Content-Delivery Supply-Chain Usefulness

Susan Crawford hits the broadband nail on the head:
What content-delivery supply-chain usefulness is broadband providing?

For, by Susan Crawford, Susan Crawford blog, 9 May 2007

That’s the question you get if you’re in a corporate strategy meeting trying to decide where this broadband thing fits in with your core competences. That plus they’ll be thinking purely in terms of broadband, because that’s their product, not the Internet. There’s nothing wrong with that, except when there are only a couple of first-mile ISPs deciding the answer for all their users. And the answer in such cases tends to be “video on demand” or “IPTV” or “our search engine”. Corporations are designed to maximize their own profits, not to think in terms of a supply chain that delivers participation, innovation, and prosperity for the general welfare.

Susan proposes not to concentrate on “for” as in for what specific purpose, and instead to look up:

“For” could instead be used here in a higher-minded, more optimistic, more socially-responsible way. Why wouldn’t we want to push “for” higher up the great chain of meaning? Who are we to hold “for” back?

So here is my brief conclusion. Internet access is “for” our collective economic and social future. We are the beneficiaries, as are the generations who will follow us. We can’t predict it, we can’t control it, but we can try to make it as interesting and complex as possible. It’s “for” us.

Which is of course why a few corporations shouldn’t be permitted to decide what broadband or Internet access is for. They will seek to maximize their own profits and to treat any ill effects on others as economic externalities. Unless the currently too few ISPs are compelled to pay attention by net neutrality laws. Or unless there are enough ISPs competing to produce a market in which customers can vote with their pocketbooks by moving to a different ISP. Or both.