Novelty Used Against Net Neutrality by Duopoly

damian-interview.jpg A musician warns us about novelty being used to subvert participation, and comes up with a clever analogy:
We hate when things are taken from us (so we rage at censorship), but we also love to get new things. And the providers are chomping at the bit to offer them to us: new high-bandwidth treats like superfast high-definition video and quick movie downloads. They can make it sound great: newer, bigger, faster, better! But the new fast lanes they propose will be theirs to control and exploit and sell access to, without the level playing field that common carriage built into today’s network.

They won’t be blocking anything per se — we’ll never know what we’re not getting — they’ll just be leapfrogging today’s technology with a new, higher-bandwidth network where they get to be the gatekeepers and toll collectors. The superlative new video on offer will be available from (surprise, surprise) them, or companies who’ve paid them for the privilege of access to their customers. If this model sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s how cable TV operates.

Beware the New New Thing, By DAMIAN KULASH Jr., Op-Ed Contributor, New York Times, Published: April 5, 2008

Yep, and the cablecos and telcos have not been shy about saying that’s what they want to do.

Here’s the new analogy:

For some parallel examples: there are only two guitar companies who make most of the guitars sold in America, but they don’t control what we play on those guitars. Whether we use a Mac or a PC doesn’t govern what we can make with our computers. The telephone company doesn’t get to decide what we discuss over our phone lines. It would be absurd to let the handful of companies who connect us to the Internet determine what we can do online. Congress needs to establish basic ground rules for an open Internet, just as common carriage laws did for the phone system.
It would be absurd, no? Basic ground rules: OK, go!

The Internet, for now, is the type of place where my band’s homemade videos find a wider audience than the industry’s million-dollar productions. A good idea is still more important than deep pockets. If network providers are allowed to build the next generation of the Net as a pay-to-play system, we will all pay the price.
And that’s what the duopoly wants: we all pay and they profit. Is that what we want? Or do we want the Internet to be their (and our) CBGB?