Monday, March 31st, 2008
Susan Crawford: I have an image of a ticking clock because all good talks have a sense of urgency. And life is short, so we should tackle big questions today.
What makes a life significant?
- and inner ideal, intellectual, conscious, novel
- joined with active will
These ideals have to be joined to will and action.
Back to the ticking clock. My father’s life is drawing to a close, not this month, but soon. So the ideal for him is to listen to music, as he is a composer. For him, the ideal is pure human expression in music. It’s the most powerful thing to him - as his mind gives up and his body decays, the music stays.
Going to tie together music as an ideal, the great subjects of this conference. I do believe in an open internet and want to make this talk as human as possible.
We will spend a lot of time talking about network operators, because in the US these companies suffer inadequate competition for high-speed access. We’re paying a lot for low speeds, but they are not monopolies. This is an oligopoly, with a few sellers providing for the industry. They act for the industry as a whole, so there will never be ruinous competition, but prices will never serve the users, it’s not a competition model, it’s something in between.
There is incomplete substitutability, as products offered aren’t the same. These differences amplified by huge amounts of ads. Market power different only in degree from a monopolist, but similar in kind.
Can’t go to antitrust, as their actions will always adhere to the letter of the law, and it would undermine the economy, and litigation would be ruinous.
What’s the model? Stuck on the idea of competition, the idea that enough actors competing will give just he right results. Does restraint come from other companies? Doesn’t seem so.
In an oligopolistic world, the restraint comes from retailers or consumers/users of the good, and that countervailing power is what answers the power of the oligopoly.
But the users aren’t there. we need to find a way to organise the users in a way that would make restrains real. Doesn’t have to be present in regulation, doesn’t have to be law, if there were adequate countervailing power from users.
We can be as smart as we want to be, but without votes, without the ability to affect how a congressman feels about an issue, we’re nowhere. The problem with net neutrality is that it’s not actively connected to people who vote. Source of the countervailing power has to be user stories, human communication, made possible through the internet, that makes those lives more significant. The stories that give your life purpose need to be told.
I’m not the one to tell them, the way to do this is to simply the message, make it as simple as possible, as musical as possible, so that is’ about the openness of the internet. Each one of them has these ideals that can be empowered, and we have to tell that story that aggregates the response to oligopoly.
Galbraith who thought about countervailing power used to go singing on NYE, and used to lead Auld Lang Syne, and need to do more of that. If I die tomorrow, I want to have talked to you about the effort to bring those stories forward via One Web Day. Out of character for me.
Purpose is to globalise a constituency of the internet. Whatever local issue are, to focus on those, could be connectivity, censorship, etc. 22 Sept. Third one this year. Opportunity to tell stories and teach about how it makes our lives better. Offline and online events. Lots of blog posts, twitters, videos. To make visible the constituency that will provide the countervailing force to the oligopoly.
But the leader isn’t me, it has to be you. Be a part of the celebration this year.
Each talk can have only one message. Mine is that whatever you do, do something to bring people together. Our work and our lives are so closely intertwined, and there’s a great source of countervailing power in all internet users that hasn’t been called on to tell its stories, and I’m here to ask you to do that.
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