cyberculture, commentary, cartoons, essays
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
IN THIS ISSUE:
NEUTER THE REALITY
NEW cyberbarf KOMIX
PRO GAMING KOREA
PERSON OF THE YEAR
NEUTER THE REALITY POWERGRAB
There is a Congressional resolution against it. There is a federal court case against it. So what does the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) do? It unilaterally passes net neutrality rules. It seems like a mundane and passively simple concept, net neutrality: have the telecommunication networks open and neutral to all kinds of traffic.
Except for most, the passage of the fuzzy cute title is like putting the wolf in sheep's clothing and into the middle of the herd without a shepherd. Titles are deceiving the public all the time. It is like if Congress passed a bill labeled Children's Health & Recovery Act, but the hidden details in the bill is that it mandates harvesting of organs of healthy children for the benefit of federal workers.
For years, the FCC has tried to expand its jurisdiction to regulate cable television. It cannot since cable does not use the public airwaves but private cable transmissions. It is trying to equate interstate commerce of regular telephone calls to the back bone transmission infrastructure of the world wide web network. Operators, Congress and the courts have said to the FCC to back off. It will not listen. The three Democratic appointees on the commission are bent on regulating the internet.
The rules seem innocuous. Broadband providers must disclose management practices and commerical terms; they must not block legal web content, applications or services (mobile providers exempted); no unreasonable discrimination against network traffic except for reasonable management of the network; paid prioritization of web traffic is prohibited as discrimination; and the FCC hasd jurisdiction to hear provider and user complaints. Besides being extremely vague, the real question lurks in those rules is the freedom of the marketplace, including the internet.
Why is regulating the Internet so important? For the FCC, by taking jurisdiction over this media it can CONTROL the net. And once the FCC controls the net, it can make RULES that will greatly impact every aspect of the net's wide range of appeal, including in theory CONTENT. And once the FCC controls the rules on the operations of the Internet, it can go right ahead and TAX it.
This may be bureaucratic envy of the FCC as it looks to totalitarian regimes like China that has nationalized and censors its people's Internet access and content controls. It is so much easier to control a tech-ready population if you have the power over the means the communication.
Critics say that the First Amendment should not allow the FCC or any other government agency to regulate away one's personal freedoms. But in the name of security, protecting children or national defense, America's officials have been systematically eroding personal freedoms to the point that airport check point full body scans and pat downs void the Fourth Amendment's protection against unwarranted searches and seizures.
The FCC couches its determination in the sugar and spice smiles that net neutrality will help everyone have a better Internet experience since the large carriers can no longer discriminate against certain users. How can a bureaucrat in Washington D.C. understand let alone manage a billion bytes of information packages at the speed of light through node in Kansas? The market place puts pressure on the back bone carriers to provide clear, clean and speed worthy systems. Otherwise, the consumer will take their Internet business to another ISP provider or network. It happens all the time in the cell phone world. It has been said that 75% of AT&T's data along its lines is from iPhone users, whose connected devices have become the bandwidth hogs of the net. The iPhone users don't like AT&T's service plans, but they tolerate the inconvenience because of the iPhone itself. In part, AT&T is aware of the issues, overwhelmed by the popularity and system requirements of the iPhone community, so it continues to expand and upgrade its internal systems to handle the data overflow. AT&T shareholders have been not rewarded as the stock languishes despite the huge popularity of the iPhone and the amount of information flowing through Ma Bell's electronic veins. Carriers need to treat their customers fairly or they will lose them to competitors. Adding another level of switching, this time by an outside regulator, is not going to make anything more efficient. In this complex data rapids, the FCC wants to put itself in the middle as a traffic cop?
The fear is that the FCC will arrest one's freedom to surf the net. It could outlaw or block sites it deems inappropriate (the v-chip goes viral). It could tax a user for the privilege of logging in to their ISP provider. It could tax a user for every email is opened (like a stamp on a postal letter). It could mandate a sales tax be collected on all e-commerce (which states cannot do now but have been clamoring for due to massive government budget deficits). It could charge fees for uploading or downloading data. It could force you to provide personal banking information in order for the government to collect its taxes and fees (this scary provision was put into the small print of the massive nationalized health care bill). The concept of the Big Brother could turn into the Big Gorilla in the Internet chat room.
PRO GAMING KOREA MODERN SAMURAI
It has been ten years since professional video gaming took South Korea by storm. From the creation of the World Cyber Games, this nation has been on the forefront of creating a championship culture in the joystick controller world of electronic games.
In a 2003 BBC report, 70 percent of South Korean households had high speed Internet access. This created the the means for teens to play on-line against various levels of competition. Local officials encouraged the development of competitive gaming sites. Game arcades were created where a person can get a game card, sit at a computer console, and play with other gamers on high speed machines.
From these arcaders, South Korea created some of the first professional teams. A sponsor would seek out the top game players and sign them. In 2006, the San Francisco Chronicle profiled Choi Yeon-sung, a 23 year old professional, who earned $190,000 in salary and game winnings (in a country where the annual income is only $16,500). Choi was treated like a rock star, complete with his own fan club. His celebrity status puts him in the same realm as actors, singers, idols or national soccer players. The industry has grown to a $ 9 billion industry. South Korea had two full time cable channels dedicated just to video game competitions.
In order to get to the top level of a professional team league, a player has to work their way through the ranks. Normally, the home gamer hones his skills on line. Then he hits the competitive arcades hoping to gain some recognition from scouts or professional coaches. Once a person's skill level reaches a threshold, the player can can skill tests in order to enter game clans or guilds. If one passes these skill tests, he can join a camp in order to increase his skills to get his professional game certification. In these camps, a player is put to a grueling apprenticeship: he lives in a small dorm with other gamers. In the morning, there is an exercise session, then it a 12 hour day playing video games under the watch of a coach. Players can specialize in certain games with the hope of getting into tournaments. The house mother does the cooking, cleaning and laundry while the players focus through the late nights on just playing games.
It becomes instantaneous, almost robotic, as a professional gamer manipulates a keyboard or controller with fingers flying at high speed. The blur of the finger techniques while staring intensely at the computer screen is almost surreal. It is only when a player can become one with the machine code can he move onto the professional ranks.
These camps or apprenticeship programs, with the total focus and repetitive activities, are called chicken coops according to a 2010 slashdot article. If you are in a lower grouping, a player will practice 24/7 with the dream of moving up just like minor league baseball players try their best to make a major league team roster. These houses of nonstop game players could be considered modern electronic samurai. The single minded purpose of becoming an elite gaming professional is almost a monk-like obsession. But the amount of stress, competition and dojo style regimental lifestyle where you don't leave the camp apartment burns out players very quickly. It is a sport where most of the potential professionals burn out by the age of twenty-four (24).
But the rewards for the top players continues to grow. It is a global sport now. The World Cyber Games have more than 70 countries represented with prize money of more than $350,000. At the top levels, auditoriums are filled with fans watching two players sitting on stage in front of a computer terminal. Behind them, there is a large monitor screen showing the real time action to the crowd. It reminds one of the great international chess matches, Fischer-Spassky, in Iceland. Players go mano-on-mano through the tournament field until a category championship is crowned in the end. In October, 2010, South Korea repeated as country champion in a field of 450 players from 58 countries.
South Korean has standardized the means and methods for their youth to try to become international game playing champions. It is long and torturous path with long odds, but ten years ago if anyone thought you could make a very good living playing just video games, they would have laughed off the idea. But it appears that idea has taken hold in Korea.
PERSON OF THE YEAR PRIVACY PARASITES
TIME Magazine debated its person of the year. It wound up a race between two individuals who have put in new meaning to the term loss of privacy. Both WikiLeaks Jullian Assange and facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are the new entrepreneurs of personal private data. The regular media seems to have been numbed by the consequences of this new information paradigm: that nothing is off limits. National military secrets or private personal matters. Both Assange and Zuckerberg have made careers on opening up the lives of individuals to global public display.
The United States government is the target for Assange and his massive document uploads to the Internet The interception and publication of diplomatic cables gave the average person insight into the sausage making gossip that makes up foreign diplomacy. It put the State Department in a poor light, especially Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who tried to gather up personal negative information on foreign leaders. Clintons were accused during Bill's presidency of gathering and punishing their enemies with the machinery of the federal government, including the IRS. It appears that the play book of personal destruction has followed Hillary into foreign relations.
The United States would like to charge Assange with treason or espionage. First, treason deals with a US citizen; Assange is an Australian national. Second, Assange is not involved with another government stealing secrets. It appears that WikiLeaks received the documents from lower level US military personnel. The computer access to classified US intelligence documents was not breached, but accessible to more than 3 million people. The idea was to give the front lines information quicker to analyze threats. It also created a massive loophole in security, a disgruntled person with access to the government's dirty laundry. Assange received massive amounts of data from US files from an internal source(s). AAA result, he is not a spy committing a crime, but closer to a journalist publishing important stories.
Except, as the New York Times explained when it republished the cables (with edits to take away information which could lead to foreign agents getting killed, captured or compromised) that there was a journalist reason for publishing the story because the press is the guardian of the public's rights against oppressive government actions. The public has a right to know. However, Assange does not make any editorial decisions in releasing the information. He uploads the raw data for all to see. He makes no intelligent effort to digest the facts and organize it in any sort of journalistic context. His supporters believe that this is a new form of journalism: that the information itself is protected free speech, no matter the consequences.
Zuckerberg has created his personal wealth on the voyeurism of other people's lives. The initial premise of facebook was to create a place where a college guy could meet coeds. It then quickly spread to become a fashionable game to collect as many strangers as your friends. It fed upon a person's need to be liked and accepted (the popularity syndrome) into an addictive personal reality show and tell. facebook regulars continually publish their own personal stories, pictures and minutia; the good, bad and the ugly. An individual's personal diary, which used to be closed secrets, are now free for millions of eyes to see. Recent stats show that facebook now commands 640 million visitors per month. If you attempt to extract that figure to basic internet ad rates, the potential revenue pool for facebook views is between $8 million to $80 million per month. In spite of user's cries against facebook commercialism, Zuckerberg has become a multi-millionaire on the shameless generation's need to be seen and heard in a fragmented society.
The naive facebook crowd failed to realize that the potential employers would Google their names as part of the interview process. The lack of common sense is becoming a real cultural disease in America. Employers will not hire a person whose personal life and ills are splayed around the Internet Employers are sensitive to their employees loyalty and confidentiality of work product. Those interviewees with any character questions will be filed in the circular bin as for every job opening in this weak economy, there are hundreds of applicants.
Once your life has been published to the Internet, it is impossible to get one's privacy back. South Park unmercifully satirized facebook's all consuming visitor's private lives. Once you have a facebook account, you cannot delete your profile.
The facebook business model really made no financial sense. It was a free service taking massive server resources in order to build a multi-million user community. Originally, advertising was a taboo. User pages were to remain clean and noncommerical. So the real source for facebook income has to come from data mining its own community, like milking a herd of cows, on a daily basis. The privacy of common folk has become the wealth content for Zuckerberg's bank book. It is unseemly for a person to make millions off the free content provided by others.
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
We live in the Age of Complaints.
THE STEAM PUNK SPECIAL EDITION featured new Music from Chicago Ski & the (audio) Real News:
NOW ENTERING OUR
EXAMINING THE NET
WAY OF LIFE
distributed by pindermedia.com, inc.
CHECK OUT THE
NEW REAL NEWS KOMIX
A MODERN WOMAN'S
TAKE ON HER LIFE
THE REAL NEWS
THE DARK ABYSS
THE REAL NEWS ARCHIVES
MADAME'S TEA HOUSE
EXPLORE THE CITY SCAPE
THE WHETHER REPORT
Question: Whether FCC rules on net neutrality will be overturned by Congress or the Courts?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether the Windows Phone will be the iPhone killer?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether Verizon will begin selling iPhones in 2011?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
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