It’s very compelling to see how Canadians are reacting to planned changes in the way their Internet access is billed. This Ars Technica article describes where things stand at the moment.
Metered Internet, where you pay based on the amount of bandwidth you use, is being pushed for adoption in this country, too, and has an excellent chance of succeeding. Online video takes a lot of bandwidth, after all, and it competes directly with the cable and phone companies’ own products. Why wouldn’t they want to make it more costly to avoid using their overpriced services, especially with the influence they have in Washington? It’s easy to spin this into a “use more, pay more” story, rather than confront the truth behind it.
Like Canadians, the citizens of the United States subsidized the bandwidth infrastructure that’s currently in place to the tune of billions in tax breaks. We continue to allow these telecommunication companies to act as monopolies, as well, preventing competition and the operation of a free market. I have yet to see any believable evidence that, once the data infrastructure we paid for was in place, more use of it (higher bandwidth) costs ISP’s more money, other than the usual upgrades and maintenance that they’d be expected to perform regardless.
What surprises me is that so few people in this country seem upset about the direction we’re going in. Perhaps the Canadians, who are making real progress at preventing these changes, can teach us something about standing up for what’s right. I hope that we can get a little angry about this, make our voices heard and get on track to become competitive with countries that don’t have such entrenched interests.
Right now we’re stifling innovation in the name of preserving the traditional business models of communications and entertainment companies that wouldn’t be there in the first place if it wasn’t for the taxpayer’s largess.
The New York Times reports on an important milestone for climate change research:
“[T]his is the first time researchers have been able to point to a demonstrable cause-and-effect by using the rigorous and scientifically accepted method of looking for the “fingerprints” of human-caused climate change.”
I doubt it’s going to change anyone’s mind, but having real evidence is always preferable to theory, and it gives those of us who believe in human-caused climate change some measure of vindication.
After all these years of promoting things like Creative Commons, I’ve been looking for a concise, well-written argument against those who say that current copyright law is stifling innovation and creativity.
The New York Times has delivered exactly what I’d hoped for with yesterday’s Op-Ed. It’s not screechy, or written by lawyers for the RIAA or MPAA. It’s intelligently written by people who make an excellent case.
It’s important to understand the arguments for and against copyright as it exists now so that we can make up our own minds, and figure out where to go next.
Scott Turow, Paul Aiken, and James Shaprio point out something crucial: people who create original works need to be paid. Absolutely true. Otherwise, there’s no incentive to innovate (and you need to get a day job).
I would argue, however, that the world has evolved to the point where it’s necessary to restore balance to copyright law and promote innovative business models for the distribution and payment of original content. Cling to old models, and you’ll fail.
The authors also fail to mention how copyright in our country has been outrageously extended over the years [copyright timeline pdf], and how the law is meant to serve the public as much as it is content creators.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose for having this blog lately. When this Clive Thompson article crossed my transom (thanks to Waxy Links) today, I think it may have been a sign.
Tweeting and short, daily Tumblr blog posts (like the one’s I’ve been doing for most of the last 3+ years) seem to essentially serve the same purpose: giving back to the ‘net community by sharing my favorite online finds, with a few more elaborate ramblings mixed in.
I’ve been energized by the wonderful resurgence of long-form articles, essays, and blog entries currently out there, though, and think it may be time to try something different. Perhaps it’s time to elaborate on the more elaborate ramblings, but do it less often.
I have few readers; you are definitely important to me. Any thoughts on this stuff as I mull it around? Please consider sending them along in comments or via the contact form.
In today’s USA Today, Shadi Hamid puts forth an eloquent explanation of why citizens of the United States should be vitally interested in what’s happening in Egypt right now.
I’ve been riveted by Al Jazerra’s remarkable live coverage of events, and think that the prospect of a more democratic Arab world is worth supporting, even if the current dictators are supposed to be on our side.
Ever wanted to learn a little coding, but not sure where to start? The awesomeness that is Lifehacker has your back.
Here’s their starter guide to learning how to code, in several parts, including links to more resources. There’s nothing hard or intimidating here, and knowing more about how computers work is always a good thing. Think of the power you’ll have!