Net Neutrality Debate Requires Compromise To Move Discussion Forward

The text of the FCC’s “Restore Internet Freedom proposal has been published in PDF format and can be found here. I’m firmly against the proposal and find the name to be extremely misleading.

The FCC have also linked to a “Myths and Facts” PDF document, which is actually very light on facts and engages in a lot of speculation, that can be found here.

MYTH: Broadband providers will charge you a premium if you want to reach certain online content.

 FACT: This didn’t happen before the Obama Administration’s 2015 heavy-handed Internet regulations, and it won’t happen after they are repealed.

That’s not a fact, it’s a hope. There is support for FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai’s proposals. A decent article has been published by Ben Thompson at Stratechery – Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II :

  • Regulation incurs significants costs, both in terms of foregone opportunities and regulatory capture.
  • There is no evidence of systemic abuse by ISPs governed under Title I, which means there are no immediate benefits to regulation, only theoretical ones.
  • There is evidence that pre-existing regulation and antitrust law, along with media pressure, are effective at policing bad behavior.

The problem for Ajit Pai and the FCC is that even that article points out flaws with Ajit Pai’s proposal :

I believe that Ajit Pai is right to return regulation to the same light touch under which the Internet developed and broadband grew for two decades. I am amenable to Congress passing a law specifically banning ISPs from blocking content, but believe that for everything else, including paid prioritization, we are better off taking a “wait-and-see” approach; after all, we are just as likely to “see” new products and services as we are to see startup foreclosure. And, to be sure, this is an issue than can — and should, if the evidence changes — be visited again.

Ajit Pai and the FCC are not looking to address the issue of blocking with new laws and furthermore the article points out that the cornerstone of Ajit Pai’s proposals, the markets, aren’t competitive enough.

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Net Neutrality Proposals Do Not Look Promising

Chairman Pai’s Restore Internet Freedom proposal will be considered at the  agency’s Dec. 14 meeting. 

This reads like some sort of line from a dystopian novel with super villain Chairman Pai planning something sinister, unfortunately it’s not fiction, it’s a tweet from the FCC regarding Ajit Pai’s plans to overturn net neutrality with a cuddly sounding slogan of “Restoring Internet Freedom”.

The proposal is not consumer friendly, and consumers are letting the FCC know that. The proposal is not being welcomed by many tech companies and is a glaring example of how officials ignore consumers and fail to serve the public.

In a recent USA Today article, Tim Berners-Lee was quoted as saying :

When I invented the World Wide Web as an information sharing system in 1989, I aimed to create a neutral space where everyone could create, share, debate, innovate, learn and dream. That’s why I gave my invention away for free, so that anyone, anywhere could access and build on it without permission. My vision was an online space that would give people freedom — and America’s entrepreneurial, optimistic spirit embraced it with enthusiasm.

There’s a lot at stake here and Chairman Pai seems to only want to represent the interests of ISP’s, completely ignoring consumers and many of those entrepreneurs.

Continue reading “Net Neutrality Proposals Do Not Look Promising”

Digital Human Takes A Look At Modern Day Sin Eaters – The Content Moderators

Aleks Krotoski is back on BBC Radio 4 with a new series of the excellent The Digital Human and this week’s episode is entitled “Sin-eaters” :

Sin eating was an age old British practice carried out by those on the fringes of their communities. When someone died the sin eater would consume a ritualistic meal over the corpse and in doing so they would take on their sins. Whether they were outcasts because of this, or to start with folklorists can’t say. What is known for certain though is that they were among the poorest – who else would do it?

It’s a dirty job and someone’s got to do it. This episode takes a look at modern day Sin-eaters in the shape and form of content moderators. Early in the episode we hear this :

“One woman I spoke to, told me, after I stopped working on content moderation I wouldn’t shake people’s hand. If you’ve had the job that I’ve had you know that people are nasty.”

This is a harrowing episode in many ways, touching upon offensive content to content that is much much worse. This is the side of content moderation that we don’t hear much about, it’s a side of content moderation that isn’t widely talked about due in part to the fact that companies simply don’t want to talk about it and that in turn means it’s a side of content moderation that is greatly under appreciated.

Aleks Krotoski points out :

Their job is vital, but we treat them like second class citizens.

The episode features input from Sarah T. Roberts, Assistant Professor of Information Studies at UCLA who has been studying content moderation since 2010. Sarah runs a website on content moderation, or Commercial Content Moderation (CCM); The Illusion of Volition.

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I Have Upgraded To Windows 10 And I Feel Fine

Hurry Up!

So I fired up my PC when I got home from work and checked my notifications, to find Windows 10 was on its way. This was all rather exciting, I could hear the voices in my head :

Hurry up and get it installed“.

However the voices on Twitter were a different matter :

No no no“.

Insane in the membrane

You must be marbles and conkers“.

However I resisted the urge to stop the update, again my own voices speaking, although at times conflicting :

One Windows to rule them all“.

My precious, my precious“.

Turn back Dick Whittngton“.

Umm I think you’re confusing stories now and need to stop this!

Eventually, files had been downloaded, updates had been run, apps had been configured, settings had been configured and I logged in.

Windows 10 Success

Hurrah! Success. Now I should say at this point that this is not my suggested method of upgrading an operating system. I’m a big fan of the clean install. However I decided to let the Microsoft process do its work and I was rather impressed to discover that the apps I largely use seem to be working fine, without any need to reinstall them.

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How To Fix Flickr’s Embedding Mess (Whilst We Await Flickr Providing A Solution)

Crestwick Petrol

Flickr have, in their infinite wisdom, decided to change the HTML code in their sharing photos option. They used to have an option to embed, or grab the HTML, now, if the new features has been rolled out to your account, you can only HTML embed by default, once the script has loaded properly, you’ll see a flickr logo, the name of the person whose photostream the image is from, the name of the photo and the description.

The reason for this is explained in a forum post, [Official Thread] New version of Flickr’s embed code :

Today we’re excited to start rolling out a new version of our HTML embed code, with more visible attribution of the photo owner and enhanced features.

This new code brings the features of the “iframe” web embeds and the compatibility of standard HTML image embeds together into a single code.

The way we’re accomplishing this is through “progressive enhancement.” This means that at the core of the new embed, we start with the same HTML image tag that has always been on Flickr, and if supported, we load the more sophisticated, enhanced embed. If the “fancy” embed isn’t supported or something goes wrong, the standard image will still load.

We’ve already been using the new embed code for months on the Flickr Blog… maybe you’ve noticed? Now we’re ready to roll this feature out to everyone, and we’d love your feedback.

The feedback has arrived, and the natives aren’t exactly jumping with joy. The problems are numerous, but they include images not aligning correctly, slowing down site loading, people complaining that it all distracts from the image, the fact that some people don’t name their photos and more. Do not despair if you have had these changes foisted upon you and you don’t like them, it’s only code and code can be edited. First of all, let’s take a look at that new code. Continue reading “How To Fix Flickr’s Embedding Mess (Whilst We Await Flickr Providing A Solution)”