Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Are you still not sure what Net Neutrality actually is? Don’t feel dumb: it’s a nuanced concept, and the media’s done a bad job at explaining it.
We’ve attempted to outline what net neutrality is, and why you should care, and the issue got a lot of press in the last couple of weeks. But try as we might to explain the issue with words, sometimes a video works best for grasping complex subjects. Visuals help, and so does a little bit of humour.
With this in mind, I’ve tracked down videos from some of the smartest people on the Web. They all have a point of view, but all succeed in various ways in breaking down a complex subject in a way that’s understandable. So start watching, and learn.
CGP Grey: Fast Lanes v. Speed Bumps
“Ever notice the company that sells you Internet also sells cable TV and landlines, stuff the Internet totally replaces?”
Net Neutrality is complicated, so anyone trying to explain the situation needs to depend on metaphors. Grey uses a couple, focusing on pipes and fast lanes. It’s simpler than it sounds, so give it a watch.
You’ll be briefly introduced to the concept of a “common carrier”, which is a class of business not allowed to discriminate when it comes to usage. Phone companies, for example, can’t determine who you can and cannot call — and power companies have no say as to how you use your energy. Grey argues the Internet should be treated the same way.
ViHart: Give Us What We Pay For
Right now, ISPs control content without being liable for that content.
Recreational “mathemusician” took a break from numbers to explain net neutrality, and it’s well worth watching. Her metaphor, that of a package delivery company, reveals the insanity of the situation. You pay your ISP for Internet access so you can use services like Netflix, but that’s not enough for them. The reason things can happen, according to ViHart, is a lack of competition.
Vi Hart is a channel that can make you laugh and learn at the same time, so check out the rest of her stuff if you like this video.
Hank Green: Mock Debate With A Cable Exec
You have no right to decide what information goes at what speed through your pipes!
Hank Green, one half of the Vlogbrothers, did something a little different here. Formatting the video as a “debate” between Green and a cable company suit, also played by Green, this quick watch can teach you a lot.
The fictional suit’s response? They’ve already set the precedent, and don’t think Internet activists can play on their level in terms of lobbying.
Extra Credits: The Potential For Greed
A non-net neutral web is one that stifles competition.
If you love video games, you probably know about Extra Credits. This YouTube channel for the “thinking video gamer” explores the process of designing games, and is an information feast for fans and designers alike. Sometimes they talk about broader issues, and the above video is an example of that.
This video is less about idealism, and more about the practical results of a net without neutrality. The threat, this video says, is that ISPs will charge users extra for decent speed to particular sites, as a way to make more money. Imagine an ISP charging $5 extra a month for YouTube speeds that don’t suck, and you can picture the problem.
John Oliver: Raising A Troll Army To Defend The Net
The Internet, in its current form, is not broken…and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.
You’ve probably seen this by now: it was all over a few weeks ago. John Oliver hilariously explains the basics behind net neutrality, before asking the Web’s trolls to flood the FCC with comments. It’s probably the most entertaining outline on this list, so watch it if the other videos didn’t quite click. You’ll get it.
What Did We Miss?
Are there more videos outlining net neutrality? Let us know if there are, okay?