18 November 2010

Net Neutrality - The way I remember it

People are still puzzled by Net Neutrality and why it is so crucially important to everyone, so here's my quick summary...

The way I remember it, or at least the first time I remember reading about it (and geek historians please step in here because I'm on the stratospheric edge of my techie understanding), it all started a few years back when there was some scratching of heads in the boardrooms of America's big telecoms companies (telcos) - Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Qwest, et al.

"Wait a minute", they were saying "what's this Skype thing? VOIP? Voice Over Internet Protocol? These guys are in direct competition with us, especially on lucrative international calls, and they are using our own wires???? WE MUST CHARGE THEM!"

Ignoring the fact they were ALREADY charging ISPs and other data wholesalers for the traffic through their 'pipes', the telcos started talking to people like Cisco who make the routers that route internet traffic, about how they could investigate individual packets of data and either re-direct them or identify them for billing purposes.

That's when the balloon went up and the great Net Neutrality debate started.

But note well (NB): It started when the people who owned the physical wires decided they wanted to charge twice for the same carriage.

The analogy, for my travel industry colleagues, is a cross channel ferry company, who charges We Shift It Haulage Ltd a fare for taking their lorry across to France, but who then open up the packages on the lorry and consign them individually to the slow ferry or, if the owners of those packages pay a second 'premium' charge, the ferry company re-loads those packages onto their high-speed ferry.

On this hypothetical lorry are an equal number of packages containing high quality cheese from Green's Organic Farm, and plastic cheese from the giant All Foods conglomorate.

Here is your 'starter for ten'.... Whose cheese do you think makes the first and biggest sales impact in France?

That is what Net Neutrality is about.

Welcome to the two-speed internet - guess which speed is yours

snail on a keyboard
All that careful makeover work to re-brand the Conservatives as 'NOT the Nasty Party' was a bit of a waste.

Whenever the Tories get into power they always start selling off anything that 'we' own or cherish and isn't nailed down, to their chums. This time is no different. They've already made a start on our forests and woodlands. Now it's our Internet.

I wasn't surprised that Culture (that's a joke!) Minister, Ed Vaisey*, would want to side with big business and betray the founding principles of Net Neutrality. I WAS surprised that he's jumped to it with such alacrity. Normally the Tories trail cravenly in the wake of the Republicans on the other side of the pond, but this time he's leapt ahead of them. In America, even the omnipotent right-wing media lobby have been really struggling to re-instate commercial and political gate-keepers on the one media they don't control - and make no mistake, establishing a two-tier Internet is the first stage toward achieving exactly that goal.

I'm also surprised and disappointed at the total lack of interest/comment by anyone (other than me, as far as I can see) in the travel sector.

Let me put it to you simply....

  • When your video clips - I'm talking to you guys Tnooz, Travelgurutv, icrossing, etc, - start stalling because Murdoch has bought all the premium bandwidth for Sky, don't expect anything more than an "I told you so" from me.

  • What, Mr Cutting-Edge-Travel-PR? You think Google is going to pay extra so your clients' destination promo vids can run smoothly on Youtube? Dream on! If you want to publish high def videos, get out your credit card.

  • And, all you bloggers out there, don't expect ad revenues and affiliate sales to grow steadily and provide any kind of income when you are consigned, along with all the 'mom & pop' specialist tour operators and travel agents, to a sluggish Internet backwater populated by hobbyists and enthusiasts, while the big boys (Tripadviser, Expedia, Virgin, Opodo, travelsupermarket, TUI, et al) are running free with the wind in their hair on a paid-for premium Internet service.

Oh, remind me.....

What is the latest parameter that Google has been focusing on in the last 12 months, when it judges the significance of a website.... um ....SPEED!

Now get with it! Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the guy who invented the World Wide Web and defend it.

Write to your MP, sign every petition you can find, follow the #netneutrality tag, and start making a fuss before you lose the Internet that you've taken for granted all this time and your right to a voice that is as loud as everyone else's, not as loud as you can afford.

Further reading...

* Oh what's this? (Falls off chair in surprise - not) Ed Vaisey's Declaration of Financial Interests Note BSkyB.

11 November 2010

Social Media is not emerging

fist breaking out of an eggI'm a bit behind the vanguard on this, but it is a good point, made here in the Social Media ROI blog back in April, which in turn referred to the second half of this video post by Loic Lemeur.

We need to look out for and challenge on sight any references to social media "emerging".

SM is not "emerging media". It is simply "media".

It may be evolving and expanding, but not emerging - it did that ages ago!

The point is: to describe it as emerging is to take away its legitimacy as mainstream media.

06 November 2010

No more air security restrictions? Dream on!

air freight containersEveryone seems to have breathed a sigh of relief after last week's printer cartridge bomb alert because it appears to be an air freight issue, not an air passenger issue.

As nightmarish as the scale of the security problem is for the air cargo industry, to the undoubted relief of the chairmen of Ryanair & British Airways, not to mention squillions of travellers, nobody seems to be talking about beefing up the already grisly security restrictions on air passengers.

But don't imagine we are going to get away with it that easily.

1) A significant amount of freight is flown on passenger aircraft. In the USA for example the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) calculates that 25% of the 50,000 tons of cargo shipped by air within the U.S. every day, is flown on passenger airlines.

2) The bomb packages, such as the U.S.-bound printer discovered on a plane in Dubai, contained explosives and an electrical circuit linked to a mobile phone SIM card.

Over the past few years, many of the major airlines have been investing heavily in the development of in-flight mobile phone communications.

D'you think any of that is going to happen now?

I suspect that before too long, instead of being politely asked to switch off our mobiles while in the air, they'll be taken off us.

I think there's a chance they'll become a banned item in the cabin and consigned to hold baggage.

...which doesn't bode well for the development of mobile phone boarding passes either.