When Mommy and Daddy Fight
(Getting annoyed at how many sites aren't fully functional today)
Go read Skippy's 4:09pm post today, "Nobody's really Neutral on Net Neutrality." It makes a lot of sense. Just as Matt's perspective makes sense. Food or freedom? Communication or couches? It's not an easy choice.
I have such conflicted thoughts about this, but I do want to make a couple of points that will probably add nothing of value to this discussion. First off, as a poor, poor person, let me stress that I totally understand what it's like to be forced to work for Satan and smile while you do it. That's capitalism, baby! And if you don't like it, you can...starve. I'm not quite that brave, and I don't blame Matt for being equally "weak." Unless you've walked that line, you really can't know what it's like to make choices like food vs. medicine. It sucks.
That said, sometimes you have a choice between starvation, Satan and Lucifer. When Satan is the one who's stolen all your food, and Lucifer has merely insulted you, perhaps it's better to not starve by working for Lucifer instead. I think that's why I find myself siding with Skippy on this one. I'm lazy and haven't just asked Matt, but I suspect that this one ad in question isn't his only revenue source and that another could have easily taken it's place.
How important is one ad? In the scheme of things, probably not so much. Taking money from the people we want to destroy has a kind of evil brilliance about it, and I'd encourage all of us to do that more often. But as far as drawing lines and taking a last stand, I really do think it's the height of silly for some to confuse new readers and people like my "both sides must have some value" Mom by writing strongly for one position and accepting ads for the opposite.
Ads on the Internet aren't ads on TV, in a lot of ways. Personally, I think it's really stupid that advertisers pay by the click-thru. I hope you're all doing so: for your favorite sites that have ads, click on them once a week or so, more if you have the inclination. That's how ad-using bloggers get paid, and if you're like me, you can always find something else to look at or close the browser window as soon as it opens. Unlike TV ads, most ads on the Internet are still pretty quiet, primitive, and short-lived. That will change over time, as the sort of bright marketing people finally find a way to effectively use the mountains of data cookies give them. But for now- not really a big deal.
So why am I on Skippy's side in this, you ask? Integrity. That's our biggest, most important difference from the SCLM? People like Leopold are basically "dead to me" because he won't stand up for himself and this movement and burn the sources who lied to him. The blogosphere isn't CNN; our readers and critics can and do call us out on the littlest mistake, publicly and for all to see. And that's a good thing, we should protect that quality. It just doesn't look good for some to advocate X while taking money from anti-X.
Further, the simple reality of no more net neutrality is the death of political blogging as an effective force in this country. Let me stress the word "death." For all we may be able to imagine and even implement alternative ways of getting our message out if net neutrality goes away, they won't be fast enough or widespread enough to prevent all kinds of bad things from happening. I was told by no one less than Boxer herself that we are the reason any Democrats have shown spine these last few years, and if they can't hear us, we're all doomed.
Skippy links to an SFChron piece that reminds me of why there is absolutely no reason to help the telcos:
the only place where differential pricing and net neutrality matter is the "last mile" of wire that leads to the american home. about 29.4 million u.s. households get high-speed internet access from their cable provider, according to a recent report by the emarketer research firm. another 21.5 million homes get their high-speed connection via phone company digital subscriber lines, commonly known as dsl. (about 26 million americans still had slow dial-up connections as of 2006, but that number is expected to shrink rapidly.)â€¦
while the cable industry has been relatively quiet in the internet debate, daniel brenner, senior vice president for law and regulatory policy for the national cable and telecommunications association in washington, d.c., framed the question that underlies the industry's argument:
"is the only potential payer going to be the end user, the customer, or are there other ways to finance infrastructure by asking content providers to pay as well?" he asked, adding, "this debate is about whether congress should prevent us from doing that."
vince vittore, a telecom analyst with the yankee group, said the telephone companies have led this debate because they face the greatest needs to revamp their wires -- and not simply to boost their broadband offerings. instead they want to deliver television and internet signals on the same wire, just as their cable competitors do.
"the telcos want to compete with cable operators to provide video entertainment,'' he said.
So in other words, killing net neutrality is all about simple, old fashioned greed. They want to sell you The Simpsons online, and they don't want to pay for the upgrade. Hello? When was the last time you got a free Blackberry or internet service from a telco? Oh, that's right- you never have. Instead you get Byzantine payment plans and take it up the ass every time you go over your minutes or want bundled services. Tell me again why I should trust these people? I don't, and I won't until we have some real regulatory teeth holding the industry to sensible standards.
We all have to live. We all have to make hard choices sometimes, we all have to learn to accept compromise. I have three issues in which I will forever stand firm. The first is free and fair voting, the second is my opposition to imperialist wars, and the third has to do with preserving the Internet. Even if people like Matt don't share my priorities on all three, I think all bloggers should share that last. Unless you've got a paying job with a telco lined up somewhere, it makes absolutely no sense to help them put you out of business for real, and for all time.
As I always told myself in grad school: a bag of potatoes is cheap, filling and lasts a long, long time. Have some fries, Matt, and rethink this one.