‘do the same things’; but one of convenience whereby paying for a better QoS would simply allow you to do those things faster for instance.

    Finally, I would also point out that ‘Human Labotomy’ seems to be a work in progress which, like any argument, must be given time to evolve. I believe it is a great start and that the 2008 feature-length version will offer a far more robust and succinct case – hopefully without any weeping 15 year-olds!!!

    Cheers… Andy McDonald (Glasgow, Scotland)

  • http://www.leftcoastview.com/wordpress/ Lincoln

    The revolutionary nature of the Internet — the democratic way in which it provides both amazing access to information and effortless distribution of everyone’s creative efforts — must be preserved. If we let this medium become dominated or skewed by a few large corporate entities, we will have squandered the opportunity of a generation (or more).

    More films of this type are critical to help focus the attention and the passion of the public on what might otherwise seem an arcane or irrelevant issue. The impact of the Internet on participatory democracy and on individual and collaborative creativity cannot be emphasized enough.

  • http://www.interflect.com mark seery


    >> Correct the video! Please. I�d be interested to see it. And I�d link to it. Now we are free


    >> For me, to equate the network of storage & transportation within the physical world to that of the virtual world seems to undermine the significance and value of the Internet.

    If you understand the role common carriage plays in other transport infrastructures, and therefore the role that other transport infrastructures play in the overall economy, and therefore the structure of the overall economy, that might provide a different perspective from which to consider this issue.

  • poptones

    Oh, sweet irony…

    A video about “net neutrality” that apparently can only be viewed using some proprietary and non-ubiquitous piece of software! The AVI file format may have been “invented” in Redmond, but it’s also one of the most open and ubiquitous formats in the world – the mp3 of video. So… where is the link?

    What, they can’t even figure out how to use YouTube?

  • http://www.andydonnan.com Andy

    Impressive comments you guys, thanks Lessig for posting this up as well, it’s given me more thoughts on the matter, but also more of a diverse response from hearing what others think, besides the young crowd that is ready to sign on the X with any trendy video uploaded.