free html hit counter

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Crocodile Tiers

Lots of good comments on net neutrality, although I tend to disagree with most of them. :-) It's interesting, though, that so many have come from one side. I guess there's just a natural tendency to express dissent more than assent. Or I'm seriously in the minority.

The more I think about it, though, I increasingly suspect that the real reason bandwidth companies are pushing for this is that it puts them back in control. Most of these companies are identical to or descended from the big 20th century media companies which, for most of the past century, the were the arbiters of consumption, determining what was worthy of notice.

I've always thought that was the real motivation behind record companies fighting Napster. It really was because they'd lose money, but not due to piracy. Before the advent of cheap online distribution, we all bought whatever media companies were willing to sell to us, which was usually what they told us we wanted to buy. It's really easy to make a fortune when you not only control the supply, but manipulate the demand. Brilliant!

Online distribution breaks that, though. Not only can anybody with the will and time to do so create new things, they can distribute it on equal footing with the biggest companies in the world. And thanks to world wide word of mouth, users are about as likely to find and enjoy the 5-man company's web app as they are the app that 1000-man MegaSoftCorp built. On the Internet, there are few barriers to creators, and consumers are the ones who decide what they want to see.

A tiered Internet would provide a way to reintroduce an element of control and approval. Aside from the obvious quality of service improvements, it also introduces a namebrand element, as Joel Spolsky pointed out in his article on iTunes pricing.

It's not about money, it's about information, and it's not about choice, it's about control.

I don't have any direct evidence for that, just my native suspicion and paranoia. ;-)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home