July 15th, 2014
Sometimes the world/internet serves up an undeniably amazing set of events that one can’t help but stand in awe.
The Net Neutrality debate has been a topic of much discussion amongst the tech cognoscenti lately, but it has been difficult to find a real-world example that illustrates why it’s so important. That is, until last night. I sat, biting my lip, and listened *twice* to this very painful customer service call between a Comcast rep and a customer who just wanted to cancel his service (but as a former journalist was smart enough to record the call).
I’m not sure if you sat and listened to the entire 8 minutes, but it is worth it.
As Americans we should be allergic to monopolistic bullshit like this. Our high school history teachers, at least mine anyway, promised us that Standard Oil would not happen again. That we had learned. And yet here we are, a few generations later, and our government is so paralyzed by dysfunction and lobbying dollars and a categorical and fundamental misunderstanding of technology (healthcare.gov, etc.) that promises like these linger and get lost.
Even in the age of 24/7, push-button documentation, this company is allowed to be essentially a monopoly and brazenly act as one.
Think about that for a second.
Painfully disappointing acts and proposed acts of governance with regard to technology continue to be served up on the regular. They are failing us, and we are innovating around them. Make no mistake: there is currently no one more hungry and more willing to work endlessly than a newly-minted tech entrepreneur with a dream. New York Magazine’s Wash-and-Fold fairy tale should make this painfully obvious to any dissenters. Pair this with the fact that government-regulated industries are often so technologically backward that, when looking with opportunistic eyes, you cannot help but see a vast, lush meadow of open space.
In what has proven to be an extremely prescient (if rather long) set of essays from 2012, Venkatesh Rao, points out the following:
The key is to ask: where are there still significant unfair advantages to be found, for entrepreneurs, that investors cannot easily neutralize? The answer should not be surprising to those who know their history: politics.
It seems to me that as we continue to create technology innovations that chip away at expansive government inefficiencies, which btw is working out kind of splendidly so far, we now also must fight on a much broader level for our own right to create such things. I know that it’s much harder to understand the “why” behind taking action on a more generalized issue like Net Neutrality (esp. with the lame-ass branding) because it’s certainly not as visceral as something you can relate to on an everyday-experience level.
This is where Comcast Man comes in.
Thank you to Comcast Man for giving me a reason to take action. For reminding me of my nearly 18-month effort to get internet service at my house from your BFFs over at Time Warner (long story for another time). For giving me the inspiration and courage to once again pick up the phone and call all the people I support with my tax dollars.
You have until midnight tonight to file a public comment with the FCC about Net Neutrality.