We have a chance right now to speak up on either sanctioning or protesting the creation of second-class citizens on the internet. I chose to protest.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Dear Chairman Wheeler,
As someone who built my first personal website back in 1996, and who built my first internet business about ten years later, I’d like to suggest that the Internet is the most valuable source of information and understanding on the planet.
My writing students take my classes from all parts of the world, and from every continent except Antarctica—and I’d happily give a free writing course to the first guy stationed down there who asks, just to get the bragging rights.
I’m a small business owner. I have about ten to fifteen thousand students, with between five hundred and a thousand active in my classes at any given time. I don’t add massively to the GNP or the GDP, and am unlikely to.
But I do add something, and it’s more than I was able to add when I was an RN.
Like tens of thousands of other Americans, I’ve found a way to offer my skills—in my case, in writing fiction and teaching others how to do the same—to a broader audience than I could have ever hoped to reach at any time in human history.
And, as with all other small businessmen and businesswomen working online right now, I am able to do this simply because no one has chosen to encourage roadblocks that would slow me down.
Or my students.
And this letter speaks to the situation of many of my students. Writers are overall not a rich bunch, and statistically, income for writers skirts the poverty line pretty tightly when it stays above it at all.
I ask that you work to maintain the current Internet structure of steady overall improvements that permits these folks to stay online and interact with other writers—to learn the skills of a paying trade, and by doing so, to learn how to better their own economic status. And to do this without the barriers imposed by being designated second-class citizens, relegated to the cheap seats in the Internet’s magnificent theater of the mind.
Once a “slow lane” is created with a baseline that—once set—will be ignored because it can be, service providers will have little incentive to improve that base standard and upgrade the overall network. The folks in the cheap seats will fall farther behind as “fast lanes” get the lion’s share of improvements.
And this will bury a lot of my folks, who are just squeaking by as it is, or who are on Internet that is barely acceptable as their current baseline because they live in areas of the country poorly served by broadband.
My students are of all races, all religions, all economic strata. A lot of them are single moms and single dads, retirees, kids in college, professional writers with barely-there careers trying to improve their work to reach a broader audience…and all of them are folks who hope to make their lives better than they are now.
I’m doing everything in my power to help them succeed.
I ask that you do the same.
Novelist, writing course creator.
You can submit your own comment to the FCC, and I ask that, if this matters to you, you do. (link opens in new tab)
Your comments are welcome below.
Thanks for letting us know about this. I am writing a letter to them now as well. The Internet has allowed me to open my publishing coaching and independent publishing company. Yes, I am a small fish but I have helped some 120 books to be published by first time authors. This not only enhances the economy when you add all the small businesses together, but all these authors bought the services of either createspace, Blurb, Lulu, etc., depending on their book project. One of my authors was only 17 and published her first book on pet care! This could not have happened if it weren’t for Internet access. The Internet is the publishing platform of the 21st century and is an important economic option for everyone! Thanks for letting us know about this, Holly. I agree, the cable companies and other media companies are connected, so they most likely are in the position to refrain from covering this issue.
Stephanie, I’m with you on the question of where is the coverage of this issue. I’ve lived in an area where having dial-up was the only available internet–even with satellite TV. One would think that with society demanding better communications through technology, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Then again, keeping the citizens under control by service denial is something that seems to be spreading across the globe right now.
Holly, I’ll be sending my own letter, now that I’ve been informed about the situation. Thank you for keeping the word going out. BTW, I love the letter.
I live in one of those “monopolized” areas now. Our small village of 800 has ONE cable/internet/phone provider. If you want someone else, it’s satellite of one form or another, which makes for crap internet speeds and crappier t.v. channels during the blizzards we get up here. A friend of mine lives on a farm 1/2 mile from the nearest cable provider’s main line. They refuse to provide service, even though this friend and his family have offered to pay extra to have the line run to their farm. I want choices when it comes to my internet…and I DON’T have them. Nor do a whole bunch of other rural dwelling folks. As one late night talk-show host pointed out…”the very fact that cable companies don’t compete with each other sales wise is in fact indicative of a monopoly in those areas.” It’s very wrong …and I hope it changes. Would sincerely hate to see this ‘fast lane’ thing go into effect because half the country (the half that grows the corn and cows and such) would be wrongly left behind…
I sent in a letter. Hope it helps, but could not keep from wondering why this isn’t all over the news…maybe I just missed it somewhere?
My guess is it isn’t all over the news because news and cable companies have some of the same backers?