You Don't Encourage Innovation By Hobbling The Innovative Platform

from the ah,-politicians dept

We've pointed out in the past, that the internet has always been a communications platform, not a broadcast platform, and that distinction is actually the key to understanding many of the "conflicts" you see online these days. The internet was built with core principles based on being a communication platform, and it was only much later, when the big broadcast content providers realized what was going on, that they started acting as if the internet must be a broadcast platform. That's why they freak out about file sharing -- because while it fits perfectly with the "communication" aspect, it violates their sense of what a broadcast platform should be.

The problem, though, is that the big media companies have simply decided that rather than change to reflect the nature of the platform, the platform should change to reflect the nature of that ONE industry's business. Unfortunately, at times they're somehow able to convince politicians that the platform should change to adapt to them, rather than the other way around. That's evident from this story submitted by SteveD about comments made by the UK's "culture secretary" about "tightening up" online regulations to make them match TV regulations. This is really code for saying that we're going to hobble the internet to make it act more like a broadcast medium, to keep those media companies happy. The column at the link above, by Bill Thompson, does a pretty good job destroying this argument, but it's still worth noting that it's even being made.

It's amazing how clear the strategies are of the various companies when you view it through this lens. As a communications platform, there's little reason to change most of the way the internet works. It does a great job. The only issue is how other companies should change to work with it. But too many politicians and industry insiders seem to think that they should totally inhibit this communications platform because they're not able to simply wedge their existing business model onto that platform.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Jake, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 11:10pm

    In fairness to said Culture Secretary, I can see a case for obliging organisations using said communications medium to broadcast on a commercial basis to follow the same rules as the television stations in this country; the very strict regulations on the maximum number of commercials -no more than 10% of all airtime, I believe- and the equally tight rules on phone-in contests are the first two that spring to mind.

     

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      comboman, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      I can see a case for obliging organisations using said communications medium to broadcast on a commercial basis to follow the same rules as the television stations in this country; the very strict regulations on the maximum number of commercials

      Those rules exist for TV broadcasters because they are licensing the airwaves (a public resource). There are a finite number of TV frequencies available, so they must be regulated (if they don't want to follow the rules, they lose their frequency and someone else gets it). The internet has no such restrictions, so regulation does not make sense.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    Innovation is overrated. Invention is much more important.

     

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    erica, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 6:42am

    Hobbling The Innovative Platform

    Would someone please exaplain this to Comcast???

     

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    John, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 8:04am

    To shape the masses you need to control the media it sees - pretty simple, but true. That's why politicians would support broadcast vs. communications. There's no big conspiracy here just simple politics and business seeing a mutual interest.

     

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      Pinky & the Brain, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      John -> "There's no big conspiracy here"
      What, a small conspiracy then ?

      John -> "just simple politics and business seeing a mutual interest"
      That mutual interest is just simple world domination ?

      I cant tell if John is being sarcastic or not.
      Why would politicians amd corporations need control of the media ?

       

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    Brad Eleven, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 8:08am

    Brilliant observations, apparently spot on. Trumps the old fear that the net would be shut down and brought back as highly policed after evidence that terrorists had used it to launch some heinously evil attack.

    This also dashes the fear that the totalitarian solution (China) will spread. It does not address eavesdropping, however, and the Internet model doesn't really include provisions for snooping at the source.

    Unfortunately, there's no apparent solution to this attempt at perverting the net to fit an outdated paradigm. Firms which are actively trying to force their old models on the net have the ear of the legislature, evidenced by the UK's Culture Secretary. How long until the US follows suit?

     

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    Internut, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    It's already happening in the USA. Kentucky seizing domain names it doesn't like, if left to stand, will lead to confiscation of domains which the big content players do not like. One day Mike will wake up to find that Techdirt.com has been seized and claimed by a big network conglomerate and replaced with dancing bear.

     

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    Howard_NYC, Oct 11th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    rebuild FIDONET

    factoid: back in the bad old bads of the Soviet Union, the crime of rape would get you five years in jail... possesion of an unlicensed photocopier was punished with seven years...


    every time someone has tried to choke down modes of communications, there would be alternative channels established...

    it could take a few years, but we could rebuild FIDONET, this time via wireless routers...

    for those who were not yet born, FIDONET was a distributed no centralized packet switching network which provided nation wide e-mail prior to AOL and when MA BELL controlled access to copper cables... it provided an average thru put measured in KB/S not MB/S nor GB/S, but it was unstoppable...

     

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    Stan Lee, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

    Internet = Information and community.

    Media = How can I make money off this information?

    Our aim surely must be to find a way to stay true the the former whilst using the latter to improve and better what is available?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 5:54am

      Re:

      "Our aim surely must be to find a way to stay true the the former whilst using the latter to improve and better what is available?"

      I dunno, I could care less if the media can successfully monitize services on the internet. If they can great, but if they cant, well it is still an amazingly powerful tool, just in the hands of us "regular joes" and I have plenty of other places to access "media content". I think this idea of "compromize" offers no real attraction to me. On the one hand we are giving up something the world has never had before (the ability for one to reach many with very little investment), in return for more of the same stuff we have had for hundreds of years (the ability for one to reach many, with substantial investment).

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 5:19am

    SPAM

    What's up with the spam ?

    I think I'll start calling it splog

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 5:48am

    Crazy Brittania

    Who the hell would live in a country with a "culture secretary" . . . its just scary sounding.

     

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    Joe, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Broadcast platform vs Communications platform

    Mike - I'm not really sold on this point. I think the problem I'm having is the describing of these as discrete entities as they relate to the internet.

    On one end, television is most certainly a broadcast medium. At the other end, a phone is very much a communications tool. I see the internet being along the continuum between the two. To make things more complicated, it's placement on that continuum shifts with the website. Social media sites would fall closer to the communications end. Many, many other sites would fall not far from the broadcast side.

    In the end, I think that by applying one label or the other and saying the other side is wrong, oversimplifies the issue to the point where it invalidates the original idea.

     

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    bprice, Oct 13th, 2008 @ 6:40pm

    Part of the internet is broadcast

    Dig a little. 1/16 of the internet-protocol addresses are devoted to broadcast (called Multicast in RFC-speak). This comprises the 'Class D' block, also known as 224/4.

    The answer to the clowns that want to treat the whole internet as Broadcast would be to let them play in the IP Multicast space, and leave the point-to-point internet to continue running by its point-to-point practices.

    Oh, you mean nobody uses the internet broadcast/multicast features? Maybe that should tell you that the internet is not a broadcast facility.

     

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