The future of the internet: Clintonomics edition

A bunch of liberal bloggers are smacking Mike McCurry around for opposing a specific brand of "net neutrality." Personally, I think McCurry has a point. The internet--in its current form, the form which can support all our email and web traffic, as well as a couple gajillion World of Warcraft games at once--is largely the result of massive investment in the infrastructure by some very large companies. They aren't going to keep doing that unless they figure out how to get paid.

I think the folks like Atrios are laying out a false dichotomy. In their world, the options are

1) to let Big Telecom ride roughshod over our precious internets, locking out minority voices and content, and squashing innovation, or

2) to regulate (or perhaps even nationalize) the internets.

Sure, we could lay down the regulatory smackdown and make sure that no one can offer any sort of tiered service, but one consequence of this will probably be that there is far less capital available for laying big, fat internet pipes all over the place. For some in the liberal blogosphere, this point is either ignored, or it is responded to with an argument that the internet is already built. (That last argument is so insane that I won't even respond to it here.)

I am not entirely clear on what Mike McCurry is arguing for. In fact, I've never been entirely clear on anything McCurry says... it's one of the reasons he made such a good press secretary.

But what I think is that there has to be a Clinton-esque third way. We can find a way to encourage companies to keep laying the pipe we need to build the actual Internet-with-a-capital-I. And, between careful policy and the inevitable innovation in technology, information design, and communication protocols, we are bound to keep the internets.

In the words of our own Monkey, "You can't stop the internet, bitches!"

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