Debunking “Net Neutrality” fears

Here is an article (thank you Slashdot) where the “boys from down under” – the OZZY ISPs – argue that the concerns surrounding Net Neutrality (or lack of it), are a result of a problematic American Business model regarding access to the internet. They argue there is no shortage of bandwidth now or in the future, and no need to fear hoggers in the space – as long as users pay thier way and don’t expect an “all you can eat” ride on the service.

Scuttling Regional Television Content

We have frequently discussed the potential for Australian commercial television broadcasters to seek to reduce their Public Service content responsibilities in the face of new media incursions.    This is exactly what is now happening in the UK.

ITV should be allowed to drop some regional news bulletins, reduce regional programming by 50% and cut back on some current affairs programmes, according to media regulator Ofcom, which has forecast that up to £235m per year will be needed by 2012 to maintain public service content on commercial TV.”   That is the opening paragraph in a Media Guardian article of 25/9/08 which reveals the arguments that Ofcom accepts for ITV to reduce its regional responsibilities.

Just as here, the original ITV licence-holders and their successors were granted their licences in return for some solid public service content.   Just like here the responsibilities  were part of the fabric of British television.   Just like here, the responsibilities have given birth to some magnificent programming and significant local and regional production opportunities.

Now they are to be whittled away in the face of real competition.

Givent that the UK TV system has always been far more rigorous about local content than has the Australian system, it will be interesting to see how quicky these arguments now appear here.

Keeping the Content Alive

We’ve often spoken of a “remix” culture emerging in the content spheres of future program making. Here is a Radio National transcript discussing an interesting pioneering company in OZ, MOD Films,  that very much sees their Internet participators as co-producers of feature films.

Discussing the MOD project, ‘Sanctuary’, Michela Ledwidge says,

The idea is that it’s a little bit like a WIKI, that its all under wraps at the moment, but once I finally finish the film I set out to make, we’ll be releasing not just the film but the online virtual studio system that is being used to create the film

Ledwidge says she was inspired by what’s happening in the Games industry, but also feels these techniques can be applied to period piece drama as well.

We are also seeing more and more short forms of the mash-up and remix associated with mainstream television currently, where programs are often tailed with an audience contribution that’s utlised online studio/editing systems supplied by the broadcaster.

Television was not about technology

An interesting episode on the “Future of the Internet” on this weeks, “By Design” on Radio National.

Featuring a discussion with Genevieve Bell, whom we met last year at the AFTRS Consumer Forum.

Bell contends that technologies that end up being the most successful are those that have “been the most transparent to local content”.

With Television it wasn’t the technology that was important , it was the fact you could get stories that meant something to you in your own language…. so the obvious next step for the web is that all the languages that make up the complexity of the world start to get represented

Bell also has some interesting points to make on participation and bandwidth.

The Dark Side

“A wave of bittersweet melancholy has descended on the thousands of phishers, hackers and credit card swindlers inhabiting the computer crime supersite DarkMarket.ws. On Tuesday the site’s operator, known as Master Splyntr, announced that he was shuttering the forum, which has hummed along for nearly three years as a premier vehicle of criminal commerce.”

That’s the start of an article in Wired News 20/9/08 which is an eye-opening description of how criminals use the web for their own forums.   It’s also an interesting list of some of the threats we face!

Live road shows – the future of television, or only for the petrolheads?

Top Gear’s big guns to take live show on £20m world tour | Media | The Guardian

This story from The Guardian takes further an idea that has cropped up a couple of times, that of ‘live presence’ and live performance.

Top Gear is described as the first of BBC Worldwide’s ‘superbrands’, and a template for others, intended for multi-platform exploitation around the world. Gruelling, schedule, though.

Top Gear is the first of up to 20 global “superbrands” that BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm, has targeted as potential revenue-generating machines across television, the internet, publishing and live events.

The live show will visit 10 cities in its first year, including Johannesburg, Sydney, Auckland and Hong Kong. Each location will host at least 10 shows, with Top Gear Live playing to a total of more than 300,000 people. Deals for a second series of dates, including appearances in Moscow, Stuttgart and Abu Dhabi, are on the verge of being signed.

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond launch the live Top Gear
show on Tower Bridge, London. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

End of the American Internet?

Internet Traffic Begins to Bypass the U.S. – NYTimes.com

Article by John Markoff in The New York Times 29 August noting that due substantially to concerns about surveillance by the US government, internet traffic is increasingly being routed around rather than through the US.

“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

Markoff also notes economic reasons which emphasise the role of national governments in the future development of the internet and in maintaining (or not) their citizens’ access to the internet:

Almost all nations see data networks as essential to economic development. “It’s no different than any other infrastructure that a country needs,” said K C Claffy, a research scientist at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis in San Diego. “You wouldn’t want someone owning your roads either.”

Indeed, more countries are becoming aware of how their dependence on other countries for their Internet traffic makes them vulnerable. Because of tariffs, pricing anomalies and even corporate cultures, Internet providers will often not exchange data with their local competitors. They prefer instead to send and receive traffic with larger international Internet service providers.

This leads to odd routing arrangements, referred to as tromboning, in which traffic between two cites in one country will flow through other nations. In January, when a cable was cut in the Mediterranean, Egyptian Internet traffic was nearly paralyzed because it was not being shared by local I.S.P.’s but instead was routed through European operators.

The issue was driven home this month when hackers attacked and immobilized several Georgian government Web sites during the country’s fighting with Russia. Most of Georgia’s access to the global network flowed through Russia and Turkey. A third route through an undersea cable linking Georgia to Bulgaria is scheduled for completion in September.