Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Internet

Ted Cruz is Wrong about Net Neutrality

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama came out in favor of net neutrality, urging the FCC to classify the internet as a utility for regulatory purposes:

Immediately thereafter, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) came out against net neutrality, tweeting:

“Net Neutrality” is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.

This analogy between net neutrality and Obamacare does not work on any level and is deeply misleading. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

3 Reasons We Should Stop Watching TV News

Over the past several months, I’ve been paying increasing attention to an interesting phenomenon–voter tunnel vision. You may have noticed in recent months that mainstream media–particularly cable news networks–have devoted a remarkable amount of air time to a very narrow list of political issues:

  1. Russia/Ukraine Conflict
  2. Israel/Palestine Conflict
  3. Michael Brown Shooting/Ferguson Protests
  4. ISIS
  5. Ebola

Now, these issues are, to varying degrees, important. But why do they get so much coverage compared with more severe long-term problems like heart disease, malaria, poverty, climate change, education, and so on? Essentially, it’s because TV is a terrible medium for news, and I can show you why.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Internet is like a Road

There’s a lot of disagreement about the extent to which the state is entitled to take metadata on whom people communicate with on the internet and over the phone. I’d like to make a broad argument, one that I think ought to hold no matter what kind of state you live in, whether you’re in the US or Europe or China or what have you. This argument relies on our conception of the “public network”. What do we understand to be a public network, and what can the state do with public networks? Once we have determined what a public network is, we can apply the same moral and legal principles to every  public network. I think that roads, rails, phone lines, power lines, pipes, the internet, and mobile phones are all in an important sense public networks, and that the laws and principles governing surveillance of any one of these networks should apply to all of them.

Read the rest of this entry »

First World Problems

Today I had an old thought, half-forgotten, about the popular first world problems internet meme. For those of you who are unfamiliar with “first world problems”, it is type of internet joke in which a problem or complaint is dismissed as trivial due to its exclusivity to people living in developed countries. It’s funny, but there’s something that has been eating at me about it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Aaron Swartz and Copyright Law

Recently, Aaron Swartz, a talented programmer involved in the creation RSS feeds and Reddit, committed suicide. Apparently this was in response to his being hounded by a federal prosecutor for the crime of violating copyright protections and sharing a large cache of academic articles access to which was controlled by JSTOR, an online academic library club of sorts. In the aftermath of the Swartz suicide, activists are demanding a significant curtailment of copyright law. Is this a reasonable policy? That’s my question for today.

Read the rest of this entry »