Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everything is Happening at Once

Everything in the universe is interconnected. Everything evolves - nothing stays the same. Everything is happening at once.  The same can be said about the Internet, and in the coming months Congress, the Federal Communications Commission as well as state legislatures around the country will attempt to redesign U.S. telecommunications laws to adapt to the changing ecosystem.

Developed in the 1960's by the U.S. Defense Department to connect government research facilities, the Internet now connects people in 65 countries around the world. No nation, person or corporation owns or controls it. You might say the Internet is the quintessential public resource.

While the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe, the laws attempting to regulate access to the Internet are different in different places. Information is power, and the Internet is the information highway. Policy makers in the United States will be deciding what basic rules of the road should govern access to this critical infrastructure. Telecom companies, who own the on and off ramps and sell services that connect users, are shouting that any regulation is a "government takeover" of the Internet.  Interest groups, on the other hand, fear continued anarchy on the net will lead to corporate control of what we say and hear, and ultimately what we think.

What ordinary people want is community and the opportunity to succeed. We want the freedom to express our ideas and access the unfiltered ideas of others. We want government and corporations to be held accountable. We want stability and expect effective oversight of public resources.

The coming year demands a commitment from leaders, industry players and the American public to work together and craft sound Internet policies that will support the continued use by everyone of the Internet to dispel the ignorance and misery of the world.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Marley is such a bitch

Asking us to send additional troops to Afghanistan, throw the public option under the bus, and consider off-shore oil drilling was one thing. Suggesting we fork over cold cash to read the online Wall Street Journal, listen to Glenn Beck and stop mudslinging is entirely something else. There's only so much of this stuff we can take, Mr. President.

Sure enough, though, Mr. Audacity himself in a commencement address to the students at the University of Michigan and 80,000 of their closest friends prescribed how to keep our democracy healthy. First, we must recognize the need for some government and work to make it smarter and relevant to today's world. Second, Americans need to be nice to each other, open-minded and seek out alternative points of view, even if it means listening to Rush Limbaugh. Third, people must get involved.

One and three seem reasonable enough, but number two is outrageous and un-American. It's not just the fringes of the ideological spectrum who delight in muckraking and vilification. Character assassination is an innate thread in the fabric of our society. An important segment of our economy is built upon this fundamental value and the last thing we need is Jon Stewart and Tina Fey at the trough slurping up welfare benefits.

Closer to home an example involves a certain Marley named after Bob the Rastafarian but a girl who happens to be an adorable 17 month-old yellow lab. Teenagers who love her more than pizza and television find it hysterical and ridiculously edgy to say out loud for the benefit of their mother, "she is such a bitch."