You Can’t Be Moving on a Neutral Train

I'm the first person to be skeptical when the left whines about losing the messaging battle. Not that "frames" aren't important, but a connection with the people you are trying to mobilize comes before the frame, not the other way around. You have to know the audience to fashion the message. Being clever is not enough.

That notwithstanding, progressives trying to protect the Internet from corporate hijacking have once again shot themselves in the foot by trying to rally people around "net neutrality."

Only a Democrat would think people could get excited about neutrality. What's the opposite of "neutral"? Non-neutral… Partisan… In gear…?

The specter of "The End of the Internet" is hardly any better. Are you really trying to convince someone that the Internet is about to go away? I hope not, because it isn't. What the corporations are trying to do is close the Internet.

We are in favor of an open internet. We must not let Congress close the Internet. Take action now to keep the Internet open.

Why is it important to talk about open/close rather than neutral/non-neutral… besides being more accurate and more readily understandable?

For starters, it fits with our values. We believe in an open society (to use a trademarked term). We believe our government and our communication networks should be open to all.

Second, it contains the seed of the future we want to see. The vast majority of the world is shut out of this communications medium. The door is closed to them. We want to open it.

On its own, that's not enough, of course. Open does not mean equal, it doesn't mean that usage or usefulness is the same for everyone. Access does not equal justice, but it is necessary for justice. Therein lies our work.

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4 Comments

  1. on frames. closing the internet sounds ok and certianly better than the neutrality frame, but there’s a violence to the corporations’ actions that we have to capture as well. closing implies that we can open it, which we might be able to do, for now. they are building the door, the frame, and they are keying the lock themselves, though. to torture this metaphor even more.

    we’ve used the metaphor of fighting over the crumbs left at the broadcast table as we’ve organized over LPFM. the airwaves belong to us, but we must jump through giant hurdles to get access to the least bit of them. i like this metaphor because it involves food and nourishment. we need the airwaves — to communicate over them — to survive. yet the giant broadcast corporations overfeed themselves and demand more and more to sustain their growing bulk and hunger.

    “The internet belongs to all of us. But Congress is going to slam the door on the internet, and shut us out. Take action to open the internet now and always.”

  2. […] Josh Breitbart of MediaTank and Clamor has been blogging lately, and raises a really good question about the framing of the network neutrality debate: Only a Democrat would think people could get excited about neutrality. What’s the opposite of “neutral”? Non-neutral… Partisan… In gear…? […]

  3. […] Yet, while SaveTheInternet has a nice ring to it, I think the organizers should give some consideration to Josh Breitbart’s thoughts on framing the issue I blogged about earlier.   […]

  4. […] This blogger at least gets into the meat of the bill, pointing out that – like his famous work on the $223 million “bridge to nowhere” – Stevens is just trying to get more money for his constituents: an expanded Universal Service Fund that would put $500 million towards building broadband in rural areas like Stevens’s Alaska. Though some of this money will get spent in Alaska, the real beneficiaries will be the phone companies who will get to sell (closed) Internet service over the subsidized infrastructure. […]

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