Online ‘Debate’ Won’t Solve Net Neutrality Issue

We hadn’t seen the Opposing Views website until Erick at Techcrunch found a page that ostensibly starts an online debate on one of our favorite topics, network neutrality. While the site does a decent job of compiling “position papers” from some of the leading public faces of the argument, it really doesn’t do much for advancing debate on the issue other than give folks who aren’t changing their minds an online place to stomp their feet and shout out how wrong the other side is.

So far, the page has all the predictable opinions from both sides of the net neutrality argument, from the predictable representatives — Free Press’s Save the Internet, Public Knowledge and the Open Internet Coalition on the “pro” side, and the Cato Institute and the telco-backed Hands off the Internet on the “con.” If you’re a newcomer to the issue, perhaps it’s useful from the learn-the-basics standpoint. But if you’ve followed the matter for more than a week, there’s not much new to learn. And while it may provoke a lot of page-views from folks who want to comment one way or the other, until the debate involves some of the issues’s true movers and shakers, nothing’s really going to move the needle.

It will be interesting to see if the net neutrality “debate” on the new site attracts any heat, especially next to the other burning questions on the home page, such as whether or not you should spank your kid, or whether it’s OK to eat meat. Doesn’t sound to me like the kind of place where rational thought can be exchanged and meaningful compromises can be reached (something that is already starting to happen in the next phase of the net neutrality debate, at least according to many of the leading influencers on the issue).

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