Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Toll Roads On the Information Super Highway?

To Surf Or Not To Surf

Anyone who's reading this right now has had some experience with the internet super highway. If you can use a computer then more than likely you have accessed the internet....For one reason or another. Thinking back, it hasn't been that many years ago when our parents were being told that one day everyone would have a computer in their own home. Of course back then, one computer took up an entire room.

It was around the same time that a group of men decided to create the beginnings of what we now know as the internet or cyber space. It was originally designed for military use as a way to get messages from point A to point B in a fast and efficient manner. Since then, Its grown with the addition of personal PC's in everyone's home even small kids know all about the internet and how to use it.

It's human nature to try and build a better mouse trap. We as humans are never satisfied with what we have. We are always trying to figure out a way to make it go faster or smaller or flatter. Now not only have the computers gotten more advanced so has our way of connecting to the internet. We have more than just dial up modems now...We have DSL and broadband.

One of the coolest things about the internet is the freedom to go anywhere. With a click of a mouse, we can go to school...We can shop...We can see movies...Music...Newspapers...Or even blog. Just about anything a person can imagine can be found out in cyber space.

I just read an article this past weekend in the business section of our local news paper...This article had to do with the concept of putting toll roads on the internet super highway.

According to this article...The way the internet functions is that it breaks up information into smaller packets of information. These packets can travel a number of different ways to get to their destination. Sort of the same principle as a person being able to have multiple choices of roads to get to the same destination. When the packets of information arrive.....They are reassembled into what ever their original form was...Like an email or webpage..Etc. This works ok as long as you don't mind a few seconds of delay time in your information arriving. Because just like there maybe many different ways to get to Grandma's house...Not all of them are the shortest...

With the new use of voice calls made from PC to phone or just PC to PC....Or now movies or streaming video..Or even gaming online...This small delay is sometimes a problem...Because the few seconds it takes to arrive could mean the loss of video flowing smoothly.... Or a person hearing a phone call clearly or.....Even points lost on that video game being played.

You have to ask yourself how big a deal is this to me? There is always that competition for your dollars out there, so its pretty much a given that some company wants to make their product more appealing by solving these problems. It's also no secret that some larger companies aren't getting their slice of the pie when it comes to communications on the internet...For example, its a lot cheaper to make a long distance call online when you are using local lines to do it.

AT&T probably didn't see that one coming.

So some broadband companies want to create toll lanes on the internet super highway....Lanes that you would be guaranteed that your information gets to where its supposed to go fast and efficiently and on time. Of course as the name implies...There's going to be a fee for the use of these roads. In addition to letting you get your information faster....They also plan on blocking out all those sights they see as not worthy of their customers attention..

This could be good and bad...It may cut out a lot of those pop ups and spyware that constantly plague you if you surf the net...But then it also could limit your freedom of choice as to what you get to look at and how.

Now I know that there is a lot of stuff on the internet right now that would be considered unsavory at the very least. But I have to ask....Is this a form of censorship? I agree some of the stuff out there in cyber space I personally could live without...But I think that Id like to make those choices for myself.

Its the same with books and music and movies...Or anything in this world. It doesn't matter if you agree with the writing or lyrics or what's on the film...Its a question of a persons right to express their opinions...The same way I am expressing mine now.

If we start allow others to make those choices for us...Then they will continue to more and more often in the future. Eventually those freedoms we sometimes take for granted will erode and be lost. Maybe I'm taking this to personally as a possible violation of my right to surf..

I just get concerned anytime I hear someone trying to convince me that the limits they are putting on my choices...Are for my own good. Maybe that's just me..What do you think?