One of the greatest films ever made (according to me; which means it’s fact) is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. There’s a lot going on in this film both on and beneath the surface, but suffice to say one of the main themes is how a newly modern America comes to terms with its myths, specifically that of the Wild West.
One day, they’re going to make a great film where we all fondly remember what it was like when the internet was the Wild West. It’ll star Ashton Kutcher as the grizzled, wrinkled, impotent (literally) internet coder who goes back home (Zip Code 94027) only to shock the news robots (human journalists will be extinct due to incompetence and bias) with his tales of how the internet probably wasn’t the anarchy everybody thought. Like Jimmy Stewart, the robots will print the legend.
Look, the internet was developed by the government, for the government. Then a bunch of university scientists, funded by the government, started to play around with it. Drug fueled freaks turned it into a product the normal human could use. Then corporations got their claws into it but could never completely get the freaks to give it up and thus we roughly see the tool we use today.
What’s different now is that the corporations are taking over. The government and the freaks are losing power. Why? Mostly cash, mostly. Money buys other corporations, lobbyists (votes), and shapes the images you see every day. The freaks lost out because they wanted cash too, more cash than dirty oil barons. The government was run over due to the aforementioned vote buying. Your local representative doesn’t know how to spell the word broadband, but will vote however Verizon instructs him if it means he gets to lick one more cigar with an $800 bill.
Think it’s a coincidence that Comcast and Netflix signed an agreement (terms are unavailable for the public because Satan probably gave the notary) just days after Comcast decided to corner nearly half of America’s available broadband market? If you think so, you deserve a personal donation to medical science. Most people will claim it doesn’t matter because they are too stupid to care or they will argue the market takes care of itself. Well, maybe.
Here’s a thought though, the internet is more important than roads, buildings, the telephone, or even the air. If the freaks get what they want, your car, your thermostat, even your freaking heart will all one day be online. Feel comfortable turning all that over to the corporations that have rigged the game in their favor? I don’t.
Don’t agree with me? One day you will. And even though it’s a legend, you’ll still miss the internet’s Wild West.
“We find your heart’s broadband percentages too burdensome to our network. Thus, make peace with your maker.”