Saturday, May 13, 2006

Devil's Advocate

There has been a lot of digital rhetoric about net neutrality lately as Congress prepares to vote on pending legislation.

Ironically, those opposed to network neutrality (and in favor of "tiered service" or "preferential service" models) have also formulated appeals designed to capitalize on the same anti-corporate and libertarian sentiments that net neutrality advocates trumpet. For example, the webtoon at uses a sound-alike spokesman with the same narrating cadence as a popular pro-neutrality video from Public Knowledge. They even use a similar primer style that is punctuated with corporate logos.

By using gimmicks like a singing mountie, the DontRegulate webtoon shows that it can also deploy humor, as the opposition does at shows like Ask a Ninja or This Spartan Life.

Because this pitch appears in banner ads on politically progressive sites for the visually literate like BagNews Notes, it can be difficult to figure out who really is behind it. The webpage of the webtoon's sponsor Hands Off the Internet looks authentically grassroots with its bad graphics, but a few mouseclicks spells out an ABC of corporate sponsors like Alcatel, Bell South, and Cingular.

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