Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Skinternet Innovation Alliance

With nothing but time to kill, I've taken to reading a lot recently. The problem is, sometimes there's something you really want to tell someone--and not knowing any professional bloggers, I guess I just have to do it myself.

On the Washington Post's website, I was reading an article from a week or so back about Janet Napolitano's confirmation hearings (for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security)--I wanted to see if she had anything to say about Immigration and Customs Enforcement's recent killings of some detainees, or about the general loathesomeness of the department generally.

Instead, I noticed a slick ad on the right hand side of the page for the "Internet Innovation Alliance's" new & free "Broadband Factbook," which offers "convenient research items culled from the best broadband data sources." Now I'm used to ads on the NYTimes website for useless things like Steuben bowls that you can carve your name in, not free and useful resources, so perhaps I was a little jaded when I decided that "Internet Innovation Alliance" sounded like just the name an industry advocacy group might choose to lobby for their interests with the public. Moreover, 'broadband' is one of those catch-words that keeps coming up every time President Obama and 'stimulus' are in the same headline. And to industry that means money.

The 'Factbook' models itself as a cheat-sheet for business types, "If you need to find bite-sized talking points on a tight deadline, you're in the right place. We've already done the hard part for you!" But apparently the 'hard part' was filleting arguments into one-sided, ideologically empty quotes. Take, for example, this entry on Net-Neutrality (the principle that says owners of lines of communication aught not be able to discriminate against different types of communication):

Advocates of net neutrality argue that ISPs should have little flexibility to manage their networks and that the solution to any kinds of network congestion or other network performance challenges can and should be solved by simply adding more network capacity—primarily in the form of “bigger pipes.”

I suppose that's one viewpoint. But It's also the factbook's only viewpoint. Strangely, the IIA took a very different tack back in 2004 when SBC tried to start charging VoIP providers more (according to common cause), but has apparently reversed its stance since SBC became a major contributor.

For a primer on net neutrality, try googling it. Or click here

I suppose the real story is that powerbrokers are expected to read the Post, and fancy-glass-mongers read the Times.

1 comment:

  1. "I suppose the real story is that powerbrokers are expected to read the Post, and fancy-glass-mongers read the Times."

    Truer words were never spoken, now to go find me some glass.