Random Thoughts During An Internet Outage

Being offline for a morning (not my fault by the look of it, the cable modem’s flashing where it shouldn’t, and the Virgin Media tech support line is permanently busy) does tend to concentrate the mind on all the other chores I should be doing rather than farting around on the web. But it also tends to concentrate one’s thoughts on the inherent fragility of the online existence.

Take Spotify, as an example. This brilliant music streaming service is being held up by many (including me) as the first step towards a radical new business model for the music business. Pay a tenner a month, and eight million tracks are yours. Up until the point where a workman with a jack-hammer chops a cable in half, killing internet connection. All of a sudden you’re paying for… nothing. Better hope the hard drive you stashed all your music on before eBaying all your CDs still boots.

Actually, let’s think this through. Say, like me, you use Google for a lot of your services, upload text to Google Docs, have online storage with any number of companies. Online banking. Chatting to friends in foreign countries. Online gaming, online shopping. Perhaps even running a business. If you couldn’t get at any of that stuff, then you’re stuffed.

This is, of course, exactly what the government’s proposing to do to alleged file-sharers, as part of their brave new digital strategy thought up in a couple of days flat and sketched out on a napkin by Peter Mandelson, completely superseding the moderate, carefully considered Digital Britain survey on which Labour spent months and millions. If one member of a household is “found guilty” of “excessive file-sharing” (these points are in quote marks as there’s no guidelines as to what either of these terms mean in reality. There’s no mention of any particular up/download limit after which filesharing becomes excessive, and certainly no mention of fair legal process or right to appeal) the whole household suffers.

There’s a school of thought that the Internet should become listed as an essential service, which it already is here at X&HTowers. This becomes more relevant when you consider that the Government is already moving some of it’s services and information onto a purely online basis. I now have to administrate Sick Puppy Films Ltd. through the Companies House website, as they charge me to submit my accounts on paper. This is only set to increase, and it becomes a matter of ever-growing horror and disbelief to me that there is consideration to throttle a vital conduit of services and information on shaky legal and ethical grounds.

See, even now I’m putting off sorting out the flat tyres on my bike in favour of ranting about the internet.

Ooh, look, the modem’s playing nice again. Gotta go. I have YouTubing to catch up on.

Use It Or Lose It

We may be making progress. The Mandelson-backed shift in the government’s policy towards file-sharing (cut people off from the internet on a record company’s say-so) has attracted enough negative attention that the members of the Open Rights Group have snagged a meeting with his staff on Monday to put their point (internet access is too important to cut off on a record company’s say-so) across. This is because people who care about freedom of speech and expression, people like you and me, Readership, are willing to raise their voices to say no thanks, actually, this is not the sort of thing I voted you into office to do. Actually, remind me. Who voted you into office?

Aaaanyway. A couple of linkies for you. First and foremost, to the ORG petition on the issue. 3000 sigs so far, and they’re aiming to get 5 grand for Monday. Stick your moniker on this one, it’s important.

And I’m gonna repost a great piece on NRRF which makes all the right noises while simultaneously making a politician after a few column inches look like a complete knob. This HAS to be a good thing.

Keep the faith, my lovelies.

*UPDATE*

The ORG are staging an open forum in London on October 2nd to discuss the policy, and better approaches to the issue. Tickets are available from the ORG site.