Net Neutrality and the End of the World As We Know It

Net Neutrality is a buzzword these days. For those who live in huts (or use dial-up), Net Neutrality is the most recent left wing attempt at overhauling an established private infrastructure towards a more government-centric paradigm. That infrastructure would be the Interwebs.

The FCC is trying to pass legislation that will regulate ISPs and their bandwidth allocation. The FCC believes everybody has a right to the information superhighway (I haven't used that name since the 90's and it makes me feel old) and that ISPs have no right to restrict access to it. The timing is obviously tactical. Recently, many ISPs, and specifically Comcast, have been heavily criticized by the right wing for throttling bandwidth for customers engaging in frequent Peer to Peer transfers (like BitTorrent). The thought is that the people using the most p2p bandwidth are most likely using it for illegal purposes and therefore can be slowed down. This comes after an already controversial move by Comcast and others to "plant" illegal copies of movies just to track who was downloading (and almost always inadvertently) and uploading the movie. Now that the right wing is all up in arms against the ISP, the left has decided it to be the perfect time to stage their coup on the Interwebs.

I can go on and on about how wrong it is to socialism-ize (that is now a word) the Interwebs, but I hope I don't need to tell you that. I have a different point to make. All I have to say is: Be careful who you mess with.

The Interwebs is owned by the geeks. It is their realm, their kingdom, and their Dungeons & Dragons (4th edition) dungeon. They live in the Internet, and the Internet lives through them. With the World Wide Web spread out before their superhumanly speedy fingers, the Geek will always find a way to get what he wants in his own homeland. Be it a movie, a program, a game, or top-secret classified government documents, the Geek will find it, and he will get he wants without anybody knowing he was there. Like a ninja. Bespectacled and zit-ridden in RL (Real Life), the Geek becomes Superman at the keyboard. If you tell a Geek that your system is impossible to break into, he will reply "Give me five minutes". If you tell him that what he's doing is illegal, he'll tell you "I already won that flame war. It is illegal no longer". If you tell him his lvl85 paladin looks like a pansy....he will cry.

If the government really tried to take away the Interwebs from the Geeks, the Geeks would revolt. The revolution and cyber-uprising that will ensue when policies of artificial scarcity are enforced on the Interwebs would put the geeks in charge of the new digital economy. This is because no matter how much regulation the government tries to put on bandwidth, Geeks will find a way to circumvent the regulations. They always havem and they always will. This will just leave the layperson with an overpriced and slow broadband connection for no good reason.

This is all based on historical precedent. Every time the government (usually manifested in the RIAA) tried to regulate data flow, the geeks came out on top. Securing the mp3 format led to the P2P movement, proliferating mp3 saturation by many orders of magnitude. When Napster was shut down, the BitTorrent method of file sharing was created, effectively protecting everyone involved, and further growing the market for music and software pirating. Also, understand that the copyright breaking is not usually done for profit. It can be quite spiteful. When Electronic Arts released it's blockbuster PC gaming masterpiece, Spore, it used an archaic version of DRM (Digital Rights Management) that infuriated the gaming community. In a startling testament to the spitefulness of the geek community, Spore quickly broke records upon release as being the most pirated game in PC gaming history. And it wasn't even that good.

You see, Geeks can be pushed around in RL, but if you try to invade our digital kingdom, we quickly become vindictive and violent (and alliterative). If the government really tries to restrict bandwidth, there will be war. And we both know who will come out victorious.

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

Just so people know (I don't want your lingo giving us a bad name)... Geek Sqaud is not part of our community. Don't let the name confuse you. They are nothing more than evil, bastardly spawns of Satan that have no place in this world.

:) HI

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