I know we’re all used to ignoring anything tumblr puts on our dash against our will, but in this case, net neutrality really does matter, guys.
Like, a lot.
It matters more than a lot - in fact, I think battles like net neutrality, CISPA, SOPA, etc. will be seen as a pivotal time in the Internet’s history, and it’s not over yet.
In my New Media Theory class, we read a book called The Master Switch by Tim Wu (which I highly recommend) which essentially runs down the history of communication networks in America. He shows the similarities and boils most of them down to a “pattern” of sorts that involves them being open and accessible to the average person as “content creators”, I guess, in the beginning, and then a monopoly slowly gaining control and killing off all variety of average people and small companies.
Back in the radio heyday, anyone could broadcast their own radio show. When telephones were the dominant media, phone “phreakers” like hackers (this is cool history guys, a blind 7 year old broke the codes) could get into the system and make free long distance calls to each other and formed community. But this has all changed. The FCC heavily regulates the radio frequencies now, which benefits greatest a few media conglomerates. The government practically handed monopoly of the phone system over to a private company back in the day for the “good of the country.”
And here we are in the golden age of the Internet, where even a poor college student can afford their own website where they can code anything they want from scratch. That’s huge. I don’t have to follow any company’s TOS or policies on my own website. I can say whatever i want to the world. Anyone can.
You know what happens to me without net neutrality? Maybe it’s just hella slow to get to my, for example, commission website. People who really want to go will wait, other potential customers will get bored and leave - this is the Internet after all. (How long has it been since you had to wait 10 seconds for a page to load? Net nonneutrality sound fun yet?) But if Wu’s pattern proves true for the Internet too, it won’t be long until more regulations (SOPA, CISPA, PIPA, all failed attempts for now) for the Net start popping up, and within a few decades, there’ll be too much legal and regulatory hoops for me to jump through to operate my own site.
The reality is that huge protesting sites like Tumblr, Netflix, Etsy, etc. can probably find a way to afford higher fees for faster delivery to customers. They certainly don’t want to (and that works to our, the user’s, advantage). But the reality is that you and I, small start-up sites, anything that doesn’t have thousands of customers supporting them, probably cannot. Afaik, ad revenue for small sites, comics, pets sims, and the like barely supports hosting costs. The reality is that the average person will lose their ability to say whatever they want to whoever they want online.
Can the average person simply make a Tumblr, a Wordpress, a Reddit, or some other supported site instead of making their own? Of course. But that’s no longer an open Internet, and that matters.
Like, a lot.