Fixing the American Internet: Got the Plague? Burn Aromatic Herbs. Works Great, Right?

December 17, 2020

The underfed and poorly compensated research team upon whom I rely is beavering away on a pamphlet about my Arnold’s Laws of Online. Don’t worry. The pamphlet will be a freebie because as I approach 78 not too many people are into people like me who think thumb typing is genuinely stupid.

Here’s a preview:

Online presents the humans and systems using its functionality.

Those who know the difference between a high jumper and Heidegger are likely to want to argue. Spare me. I want to point out that online is not a cause; it is a part of the people and systems which use the technologies required to perform certain tasks. Yep, for those out of work due to disintermediation, you probably get the idea of “efficiency” intuitively.

In this context of this Arnold Law, I want to reference “In 2021, We Need to Fix America’s Internet.” The write up makes some remarkable statements in my opinion. As an old timer better suited to drooling in a long term care facility, I had to muster up the energy to identify this passage as interesting:

As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote for The Verge last March, as many as one in three US households doesn’t have broadband internet access, currently defined as just 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up — which feels like the bare minimum for a remote learning family these days. Even before the pandemic, that statistic might have been shocking; now, it’s the difference between whether millions of schoolchildren can attend classes and do their homework or not. Nearly 12 million children don’t have a broadband connection at home, the Senate Joint Economic Committee reported in 2017. And the “homework gap” hits harder if you’re poor, of course: only 56 percent of households with incomes under $30,000 had broadband as of last February, according to the Pew Research Center.

Let’s assume this paragraph is chock full of semi-real facts. What do we learn about the American Internet? How about these assertions:

  • This is one more example of unethical behavior by a large outfit
  • The Internet has become a way to split the population of the US into haves and have nots in a way which can limit learning, access to jobs, etc.
  • This marketing approach to technology spawns a perception of one thing whilst the reality is quite another; for instance, the SolarWinds’ misstep which makes clear that security theater may be forced to shut down just like local Comedy Clubs.

Fix the American Internet? Why not consider that the “Internet” is a cultural manifestation, not a cause of the culture itself.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2020


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