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A Free Market by Force? The FCC and Net Neutrality in (Mostly) Plain English PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Technology
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 19 February 2015 05:23

On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting on rules that would reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility. The stated goal is to give the commission the authority to enforce what’s called “net neutrality.”

Unless you’re a rare breed, I’ve already frightened (or bored) you with a topic you’re certain is arcane, technical, obscure, and confusing. You might also think it’s irrelevant.

So to goose your interest, I’ll note that John Oliver – the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight series – recommended replacing the dull “net neutrality” with “Preventing Cable Company F---ery.”

Because cable companies are so loathed, calling net neutrality by Oliver’s term gives us an easy target. Complaining about one’s cable company is a time-honored pastime. And those operators control more than half of the U.S. broadband-Internet market.

“People want the villain, and the good guy,” said Phyllis Peters, a regional communications director for Mediacom. “And because everybody loves what they can get on Netflix, they’re the good guy. And ... Big Cable, it’s the bad guy.”

As with most easy villains, the situation is more complicated, and getting past the heated rhetoric – Oliver’s included – takes work. So what follows is an imagined Q&A about ... Preventing Cable Company F---ery! (I’ve got to keep your interest somehow.)

My goal is to present a simplified (and in some cases over-simplified) explanation of net neutrality as a public-policy issue, specifically in the context of the FCC’s impending vote. The proposed rules won’t be made public before that meeting, but FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has sketched out the broad strokes – no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization.

Why Wireless?: Bettendorf Considers a Community-Wide Network, but It’s Already Being Built PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Technology
Tuesday, 08 August 2006 22:41

Reader issue #593 The idea has immediate appeal. Anybody would be able to use a laptop computer anywhere in the city, making it attractive for tech-savvy (or tech-dependent) people and businesses who might want to visit or relocate there.

That was an idea that Dick Klein brought earlier this year to the Bettendorf City Council, which then formed a task force to look into the concept. That six-member task force has met twice already, and is expected to report back to the council in the next few months.

Klein said his vision was for the city to use a wireless network to make city services more efficient, with the savings underwriting free wireless Internet access for citizens.

But don't expect Bettendorf to become the Quad Cities "most wireless" city. Although it has reached no conclusions, several members of the task force said that private-sector initiatives in the area of wireless networks would make any municipal effort redundant.

Web 2.0: Making the Internet an Operating System PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Technology
Tuesday, 13 June 2006 22:59

A couple of years ago, the people who are continually stretching the edge of the Internet envelope began talking about Web 2.0. Wikipedia, the user-created encyclopedia, defines Web 2.0 as "a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of Web sites to a full-fledged computing platform serving Web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes."

That's happening.

Black, White, and Web All Over PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Technology
Written by Robert Jackson Jr.   
Tuesday, 19 February 2002 18:00
Remember the book Chariots of the Gods? by Erich Von Daniken? Published in the early ’70s, it was the first book to introduce the shocking theory that aliens had visited ancient Earth. Von Daniken supposedly unearthed thousand-year-old navigational charts, landing strips from ancient Egypt, and giant spaceports in the Andes.

And The Beat Goes On PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Technology
Written by Robert Jackson Jr.   
Tuesday, 05 February 2002 18:00
Revolutionaries seldom survive long enough to see their visions realized. Crispus Attucks found this out in 1770. Attucks became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was shot and killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre.

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