Possibilities

This page captures ideas for future directions made possible by Internet as a Public Common.

Using Chat GPT4 to expand our Mission

Expand on this idea: Collaborate to increase Digital Equity with fundamental systemic change to promote the Internet as a Public Commons, vs subsidies that help poor people by paying bills to incumbent ISPs, which are bandaid approaches taken by many that will expire soon and reinforce the power of those incumbent ISPs, who contributed to the creation of the digital divide with practices such as redlining poor neighborhoods.

ChatGPT: Certainly. Let’s explore the idea of treating the Internet as a Public Commons and delve into systemic changes that can promote digital equity.

1. The Internet as a Public Commons:

  • Definition: Just like public parks, libraries, or roads, viewing the Internet as a public commons means recognizing it as a shared resource, vital for all, that should be accessible to everyone.
  • Philosophical Rationale: Knowledge and information are common goods. Just as we ensure everyone has access to basic education, everyone should have equal access to the digital world. By viewing the Internet as a commons, we shift the focus from it being a luxury to it being a fundamental right.

2. Systemic Changes:

  • Publicly Owned Infrastructure: By treating broadband infrastructure as public utility (like water and electricity), governments can ensure that it’s built out equitably, without excluding certain communities based on profitability. Public ownership can also lead to greater accountability and transparency.
  • Open Access Networks: These are networks where the infrastructure owner doesn’t offer services directly to end users, but allows multiple service providers to use the infrastructure. This can foster competition, lower prices, and improve service quality.
  • Net Neutrality: Treating all data on the Internet the same way, irrespective of its source or content, is vital to ensure equitable access and to prevent monopolistic practices.
  • Digital Literacy Programs: Equitable access isn’t just about infrastructure. Ensuring that all demographics understand how to utilize digital tools is equally important. By incorporating digital literacy into school curriculums and community programs, we can ensure everyone benefits from the digital age.

3. Contrast with Subsidies to Incumbent ISPs:

  • Short-Term Solutions: While subsidies can help bridge the immediate gap, they don’t address the root causes of the digital divide. Once the subsidy ends, the divide can quickly re-emerge.
  • Power Dynamics: Providing subsidies can often further entrench the power of incumbent ISPs. They can become more reliant on government handouts, and this could reduce their incentive to innovate or expand their services.
  • Economic Implications: Public funds used for subsidies could be redirected to creating long-term public infrastructure, which would be a sustainable solution to the digital divide.

4. Historical Analogies:

  • Think of the electrification of rural America in the 1930s. Rather than subsidizing private electricity companies to provide power to less profitable rural areas, the government supported the creation of public utilities to ensure everyone had access. This model ensured sustained growth and accessibility, rather than a short-term patchwork solution.

5. Global Collaboration:

  • Given the global nature of the Internet, cross-border collaboration is crucial. Sharing best practices, technological solutions, and innovative policies can help nations leapfrog developmental stages. By working together, nations can ensure the Internet truly becomes a global commons.

In conclusion, viewing the Internet as a public commons and promoting systemic change is not just about equity—it’s about creating a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive digital future. As a digital activist, you have the opportunity to advocate for these changes and collaborate with like-minded individuals globally to make the Internet accessible to all.

Democracy as a work in progress

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