Yesterday Full Stop published my dual book review of Susan Crawford’s Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age and Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future? An excerpt from the essay here:
The consumer as loser is nearly a meme at this point, so thoroughly has the Great Recession imprinted its insignia on the wearied American mindset. Nevertheless, Crawford warns, the consolidation of the American Internet access bottleneck is particularly worthy of hand-wringing. As other advanced economies like South Korea and Japan rocket ahead in embracing fiber-optic connectivity – complete with 1Gbps symmetric data speeds that remain incomprehensible to most Americans – the United States finds itself in the humiliating position of aiming for a minimum national broadband speed of 4Mbps (download-only; 1 Mbps upload) by 2020.
Underlying this technological angst is something deeper, more primal. It is the sense that some right, however virtualized, is being denied by the cartelization of the American telecom space. It is the realization, further still, that our international peers are enjoying the fruits of their justly obtained lightning-speed access while those of us holding American passports are condemned to the endless purgatory that is YouTube’s “loading” spin-wheel.