A Series of Tubes: Infrastructure, Broadband, and Baseline Content Control

From Technologies of Politics and Control
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February 12

The late Senator Ted Stevens famously said in a 2006 committee meeting that the “Internet is not something that you just dump something on; it’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” While he was ridiculed widely at the time, Senator Stevens’s remarks actually reveal an interesting hortatory description of what the Internet should be (though given the rest of his comments, apparently not one that he intended). What Stevens’s metaphor suggests is that the physical conduits of the Internet should act like nothing more than non-judgmental conduits of the rest of the world’s traffic. We will see this week, however, that this is not a true reflection of how the tubes work. The big questions for this week: What are the “tubes” of the Internet? Should the tubes have a role in controlling the throughput content? What is the role of government when it comes to developing and regulating our Internet-tubes?


Readings

  • Dawn Nunziato, Virtual Freedom (Ch. 1) (pending)

Optional Readings

  • Dawn Nunziato, Virtual Freedom (Ch. 7) (pending)


Videos Watched in Class

Links

Class Discussion

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