Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Traffic Shaping Will Not Preserve the Big Media

I know that the thought of net neutrality will have some big media types salivating. They may object out of principle (it is pretty objectionable) but there are parts of it that some might think sound pretty good from a self-preservation viewpoint. I've heard from and read some in old/big media lamenting the new age and wishing things would go back to where they were. People who honestly believe that they are the guardians of culture and information and believe that position should be enshrined in law and tradition. Some of these people may look at the net neutrality debate and say 'that's our ticket, we pay a little extra and our dominant position is insured.'

I'm happy to tell you that it won't work. Even if Canada's big ISPs are allowed to regulate traffic the web will find a way around it. The internet started out, originally, as a way for the military and science labs to communicate. Internet culture developed around the sharing of ideas, the spread of information and free speech. Almost since the beginning the users of the internet have found their way around obstacles put in their way. The first hackers were not out to steal credit card info, only to find information they were being denied access to. Over the years avid internet users have developed open source software in response to Microsoft's monopoly, they have found their way around every DRM system devised, have engaged in and grown the practice of file sharing regardless of any laws, lawsuits, or obstacles presented, and have even broken through the great firewall of China. The best, brightest and most creative people have never been on the side of the status quo and control.

Traffic shaping by the ISPs would be an insult to the audience, it would be a pain in the ass, and it would be expensive for some but it would not change the game - only serve to drive a further wedge between Canada's media and the Canadian public. Over the last half century most western institutions (political, religious, media and other) have had their bright spots but have ultimately received a failing grade from the public. Support from these institutions for online traffic shaping or other controls will only serve to deepen the divide between themselves and the public and will hasten their demise rather than preserve them.

No comments: