The Internet has introduced the world to a new generation of thought leaders and innovators. I believe the future of mankind will be shaped by an inter-connected world.
Those of us who have Internet access have quickly come to take its availability for granted. Many adults remember what life was like before the Internet became ubiquitous. In those days only people with access to a library containing hundreds of books and a good a set of encyclopedias could conduct research or read academic books to further their education. When the library was closed, even the most motivated and studious of persons would have to wait for access to information. We have since lived through the days of dial-up connections, where Web access was spotty, slow and competed with the use of your home telephone.
In Western culture today we have become reliant upon high speed Internet access to the point of dependance.
In Western culture today we have become reliant upon high speed Internet access to the point of dependance. In addition to our expectation to have immediate access to news, information, and entertainment, the Internet has become a primary means of connectivity to friends and family. It’s become an indispensable tool for conducting business and a democratic conduit permitting anyone with an opinion, a device and an ISP to share their perspective with the world. Since our inception the strong desire of Videomaker has been ‘to democratize and enrich television.’ With low cost production equipment and streaming video, we continue to move closer to that reality. Without broadband high speed Internet, that would not be possible in its present form.
Although we call it the World Wide Web, in reality Internet access is available only to a minority of humankind living in developed, first-world countries. Groups like internet.org are working on a global initiative to bring free internet access to the whole world, believing that with it would come an increased standard of living, improved health, advances in education and the opportunity for the rest of the world to hear the voices and ideas of those who presently have no means through which to communicate.
Proponents of net neutrality envision a world where Internet access is available to people worldwide. But free, open access to the Internet is a complex task. To fully realize a truly open Internet would require more than changes in Web standards; it would require a change in the way that ISPs do business. Open Internet advocates believe that if Internet Service Providers continue have the ability to restrict bandwidth to some end users so it can sell broader bandwidth access to those willing to pay a premium for it, the poor and underprivileged of the world may never realize the full benefit of the Internet accessibility, which could prohibit the economic growth that they so desperately need.
In reality, the solution is not a simple one. Opponents to net neutrality argue that innovation happens where profits can be made. We’ve seen this play out in the rapid technological developments of our day. Technological advances are funded not so much by necessity as by capitalism. Without the potential to make money, innovation is disincentivized, particularly in regard to investment in key components, like the worldwide fiber optics network, that would be necessary to support delivery of broadband to the third world.
We started this article by saying that the future of mankind will be shaped by an inter-connected world. I believe that is true, and the quicker we can provide high speed Internet to the world, the better. When we are at last able to connect all the people of the world to the World Wide Web we will all reap the benefits. Especially those of us who prefer to inform, instruct and inspire others.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.