I was chatting with DML earlier today about communications regulation and how certain mindsets – common in regulatory environments – are not equipped to deal with the abundance that is possible with digital goods; instead there are always appeals to there being self-evident limits to:
- how many network addresses remain (yay IPv6)
- how big a computer you actually need (how many “MIPS”?)
- how much e-mail/content one can read in a day (“information overload is killing business”)
- what bandwidth allocations you can pack into a radio spectrum (this month)
- what minimum network bandwidth a home user requires for legal use (ie: no filesharing)
…this last one in particular came up in Twitter-discussion of today’s communications review:
Interesting that Arqiva point out that fastest legal use of Internet probably only requires 2.5MBPs. Reliability key #commsreview
— adam kinsley (@adamkinsley) July 4, 2012
I quietly exploded at the implications of this:
“…as someone who works from home and frequently has to sling 1Gb Linux images around, anyone suggesting I can make do with 2.5Mb is a bloody lunatic. I could easily use a 20Mb line bidirectionally. What is worse is not having adequate symmetric bandwidth to host a server at home. What small minded, short sighted, petty idiot thinks that there’s such a thing as a “legally permissible” amount of bandwidth…”
‘A present from the lads down at the Shambles, sarge,’ said Dickins, arriving with a wagon. They said it’d only spoil otherwise. Is it okay for me to dish ‘em out to the field kitchens?’
‘What’ve you got?’ said Vimes.
‘Steaks, mostly,’ said the old sergeant, grinning. ‘But I liberated a sack of onions in the name of the revolution!’ He saw Vimes’s expression change. ‘No, sarge, the man gave them to me, see. They need eating, he said.’
‘What did I tell you? Every meal will be a feast in the People’s Republic!’ said Reg Shoe, striding up. He still hung on to his clipboard; people like Reg tend to. ‘If you could just take it along to the official warehouse, sergeant?’
Reg sighed. ‘All food must go into the common warehouse and be distributed by my officials according to-’
‘Mr Shoe,’ said Dickins, ‘there’s a cart with five hundred chickens coming up behind me, and there’s another full of eggs. There’s nowhere to send ‘em, see? The butchers have filled up the ice-houses and smoke-rooms and the only place we can store this grub is in our guts. I ain’t particularly bothered about officials.’
‘On behalf of the Republic I order you-’ Reg began, and Vimes put his hand on his shoulder.
‘Off you go, sergeant,’ he said, nodding to Dickins. ‘A word in your ear, Reg?’
‘Is this a military coop?’ said Reg uncertainly, holding his clipboard.
‘No, it’s just that we’re under siege here, Reg. This is not the time. Let Sergeant Dickins sort it out. He’s a fair man, he just doesn’t like clipboards.’
‘But supposing people get left out?’ said Reg.
‘There’s enough for everyone to eat themselves sick, Reg.’
Reg Shoe looked uncertain and disappointed, as though this prospect was less pleasing than carefully rationed scarcity.
‘But I’ll tell you what,’ said Vimes. ‘If this goes on, the city will see to it the deliveries come in by other gates. We’ll be hungry then. That’s when we’ll need your organizational skills.’
‘You mean we’ll be in a famine situation?’ said Reg, the light of hope in his eyes.
‘If we aren’t, Reg, I’m sure you could organize one,’ said Vimes, and realized he’d gone just a bit too far. Reg was only stupid in certain areas, and now he looked as though he was going to cry.
‘I just think it’s important to be fair-‘ the man began.
‘Yeah, Reg. I understand. But there’s a time and a place, you know? Maybe the best way to build a bright new world is to peel some spuds in this one? Now, off you go. And you, Lance-Constable Vimes, you go and help him.’
….and there you have it; some people have an overwhelming urge to sort things out on behalf of the little people, and the first thing they try to do is put themselves in the middle of everything.
But not from a lust for power, oh no… nothing so crass as that.
*as agreed with several other friends