This Decade Mostly Sucked - Except for the Huge Expansion of the Internet
Let's face it--from a political, economic and ecological perspective, this past decade pretty much sucked ass. Lots of war, lots of economic downturn, lots of legislative failure and the continued onset of a new, ecological, Malthusian trap. Still, looking at the decade from the grand perspective of human history, there was also a huge positive: the continued development and expansion of the Internet.
The Internet is a disruptive technology for our entire species, even if it has a long way to go before it spreads to all humans. The exponential decline in the cost of information brought about by the Internet and mobile phone technology will be, in all likelihood, the top cultural and technological development of our lifetimes. The way this has changed, and will continue to change, our economic, social and mental structures puts it on par with the printing press as an agent of change. The development of the Internet will also be America's greatest national achievement, and that is saying quite a lot given that we landed on the moon and won some pretty important wars.
Protecting the information distributed on the Internet from control by telecoms is also perhaps the greatest achievement of the Obama administration to date. In October, the President Obama's newly appointed FCC commissioners moved to start a rule-making process on Net Neutrality. Essentially, this means that the telecoms which provide access to the Internet access cannot control, or otherwise discriminate against, what information is produced, consumed and distributed on the Internet.
What is particularly noteworthy and praiseworthy about the FCC moving to enshrine Net Neutrality is that the Obama administration took this step in the face of inaction by a Congress controlled by telecoms:
This happened in spite of a massive astroturf push by telecom companies, and also a letter sent to the FCC by 72 Democratic members of Congress--many of whom are in the Congressional Progressive Caucus--repeating industry talking points about how there is no need for regulation. Because really, if there is anyone you can trust to look out for your interests, large telecom companies are it. Why would anyone think that they would try and take control of content distribution for the largest cultural medium ever created? Leave Comcast and AT&T allllloooonnne.
To the FCC's credit, they moved forward on Net Neutrality anyway. It is very heartening to see the Obama administration stand up for the public interest, even if it means opposing a few dozen Congressional Democrats.