net mortality

one of the reasons i’m so into computers and computer science is because if you want to try out a new programming language or a new tool or read a paper you can use the internet to do it, almost anything can be downloaded and tried out as soon as the impulse strikes. the internet was and still is my gateway to science, radical politics, trans people and culture, and much more. this is the stuff you can’t find on facebook, the stuff that’s tucked away on a blog that hasn’t been updated since 1997 that you find after yet another all-nighter spent chasing a thread through dozens then hundreds then thousands of hypertext documents, all while trying to figure out who you are.

i owe the fact that i’m not still that confused little girl who everyone thought was a boy today to nearly unfettered internet access (in my case, i had to rely on my family) which i hoped would someday be secured by our society for the benefit of all. the problem of net neutrality is often couched in terms of free markets and level playing fields for starting an internet business, but more critically it’s a problem of who has access to what information and which resources and who they become or don’t because of that, and how society and culture changes or doesn’t because of them. this is a world where all those bookish liberal firebrands will never become comrades, where young women of color and girls who could revolutionize the field will never learn that they can start programming in haskell in ten minutes, where trans people will no longer have a comprehensive encyclopedia on the metaphysics of identity and the material aspects of trans culture or an entire universe of “people like me” to communicate with and learn from or discourse created by and for trans people at their disposal when they figure out that they need it.

all because the interests of capital have realized they can charge people for access to these resources, further exploiting the labor of those who release their work on the web for free. they’re inhibiting access to a resource that has the potential to liberate humanity, as the printing press did before it. such potential needs to be safeguarded from the exploitative cynicism of capital, lest it become a tool of the latter’s perpetuation as so many resources have before it. what we truly need and want is an internet owned and controlled by the people, whether proletariat or precariat, and it’s clear that the FCC cannot provide even a semblance of that future in its current state.