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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lack of Extracurricular Participation

Recently my school sent out a brief survey to students in leadership positions. The survey was in response to a dramatic decrease in student participation in extracurricular activities, of which they wanted to discover the cause. So I asked myself: why do students not participate in clubs anymore? Below was my response if you care to read it. :)

First, let me disclaim that I apologize for the length of my comments, but whenever I make a point on a subject I like to be comprehensive. Below are my feelings on the motivation of high school students in the Staten Island Technical High School environment and what could be improved upon to help dramatically and quickly resolve the situation before the school and its students begin to feel adverse effects. I should also note that all observations made herein are not intended to insult any specific students, but are merely generalizations based on limited observations. There are many students in all grades whom I consider some of my closest friends, so what I say below does not apply to absolutely everybody.

It should first be observed that the reason for the significant drop in extracurricular population is not entirely to blame on the school and its infrastructure. As Co-Director of Tech Crew, I have taken in new recruits each year of my high school career, and it is clearly obvious that each grade level has their own sort of generalized personality that is inherited throughout the class. In other words, each grade has its own unique features. While we cannot know for sure, one can postulate that the reasoning behind this generalization in student behavior has to do with the collective experiences of each grade, most notably their transition into high school and external social forces. For example, I have observed that the current senior class is highly motivated, and quite a number of students take their school work and extracurriculars very seriously. (It is noted that there are a number of specific exceptions, but deeper analysis should reveal that these exceptions are not entirely disconnected from the generalized personality as aforementioned.) The junior class, however, is slightly less motivated, tending to prefer informal social communication to organized activities. Furthermore, there are a significant percentage of students who tend to overvalue their accomplishments, which may lead to a decrease in participation. Diving further off the cliff, the sophomores just do not care as much, are extremely immature, and seem to have no sense of loyalty or dedication. (Again, this does not apply to everybody; it is just from my own limited observations.) Finally, the current freshmen class is substantially more dedicated, so it looks like there is still hope, but as they are still early on in the high school acclimation process, to decide this conclusively would be premature.

Moving on, as said, each class has its own unique characteristics, and thus is motivated through different techniques. I find it highly unlikely many sophomores would register and attend a College Now class at 6:45 in the morning. Furthermore, juniors would already have too much on their plate and seniors simply do not care since College Now can no longer help them with their resume. When the student body advances a grade level or two, and they are filled by new, hopefully more academically dedicated classes, College Now registrations will definitely go up. In other words, the recent situation with College Now is a matter of circumstance, not protocol. (However, it should also be noted that another reason students do not register for College Now is that many students believe their only motivation for registration is so they can obtain college credits, but since many students aspire to go to colleges that do not accept College Now credits, the program is near useless. It should be reinforced that College Now classes are also for expanding one's knowledge and experience, rather than just something on your transcript.)

Other than improvisation, there is really not much you can do to anticipate each grade's individual generalized personality. However, there are still a number of general problems circulating through the school environment that seem to dull students' attitudes and confidence in our school, which then leads to decreased participation in local extracurricular activities. A good way to view these problems is in the form of a triangle: the first corner represents a lack of confidence in our school (passive environmental discouragement); the second: a lack of motivation to participate (passive situational discouragement); and the third: an increasing number of external activities (active situational discouragement).

Dealing with the first of those points, passive environmental discouragement means that students have a lack of confidence in our school, and because of that they have a general dislike for being in the school environment, which thus leads to decreased participation. The obvious resolution to this is to make the school environment more fun and enticing, but to do that you must first find out what made it dull and lacking excitement in the first place. For one, students are not represented in our school whatsoever. It seems there is no battle a student can win, and no way to fight for student rights, and to feel like you are the prisoner of a barrack of dictatorial adults is not the most pleasant feeling (note that this is not my personal feeling, just a general observation). If students were given more choice and flexibility as to their curriculum, school policy, etc., the school environment would be much more exciting. Take the library, for instance. The reason game-playing, talking, and other similar activities are not allowed in the library is because the school administration intends the library to be a place solely for quiet, non-collaborative studying. However, just because the administration wants this does not mean that is what the students want. Students go to the library to make up homework they forgot to do last night, study with friends for a test the next period, or escape the rancorous cafeteria for forty-one minutes so their school days has at least a little excitement in the seemingly continuous boredom that is a nine period schedule. Note that the only activity in that list that involves silence is number one. In other words, the students want the library to be more of a social venue than an academic venue, because if a student has one period free for lunch in between eight other periods of classes, the last thing they want to do is a non-mandatory academic activity. The library situation is not the primary thing affecting participation in extracurricular activities, but it is simply this paradigm of the school administration not seeking to even poll student opinion before determining important policy decisions that leads to the feeling of entrapment and lack of choice. Teenagers are in a range of years where rebellious behavior is of our nature. Development of the prefrontal cortex allows students to think comprehensively about decisions rather than take them on command; as adolescents progress into stage four of Kohlberg's stages of moral development, their motivation for determination of ethics and morals becomes fundamentally altered, allowing them (including myself) to question directives that were previous unquestionable. And as much as it may seem like the right thing to do, stifling this development by refusing to allocate any authority to students is not the right path to proper social development, and it is definitely not the right path to getting students to stay in school so they participate in activities and clubs.

Another cause for dislike of the school environment is a general disrespect for the environment. For example, for the most part our school is technologically-impaired, which leads to the idea that Tech is outdated or not modernized. This thus causes a nonspecific discouragement from participation in events that take place in our school. I could go into an entire separate essay on how our school has no technological intuition whatsoever, but that is a topic for another day. Just realize that the more valuable resource for the administration to learn about technology is the very students to whom they are providing it.

The second corner of the theoretical triangle is passive mental discouragement; even if students are in an entirely open mental position to extracurricular participation, they will not do so unless there is some type of active motivation to draw them into the activity. This primarily has to do with the lack of interesting programs available to students; of the clubs that may even remotely interest our student body, those that do have no easy way of finding when they meet, what they do, or who is in charge. I myself have found that I have been participating in fewer and fewer extra-curricular activities because either there is nothing interesting going on, or I have no way of finding out who is meeting where in the first place. Furthermore, from what I have seen, most extracurricular activities in our school end up being student-initiated, and while there is nothing better than an entirely student-led program (Tech Crew, one of the more independent organizations of our school, being a perfect example), when there is a lack of such initiative, there must be some sort of backup in order to assure that there are still a significant number of available activities in which students can participate. To summarize, when there are not enough interesting activities, the school administration should attempt to start some of their own so that later on students can take over.

The final, and probably the most important, part of this decrease in participation, is the active mental discouragement, i.e., the events outside of school that are replacing the activities inside of school. Now naturally the first thing that comes to mind is socialization and external community service activities, but one of the biggest things that discourages students from staying in school is the necessity to do homework (furthermore, this is also a passive environmental discouragement as students associate school with homework and thus are discouraged from remaining in school because they associated the environment with the assignment of tough and time-consuming homework). Now I am not arguing that homework be eliminated, because that would all but destroy our school's infrastructure. However, there is no enforceable policy that limits the length of homework assigned by teachers. Sometimes I go home to more than an hour of homework from one class alone, whereas the next day that same class's homework takes only five minutes. If students are constantly insecure about how much work they are going to have awaiting them when they get home, it is no wonder they choose to leave early rather than spend their time in extracurricular activities. In addition to the issue of homework, we have now entered a new generation of online social interactions, where students prefer a technological method of communication over more conventional methods when not absolutely necessary. The point of stating this is that with the school's apparent lack of technological intuition, it is hard for school activities to compete with online social alternatives. Why would any child of Generation Z choose to come to a "boring" school activity when they could immerse themselves in a complex online world? It is exactly this appeal that has made online communities so popular in recent years, and if physical communities were to follow suit with online communities, they would make much more progress in emulating their participatory success.

To sum up everything I have explained, the primary points of interest the school administration must deal with if they hope to ensure a continuing supply of extracurricular participation is:

  • Find out what students want, and try to meet their expectations to a reasonable accuracy (and do not assume the Student Organization already meets this need, because that is an entirely different essay).
  • Make it easier to find out where and when clubs are meeting, how to contact who is in charge, and how to join. Announcements are never heard and today’s teenagers never check email, so our current system simply does not cut it.
  • Come up with interesting events and programs that can be initially teacher-led but eventually taken over by students, e.g., more social events such as Winter Wonderland or something exciting such as a handball tournament (do not use these examples specifically as I am not an expert in coming up with successful extracurricular activities as can be shown from my history of doing so).
  • Put closer regulations on the amount of work students get, and create actual methods of filing complaints when these regulations are not followed. Students and Teachers should be regarded as equals. We are not in a school that needs to excessively worry about maintaining a conventional student-teacher relationship.
  • Talk with the students about technology, because there is a lot to learn. Just because our school uses a "cool" online service like Data-cation does not mean we have redeemed our name as a technical school.
This is only a partial list of what should be done to fix our school, but hopefully it will shed some light on the problems students face when posed with the choice between spending more time in school and spending more time casually hanging out with friends. Also keep in mind that while targeting specific populations in an attempt to involve the less participatory students may seem like the right path of action, you do not want to lose the students who are open and waiting for something to do. In any community, those that have time and resources they want to give are the most valuable resource, whereas the outliers that the community is trying to pull in are merely secondary.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Facebook takes on Gmail, then Google takes on Groupon

It seems the world of online business never has a shortage of cutthroat competition, rumors, and one company trying to take over another. Nowadays everybody is looking for the upper hand, and nobody is satisfied with what they've got. It's the unfortunate truth of our small world. Anyway, back in November of last year, all the buzz what about Facebook's new messaging system, but now it seems Facebook is handing out invitations to the system a little more liberally, which hints that things are moving along behind the scenes of the world's largest social networking site. The new system, for lack of a better explanation, is an exact copy of Gmail with some add-ons akin to Google Wave, and looks pretty much like an attempt on the life of email itself, though Facebook claims otherwise. Move forward two months, and now Google is making a similar move, except with Groupon. What started as mere rumors and a suspicious new logo has now been confirmed as Google Offers, Google's newest service that will help buyers find deals in their neighborhood, exactly like Groupon.

The reason I find the new Facebook Messages so disturbing is that Facebook really did not put any creativity into the matter. Conversations instead of separate messages (Gmail's original feature), smart filtering that puts your important messages on top (Gmail's Priority Inbox), a paradigm that combines email, chat, SMS, and other forms of communication (similar to the goal of Google Wave, not to mention you can email, chat, and SMS from Gmail already), group conversations with the ability to add and remove recipients (clearly Google Wave), and "revamped search" as Facebook calls it. There is not a single feature in the new Facebook messages that has not already been covered by previous technology. In fact, the only unique change is something they removed. They got rid of the subject line. Unfortunately for Facebook users, Mark Zuckerberg knows that with a few words he can change our entire worlds to his liking. Facebook has hundreds of millions of users, and very few of them can socially afford to leave, so no matter what changes are made to the UI or the infrastructure of the site, as long as Facebook serves the same social needs it's always been delivering on, nobody is willing to leave.

And the real dagger in the heart behind it all: a Facebook email address. That's right, you can now contact me at parent5446@facebook.com, but to tell you the truth if you do I'd never speak to you again. Once you activate the new Facebook messages, you get your own email address at Facebook that is a copy of your username. The clear intent here is to draw people away from services like Gmail and Ymail so that they can get forever lost in the addiction of Facebook. However, what they don't realize over there in Palo Alto is that their plan is flawed and highly unlikely to succeed. Most people who use email do so because it is more professional than traditional communication. Companies looking to hire usually don't Facebook message their employees, and something tells me a Facebook email address does not change the situation much. Google learned the hard way from Wave that people are not interested in merging all forms of communication. Most of the people I know who want to consolidate their electronic systems are computer nerds.

But to discover really why email is not dying anytime soon with the new Facebook messages, all you have to do is ask yourself one question: why do people use Facebook? I, for one, use Facebook to find out what my friends are doing, how they're feeling, and overall remain involved in everybody's lives. When a person feels like they don't have control of a system, they find ways to take control. So when you average everyday Facebook user feels like they cannot control their social life, they go to Facebook to find out what everybody is saying or doing, and by improving their knowledge of the social system, thus feel they are gaining more control. You may not think about it while you're going about your everyday life, but in reality life is just an attempt to get the upper hand. I mean, bringing it right back to Facebook itself, what other motive could Mark Zuckerberg possibly have to attack email other than to get the upper hand on Google? Unless, of course, you think Facebook actually cares about their users and what they want, in which case I would like to remind you of the many UI changes that have been so strongly protested by Facebook users. And to complement that: why do people use email? Email is a more professional and more private form of communication. People use it because it's more official than sending a Facebook message. A Facebook email address is not going to make Facebook any less professional. In other words, the new Facebook messages will not kill email because not only do users not care about consolidating their communication, all the reasons people use email remain in effect despite the new messaging system.

So the new messaging system was announced, and time goes on. Now we are faced with Google making an attack of its own. Groupon is a coupon website that connects users with deals and discounts from local merchants. Much like advertisers register with Google to get their ads placed in Google's content network, merchants register with Groupon to get their coupons delivered to users. The revenue model is similar as well. Everybody wants to save money, so naturally Groupon grew fast as people used it to get discounts faster and more automatic than ever before. And, of course, it reached the point where social media began to take notice. Soon thereafter, Google began serious dealing with Groupon to try and buy them out, but Groupon turned Google down. And as payback, Google is now launching its own Groupon competitor: Google Offers. It started as mere rumors, but it was later confirmed and we can expect to see local offers popping up in our search results in the near future.

So what does Google taking on Groupon have anything to do with Facebook taking on email? Well, the connection is simple, but not obvious. They are both cases of very big corporations who are not satisfied with what they have, trying to get more and more, not caring about the rest of the industry or the users and consumers for that matter. There used to be a time where the realm of technology and computers was pure and communal, a time where sharing actually was caring, and the corruption of big business had not yet been able to break into the fortress of online communities. Both of these events are stark reminders of how far we've come, and what is really going on the tech world. There are so many entrepreneurs out there that go into the world thinking they can come up with the next cool online service and become successful, but the instant they breach the threshold of notability, big corporations will be coming for everything they've got, and that's the reason why the world has gotten the way it is today.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Apple Butts Heads with the GPL

Well, yet again Apple has found its way into one of my blog posts. Personally I hate to bore everybody with news you all probably know already and companies that even everyday consumers have heard of, when I could be writing about more interesting niche companies that even I have not heard of, but on issues like this I have a strong opinion, so interested or not I'd like to get my two cents out there for whoever may want to read it.

For those not familiar with the application, VLC is a platform-independent media player developed by the VideoLAN project, and is notorious for cross-platform support as well as its freedom. The latter quality is what brings us to today's issue. For the longest time there was one platform that VLC just could not seem to penetrate: iOS. Creating an app for Apple's App Store is difficult considering their tough licensing terms, but the idea of VLC on the iPhone was actually a reality, until the free software community got a reality check.

VLC is licensed under the GNU General Public License, which means not only can it be freely copied, distributed, and modified, but it must be done under the same license. In other words, you cannot copy VLC and then make it proprietary, because that would be absurd (and illegal, of course). Unfortunately, Apple cannot cope with the word "freedom", because such frivolities do not exist in the totalitarian utopia they have created for their end users. In short, Apple attempted to put Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) on the VLC app, like they do with all apps in the App Store, and one of VLC's original developers RĂ©mi Denis-Courmont cried foul and attempted to file suit over copyright violation. And, in the end, the VLC app has been pulled from the App Store, and VideoLAN lovers across the world (the size of such population being quite significant) will be disappointed to find that Apple has once again imposed its dictator tactics to try and "clean up" its perfect world. All Apple would have had to do was follow along with the GPL for this one app, and everything would have been fine.

Some might consider this a success for the free software community. Once again the legal weight of the GPL has successfully managed to force Apple to either free the app or dump it. It just further emphasizes the importance of having an actual license on your free software. However, as can be observed from previous example, it is highly unlikely that consumers are going to leave Apple to find VLC elsewhere. Consumers do not care about the legal battle taking place behind the scenes of the software community; all they care about is if they can watch their videos or not. So in the long run all this will mean is that iPhone users can no longer watch Apple-compatible videos on their devices, all because Apple cannot stand the idea of freedom in their Utopian consumer society.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Review of the Nook Color

Been awhile huh? Well I've got a little writing inspiration in the form of a freshly rooted Nook Color and I'm here to share the journey.

A common practice of computer buyers these days is instead of doing too much research and learning what they need to know, they find the most computer savvy person they know and fling questions at them like a monkey with diahrrea. I know for sure that I get these questions almost like clockwork come Thanksgiving. And I expect to see it later in my life as well. But maybe in the future, I won't be choosing a computer, but instead a tablet device.

While the Apple iPad's sales have been stagnating this holiday season, it is still a desired object by many people. Not necessarily heavy computer users, but more so by the general public and hipsters of the world. I've always wondered where the strange desire comes from. I could never type out anything of value on an iPad, and I still cant. Maybe thats because the length of my index finger is less than 3.5 inches, or maybe the iPad is just too big.

Soon enough other manufacturers began to clone the iPad in their own variations and iterations. Tablet devices have mainly come out of strange unheard of Chinese companies, but there are a few brand name ones from Viewsonic, Archos, and most importantly Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Tab was Samsung's highly hyped entry into the tablet market. Its advertisements heavily pushed the idea of the Tab's 7 inch screen fitting into the back pocket of some incredibly well endowed pants. It was mostly well recieved as the competition for it was mainly some Chinese knock off and the Apple iPad. But for some ludicrous reason, the Galaxy Tab is priced at 500 dollars with a data contract from Sprint or Verizon. Wheras the iPad is the same price for a larger screen. (At time of writing the Tab has not yet released in its Wifi only version(Still expected to be priced at $500))

For a time the Galaxy Tab was and technically still is the king of the Android Tablet Market. But on October 26th, Barnes and Nobles announced the next iteration of their Nook line, The Nook Color. It did away with the e-ink screen in favor of a 7 inch, 600 by 1024 pixel capacitive touch screen. It's only buttons: Power, Volume +/-, and the n shaped home button. But most importantly? It ran a customized version of Android 2.1.

Was B&N aware of just what they were releasing?

There are no Android based devices that do not have "root*". Even when the manufacturer of other devices had placed restrictions, chips, potential self destruct, etc, etc. The Device gets rooted either which way.

With a 7 inch screen, Wifi, chips from the same line as those in the Droid X and Droid 2, it looked like the hacking community had just found its new favorite toy.

On November 29th, nearly two weeks after the November 16th ship date, the Nook Color was rooted successfully by a man named pokey9000 (not acting alone of course, but he's the most prominent and his name is the easiest to remember XD)

All of a sudden an e-reader just became a really cheap tablet. And a damn good one at that. I've lost the desire to read much of anything but psychology textbook chapters and the old fiction books I keep on my shelves. But I made the trek out on the 26th to return an Ipod Touch I recieved for a Nook Color. Yes, it was snowing. No, I'm sane.

On it's stock firm ware, the Nook Color is an ok device. It has a simple web browser, a chess game, Pandora, sudoku game, and access to Barnes and Nobles ebook library. It also has a LendMe tool to share book with other Nook Color users. The UI is comprised mostly of small book covers which populate your home screens. Though you cannot pinch to zoom in the included browser, you can pinch to zoom the book covers in some sort of strange mishap on B&N's part.

That's it. The Browser has no flash but access to Youtube's Mobile site. The Music playing app is ok at best. It can play videos too, but thats really half baked as well. The reading? It's nice I guess. I'd take an e-ink screen over it for sure but it's a nice attempt I guess.

Physically the device is heavy enough in terms of devices go. It does have some sort of heft to it. I'm not sure if thats intentional or if it's due to the components of the device. The buttons feel strong and have a nice click to them. The entire exterior sans the touchscreen area is made out of a soft touch plastic material. Totally better than glossy plastic which gets fingerprints all over it.

An interesting design choice of B&N is on the lower left corner there is a small sort of hook space that B&N sells accessories and charms for. It's beyond me as to why this was included, but its a unique design choice and I don't think I'd part with it given the opportunity.

On the standard firmware, the Nook Color's battery life without wifi on is about 8 hours. I'd say thats a good estimate b/c I didnt spend much time with the standard firmware.

Boring. Barely worth the 20 bucks extra that was used to cover tax.

But let's be realistic. If you're reading this you know me. I didn't buy this to read books. I got it to hack some shit. At about 8:30 PM after getting home at 6:30 PM, I successfully rooted my Nook Color after some mishaps with a rather small borrowed micro SD card and a very old micro sd card adapter. (Note: Dont try to write an image thats 121 MB to a 120 MB microsd card XD)

Whoa.

I loaded the Android Market application, I loaded in a new launcher, I loaded in Angry Birds, and ironically, I loaded in Kindle too. A few snips, tweaks, live wallpapers, and apps later, I was running a fully stocked Android Tablet.

I can send IM's, play games, read my mail, read news articles, edit documents, listen to radio, see constellations in the sky with Google Sky Map, I can print documents with PrinterShare, play Gameboy games with Gameboid. And that's only the beginning. I'm connecting to my server from a device only meant to read books, editting images with Adobe Photoshop Express, drawing with Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile. This little 7-inch tablet has skewed the line for me between a computer and a tablet. Sure I cant compile code on it yet but with what I can do so far, thats really all that's missing.

Physically nothing changes of course, but the battery life interestingly can be improved throught the usage of a strange trick. For some reason Android is not meant to be run on devices other than phones and as of such there are some lost in translation mistakes. By checking the power usage of the device you will more than likely find that you have a "phone" running in the background. It is taking up power and it can be disabled. Which of course will bump up your battery life.

I personally can get about a days use if I go OD and start Angry Birding like there's no tomorrow.

But I've heard reports that the battery can go 2 days sometimes even 3 with milder usage and no wifi thanks to this trick. According to someone on the XDA forums the battery draw of the device while in standby and with wifi off is 0.02 % which he calculated to result in a 5000 hour battery life. Real? Totally not but that doesnt mean the Nook Color's battery life is bad at all.

But of course having to hack a device to get some form of functionality is not without its downsides. The Google Earth app's opening page is not in full screen (only app so far that isn't), there are no physical back or menu buttons, so sometimes you are stuck in a place that cannot be exited without resorting to a software keyboard replacement. And of course you just might learn a bit about linux terminal, but I'm not sure if thats such a bad thing.

What I will say about the Nook Color is this: It's a great buy if you are willing to hack it and deal with some glitches. Keep in mind, it's only been hacked for about a month. So far, there are plain as in jane versions of Android being developed for the Nook Color. The device is slated to recieve an update containing the Android market from B&N this month, and Cyanogen (a famous modder who creates ROMs for Android devices) has placed the Nook Color on his to-do list. For 250 dollars, I'd say for getting actual work done, this is WAY better than an Ipod Touch. A regifted one at that XD Thanks Dad!

*Root is the most powerful user of a system. In the Android world, this typically means that the person is able to increase functionality of their Android Devices and run programs or tasks or replace files as the highest user in the land.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Internet Finally Violates NPOV

For those who do not know I spend a good portion of my time as an editor on Wikipedia. One of the core policies that all editors must keep in mind and enforce in their writing is NPOV, or neutral point of view. The policy states that all sides of the topic should be covered with due weight. Nothing should be given preferential treatment over something else. I particularly like this policy because it is a good policy to abide by outside of Wikipedia in real life. No matter what the topic, you should make sure to get all sides and not close out one particular subsection. Unfortunately, the FCC is going to violate this policy at some point today. The commission is planned to vote on a set of rules governing net neutrality at some point in the afternoon. Net neutrality is the policy that internet service providers charge a single uniform fee for providing their services, and that you are not charged more for visiting one website than another site. By violating this policy, Verizon or some other ISP could easily make a deal with Time Warner so that users are charged less for browsing AOL Mail then they are GMail or other online email client.

The primary reason companies are so dead set against network neutrality because it means a profit for them in the long run. But other than this, it is because they are scared. Politicians and corporate hotheads alike are scared of the Internet. The net is the one thing in this world that, up to this point, has remained free and open. You can browse any site that you want, for any length of time, and do anything you want. There are few limitations on Internet activity assuming what you are doing is legal. Such a concept is frightening to many people because it creates organized chaos. Take the recent WikiLeaks scandal: because of lack of control on the Internet, thousands of confidential government documents were leaked to the public. From a business perspective this could mean disaster, so being able to herd users into company-approved sites and making sure only the best content makes it to the consumer is awesome for corporations. Sound familiar? It is the same realm of control that Apple has over the App Store: only the best apps that fit company policy make it to the consumer.


While the corporate side of this situation may seem bright and cheery, all of this is at the cost of the consumer. You no longer have a choice of what sites you can browse. Sure you can still go wherever you want, but now it costs you money, a serious deterrent. And god forbid if your own website butts up against a big corporation.Visitor counts will drop so fast you won't even have time to pick up the phone and call your local ISP. Many even go as far to categorize it as a direct violation of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech used to mean you can say whatever you want; now it means you can say as much as your visitors can afford. The implications this will have are unimaginable. A company will be limited by how big a deal they can make with ISPs, rather than how much effort they put into getting their product or service out there.

The saddest part is that politicians are succumbing t corporate demands rather than taking initiative and doing what's right. Even worse is that the FCC and President Obama have the nerve to designate this as a success! Why? Because the rules that were designed to throw neutrality out the door were cleverly designed to look neutral, but in reality loopholes and other tools were used in all the right places as to satisfy the big corporate voices that are actually behind the new rules. Unless the proposed rules change drastically by the end of th day today, we are facing the biggest compromise of civil liberties since Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the civil war. For once in American history, free speech has fallen to the power of of the purse.