It is Thursday, April 8, 2010, and, yes, we can still access the Internet.
Despite the ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, favoring Comcast's assertion that some traffic online is "heavy" and must be pushed through the "pipes" online at different speeds, two days later, our Internet remains unscathed.
These are just some of the elements of the good story that opponents of Network Neutrality have built around their opposition to the Federal Communications Commission guidelines as well as Congressional efforts over the last several years to stop Network Neutrality legislation from working its way through Congress.
Heavy, burdensome content is clogging "pipes." The costs of not managing what goes through the "pipes" could stop more people from enjoying the Internet. Network Neutrality and online piracy fit hand and hand. To many, that would be enough to convince them that Network Neutrality sounds like a bad thing.
A true organizing narrative has yet to be built around the issue of Network Neutrality. Starting with its obtuse moniker, the average person has no idea how this ruling, the FCC's action, or potential legislation will affect their daily lives. This narrative must be created now. It is time to craft that powerful story.
Network Neutrality is a complex policy issue. A disconnect exists between the individuals and organizations that are communicating this complex, high-level policy issue to both policymaking bodies and the general public. Since 2003, this has been one of the primary obstacles facing those who are trying to preserve Network Neutrality.
Supporters cannot continue to communicate it as such, getting caught in jargon and long-winded technical explanations. As is often a trap on issues that are couched as "progressively-tinged," advocates often get caught it their own language. Supporters will trap themselves if they do not learn to tell a better story around this important, equal access issue. It is essential to reframe this issue to change the game.
There are some extremely important issues underlying the fight for Network Neutrality. This call to storytelling action is not meant to dismiss these issues and the importance they hold. Yet, the explanation of these important values has to be in a way that resonates with the general public.
Even after working on this issue for the last few years, I will admit that the idea that the "Internet is still standing" caught my attention yesterday. Network Neutrality proponents need that fire, that confidence, that language and that voice that convinces people how important Network Neutrality is.
We often hear that the "truth will set you free." In this case, just the truth alone may not, but a damn good story will set us free in terms of speech and the right to access the open, robust Internet we have come to know since its inception.
Once upon a time...