Pluralistic: Utah's getting some of America's best broadband (16 May 2024)

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: Utah's getting some of America's best broadband (16 May 2024)"

Pluralistic: Linkty Dumpty (15 July 2023)

Today's links

  • Linkty Dumpty: Things I thought about when I was supposed to be on holidays.
  • This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018
  • Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading

Continue reading "Pluralistic: Linkty Dumpty (15 July 2023)"

Culture War Bullshit Stole Your Broadband

Your internet sucks because telco monopolists kept Gigi Sohn off the FCC.

A Victorian gentleman and lady use a tin-can-and-string telephone while standing before a soiled and sooty American flag.

So, the next time you complain about your phone service, why don’t you try using two Dixie cups with a string? We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Phone Company. — Lily Tomlin, The Phone Company

The internet is an American invention. It exists thanks to US public dollars that were showered on military contractors, with a little incidental spillover onto America’s institutes of higher learning.

54 years after the first Arpanet demo, America is an also-ran in the global internet league tables. Americans pay more for slower broadband than their counterparts, whether that’s in wealthy countries of the global north, or looted post-colonial nations in the global south.

This matters because the internet isn’t a mere pornography distribution system, nor a tool of extremist radicalization, nor a glorified video-on-demand service —nor any of the other dismissive epithets used to minimize the consequences of America’s worst-in-class internet service.

The internet is a single wire that delivers free speech, a free press, free assembly, access to education, civics, health care, community, politics, family, employment and even romance.

And America’s internet is terrible.

Continue reading "Culture War Bullshit Stole Your Broadband"

All (Broadband) Politics Are Local

A Chance for Individuals to Make a Difference.

Farmers and co-op members assisting professional telephone pole installers raise a rural phone pole, with rope and pulleys, 1930s.

“We’re the phone company, we don’t care.” –Lily Tomlin

Even before the lockdown, we all hated our ISPs. Comcast routinely won “worst company in America” polls. AT&T was a trash-fire of endless boondoggles and scandals. Verizon charged you $12/month to rent a modem, and also charged you $12/month to not rent a modem. Everyone hated Frontier for its slow speeds, which were revealed to be the result of the company’s practice of “installing” phone lines by tying them to trees with twine or draping them over shrubs. New York State ordered Charter/Spectrum to leave the state and never come back.

Then the pandemic struck, and terrible internet service became a matter of survival: it was how your kids went to school, how you visited the doctor, how you saw family, how you participated in civics and politics, and, for those of us who were lucky enough to have remote-capable jobs, how you earned your living.

The dismal state of the American telecoms industry, where monopolies divided up the country into non-competing exclusive territories like Pope Alexander VI dividing up the “New World,” suddenly became a lot more important.

Continue reading "All (Broadband) Politics Are Local"

Pluralistic: 03 Jul 2021

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: 03 Jul 2021"

Pluralistic: 27 Jun 2021

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: 27 Jun 2021"

Pluralistic: 10 Jun 2021

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: 10 Jun 2021"

Pluralistic: 15 May 2021

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: 15 May 2021"

Pluralistic: 14 Apr 2021

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: 14 Apr 2021"

Pluralistic: 23 Mar 2021

Today's links

Continue reading "Pluralistic: 23 Mar 2021"