New terms are continuous with one of the latest being IoT or “the internet of things.” The Wikipedia definition of IoT is: the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices“), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Arriving at work today, I immediately began troubleshooting network connectivity issues. My workplace uses COMCAST for about 300 systems on a public commercial network (including free Wi-Fi), about 30 systems on a secure government network, various college networks, and various cellular carriers for staff and customers. This morning, COMCAST was out for the entire building and calling for support gave us no idea as to why. After about 2.5 hours, the network came back up. Meanwhile, T-mobile was down for cellular (and hotspot) users. Calling them eventually resulted in information that there was trouble related to “storm damage” and they are back up after about 3 hours. However, no storm has moved through the area. We do have wildfires in both Washington and Oregon and maybe that just isn’t a standard trouble ticket option.
This brought my dependence, both as an individual and as a workplace consumer, to the forefront once again. My only phone and internet connectivity at home is my T-mobile cellular plan. With that out, I would normally rely on any available Wi-Fi network. With both of them out, I was unable to undertake many of my daily tasks. What is even more scary in the Trump era of censorship and “fake facts” (a synonym for truth) is selective access to the internet and the information available on the internet. Net neutrality becomes critical.
Under Trump and Ajit Varadaraj Pai, the FCC has begun compromising net neutrality rules. Previously, all controlling entities had to treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. I experience this on our government network. Under the Bush II presidency, blocking of websites began under the guise of security. What I noticed was that liberal news sites were blocked while conservative sites were not. Currently, I keep both a government desktop and a commercial laptop on my desk because the troubleshooting and other access I need is blocked on the government network.
Given the gradual defunding and shuttering of public libraries, we need net neutrality desperately. How would we access the information we need if the news is controlled and the internet is gone or limited? How would you? Democracy requires informed citizens. In my opinion, Trump’s campaign worked because a lot of “citizens” found it much easier to believe the simple soundbites he used over and over again than to address the complexity and nuances of issues. That would’ve required both research and critical thinking. I don’t think my opinions are ALWAYS right, but at least I’ve researched them and don’t just rely on the opinions of some presumed authority figure.