Let me count the ways…

“The vast potential of broadband has so far benefited nobody as clearly as it’s benefited downloaders of pornography and pirates of digital content,”

So says Peter Chernin, President of News Corp. link

Leaving aside his beneficiaries for a moment, let me count some benefits to me.

  1. Community – Broadband gives me the opportunity to interact with bloggers, family, and friends across the net, both by reading and writing. I own my own press. I can run my own chat/mail/news/web servers. I have a degree of independence that I didn’t have at a hosting company since at this point, I have the technical capability and computer capacity to self host.
  2. Connectivity – Before broadband, I had several news sources. The local radio, maybe a TV station, and local and national papers. After broadband, I have my choice of feeds: local (and remote local) news sources across the net, bloggers with personal expertise, the large national news sources. I have a choice of feeds, and oddly enough, none of them sound like the local evening news. Most of them point out where the mainstream news isn’t on the ball.
  3. Growth – Broadband fosters a community of collaboration and learning if you are at all interested in looking for it. Entire classic programming texts are online. Every programming envrionment has an online forum of some sort. Everywhere I look, there’s some sort of site that makes me think, ‘If I only had time to explore that…’
  4. Instant Gratification – For most of the computers I own, I get software and updates by typing a few commands or waiting for the auto updates. I can buy books, bike parts, plane tickets, and computers at midnight without leaving the couch. I can research what tires I want to get for my little red sports car while I’m on the phone with the retailer.

These aren’t front page big story benefits. They won’t force anyone out of business. They might steer traffic to the little guy with better quality or prices. But they’re the sort of thing that wouldn’t have happened pre-internet. They’re a change in the way that people relate to the vast body of people and information around them.

People now assume that there’s a vast body of knowledge out there and that it’s there for the finding. Businesses are realizing that people can check up on what they say in realtime, and two days later can be the top hit on google for their business name. People are seeing that there’s the potential to create something and have an audience. Everyone needs an audience, however small it may be.

I’ll leave the obvious digs at the leader of Fox TV lecturing net.inhabitants on morality and decency for another day. But I will end with an ad hominem attack on network executives. People on the net will generally do what they would when they don’t think anyone’s watching. It’s the same sort of thing that CFOs do when the SEC isn’t watching, only it doesn’t involve billions of other peoples’ dollars. But when it involves billions of dollars, it’s a ‘restatement’ or an ‘accounting irregularity’. When the little people download music worth $1000 (retail), it’s called a ‘felony’.

(o.b. max headroom quote: How can you tell when a network executive is lying? His lips move.)

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