Monday, May 04, 2009

Try Life Without the Internet

The last two weeks have been spent having a gorgeous trip, indeed, as you all know who have visited my posts on my cruise in the Mediterranean. For me, it was a dream I really never thought I'd get, and I acknowledge that I am profiting from the economic disaster that brought prices down so low that I could do this. I have a lot to be glad about, and I am.

There was a big drawback, though, because the internet was priced so high that I would have had to stretch - big bucks that I didn't have free - to do what I am used to. I post every day that I can, sometimes twice and more. For that, I visit a lot of news sites, blogs and articles, and information that you are used to seeing here. Research is vital to giving sound views, and you readers and I expect to have a variety of sources, even the disreputable ones, to have a good idea of what our world is like.

On board, as is true of many purveyors of television access, Fox political advertising, which they call 'news', has gotten a foothold and those who checked the news were offered that channel as if it were valid. The Fox industry pays for that access, and gets access it doesn't earn by real reporting but by paybacks. Yes, Norwegian Cruise Lines has heard from me on their allowing themselves to be suborned into presenting a right wing point of view on par with news, a point of view that fewer than 20% of us have fallen for.

When factual research is expensive, it gets a lot less accessible to you and me; we suffer a blight on our overall knowledge that makes us vulnerable to wingnut paid ads.

Having had my access limited, I am passing on to you a warning. If price becomes the issue in internet access, we will lose our intellectual freedom. Just as health care has been lost to the profit motivation of our health care industry, our intellectual freedom will be lost if profits are allowed to determine internet availability. No surprise, that is what our telecommunications industry would like to accomplish.

Your days of all-you-can-eat Internet buffet may be coming to an end.

Probably not tomorrow, but soon enough, industry analysts say.

Cable giant Time Warner recently toyed with essentially putting meters on its customers’ downloads. It abruptly backed off in the face of a revolt that was organized — where else? — on the Internet.

Still, the company shelved rather than killed the plan. Experts say that changes in the way people use the Internet — and the way some gorge on its endless cache of data — mean current pricing systems could go the way of your dial-up modem.

A metered pricing system has been in effect in Lawrence for four years. While Sunflower Broadband has heard some complaints, for most Web surfers it has kept monthly charges flat. Some users have seen steep cuts in their bills, while relatively few have had to pony up extra bucks to devour gigabytes.

In the end, said the CEO of the Internet service provider in Lawrence, “it’s a matter of fairness.”

The change won’t come easily in a world where consumers have come to take cap-free Internet use for granted.

In mid-April, Time Warner set aside plans to switch Rochester, N.Y.; Greensboro, N.C.; San Antonio and Austin, Texas, to graduated billing based on how much a household uses the Internet.

“This is ridiculous,” the group Free Press said in an online petition. “Instead of meeting growing broadband demand, Time Warner Cable is gouging Internet users.”

U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat whose district includes Rochester, threatened legislation to bar the change.

“It’s almost certainly just a matter of time before they attempt to overcharge all of their customers,” Massa said in a news release.
Critics of a la carte Internet pricing say it doesn’t account for the speed and the ways in which usage has shifted.

People who constantly worry about going over their monthly limits might be less likely to try new innovations that require more bandwidth, said James Love of the consumer group Knowledge Ecology International.

“We’re all doing things now that we weren’t doing last year,” he said. “We don’t want something that’s going to make us reluctant to try something new.”

Patrick Knorr, the CEO of World Co., the owner of Sunflower Download, notes that even as the price of providing Internet service continued to drop as technology improved, demand for bandwidth went up faster.

The cost of public awareness is not a factor we can let make a difference in internet access. If ignorance is given free rein, this country will be a much poorer place. Without you telling me when I make an error, I would not be as much on my toes as I have to be with an educated audience. If it cost you to look up and check on your suspicion that you've seen another fact, or another view, than that I think is valid, would you still go to the trouble?

Look at my posts during my cruise, and you'll find most of the material is my own experience. I want to double, triple, and quadruple check on what I pass on to you, and at $.45 a minute, the time spent doing that becomes burdensome.

When we cut back on exploring for truths, we are not in top form. That would be a tragic burden to put on bloggers. We would have to be able to afford facts. When truth becomes expensive, we will all suffer ignorance imposed by our means. Nothing could be worse for us libruls who are going to stick to the facts as long as we can.

When facts are priced out of our reach, we will all be in big trouble. High priced internet has cut back on my access to those facts, and it's been troubling. It can't be allowed to happen. Firms reaching for profits will never be a good choice for determining what the public can and will say, learn, or think.

Without open internet access, Fox would go unanswered.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...


Couple 'access fees' or high connection costs with the death of the newspaper and the situation is serious indeed.

This is such a straight-forward mechanism of control I would have thought it almost too obvious.

One must have always presumed that the hegemony would have found--or have at least actively engagted in finding--ways to either contain or discourage counter-hegemonic discourses. I thought it was gonna be by requiring licenses/insurances to 'blog.'

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