Friday, May 19, 2006

Yglesias on McCurry

Matthew Yglesias, covering for Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, writes of Mike McCurry's battle with bloggers over net neutrality:

People disagreed with McCurry about the net neutrality issue because people disagree about issues. People got so mad at him precisely because of this kind of patronizing attitude. He was peddling flimsy arguments as if it never occurred to him that the blogosphere is full of people who know a lot about the internet and could handle a grown-up argument (see a non-flimsy, though ultimately unpersuasive, anti-neutrality piece if you're interested).

One of the most neglected aspects of the blogosphere, in my opinion, is that precisely because it's (mostly) composed of people who aren't professional journalists, it's composed of people who are professional doers of something else and know a great deal about what it is they "really" do. Consequently, the overall network of blogs contains a great deal of embedded knowledge. The consensus that emerges from that process can, of course, be mistaken but even though the most prominent people expressing that consensus may not be experts in the subject at hand (the most prominent bloggers tend to be generalists), the consensus will almost always be grounded in some kind of well-informed opinions. If you want to push back on that, in other words, you'd better know what you're talking about and not treat your audience like a pack of mewling children.

While I agree that McCurry was occasionally patronizing in what he posted, at least he hasn't gotten his facts as wrong as Matt Stoller at MyDD, Adam Green at the Huffington Post, the "Save the Internet" Coalition, or Art Brodsky at Talking Points Memo. These guys don't know the difference between net neutrality and common carriage, don't understand who or what common carriage applies to, don't understand how or why network service providers interconnect, don't understand the utility and current uses by providers of QoS, don't understand the unintended negative consequences of bills like HR 5417, and have a naive faith that the FCC will act only as a force for freedom and goodness.

The fact is that most of the material being posted by bloggers in favor of net neutrality regulation is by people who are not experts in how the Internet works--while there are certainly advocates of net neutrality among those who operate Internet networks (and I myself am supportive, with qualifications, of the four principles in the FCC policy statement), my perception is that most of them favor keeping government out of it as much as possible and agree with the additional six principles advocated by McCurry's organization, "Hands Off the Internet."

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