Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Looking at Net Neutrality (Through a Clay Shirky Lens)

I’m still trying to understand Mr. Shirky’s complex ideas, but I stumbled upon this article that seemed to have some interesting parallels. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed new rules that would allow for “fast” and “slow” lanes for internet traffic – meaning you could have to wait longer for your Netflix video to load if Netflix isn’t in good favor with internet providers such as Verizon. Internet providers love this idea because it means they can charge our fave websites more money to be in the fast lane. 

So where does Clay come in? In response to the proposed rule making, the FCC has opened an online forum allowing anyone to comment. Anyone! The time for comments is past, but you can still reply to others’ comments until September 15. This means that there is still time to bring up arguments, positions, feelings, etc. that have the potential to make a difference. Who can bring up arguments/positions/feelings? Anyone! This reminds me of the TedTalk because there can be an unlimited number of people working on this project and maybe people only comment/reply once, but MAYBE that’s the comment/reply that matters!

As John Oliver says, “Commenters, this is your moment to shine!” (Still confused about Net Neutrality? John Oliver will describe it better than anyone else here.)

So, why is net neutrality important to arts managers? There could be a major cost to nonprofit arts organizations. If nonprofits can’t afford the fast lane tolls, we could have major issues reaching patrons/consumers, participating in online cultural dialog, sharing promotional video, etc. Does your organization have something to say that internet providers deems offensive? Good luck getting that to anyone via the internet. Can we expect nonprofits to successfully compete with for profits on the cost of messaging? This article about the importance of creating/sharing for free will support these arguments and more.

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2 comments on “Looking at Net Neutrality (Through a Clay Shirky Lens)

  1. lcrowley2014
    September 10, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this Amy Jo! This subjects fascinates and scares me AND I am a huge John Oliver fan! It is frightening and terrible to think that the internet could evolve into a pay-to-play environment (like US politics..) I particularly like Allison Fine’s quote in the Forbes article you linked to:
    “The loss of net neutrality, an equal and level playing field for everyone, will mean the end of everything that has made the Internet the most amazing sandbox in history. There will no longer be the opportunity for serendipity, for unlikely suspects and far flung networks of people, to easily connect, collaborate and create new solutions to difficult problems.”

  2. evanjsanderson
    September 10, 2014

    It’s hard to approach this issue from an intellectual and not an emotional stand point. What I mean is, we look at it as the general public and it seems 1) absurd and 2) untenable. But from an ISP perspective, it makes perfect sense: ever been tired of Comcast or Verizon and want to shift services? Exactly. You can’t. And the infrastructure isn’t in place (yet) that would allow other companies (Amazon, Elon Musk I’m looking at you) to establish a completive alternative to this stranglehold. I just had this conversation with a friend who works in cyber security – we both believe that internet should be a government regulated utility, and it’s ridiculous to us as Gen Xers that it isn’t. I’m not sure how the end of Net Neutrality would specifically effect the Arts, but it would it affect everything we do adversely (think about the internet of things http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things and how that would be affected), so it doesn’t look for our society in general if it passes. Great post, Amy.

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