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No Motrin Moms effect on CRTC’s decision on net neutrality November 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, random thoughts.
Tags: ,

The writers of an excellent New-West-based-and-focused blog, “10th To The Fraser” tweeted earlier this morning:

Where is the #motrinmoms effort for #netneutrality? Where’s the passion to put the same level of pressure on the CRTC as moms put on Motrin?

Sadly, nowhere to be found. Numerous (some of the best) bloggers in Vancouver and elsewhere wrote and tweeted about the Motrin Moms Twitter debacle (you can use Summize to find out about that discussion, I think the hashtag is #motrinmoms).

(c) Rob Cottingham, 2008 - Used with permission

(c) Rob Cottingham, 2008 - Used with permission

I have read a few blog posts and tweets about net neutrality and the CRTC decision, but not nearly as many as I’ve glanced at with regards to the Motrin Moms debacle. I admit that even I hadn’t really written much about net neutrality until recently, when Steve Anderson sent me a link to his site, SaveOurNet.ca

I completely agree with 10thToTheFraser’s tweet that it’s unfortunate that the same level of effort is nowhere to be found. This can be attributed to several reasons. Let’s pose a few hypotheses (no need to discount any just yet):
1.- Bloggers/twitterers don’t care about net neutrality.
2.- Bloggers/twitterers don’t understand the implications of Bell Canada throttling bandwith.
3.- Even if they care AND understand the implications, they have better things to write about.
4.- The impact of Motrin’s ad on moms worldwide is larger than the impact of net neutrality on Canadians.
5.- …. [insert your own hypothesis]

Why is it that when it comes to galvanizing people’s opinion, we seem to be unable to do so? This irks me to no end. I have undertaken scholarly studies of environmental mobilizations, and have found that, unless the issue at stake is of PERCEIVED vital relevance (e.g. toxic emissions in the vicinity of your neighbourhood), environmental non-governmental organizations fail to mobilize the public. Inertia and inactivity are just too easy. It seems that the same is true for social media. ARGH.

EDIT – Hat tips again to Rob Cottingham who pointed me out to this blog post of Michael Geist.


1. Brian LeRoux - November 20, 2008

I think the deeper issue is one of ignorance on the part of our more visible representatives. People don’t fully recognize what Net Neutrality is.

Throttling bandwidth means the telcos are monitoring the nature of that bandwidth: which protocols you are using to transfer data.

In other words, they are spying on our traffic.

If lose of privacy doesn’t bother you then consider that the ability to throttle is only a small step from creating a tiered system. Pay more money to get a faster connection. Even worse models have been experimented with such as injected advertising (Rogers did this).

Manufactured scarcity.

We need to stop viewing the internet as a service and start viewing it as the public resource that it is.

2. miss604 - November 20, 2008

I’m pretty offended that people are saying bloggers don’t care.

I get at least one message a week on Facebook about Fair Copyright Canada’s news, updates and events. (See also National Digital Media Day where I did a 18-hour crusade across the Lower Mainland in the name of digital media in Canada).

I think people may not be aware about all of these activities (or they’re just looking in the wrong place online for the info).

Things are happening, yes. People are blogging about them, yes. However, does the exposure need to be ramped up? Definitely.

3. Raul - November 20, 2008

@ Brian – Agreed – we need to educate ourselves more on what the issues are at stake.

@ Rebecca – I was the one who posed the hypotheses, and I only a few, not all of them. I posed them as they came to my mind. Another hypothesis (that you must mentioned now) is that while things are happening AND bloggers are writing about them, exposure DOES need to be ramped up.

4. Karilyn - November 20, 2008

I think it might be a matter just not much exposure, sadly. Most of the hits on this story are all coming from Canadian outlets, and a lot of people south of the border just might not know about it.
The FCC went through a similar case in August, but ruled against the telecom giant – maybe a lot of people feel like they already fought their battle and won it.

5. robcottingham - November 21, 2008

There’s also the relative immediacy of the issues. In one case, you had mothers who felt personally insulted by an ad — and over something very profound (the integrity of their mothering). In the other, you had a complex issue that still hasn’t really penetrated the public consciousness, and still feels abstract to a lot of the people we need to reach.

Making net neutrality more immediate and more personally relevant is a big challenge. But it’s a hurdle we have to jump if we’re ever going to have a movement bigger than that great handful of policy wonks and activists currently advancing the cause.

By the way, I’m not sure if 10th was making this point, but there’s a challenge for anyone involved in social change: it can be easier to mobilize people around an issue you might not think has great significance than one that can be enormously important but feels distant and impersonal. It took decades to get a movement built around climate change, and you can still get a crowd out against the seal hunt faster than you can around, say, plankton die-off.

Frustrating? Maybe. But there’s a big silver lining in that cloud. Social capital is finally making a comeback, and to the extent that people are mobilizing around ANY issue, we’re building up the muscles we need for an engaged civil society.

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