Monday, April 12, 2010

Is "net neutrality" too geeky?

Photo by Julia Roy.  Licensed via Creative Commons.
Renay San Miguel of TechNewsWorld laments two overtones that he says have been imbued into the term "net neutrality": geekiness and government intrusion.

He says he favor a "freedom" frame, but at the same time, he seems content to stick with geekiness and only once refer to freedom in his suggested replacements for the term "net neutrality" (note that I've bolded geeky terms and italicized his one freedom term): advice for any representative or senator willing to pick up the mantle of "Net neutrality": Avoid that now-cliche like ... well, you know ... a botnet-enabled plague.

The words are now not only fraught with political baggage that can be used in a Drudge Report headline denoting overbearing government interference or a Huffington Post piece about big business messing with your downloads; they also just sound too damn geeky for anybody's good. Ideological stereotypes, like pirated movie files, flow freely in the media canals of the Internet, so why play into that anymore? Call it "Net equality," "high-speed freedom," "I can't drive 55 (Mbps)," whatever. Just stay away from the chamber of commerce-style (or in this case, government-approved) labels.
The wikipedia entry for the concept of net(work) neutrality has a few different frames:
  • freedom ("no restrictions on content, sites, or platforms")
  • equality/fairness ("if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, that the two users should be able to connect to each other")
  • competition (net neutrality fights practices that "remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services")
  • inclusion (fights "against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants")
  • consumerism ("Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire...Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer")
  • openness ("Open application...Open devices...Open services...Open networks")
  • choice ("access the lawful Internet content of their applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement...connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network")
  • control ("Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet")
The better frames listed above are those that are consumer-focused and not technology-focused, so in a sense I agree with Renay San Miguel when he says the frame should be less "geek" and more "freedom."  The frame needs to trigger that heart switch of being wronged when a merchant gives you bad customer service or something less than what you thought you would get.

So San Miguel's framing instinct may be on the right track, but judging from his three suggestions for a replacement term, I think he needs to work on his stickiness instinct.

My fellow framers: leave your suggestion in the comments.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Who's the lead and who's supporting?

According to Entertainment Weekly, the framing of who is a "lead" actor among the Modern Family cast is still up in the air, with the cast working along the lines of the following frames:
  • age (adult actors v. children actors)
  • résumé clout (favors Ed O'Neill)
  • "traditional" family roles (favors Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell)
Which actors would you submit for the "lead" role of Modern Family, and on what basis?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sell your body to the polluters

Photo by Todd Sanders. Licensed via Creative Commons.

"Cap-and rebate" would be a more sensible, persuasive frame for the President than his existing "cap-and-trade" proposal, according to this suggestion by Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter:
Banks remain loathed, which means that financial regulation, including a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, should be within reach if Obama can elevate his game on framing issues persuasively—and win over a couple of GOP senators, which is doable. Energy is just a few tweaks away from being a political winner. Changing cap-and-trade to the far more sensible cap-and-rebate (in which polluters' fees go straight back to the public as checks) could make it very popular—and confirm the role of clean energy in rebuilding the economy.
I'm not so sure Alter should be giving the President framing tips.  It sounds like his idea - giving the public cash every time a company exceeds a pollution cap - is an even clearer demonstration of the whole "pay to pollute" concept, in which the capped corporation gets a chance to release its illicit discharge in exchange for cash.  If the public gets the cash, it thus takes on the role of the oldest profession, and receiving "dirty checks" in the mail would remind John and Jane Q. Public that they had sold their bodies (i.e. their health) to the highest bidder.

But maybe Alter is right after all.  Reinforcing the frame of pollution as vice - and painting the public an immoral, self-destructive participant in that vice - could spark an outbreak of emotionally evisceral outrage about pollution that comes in handy for a politician pushing clean energy.