Known more notably for his role as frontman of the viral video and YouTube sensations OK Go and his perspective on being that very thing on a record label that willfully disables the sharing functionality that made his group famous, Damian Kulash is now weighing in on an issue even more near and dear to his heart: net neutrality and the future of the web.
From his perspective, many of the negotiations taking place today that have the potential to strip the founding ideologies from the web and have real consequences on how future generations experience it; he relates these trying times to his experience of the music and record industries.
The idea at the core of net neutrality is that the ones and zeros that I send somewhere shouldn’t have to wait in line behind those of the wealthy or corporations, whom, as you might imagine, would be delighted to pay ever so handsomely to ensure that their “packets” are treated with much more urgency than mine. Without this functionality (read: corruption), Internet service providers can’t pick favorites and have to treat everyone on the web equally, regardless of their ability to line their pockets with money or houses with plasma screen TVs.
To Kulash, this is important because the record and music industries are a running example of what happens when success is determined more so on one’s ability to buy it than their creativity and innovation. He argues further that maybe we can live with this kind of thinking driving music marketing and consumption, but that we shouldn’t let it undermine the transmission of ideas themselves.
The purity of the web and how it levels the playing field across many industries—that’s what makes it revolutionary—and Kulash hopes we don’t forget that:
"the past decade of the music industry is as clear an example as you can find of what happens when the depth of pockets, not the quality of ideas, is the arbiter of success...The lesson is that insider's clubs don't nurture the best ideas, which is the whole point of markets: Competition is supposed to keep everyone on their toes...The Internet is the purest marketplace for ideas that the world has ever seen, and the amazing power of such a level playing field has revolutionized everything.
Google knows this better than anyone... Now that the Internet has been around long enough to have developed its own giants, though, we need to make sure they don't ruin what's great about the technology that made them. We need to make sure they don't crush the idea industry the way the music giants crushed the music industry." (Read the rest.)