Did Net Neutrality Just Kill the Possibility of a Free Internet, or Pave the Way for It?
Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain dissects the recent FCC net neutrality decision and asks whether it's nearly as earth-shattering as many of us suppose.
Jonathan Zittrain is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources for the Harvard Law School Library, and Co-Founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Previously, he was the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University and a principal of the Oxford Internet Institute. He was also a visiting professor at the New York University School of Law and Stanford Law School.
Zittrain’s research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.
He is also the author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, as well as co-editor of the books, Access Denied (MIT Press, 2008), Access Controlled (MIT Press, 2010), and Access Contested (MIT Press, 2011).
Jonathan Zittrain: Recently the FCC took another swing at what's loosely called net neutrality. I guess I'd count myself among those who are not sure it's an earth-shattering deal. It shouldn't come as that much of a surprise that a chairman of the FCC who is a former head of the Cable Television Association and the Wireless Association is not done anything that's going to bring anything down. I guess what's most notable about the rules as they're coming down again is they're applying to wireless; that had been left off the table by rules that were in place from 2010 to 2014. But I suspect that most internet service providers can live within these rules. The long-term question is going to be to what extent internet service providers feel they need to earn money through something other than cash-and-carry delivery of what we think of as generic broadband. You know, "We're just going to give you good bandwidth; you're going to pay for it; have fun out there," is the internet service provider of the traditional vain.
If they're wanting to cut a bunch of what you might think of as more interesting deals, well wait a minute maybe we'll charge more for one particular provider, like Google, to have to reach our eyeballs of our subscribers and Google can pay for that. And maybe, this is the ideal case for this kind of argument that net neutrality doesn't allow, maybe it will even turn out that we can offer free internet access to people. They'll pay nothing per month because it will get paid for, subsidized, on the other side as the Google's of the world pay to beat a path to the door of our subscribers. That might be a good idea. The thing is that the number of outs that involve some form of differential pricing, of being very canny about whose bits are coming from where and going to where and whether those will be treated differently or charged differently, more frequently I think would not result in free internet for consumers, but in added revenue for the company that simply goes back to the shareholders and really is reflecting the fact that there isn't a lot of competition in America today for the provision of broadband.
If you live in a house and you want a fast internet connection, you don't have a ton of choices; in many places you only have one choice for who you're going to use. And at that point they don't have the same incentives that a competitive marketplace would give. And that's one reason why something like that net neutrality makes a lot of sense. It's been interesting to see that around the world there's been a laboratory for different regulatory and technical regimes for implementation of internet access. In a place like the United Kingdom they don't talk much about net neutrality because they have a regime where British Telecom, the legacy government-affiliated telephony provider is a wholesaler and then Virgin Broadband and others can resell it. And that means that if one started to get to canny, no Google for you because Google refused to pay us, their subscribers would leave and use a different ISP; even though it's all going over the same pipe, you might not need net neutrality the way that you see it shaping up in America where there isn't that open-access mandate. The third category to keep an eye out for over the years is municipal broadband. Should it be that just like governments provide roads and fill or don't fill potholes in them that municipalities might choose to offer fiber to each home? You'd pay them a flat fee and that's the end of the story.
One of the interesting artifacts of the recent FCC decision is actually overturning state-level legislative bans on municipal broadband provision that had been enacted in part at the behest of existing internet service providers that would prefer not to compete with the government to provide internet access. And we will see now maybe a couple cities in which the municipalities will have a chance to offer it as well. And I'm curious to see where that leads.
Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain dissects the recent FCC net neutrality decision and asks whether it's nearly as earth-shattering as many of us suppose. After all: The chairman of the FCC is a former head of the Cable Television Association and the Wireless Association, so it's not all that likely that what was decided is really groundbreaking. The long-term question, says Zittrain, is to what extent internet service providers will seek out different revenue streams outside of cash-and-carry delivery.
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.
I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.
A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.
- A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
- The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
- The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
Mathematicians studied 100 billion tweets to help computer algorithms better understand our colloquial digital communication.
- A group of mathematicians from the University of Vermont used Twitter to examine how young people intentionally stretch out words in text for digital communication.
- Analyzing the language in roughly 100 billion tweets generated over eight years, the team developed two measurements to assess patterns in the tweets: balance and stretch.
- The words people stretch are not arbitrary but rather have patterned distributions such as what part of the word is stretched or how much it stretches out.