Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Last June, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) showed one of the downsides to thinking old (as opposed to being old, an entirely different experience) -- it's too hard to keep up with the technology. A few of our peers got stuck in the 8-Track Tar Pit. Others were waylaid by VHS. More can't get their heads around the whole iPod thing. Even more will never podcast and never wonder why they didn't.

Comfort over current. Known over unknown. Stevens showed how cold comfort can be when the lawmaker said this about the Internet:
"I just the other day got... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."
This week, the talk-show host Larry King had his Stevens moment, when he confessed that he doesn't do the Internet, telling Roseanne Barr:
"I’ve never done it, never gone searching ... The wife loves it. I wouldn’t love it. What do you punch little buttons and things?"
Our own Stevens moment has arrived. This map shows what the Internet looks like -- how packets of info travel around the world. Accompanying the map is this fact:
The United States owns 74 percent of the 4 billion available Internet protocol (IP) addresses. China's stake amounts to little more than that of an American university. Not surprisingly, China is championing the next wave of the Internet, which would accommodate 340 trillion trillion trillion IP addresses.
BLAM. Our head goes back and to the left, spilling our online life: The TRS-80 running AA batteries, uploading stories at 300 baud. Rubber cups over the phone's mouthpiece and earpiece when the acoustic modem chirped. Up to 1200, then 9600, 14.4, 56k. Broadband. Pics. Vid. Streaming vid.

Now it's all tubes and buttons and things. No trucks allowed.


Anonymous said...

I hope and pray that the lame duck Congress doesn't take up the Net neutrality issue and screw it up. How can people like Stevens be deciding the future of the Web?!? It's sad.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Mr. Bridge-to-nowhere the same idiot who wanted broadcast-TV decency standards applied to all cable stations?

Oh, I forgot... the almighty FCC has the right to lord it over ALL of broadcasting.