Hampering my drug use is bad for society

by davidnielsen

The following should be introduced with an admission, I’m an addict. I use a drug.. a wonderful drug. A drug I would not give up for anything. I spend liberal amounts of my money on this drug and using it brings me great joy. Magical as this drug is, it also allows me to function in my daily life, this drug lets me contribute to society in a meaningful way. All those things aside I am an addict, I couldn’t stop using my drug of choice even if I wanted to – it’s a part of my day, over the past 10 years it has snuck into many peoples lives, some it has ruined, others like mine it has enriched beyond measure. Could I be doing bonghits? No.. my drug of choice is information.

So I am sad to report that a certain group of nasty people are trying to limit my drug use.. of all people.. my drug peddlers. Faithful though I have been, never a late payment, never a serious complaint filed and I’ve even been very polite on those few occasions where tech support has been needed to explain why my steady flow of mind altering substances has being temporarily interupted.

My ISP just started shaping it’s connections, specfically they are shaping bittorrent it seems. I starts a torrent and suddenly my nice 512 kbit upload is reduced to a less than 64 kbit upload and my web connection is made to feel like someone just attached a 16 ton lead weight to it. All in all rather discouraging for the use of Bittorrent which one must assume makes rights holders happy and the ISP happy as they can happily go on overselling their connections. Naturally simpleminded people could take the position that most of this bittorrent use was going towards copyright violations and as such feel the action is just, this would however be wrong.

My ISP is not responsible for my moral or ethics, this kind of action leads to situations like the recent legal action that forced another danish ISP to block The Pirate Bay or the trend of all makor danish ISPs being forced to block AllofMP3.com. They sell me a service, I use it as I see fit – just like the hardware store doesn’t ask questions when they sell me a crowbar. The presidence is a bit Orwellian to me, not to mention short sighted as this is a technological arms race they can’t win. They block one protocol, we encrypt, change protocols and all manner of things to get around the block.. if kept entirely to the arena of technology all logic says that they will lose long term. From the pure technical stance, they might have a short term win but in the end content will flow and if history is any teacher, it will become easier for end users and more widespread – You thought Napster spread like wild fire, try looking at the stats for bittorrent use.. today more people are online, more people are reaching out for content.

By blocking specific uses they are hampering growth  in the IT industry, with the EU giving millions to p2p research for content distribution and my national TV network planning to roll out high quality streams using p2p to keep the performance up.. the ISPs are literally mashing these emerging business models. Sure today the technology might be used for legally questionable matters, but one must remember that those willing to bend and break the law usually are quick to take on new ground. Business models emerge as the technology evolves, we have seen that time and time again – the VCR being the prime example of what was once seen as a threat but is now (or rather was – as DVDs took over) a cash cow that spawned many additional industries such as rental stores and media conversion businesses (want that old family 8mm movie on DVD, there are companies out there who’ll clean your content up and transfer it for you). It is short sighted discrimination.

My ISP is in the business of selling me bigger and bigger pipes as times goes by. I started out on a 56K modem, when I got 1MBit cable I thought I’d never need more speed and today I’m on a 4096/512 ADSL line cursing the fact that the technology can’t be pressed harder right now as I live to far from the central hub. They have profited wildly from my increased use of the Internet, much of this I admit might have been driven by the curiousity to sample new content (though today if measured, I think one would mainly find my steady stream of podcasts, Fedora packages, sourcecode and just general surfing which has gotten rather heavily compared to those old days on the 56K modem). The Internet evolves, they can’t stop it – history proves that much and it’s good for business to boot, I pay them a nice pile of cash each month, odds are even if I wanted to stop this, I couldn’t.. I might elect to pay another company instead who, currently, won’t moralise over my use but I will still pay a gatekeeper for the forseeable future – they should savor that thought and learn from the drug industry. The way the system is constructed they will never suffer a problem with demand, they got us hooked – now all they have to do is to evolve our symbiotic relationship. Don’t cut the drugs to much, keep me happy and don’t sell me drugs that are tainted I am after all worth more to any drug dealer if I am still breathing and thus capable of buying more product.

“Want more of that high speed Internet you love so much?” Hell yes, can I have it injected directly into my brain please? And let’s not forget that the demand for these modern connections have largely been pushed by the desire for access to information (much of which happens to come as nicely wrapped pieces of culture), they were happy to sell us the connections back then and continued to make damn good money over the past many years doing this – this seems a bit hypocritical to me that they attempt to wheel in the service when users actually start using what they paid for.

This brings me to another gripe, I have one of these modern 3G phones and much to the phone companys surprise I haven’t been jumping at the chance to pay 2$ per MB for the privilage of surfing on a screen the size of a stamp. As a result of myself and pretty much any sane person feeling this way the technology hasn’t developed to it’s full potential, some might rightfully say that it hasn’t really developed at all since it was introduced and the revenue model has thus largely been based on business clients who need mobile connectivity and didn’t care about the price. However now they have started selling flat rate connections at a leisurely 7mbit.. these is looking like an appealing replacement to my ADSL, I could use it on my phone, my laptop.. but no, they add a fair use clause saying I can only download 10GB a month. I suck down more source code, distro updates and podcasts a week than that.. easily. I’m not about to start buying smart phones and using this mobile connectivitiy seriously before they allow me to use the technology as I see fit. They get to sell me new gadgets and monthly subscriptions to the service not to mention the by-products and side businesses that will grow out of the increased use of such technology in society as a whole.

Stop hampering my access to information, learn from the drug industry and learn from history.. give me a free hit to get addicted and I will be pouring my money onto your plate for the rest of my natural life.