I’ve been talking, or should I say ranting, about this for a while. Every day the world wide web is transforming into a closed country club and most of the inhabitants don’t even care.
First some examples so you know what I’m talking about.
You can’t belong to the network New York and the network Sweden at the same time. Which would just be stupid for more global villagers if it wasn’t for the other segregation between regional networks built in to Facebook. For instance, have you ever tried to add a friend that wasn’t in your regional network? That takes some work even if you are like bff’s irl!
Most people have the privacy setting set to not letting »Everybody« seeing their hilarious life, which makes sense, however that means your potential new Facebook friends have to have the clearance »My network and friends« and above to even find you by name or email. This means less interaction and less internet trafic between countries.
Pretty much every video with the potential for a lot of viral videos now have restrictions banning ip-addresses from outside the region. Youtube, Hulu and Comedy Central now and then say that it is because of legal issues however I actually think the real reason is traffic costs. I don’t like that we in Europe can’t see the Daily Show online anymore but I’d respect that if it wasn’t another brick in the wall between cultures. I believe popculture is a great uniter and Internet pop-culture gives people a chance to bond despite countries. But for this to be true there must be one Internet that we can all see at the same time.
The Palm Pre official website
There was a trend around 2000 to have local websites for every country. You remember the first page with just a map and the message »Choose your area«? Thankfully it disappeared when marketers without ties finally convinced marketers with ties that todays business is global (they had to call it glocal for ties to listen). Or so I thought… Since they announced that they were releasing the new Palm phone I wanted to read more about it. However up until the US launch a couple of days ago is wasn’t possible to watch more then the first page, everything else was not reachable, I’d say outside US but I just know with certainty that it wasn’t reachable for me since there was no ”this containt is not watchable in your area”-message.
Lot’s of marketers always talk about how great it is that you can do really targeted communication on the web. What I always hear is that you have the possibility to fragment the message so that people can’t socialize around it, and this my friends is bad for business.
Conclusion, broadband is a scarce resource
After listening to the iTunes University course in Internet economics, I got a disturbing insight. No one wants to pay for expanding internet backbone structure. The providers got burned the last time around, since investing in the super highways for net trafic lead to bankruptcies and low rate buyouts the last time (remember MCI Worldcom).
I can understand them, if the players that gets their revenues from lot of eyeballs like CNN and Google won’t pay hughes sums of money for expanding the backbone net, how should I finance it? On the other hand if I’m CNN or Google I would pay either since the internet service provider that sold a internet connection with the fine print “btw with us you can’t watch CNN or Youtube“ would be you laugh-worthy lol, or should I say AOL.
So the Interweb tubes are almost full, that is no big deal you say? You have confidence in mathematicians coming up with compression algorithms that will pack Blue-Ray quality down so you could watch it though grand mom’s dial-up modem? Maybe they can, however right now I see more evidence that points to that the way we are handling trafic costs is by shutting down and minimizing connections not by throwing money at mathematicians. I mean come on, what was more likely to happen?