Last week, the NY Times’ Joe Nocera wrote about net neutrality, a topic I’ve discussed before. In Nocera’s piece is a parenthetical aside that illustrates how those ensconced in large-scale corporate media simply do not comprehend what the net neutrality battle is all about. Nocera:
(Which brings up one of the true oddities about the fervor over net neutrality. Cable television distributors make decisions all the time about what people can see and how much they have to pay for it. If special sports-only tiers aren’t an example of placing some content over other content, I don’t know what is. Yet because it is merely television, and not the sacred Internet, nobody seems to view this practice as a crime against humanity. But I digress.)
Wow. He just doesn’t get it. I’m no internet triumphalist, but what upsets people about the possible destruction of net neutrality is that it limits their ability to distribute content to other people. Most people, podcasts notwithstanding, aren’t going to produce their own TV shows, but many people (including the Mad Biologist) have something to write.
In other words, it’s not that millions of consumers are angry, but, rather, millions of producers are:
In the pre-interenet, and certainly pre-blog era, you had a very different relationship to politics, even if you were aware and relatively active: you were a consumer.
By consumer, I mean that you used to have to wait around and hope that some columnist or editorial board would speak for you. There were some alternatives, such as writing letters to the editor, or in the early days of the internet, posting at electronic bulletin boards (remember those?). But now with blogging, it is possible to speak for yourself. That completely undermines the role of the punditocracy. There are a lot of smart people out there who never had a voice before, and now they do. Why listen to a pundit about the Middle East, when there are serious scholars who are quite familiar with the region who can offer commentary? Why listen to Gregg Easterbrook about science when you have these here ScienceBlogs with real, live, professional scientists?
I realize I’m ‘just a blogger’, but, if this is any indication of how the NY Times sees the future of news, they’re in trouble.