Tiered Pricing Of The Internet is going to be a bigger and bigger issue in the months to come. Bandwith is the next fuel shortage. The Cable Companies have a virtual monopoly on both what comes in and goes out of your home. And they can monitor it and would like to charge you based on consumption (The NY Times covered this six weeks ago, but...).
On one hand, paying for how much you eat makes sense. On the other, we've been there before, seen its effects, and now have come through to an entirely different place. We have been on the verge of something happening for fifteen years, but we still don't know what it is. The Internet has been both a promise and a threat for so long now, it seems like all but the gatekeepers have forgetten which side they are sitting on.
The Internet is the first real step forward for democracy everywhere that I have been able to experience in my lifetime. Our current ability to reach out and talk to whomever we want about whatever we want is exhilarating. And everyone really understands it. But if this is taken away from us, not only is it safe to assume there will be a profound reaction, but also that the few will have benefited yet again at the expense of the many.
As much as I love the old way (i.e. watching films in a movie theater), the future is what you want, when you want it -- right here, right now. The only reason I don't feel we are fully in that era of the immediate yet, is that you can still feel people's hesitancy to turn to the Internet for their needs -- even the ones that it can actually provide. Let's face it, there is no need for TV anymore -- other than controlling what people watch. But I don't see the sets flying out the windows yet.
If we halt the progress now, and make people ration their explorations, we will be missing an incredible opportunity. People are freeing themselves to speak openly as never before, expose themselves to ideas and images as never before, and they will also be willing to spend like never before -- but if we start to charge them more for that opportunity before they have embraced the habit, we will be forfeiting the fortune of tomorrow for the few bucks of today.
The scary thing is that because those measly coins will land in the greedy paws of the few at the current gates of power, instead of being a huge pile of plenty on the table of the many for us all to feast on, you can smell that it might just go that way instead of the path of common sense.