Going On The Account: Can You Hear Me For Now…?

This is not a good day for those who create at the margins…


When I opined the other day about opting for a short at glory last week, I wrote about the positives that encouraged me to go that route.


On the other hand, one of the things that make writing online so appealing, by contrast, is the speed of delivering your work to an audience that’s easier to access without having to go through a gatekeeper.  Those are very enticing features that make online publication such a boon to writers of all levels, from the neophyte to the seasoned veteran.


Which may not be with us much longer after today: The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia invalidated most of the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet.  What this means is that your ability to receive the data you want could soon be subject to caps and limits placed by your service carrier, either a cable or phone company.  People surfing the ‘Nets may soon notice that the waves in the pool may be only a few inches tall unless you start paying more for your bandwidth.


And this is the most benign interpretation of the end of Net Neutrality; there are worse scenarios, all of which assume that your ISP doesn’t allow its hubris to infect it like a terminal cancer; if it did, then these are overly optimistic…


This could impact your ability to enjoy the content from small providers if the ISPs decide to treat access to content as an opportunity to mine for more revenue.  They may decide that the only way to meet the current demand for content is to start capping bandwidth, possibly pushing users to pay for more beyond a limited amount.  They may argue that because the pipes are not wide enough to deal with the demand, that they have a right to charge for extra carriage over a network that just can’t handle it.


Our poor digital network, the laughing stock of the world when seen on a per capita basis, that if history is any guide, ain’t getting an upgrade soon…


And if you the reader might be feeling miffed, imagine how your smaller content provider must feel.  The possibility that online writers, artists, cartoonists, and other creators might have to consider such factors as the cost of buying bandwidth to keep the pipes open, could close off a few folks without the means to keep their pump primed.


The better established creators may not be fairing much better; if bandwidth becomes as precious as water rights in the Southwest, some outlets may be hard hit for space.  What if Amazon decides not to stay in the publishing business as it is now established because AT&T decided to impose a carriage fee per transaction on the site?  Even .001 cents per transaction, with millions of purchases per day through them, would soon add up.  Would they take a bigger cut from an author’s royalties to cover those additional carriage costs?  Would books from smaller providers still be available if Amazon decided to carry only high-volume products in order to justify the costs, dropping these micro-accounting cases from the site?  And if the ISPs decide to control all this content through their pipes for themselves and declare Amazon a competitor, ganging up on the seller along with other such providers (yes, Netflix especially), would the winner in this battle still offer publishing options?  Would the ISPs want to give writers a space in a business they may not consider worth their time.


And even if the business products somehow stay viable, there’s no inherent protection offered for blogging; many writers and other creators may find their ability to interact with their audience hampered, not to mention those in the blogosphere alone without any other outlets.  As  the blogosphere has produced writers like nebulae produce stars, we could lose some potential new voices in such a case.


These are not good times to be on the outside like this, a small voice that could be silenced while bigger concerns throw their weight around.  There are a lot of minuses to a world without net neutrality.  May we never live through so sterile a time and age.


Just in case, should absolute worst comes to pass, I am building a list for folks I can share stuff with through semaphore flags…

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