Saturday, January 20, 2007
Consumer Choice supports Monopolitic Abundance Capitalism: A Lower Economic Niche Energy Level is FoundPosted by burton mackenzie at 12:12 AM
It's three minutes to midnight for ISPs.
It has been suggested that google, by providing free high-bandwidth desired services (like video), is attempting to create a bandwidth shortage. By providing good ISP services (gISP.ca...and what do these guys do?) free of charge as another service (google ad-served, of course), they will drive many existing high-bandwidth customers to google's new free higher-bandwidth distributed processing centres (Google has been buying up dark fibre by the Terabyte). The economics of abundance lead to them providing us free services supported by ads, just as network television shows do (when received by an over-air Antenna).
That's all fine and good, and I generally am enamoured with all of the services provided by google, but the difference is that we will be commmiting all of our net traffic to a monolithic privately-owned internet. While the services are all free to you, but the equipment all belongs to them, as does any data they collect on you (although they'll keep it private, and only anonymous aggregates will be seen by human eyes, yadda yadda), we will be in thrall to AUP/TOS changes foisted upon us ("Accept it or get off of our effectively-a-monopoly internet"). This will be the Wal-mart effect gone wild! Instead of monopolization and control of local retail economics by a big company, it will be monopolization and control of our increasingly primary source of information, likely soon for most of humanity. I'd say that's a few fscking orders of magnitude more effective than Wal-mart.
I could spout doom and gloom about how the AUP/TOS for services on a free google high bandwidth private ISP will allow a private company (controlled by a handful of people) to dictate how we use their services at their whim. (It's my ball, and my rules, or you can't play with my ball) I won't, though, because just like the democracy that gets the leaders it deserves, the amount of the tolerable annoyance associated with it (i.e. what we're "willing to put up with") will probably keep it tracking with what the public really wants (after all, they do want as many eyes as possible to use their services). It could be a democracy in its truest form: Society will only accept the terms of service that the majority of the public is willing to put up with (but let's hope we don't encounter any less-than-optimal economic strange-attractor spandrels on the way).
I think this might be the first time services of abundance for a staple service will be combined with privately owned, but mostly unfettered access to the resource (which in this case is information). There must be an earlier analog in history, but I can't think of it.
I, Cringely's Google Wants Your Internet has something to say about this topic, as well, I just noticed.
Microsoft's MSN.COM could do this too, and I don't know if the devil you know would really be any worse. Does anybody trust Microsoft to not use information gathered on you to wring every last dime they can out of you?
Burton MacKenZie www.burtonmackenzie.com