Skip

See Johnny download! Download, Johnny, download!
December 23, 2010 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Having trouble explaining to non-technical folks why net neutrality is important, or wondering about it yourself? This simple and appealing single serving site is a 2-minute primer on the idea, and should help!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (29 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like this design a lot, but the first time I scrolled through, I didn't notice the changing caption until about halfway through. I wonder if someone who doesn't spend all day on the internet would have been more or less likely to notice it.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:08 PM on December 23, 2010


This will totally help my Dad understand what the hell is going on! FINALLY.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:12 PM on December 23, 2010


I really appreciate when people take the time to create these quick what-is- websites...they provide handy ways for explaining important things I care about to people I care about, where they otherwise wouldn't have the chance to meet (or would really click if they did).

But yeah, the interface of that website is a bit advanced for internet non-natives (I sent the link to a family member and I'm not entirely sure that A) they will figure out to scroll down (I can picture him randomly clicking blueness), and B) understand that the division (caption banner) at the bottom is part of the site and not the browser).
posted by iamkimiam at 4:17 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


This seemed like it would be completely incomprehensible to someone who didn't already know what the debate concerned and why it was significant.
posted by kenko at 4:28 PM on December 23, 2010


Oh, there's that text on the bottom, huh.

Wow, this is not a good design.
posted by kenko at 4:29 PM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


(I don't think the text was even there the first time I followed the link; the purple pipelines weren't animated, either.)
posted by kenko at 4:30 PM on December 23, 2010


The thing that baffles me about this whole bullshit debate is that ISP's are fully within their rights to do all of the things that you claim that they want to do right now. There is absolutely no legislation or regulation preventing them from doing that. If comcast wants to set a meter on internet traffic, they can. If they want to privilege Bing over Google, they can. If they want to block 4chan, they can.

And yet they don't.

Why is that?
posted by empath at 4:58 PM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I work for an ISP, and we have a peer with google and a peer with youtube, and we don't have one with vimeo or MSN. All of our customers have faster access to google and youtube than those other sites, because we have dedicated bandwidth to them. We did this because our customers demanded faster access to google and youtube. If we started getting a bunch of complaints about netflix, we'd figure out a way to get a peering arrangement with netflix, too.

The last thing we're thinking about is how to milk our customers for more money by making their internet experience worse.

But we're barely in the residential business any more and moving away from it because the money isn't really worth the costs of building out the bandwidth to homes, except for apartment complexes and very densely populated areas. Literally the only thing that makes it economically viable for us is adding on TV and voip service (the very types of services that net neutrality would make it illegal for us to do effectively. If they put price controls and all kinds of regulations on us about how we need to deliver internet access and ip services, we'll probably just stop delivering DSL to homes entirely. It's a tiny fraction of our revenue and a big portion of our expenses, anyway.

Comcast and Verizon have the power to write regulations that will enable them to own the residential market and mke a profit, though. That's going to be the end result of this. Fewer competitors and more power to large companies.
posted by empath at 5:09 PM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're not thinking about how to milk your customers, you're doing "business" wrong. And this is why bandwidth should not be provided by profit-seeking enterprises but instead by a simple delivery authority that works similarly to the way gas, water and sewer is provided. Because bandwidth is now far too important to be left in the chicken-fucking hands of "businessmen".
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:26 PM on December 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Right, because putting it in the hands of the Republicans or Democrats would be better. That's what you all are asking for.
posted by empath at 5:47 PM on December 23, 2010


(although I am in favor of city-provided wireless, as long as it's not a monopoly, either.
posted by empath at 5:48 PM on December 23, 2010


And, bandwidth is not a simple utility like gas and water. Water, power and gas delivery systems haven't be doubling capacity and advancing technology every 18 months. If we had put internet delivery into the hands of government, say 10 years ago, we'd still be using dialup. You want a world with a government sanctioned monopoly? That was the US prior to the AT&T break up. You leased your phones, you didn't buy them, and there WERE no value added services because there was no competition and no incentive to innovate. AT&T developed new technology all the time and just buried for decades because they had a government protected monopoly.
posted by empath at 5:54 PM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I've said in every thread about this, lack of competition is the problem. If you were able to switch providers with minimal cost or inconvenience, none of this would be an issue. Fight for city-provided wireless. Challenge local cable monopolies, support smaller ISPs. Cancel your Comcast account and get internet from that local ISP that might not be able to give you 20mbps/sec but doesn't have the wherewithal or inclination to do anything untoward to your traffic. Put your money where your mouth is. Everyone likes to bitch about Comcast and Verizon, but nobody ever cancels their service.
posted by empath at 6:01 PM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


> And this is why bandwidth should not be provided by profit-seeking enterprises but instead by a simple delivery authority that works
> similarly to the way gas, water and sewer is provided. Because bandwidth is now far too important to be left in the chicken-fucking
> hands of "businessmen".

I wish the analogy was that clear to me, because net neutrality seems to me the right way to go. And it would be a lot clearer if government had built the internet backbone (not to mention the rest of it, to your house) the way government builds water mains. But NSFnet bowed out in the middle 1990s when the net was tiny, and the enormous growth of the internet since then (in the US anyway, UScentric alert) was created by private investment, which muddles the argument all up. Internet bandwidth is not like radio/TV spectrum; it's not limited by physics, it's only limited by the investment that allows growth and improvement. Our government is not likely to provide that investment. Which appears to me to mean that the internet is not clearly a "common" like roads and water mains. It resembles a common in some ways, but resembles private property in some important ways also. Will seanmpuckett provide the investment?

(Of course, if he does I'll be happy to tell him how he may and may not divvy up the bandwidth he provided. That's the fun part.)
posted by jfuller at 6:25 PM on December 23, 2010


Put your money where your mouth is. Everyone likes to bitch about Comcast and Verizon, but nobody ever cancels their service.

QFT.

(/Speakeasy Customer)
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:10 PM on December 23, 2010


...TV and voip service (the very types of services that net neutrality would make it illegal for us to do effectively

Huh? I watch movies and make phone calls over the Internet all the time. Both services work just fine on today's neutral Internet. And I have massive choice; I don't have to go with my ISP's movie or phone service. ISPs should deliver the bits quickly and let me choose whose service I want on top of that.

In other words: every car should work on every road. I shouldn't have to buy a Ford to drive on roads built by Ford. The car manufacturers should stick to cars and the road-builders to roads. Customers should get to choose cars and roads independently.
posted by Triplanetary at 11:33 PM on December 23, 2010


So can someone explain to me how Comcast is allowed to limit how much data (upload/download) a household is allowed to use? Their limit is 250GB/month. To me alone, obviously I would never come close to that, but I have roommates who are addicted to the interet. They have threatened to shut off our account if we go over the limit again.

Before this happened, I had no clue there even was a limit on data usage. I simply thought you paid for access, and then whatever you do was good from there. Basically from what I've read here in the comments section that they can do whatever they want. But, it's not like gas. The service they provide is always there. A gas company charges you per commodity. I thought the commodity that an ISP provides is simply the connection. They're treating data usage as the commodity. If that's the case, then yes it needs to be regulated.

Also, I understand the argument that people don't disconnect their service when they disagree with their ISP. But here in Pittsburgh, the city doesn't allow FiOS within city limits. Yes, yes I know, local ISPs... and I'm going to start checking into them. But how can a city be allowed to set up a local monopoly?
posted by XhaustedProphet at 1:06 AM on December 24, 2010


I watch movies and make phone calls over the Internet all the time. Both services work just fine on today's neutral Internet.

People keep saying things like this, but there is no neutral Internet. There are absolutely zero regulations about net neutrality in force today.
posted by empath at 6:00 AM on December 24, 2010


And I have massive choice; I don't have to go with my ISP's movie or phone service. ISPs should deliver the bits quickly and let me choose whose service I want on top of that.

And here is what happens from the ISP point of view. You get a third party VoIP solution.

Wonderful, we don't care.

Unfortunately, you've got a 5 Meg connection, you're hammering it with Netflix downloads, and you're in California and your VoIP provider is in new York, and has to go through two other ISPs to get to you, so you call is to complain about voice quality.

This is not theoretical. This happens all the time. I am talking about actual tickets that is I work on.

So what do you want us to do? You can set up qos on your router, but that only impacts traffic leaving your network, and does nothing to traffic going to you.

And what if a link between the VoIP providers ISP and us is congested? This happens all the time, and it may not even be a link we have any control over, if there is an ISP between them and us.

In a strict net neutrality world, our only solution is tough shit, you get what you get.

Though there are other solutions, we could sell the customer an nni connection or an mpls connection straight to the VoIP provider, giving them an end to end guaranteed connection to their VoIP provider, where we have control over the entire path.

Or we can sell them our own VoIP solution which already has that built in. We're happy to do either.

So yes, lot of people get lucky and happen to get a combination of VoIP and ISP that does have these issues, but without end to end qos, you are just that, lucky, as anyone who has worked in hosted VoIP or for an ISP will tell you.
posted by empath at 6:17 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


And keep in mind that while most people are thinking of residential service, most of the money and investment is in business service, and 'you get what you get' is completely unacceptable for a business that depends on their phones.
posted by empath at 6:21 AM on December 24, 2010


Empath, I think you're conflating two different things. People I've talked to have no problems paying for a dedicated service based on the Internet which has special priveleges. $10 a month for my phone, which can only use bandwidth to make calls, and has a dedicated portion of infrastructure to facilitate that? No problem.

The only problem is selling "Internet" and giving people anything other than bias-free access to whatever may be out in the wild.

Your peerage agreements are driven by your customers' usage patterns and provide everyone with a faster, better Internet (no quotes) experience. That is fine, although perhaps a tricky thing to specify in net neutrality legalese.

The problem is that we are certainly headed towards a world where the bandwidth agreement model will be driven from the top-down, and customers will be held ransom until someone (either the content creator out in the Internet, or the customer at home) pays up. Probably both.

This kind of rent seeking happens every single time there is no regulation and enforcement to stop it. If there were not cops on the streets right now, the small percentage of jerks in the world would have gotten together, fought each other for a piece of the pie, and then sent a very large and persuasive individual to your house for your weekly "health insurance." In fact, this still happens even with cops on the street. But the cops help.

This always, always eventually happens, unless you stop it.

I'm almost certain you know exactly what most people mean when they say they want a free and open Internet. Maybe your extra knowledge about the inner workings of ISPs is actually clouding what is a relatively simple desire, an achievable desire, and a noble and good desire that serves the purposes of the vast majority of the citizenry.
posted by jsturgill at 6:33 AM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Health insurance" in quotes is a euphemism for "pay up, or we hurt you" mob behavior and is not meant to be a disparaging comment about the terrible US medical system.
posted by jsturgill at 6:35 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing that baffles me about this whole bullshit debate is that ISP's are fully within their rights to do all of the things that you claim that they want to do right now. There is absolutely no legislation or regulation preventing them from doing that. If comcast wants to set a meter on internet traffic, they can. If they want to privilege Bing over Google, they can. If they want to block 4chan, they can.

And yet they don't.


Really?

It's common for industries in an immature market to control their own behavior for fear of government regulation. But that doesn't last forever. And it looks like it's coming to an end one way or the other fairly soon. Too many ISPs are also media companies for that to last much longer.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:39 AM on December 24, 2010


Again, the Netflix dispute was a contract negotiation that one side decided to make a political issue.
posted by empath at 10:01 AM on December 24, 2010


Could we somehow get out of the tubes analogies? If not, then just bring Ted Stevens back to the conversation and get it over with.
posted by mouthnoize at 11:16 AM on December 24, 2010


empath: you're using a particularly extreme view of net neutrality. What most people mean is simply that paying for 5Mb means you get 5Mb, not something like 5Mb to "Comcast preferred" sites and extra bonus traffic shaping for sites which haven't paid baksheesh.

I'm entirely comfortable and familiar with the real issues managing networks and can buy bandwidth accordingly; what I need the government to ensure is that I can pay for what I want without being forced into bundles or having popular sites taxed by ISPs who want more money for the same service. Peering will always be tricky but it needs to be a commodity, not a cash-grab based on perceived willingness to pay.

Net neutrality is simply about even competition, not some hypothetical Soviet-style central planning.
posted by adamsc at 7:31 AM on December 25, 2010


Well, except for the guy in this thread advocating Soviet-style central planning.
posted by empath at 10:52 AM on December 25, 2010


Well, except for the guy in this thread advocating Soviet-style central planning.

Are you really going to rise to the bait and press the Communist boogieman angle with this?

I assume you're referring to Jfuller's comment (s). If so, your response is pretty needlessly reductive. Jfuller has an excellent point: governments excel at building out the infrastructure necessary to create competition and wealth, and private enterprise sucks at it because they're too busy rent seeking and colluding with other players to stifle competition. You acknowledge this circumstance in a roundabout way yourself when you mentioned that your company has no incentive to build out to any residential units that aren't densely populated apartment complexes.

It's not an unreasonable position to take that sure, the math may not work for your company's bottom line, but it kinda really really does work for society's bottom line.
posted by jsturgill at 9:22 PM on December 25, 2010


Can it really have been my comment that empath was thinking of as "advocating Soviet-style central planning?" If it was, then jfuller is a bit taken aback to be read as wanting collective farms and five year plans. To clarify:

1. Please be clear that I didn't say "bandwidth is now far too important to be left in the chicken-fucking hands of "businessmen." That's quoted text from another person's comment.

2. My reason for quoting it was to underline the inconvenient point that in my country "the internet" was very largely built by those chicken-fuckers on their own dime, not by the government using everybody's taxes. For the government to step in later and tell them what they can charge or how they can structure their charges for letting people use what they built strikes me as a government "taking" without just compensation, hence forbidden by the Fifth Amendment.

I note that there is not even a breath of a hint of this point in the graphic linked in the fpp--and that to my mind locates it firmly at the Beck/Fox/Limbaugh level of mental functioning. Either ignorantly or tendentiously it allows a false assumption to go unchallenged, false assumption being that "the internet" is like the Interstate Highway System (tax-funded and owned by all) or the air (a common.) It is not like either of these models. I repeat that I support net neutrality and hope that's the outcome we get, but the justice of the situation is a great deal messier and more fraught than this poster site lets it appear.

My own feeling is that bandwidth is too important to be left in the equally chicken-fucking hands of either business or government. I feel sure what we'll actually get is some witches-brew mixture of both that will please nobody but that we can maybe live with if we're lucky. But however that works out, public taking without just compensation is wrong no matter what the public need or benefit may be. If the government decides to achieve net neutrality by building out a new, parallel network infrastructure that is tax supported then that's super, totally support it (but not holding breath.) But if net neutrality is imposed by law or FCC fiat on the existing mostly-private infrastructure then there will need to be serious compensation to the owners, and demonstrations of public needs/benefits that go a lot deeper than "I don't wanna find out that my YooToob is a premium channel and I only pay for Basic Intenet."

So no, not Stalinist quite yet, ask again later.
posted by jfuller at 8:54 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older Whereof one cannot speak, one must write a novel.   |   Magical Clown Baby Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post