Two Speakers on Net Neutrality and the Threat of “Democracy working a little bit less well”
Who decides what you see on the Internet? Not you, according to the Federal Communications Commission—which recently repealed the need for Internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. How will this end to net neutrality affect our ability to freely send and receive information online? How will fair competion between companies be skewed by a newly-rigged game? Former Wikimedia Executive Director Sue Gardner and Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson address these issues and more in their timely speech topics.
Sue Gardner: When the Web Was Wild
According to Wikimedia’s former Executive Director Sue Gardner, the Internet started out as something free and open. Corporations, start-ups, and amateurs competed for user attention, with the amateurs often winning. The net gave ordinary people access to the means of production—a billion blogs, self-hosted sites, and proto-social networking sites were born. Gardner contends that the Internet should be like a city, with shoe stores and banks and restaurants, but also with parks and libraries and schools. Now, with the threat posed by the end of net neutrality, we are going to need to course-correct. In this video, Gardner discusses the way that democracy is being affected by the Internet. In her keynotes, Gardner brings extraordinary insight to the net’s growth so far, drawing a realistic and hopeful picture of the ways we can still positively shape the greatest communications phenomenon we’ve ever known.
Nicholas Thompson: Net Neutrality and Democracy
As the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, Nicholas Thompson is at the cutting-edge of information, the Internet, and how the two interact with each other. With the F.C.C.’s repeal of net neutrality, Thompson is a leading voice in predicting what this means for Internet providers—and more importantly—Internet users. We are losing “the principal that all the information that flows over the pipes that make up the Internet are treated the same,” he says in a conversation with The New Yorker’s David Remnick. “There’s no competition in broadband access, so you need to regulate the people who control the pipes,” he goes on to say, “because consumers don’t have any choice.” What will the fallout be? “Most likely, it will lead to fewer people having access to information and democracy working a little bit less well,” says Thompson.