Broadband networks represent the most critical communications infrastructure of our time: if these underlying transmission systems don't function effectively, the Internet cannot serve as a vibrant forum for speech, commerce, and culture.
Today’s ruling for Comcast by the DC Circuit Court could be the biggest blow to our nation’s primary communications platform, or it could be the kick in the pants our leaders need to finally protect it. Either way, the future of the Internet, the fight for Net Neutrality, and the expansion of broadband is hanging in the balance.
Clay Shirky published a thoughtful blog post called “The Collapse of Complex Business Models” where he applies the lessons of Joseph Tainter’s 1988 book, The Collapse of Complex Societies to the shifting media industry. Shirky's reflections on the challenges and opportunities that exist in times of collapse pose key questions about how we make structural change in societies, cultures and industries.
Tainter’s essential theory is that complex societies collapse not in spite of their complexity but because of it. Shirky summarizes: “Early on, the marginal value of this complexity is positive—each additional bit of complexity more than pays for itself in improved output—but over time, the law of diminishing returns reduces the marginal value, until it disappears completely. At this point, any additional complexity is pure cost.” For Shirky, this tension is at the heart of many questions about the future of media, and he suggests that paywall advocates are essentially arguing that they need to find ways to make Web users pay up because otherwise, “we will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”
Here we go again. Another Internet service provider is caught getting in the way of its users, just four days before the Federal Communications Commission closes the window for public comments in its effort to stop such meddling.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has announced a major journalism initiative that will increase original local reporting in seven regions around the country. Media Minutes has the story this week.
This is a guest post from Mark Katches, the editorial director for California Watch. It is cross-posted from the California Watch blog.
I just spent an hour handing out fliers on a street corner about our latest California Watch story.
“Want to know what buildings on campus are seismically unsafe?” That was how I started my pitch to students walking to UC Berkeley, which has more seismically dangerous buildings than any other public university in the state.
The flier contained a list of buildings rated “poor” or “very poor” in the event of a big quake. It also included our Web address to learn more about the subject. Many of the students who got the fliers were headed to classes in those very buildings on the list. You can download the flier at the bottom of this blog post.