Monday, May 3, 2010

WAPO on Broadband

Am I misreading this article or are there some glaring errors in the composition?
FCC Chairman Genachowski expected to leave broadband services deregulated

Example No 1:
Three sources at the agency said Genachowski has not made a final decision but has indicated in recent discussions that he is leaning toward keeping in place the current regulatory framework for broadband services but making some changes that would still bolster the FCC's chances of overseeing some broadband policies.

The problem I have is with the word, "but" (broadband services but making some changes). If he is keeping the regulatory framework in place, there shouldn't be any "buts". That means he's not really keeping it in place. He could keep it in place and make some additional changes on top of it ... that would make sense. Plus, Ms. Kang overuses the gerund to the point of incomprehensibility: leaning toward keeping ... but making some changes. Both "lean" and "make" are transitive verbs, but the gerund and progressive forms of those verbs prohibit taking a direct object, which really alters the active essence of the verbs.

"[H]as not ... but ... but ..." What the heck is Cecelia Kang talking about?
Shitty syntax, usage.

Example No. 2:
It should come as no surprise . . . that leading financial analysts and technology commentators have questioned this path," the biggest telecommunications and cable trade groups wrote in a letter to Genachowski last week, warning against further regulation.

The subject should come first so the reader knows what the sentence is about! This sentence is written as if to be a mystery, only solvable by repeated, careful analyses. It's only the last verbal clause, "warning against further regulation," that allows us to grasp what is meant by "this path", earlier in the sentence, and, for that matter, the word "It," at the beginning of the sentence. So, this is written so as to prevent one comprehending as one reads. One has to get to the end of the sentence, and then look back on the whole puzzle--sort of like a haiku.

The other problem I have with this sentence is the idea that "leading financial analysts and technology commentators" would matter to the "biggest telecommunications and cable trade groups" (whomever they might be!), especially in a warning letter to the Chairman of the FCC. Why would either the FCC or the trade groups really care what the commentators have to say, when the issue of telecom regulation directly affects the two parties? The parties' own direct interest is much more of a significant point in the discussion than the paid utterances of some unnamed pundits!

Example No. 3:

This last paragraph, though, really reads like notes jotted carelessly while sitting on the toilet bowl, or riding up in the elevator on the way to the editor's office.
Supporters of net neutrality -- companies such as Google and Skype as well as public interest groups -- have called for the agency to shift broadband Internet services more clearly under the agency's authority, saying consumers would be more vulnerable to business decisions that could cut off competition and access to applications on the Web.

How could any knowledgeable journalist attribute net neutrality to some limited pool of advocates? Net neutrality is and always has been the clear and unequivocal built-in structure and requirement of the broad public at large ever since the internet first came on line in the early 1990s. The internet was set up to give the public access to information! Now, for some reason, twenty years later, we're supposed to forget all about that and attribute net neutrality to the cause of some limited subgroup--a special interest! This is an attempt to tell the public that net neutrality and service to the public interest have not been foundational to the internet's development, as well as to the entire history of American mass media and telecommunications. Does "the public" who use Google and Skype and iTunes, and a million other applications, represent "a public interest group?" Since when does a national newspaper require some special category or rationale for the public interest?

But the real hack job in this article comes with the gerund clause beginning with "saying consumers would be more vulnerable..." The problem is that net neutrality is exactly the thing that will not render the consumers vulnerable! Ms. Kang is joining the idea of fear of vulnerability to supporters of net neutrality, which is the direct opposite of what the supporters of net neutrality are promoting, and of the truth, incidentally. Net neutrality isn't going to threaten competition at all, and consumers know it. The whole point of net neutrality is to preserve competition and prevent monopoly.

This part of the article really closely approaches that "lying or stupid?" conundrum so characteristic of right wing, corporatist media outlets.

The implication is that supporters of net neutrality threaten consumers with the loss of protections and fair competition. Just the opposite is true and everybody involved in the debate knows it!
Also, how could the agency "shift" the internet more clearly under its control? It has been under the agency's control since 1990! The only "shift" there has ever been was two weeks ago when the Federal Appeals Court [wrongly] argued in favor of Comcast. The Post is implying here that the internet has never been under the FCC's control, and that it would be a "shift" for it to disempower the big telecoms. Just the opposite is true, in fact.

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