Hey buddy. Everything costs. You a communiss or something?....
August 5, 2003 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Future of the Net: "Information wants to be free" vs. "truth costs extra" "...a coalition that included Amazon.com, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Disney and others....spoke of "tiered" service, where consumers would be charged according to "gold, silver and bronze" levels of bandwidth use. The days where lawmakers once spoke about eradicating the "Digital Divide" in America has come full circle. Under the scenario presented by the lobbyists, people on fixed incomes would have to accept a stripped-down Internet, full of personally targeted advertising. Other users could get a price break if they receive bundled content -- news, music, games -- from one telecom or media company. Anybody interested in other "non-mainstream" news, software or higher-volume usage, could pay for the privilege. The panel's response was warm, suggesting that the industry should work this out with little federal intrusion. That approach has already been embraced by the industry-friendly Federal Communications Commission." For more, see The Center For Digital Democracy
posted by troutfishing (38 comments total)

 
in reality, i am never buying content when i do business with an isp. i don't get why they can't figure this out. what i want from an isp is access. unimpeded, uncluttered ACCESS. you want to meter bandwidth, well, i guess that makes sense. i'd gladly pay for the bandwidth i use. but don't force feed me bullshit. i'm perfectly capable of finding the content i'm interested in on the web. if i want commercial content, i'll buy that. stop the bundling. get a clue.
posted by quonsar at 12:49 PM on August 5, 2003


This sucks. I'm depressed. Do the RIAA, the telecoms, and MS have a Team B or something? Asshats!
posted by billsaysthis at 12:50 PM on August 5, 2003


Since when has any business been able to really keep those that are determined to find alternate routes to alernative content from doing so?

Never.
posted by angry modem at 12:56 PM on August 5, 2003


in reality, i am never buying content when i do business with an isp. i don't get why they can't figure this out. what i want from an isp is access. unimpeded, uncluttered ACCESS. you want to meter bandwidth, well, i guess that makes sense. i'd gladly pay for the bandwidth i use. but don't force feed me bullshit. i'm perfectly capable of finding the content i'm interested in on the web. if i want commercial content, i'll buy that. stop the bundling. get a clue.

Yeah, and what's worse is that there are tons of people that see things exactly the opposite way. My mother, for example, only understands the internet as an AOL-brand product. This is only going to make it easier for people to be dependent on their bundled bullshit.

And then the whole angle of predetermining what info. will be funneled into poor people's heads: brilliant! I love it. Finally, a more efficient way to control the minds of the toothless rabble.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2003


Actually, the rabble have great teeth. And now much whiter too!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2003


Stupid rabble.
posted by toothless joe at 1:09 PM on August 5, 2003


Actually, the rabble have great teeth. And now much whiter too!

thanks to my Crest® brand DSL!
posted by quonsar at 1:17 PM on August 5, 2003


And yet, look how well the RIAA's plans for stopping file sharing have been working for the last few years. Not so impressive.

Looks to me like an excellent opportunity for smaller, independent access providers to expand by offering the access that AT&T/AOLTimeWarner/Disney/Whatever is trying to restrict. This will only affect people who continue to use these ISPs -- and AOL, for one, is losing customers by the thousands. Clearly, there will be regulatory battles ahead to maintain the rights of indie access resellers, but now that many people have had a taste of the real thing, they're not going to go back.
posted by blissbat at 1:18 PM on August 5, 2003


rabble rabble
posted by agregoli at 1:36 PM on August 5, 2003


and AOL, for one, is losing customers by the thousands.

I was on the assumption AOL was losing business only because as a dial-up network its customers were switching over to high-speed providers, hence AOL's decision to start a special "for broadband" service/rate.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:38 PM on August 5, 2003


"Looks to me like an excellent opportunity for smaller, independent access providers to expand by offering the access that AT&T/AOLTimeWarner/Disney/Whatever is trying to restrict."
Not really, the indie would be getting only the "power users" that didn't want to pay a premium for their excessive bandwidth usage, leaving the big boys with the more lucrative low bandwidth users that only check email but still pay a fixed monthly fee for a bunch of crap they never use.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:47 PM on August 5, 2003


I was on the assumption AOL was losing business only because as a dial-up network its customers were switching over to high-speed providers, hence AOL's decision to start a special "for broadband" service/rate

yes, but without overestimating the american consumer, how many of them do you think will cough the extra $10 or whatever to access AOL content via thier $40 broadband accounts, which nowadays come with all sorts of brandilicious clutter just like AOL does? or is 'AOL Broadband' just reselling Comcast (etal) access and dumping its marks straight into AOLWorld?
posted by quonsar at 2:20 PM on August 5, 2003


Amazon.com is involved in this. I smell affiliate programs out the wazoo.

I find this strangely non-threatening. The "power users" will gladly pay a little extra. The "bundled users" aren't going to change by magic into people seeking out tons of their own information. There's a reason why AOL grew so large in the first place, and a reason why MSN is number two.

Meanwhile, there's a very real possibility this ends up in micropayments, which is something I wouldn't have any sort of problem with whatsoever. There's a cost to information. Even Pravda cost rubles.
posted by thecaddy at 2:33 PM on August 5, 2003


I'm as disheartened about potential "pay content" as much as anyone, but I must point out to some of the post-analog types that the Internet is only one information conduit. For those unfamiliar with underfunded public buildlings called "libraries" (well-stocked at universities), there's plenty of information that's free. No pop-up ads, no commercials. And whatever happens to the Internet, I'll know that I'll be able to plunder LEXIS terminals and microfilm machines for my needs, while some of the kids unfamiliar with pre-90s research skills or outside resources whimper, incapable of exploring alternatives.
posted by ed at 2:40 PM on August 5, 2003


Heh...If I owned a mega-corporation I'd be all about this.
posted by Yossarian at 2:46 PM on August 5, 2003


yes, but thecaddy, you are thinking in one direction only, and the internet is (presently, at any rate) a two-way communication medium. will i still be able to publish web sites? how much will it cost me? what about material that does not meet the approval of some desk wonk at ATTDisCastTimeWarnCo? never in history have the barriers to entry to publishing and distribution been so low. this fact has totally freaked out the entertainment industry, as i'm sure you've noted. stop being a grateful consumerbot. start asking yourself what damage these bottomline oriented vultures could do.
posted by quonsar at 2:47 PM on August 5, 2003


thecaddy & ed,

I don't see how you can come from that angle. Is there something wrong with the internet right now that this is going to fix? It seems more like an extremely well organized approach to forcing people to pay you for something that is essentially free and open to begin with, and then controlling the content. Sure libraries are great. I don't object to paying taxes for them. But if they cut off my arms should I not object because I still have legs?

Imagine if they did this for telephones. Let's say I want to call grandma, first there's a 30 second dominos ad, followed by a message stating that I've filled my bronze quota for access and must be disconnected. GAH!!
posted by velacroix at 3:09 PM on August 5, 2003


This is definitely a very frightening development and it is scary to see that there are no big players behind the consumer and behind our freedom of speece (which the internet has brought to unparalleled new heights). This can be fought rather successfully, though, and I believe it will ultimately fail. It is difficult to start charging a lot of money for something that has been almost free forever- especially when there is no apparent improvement in the product.
posted by crazy finger at 3:17 PM on August 5, 2003


This article really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Charging according to bandwidth is one thing, charging different amounts for access to different portions of the Internet is another --- and doesn't really make sense from an ISP point of view. "Non-mainstream news" is generally not bandwidth-intensive, so it doesn't make much sense to restrict such sites. General scare tactics, I think. Most of the stuff they mention has been tried and failed --- flat rates won out over hourly (a different thing than bandwidth-related, but similar), access to the WWW won out over "online services" for the most part, etc.
posted by dagnyscott at 3:27 PM on August 5, 2003


as multi-million dollar faceless corporations continue to take over -yet- another broadcasting medium it reminds me that it's important to acknowledge creator-owned work and support independant distribution (bitpass link, but it's a growing list of artists)
posted by Peter H at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2003


This would not be happening if Gore were Prez
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2003


I knew this was coming, just like cable television, we will have to pay the bigger media sites for access. Just like cable there will be people who unscramble the blocking, this is going to get ugly.
posted by jbou at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2003


Information wants to be deleted.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:53 PM on August 5, 2003


re: Cable analogy " we will have to pay the bigger media sites for access"

does anybody give a flying fuck about the "content" produced by the big web-media companies? Disney? MSN? AOL?

As long as they don't restrict access to the Blue, we're good.
posted by signal at 4:03 PM on August 5, 2003


Screw that. They do that and I'm starting my own, competing Internet. An Internet for the people!
posted by entropy at 6:34 PM on August 5, 2003


For those unfamiliar with underfunded public buildlings called "libraries" (well-stocked at universities), there's plenty of information that's free.

My god, Ed; do you remember how much time that took!?! Microfilm? My skin crawls at the very mention.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:39 PM on August 5, 2003


Is there anyone who, deep down in the very bottom place of their heart and mind, did not believe that this is how it would eventually all turn out. Be glad we were here at the beginnning and get out yer pocketbooks.
posted by briank at 7:04 PM on August 5, 2003


This would not be happening if Gore were Prez


Well since he invented it, he must shoulder some of the blame...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:10 PM on August 5, 2003


Information does not "want to be free".

People who don't want to pay for information want it to be free.

This is the "pathetic fallacy," twenty-first century style.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:04 PM on August 5, 2003


Wow, apathy american style.

Maybe information doesn't want to be free. I don't know, that's a tough one. I think it's still up for debate. You're not exactly providing any proof to back up your theory.

I can say however that the overwhelming majority of content that I find useful on the internet is free and is published by people for little or no profit. The internet is well managed by it's own survival of the fittest system wherein those website that create and clearly offer first rate content attract users and those that don't are relegated to the outskirts or perish. This development would only lopside that balance, by artificially creating the first rate, and completely cutting the weeds in the outskirts, you are effectively left with shit. Great looking, utterly vapid, totally soul-less shit.

Perhaps there are ways to make the internet more accessible to others, but surely that doesn't have to come at the cost of restricting use and content through gateways. If it was I'd be an AOL member and Yahoo! or MSN would be my homepage.

Be glad we were here at the beginning and get out yer pocketbooks.

This is a pathetic attitude.

"Break out yer cash and take it in the ass!"

We shouldn't get out our pocketbooks, we should put them away. There is no reasoning for this hostile take-over of open waters other than plunder and profit.

Anyone with a sense of dignity simply won't buy this. If you have any sense you wouldn't either.
posted by velacroix at 1:09 AM on August 6, 2003


"Non-mainstream news" is generally not bandwidth-intensive, so it doesn't make much sense to restrict such sites.

You really can't think of any other reasons why certain groups might want to restrict such sites?
posted by rushmc at 6:34 AM on August 6, 2003


"Certain groups" might; but ISP's (which were the topic) wouldn't. Or, even if they would, they'd quickly find that it was not a good business maneuver.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:18 AM on August 6, 2003


dagnyscott - on the contrary: the establishment of monopolies is often a very good business maneuver. It pays off, provided the the government doesn't intercede. Microsoft, anyone?

As for the "Information wants to be free" meme - there has been a quite steady progression in the declining "access barrier" to information, in the ease with which it can be disseminated - from the development of writing to the invention of the printing press and then telegraphy, telephony, radio, computers, electronic information storage......then there was the creation of public libraries by that socialistic Founding Father, Ben Franklin......Anyway. this trend may be reversed some day, but for now it sure does look as if "Information wants to be free" (or at least very, very cheap). Think of it; soon, hard drives will be able to hold the entire contents of the US Library of Congress. *Laaaaa! (angelic chorus)*

*ScaRAaatchh.................(sound of needle dragging over protesting vinyl record)* Well, there are some minor problems with this information utopia -

The ease with which information can be copied, distributed and stored has recently been colliding with the interests of those who make money from information - through it's direct created (authorship) or as "information middlemen".

Now, some sort of legal compromise will eventually be worked out - perhaps the "small tax per copy device/storage medium" fee system which was settled on to defray information piracy when cassette tapes were first marketed - to compensate authors for lost income. Fine.

But this can occur quite outside of the aegis of the "information middlemen" and so they are worried. Very worried. So want to exert control over the information pipelines.

Kaaatchiing! $ $ $

- "Your toll please, sir."
"Hey where doe this highway go, anyway"
- "Anywhere you want to go, of course"
"But all I see are Burger Kings and Gap stores, TGI Fridays and Wal Marts. I want to go somewhere else."
- "Somewhere else? Please step to one side, sir."

* Whoop whoop whoop! (alarm sounds, SWAT team drops down from helicopter *
posted by troutfishing at 8:18 AM on August 6, 2003


It'll never happen. Too many conflicting interests. The Internet is not a BBS.
posted by stbalbach at 5:10 PM on August 6, 2003


anyway, who owns the internet and gets to decide what to do with it?

yossarian, you crack me up.
posted by centrs at 5:15 PM on August 6, 2003


We shouldn't get out our pocketbooks, we should put them away. There is no reasoning for this hostile take-over of open waters other than plunder and profit.

Denial is the first stage of grief.
posted by briank at 6:31 PM on August 6, 2003


Heh. This sounds like something dreamed up by the inventor of the CueCat. And about as likely to succeed.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:30 PM on August 6, 2003


IshmaelGraves - CueCat? - Damn! I threw mine away. Wat a fool eyyam. It would have been worth lots of $ in 2046.
posted by troutfishing at 9:40 PM on August 6, 2003


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