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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wednesday, July 12: The Guide stands for Net Neutrality as a Crisis Looms

Imagine coming to this site and not seeing anything. Because you're waiting to connect. You keep waiting. And waiting. You come here because you want to find something, and you know that information is here. But your device just percolates and percolates and you never see anything.

That is exactly what's about to happen with this and hundreds of thousands of websites, and that's why you are seeing this post.

Today we are in solidarity with other independent websites and individual artists' websites, worldwide. And we stand alongside everyone who wants to keep the internet freely accessible for all.

Accordingly, we are joining millions of others -- both web content providers and web users -- in posting no content today other than this information. Our hope is to stimulate thought and discussion about the impending and disastrous change that faces us all.

The principle of "Net Neutrality" was adopted into the section of US federal regulations administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the presidential term of Barack Obama. Now, under President Trump, the FCC has a new chief, and the administration has announced its repeal of Net Neutrality with a new paradigm of for-profit exploitation.

That means the internet's mega-giants, like Google, will be able to choose to show search results only for the sites they own, or for their subsidiaries, affiliates, business partners, and those who pay them to be listed.

The same thing will happen with all the ISPs, including the Internet Service Provider that handles your computer and/or cell phone connection to the web.

Independent websites -- like the Acoustic Americana Music Guide -- may be listed last, on the last page, in any future web searches, regardless of our current top ranking based on user selections from web searches. In fact, we may no longer be listed AT ALL by "Big Web" or any money-grubbing ISP, as everything moves farther into a "full compensation" / pay-to-play business model.

That's not all.

You may be thinking, "Well, I know the internet addresses of the sites I like, so I can still find them, no matter what the greedy bastards do."

It won't be that simple. Net Neutrality is also about fast lanes, slow lanes, and rutted dirt roads where lots of traffic will get stuck in the mud bogs that "they" will gleefully make. That's where the endless percolation comes in.

Google will, of course, put its many properties in its fast lane. Same for their big-buck clients, like Amazon.

But what about anything independent that competes with something they do? Don't expect your favorite "non-mainstream media" site to be allowed into even the slow lane.

Attempt to connect with any site that isn't actively making money for Big Web? Without Net Neutrality, you should expect that effort will default to "endless percolation." The little hourglass, or spinning arrow wheel, or whatever other symbol will simply spin and spin until your device times out. Failure to connect will be the new normal.

Even if something "indie" eventually connects, most of what's on the web won't. Of course you'll feel the effect as you sit, doing nothing but waiting. And waiting. Until you do as they intend, and finally give-up, or your device times-out. Or you use-up your available cell phone web time.

The idea being that you will then defer to the sites that make money for Big Web.

That means one of two things will happen to independent sites, like the Guide. Either we'll be forced to bombard you with advertising so we can raise the money to bribe Big Web to keep us in some middle lane of connected. Or we, and countless others, will simply throw in the towel because nobody will ever be able to connect to all that inaccessible content. Human nature being what it is, many will conclude, "Hell, what's the use?" And that will come from readers and content producers alike.

The average web user may see it as an information apocalypse. But the end of Net Neutrality is the corporacrat bankster's dream -- because nobody can get anything, anywhere, unless the right people make a lot of money.

We've always brought you the Guide free from advertising. Imagine it, and your other favorite music resources -- like FolkWorks, No Depression, Sing Out, Alive and Picking, and other sites -- LAYERED with advertising. It will surely come three ways. First, each content-providing independent site will, itself, need to earn sufficient money to pay the extortion to the cyber toll roads onramp; then, your ISP will layer-in its own outrageous amounts of advertising because it suddenly can; and finally, there's Big Web, which surely won't list anything in a web search unless they can insert their advertising in the content of the search-listed site.

Not exactly a vision of a "Star Trek" future, is it? Frankly, we'll be ready for a good solar flare with a hefty EMP -- Electro Magnetic Pulse -- strong enough to kill every computer on the planet, if that's what it takes to free us from being "advertised at" and fleeced for the oligarch's extortion racket, all without relief.

And "freedom" is an especially interesting word in all this. The money grubbers are using that word in the most lying and cynical fashion you can imagine. They are claiming that ending Net Neutrality is all about "freedom for businessmen to do as they please." Sorta like they do now in America, with astronomical prescription drug prices. And with the "freedom" they've mastered to manipulate artificial shortages of everything from gasoline to Epi-Pens, so they can set ridiculous prices, make obscene profits, and buy-up all the "surplus" housing to charge outrageous rents for it.

It should come as no surprise that Charles and David Koch have been major funders of the campaign to kill Net Neutrality.

At least with the web, we've all been able to learn about their greedy games and to complain about them and their behavior in the cyber forums. But their new "freedom" on the web is about to eliminate your freedom to access things their interests don't get paid to allow. Or maybe just to make the things go away that they just don't like.

The only REAL "freedom" on the web is knowing that each of us can easily and freely access EVERYTHING that's ON the web -- without having to bribe any gatekeepers or pay any cyber tow-trucks to drag us out of the ditch.

Once gone, it'll become a memory. A legend. A mythical fable -- "once there was a spot that was known as Camelot." Like the happy peasantry in the land of Arthur and Guinevere, we'll never get it back. Because in our time, entrenched interests stop at nothing to maintain control, once they have it.

Either we save our Net Neutrality now, or we'll have only the Big Money version of "the truth."

Then, it's settle for "their" version of everything, or discover that finding alternatives requires reading paper flyers stapled to telephone poles. Carrier pigeons. Two tin cans and a string.

Speaking Up While We (and YOU) Can

The FCC has essentially sabotaged its own provisions for receiving public comment. (How appropriate, since they're surrendering their role as gatekeeper and giving that job to the corporations.) You should have been able to make a public comment opposing the impending change of everything. But they've buried the procedure and made it nearly impossible to use.

So call your Member of Congress and your two US Senators. Tell THEM you are disgusted by the FCC's actions and by the way it has denied you the right to make a comment by deliberately making things difficult. Tell your elected representatives you want Net Neutrality protected. Tell them you want Congress to act to stop the new head of the FCC from giving control of the internet to the rich.

You can find the name and contact info for your Congressman/Congresswoman using your postal zip code, at:

You can find the names and contact info for your state's two US Senators (whatever state you're in) at:

Where the Agenda Should Be

We should be talking about how much public funding is needed to promptly create FREE universal WiFi for all, with no one able to spy or eavesdrop or "market" to us just because we want to access information. We should know that we can freely access ALL information, not just what the corporate big shots want us to see.

It isn't just that it's unacceptable to surrender control of the 21st century's public library to rich special interests. The modern cyber library should invoke all the imagery of every great library of every civilization that has ever flourished. Our web/cloud/internet library must all be truly free to access, open to all regardless of the circumstances where they live. It should provide an inclusive totality of access to all sites and content that are listed as public information sources. There can be NO preferential treatment for the rich, and NO "gaming" the system so that corporate-approved fake news is the only "news" that's available.

The time grows short before the promise of the open internet is a lost dream. It can be the free range, or we can encounter barbed wire and have our intended routes halted.


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