Re: Local forums to Implement High-speed Broadband
Open government is not necessarily serviced by empahsize speed over infrastructure. It's hard to build apps when you have to negotiate the path.24-May-2009

This is response to Andy Oram’s blog entry and the corresponding IP post.

I share Andy’s goals but worry about getting lost in the pursuit of speed.

The examples in open innovations are very good though no surprise that they are web applications because when all you have is a “web access model” of the Internet everything will look like a page you access. I already posted but I fear it will get lost in the clamor for HSBB.

It’s harder to present mundane stuff underneath it all and the day-to-day stuff like alerting a physician when a patient is having a reaction to insulin while sitting on a bus and then alerting the bus driver to divert to an emergency room along a route provided. That’s the kind of application that “just happens” if you provide the necessary enablers in terms of zero-cost connectivity and loosely coupled protocols and have mechanisms for appropriate relationships and buses that have general purpose computers so that you can provide software instead of having to refit buses for each new application.

I very much agree with the important of local and repurposing existing facilities. That’s a step in the right direction. But the focus on speed is a diversion.

Why are we making it so hard with all this rigmarole when it’s a very simple problem as I showed with home networking? Just remove the impediments and people will communicate. Is that too simple? Instead we create barriers with all sorts of processes and worse, create an unnecessary and limiting dependency on a high-cost (AKA high-speed) broadband business model. Wireless connectivity as “non-essential”?? What does high-speed have to do with open government? Do we choose our leaders by how fast they can talk?

Can someone explain to me how “Internet-Style Connectivity” gets translated into “High-Speed Broadband”? It’s like saying we need to talk more among ourselves so we’ll solve by accessing more television? Seriously folks, how do I put an end to such mistranslations?

Increasingly I try to explain how stories manage to persist even though they make no sense because people look at the surface and don’t look underneath to find that the story we believe doesn’t jibe with what we mean. In fact, it prevents the very thing we want by keeping is firmly mired in the idealized past.

For those who’ve taken calculus you know that the value at single point doesn’t predict the future values. You need to look at the dynamic or the derivatives (rate of change) to get a better idea of what is really going on.

We confuse “Internet-style connectivity” with broadband because we’ve been forced to repurpose “broadband” (the business model) and it kinda looks like it is good for, well, gosh darn, it is good for the “broadband” business model. But it is deadly in terms of connectivity – literally – you can’t do life saving applications because they don’t contribute to the “broadband as a business” model, AKA ARPU. Being forced into billable paths makes it very difficult to assemble pieces. Instead each application because a negotiation with all the parties along the path.

What can I do to put an end to this cruel misunderstanding? It is a misdirection that is keeping our economy hostage to an 1800’s notation that we must be in thrall to others who must communicate on our behalf along with the 1920’s notion of homesteading spectrum.

HSBB is about the funding model which creates the barrier to communicating and limits availability to applications that justify high costs. This is the very antithesis to open government and participation.