One topic relating to new media in which I have taken a special interest is net neutrality (NN). I started at the Wikipedia article for that and saw that “Series of Tubes” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_of_tubes> was a related article. Score. I figured I could kill the proverbial two birds (net neutrality and internet memes) with one stone for this blog post. Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens argued that
“the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.”
This quote was in turn adapted by those in favor of net neutrality.
Think about the people who edit Wikipedia. If I had to bet on which side of the net neutrality argument they would support, I wouldn’t think twice about putting my money on them being in favor of NN. As difficult it is to read this article from a non-biased point of view, I tried doing it. It appears that most of the article, if not all of it, is mocking Ted Stevens for making this comment. In the introduction to the article is written,
This metaphor was widely ridiculed as demonstrating Stevens’ poor understanding of the Internet, despite the fact that he was in charge of regulating it.
That doesn’t sound particularly unbiased to me. Just by looking at the sections of the article, one could easily tell that this article is incredibly biased. The first section outlines the media’s reaction to Senator Stevens’ remark. The second is just an extended quote of Senator Stevens’ comments. This is followed by a few paragraphs explaining in a technical and detailed fashion why Senator Stevens’ comment on net neutrality was egregiously inaccurate. The article is finally capped off with a list of the quote “Series of Tubes” in popular culture (where Senator Stevens was also ridiculed).
To make this article less biased would create at least some controversy among those who are in favor of net neutrality. Instead of arguing that Ted Stevens was far from the truth in the “Technical Analysis” section, editors could instead show how “A series of tubes” is not too different from “packet switching.” However, there were several parts of his argument that were false, such as email being delayed due to essentially a bandwidth overload.
There is only one comment in the discussion section, and it is pretty harsh. An editor took out a part of the article explaining that what Stevens had said was defended by experts in the field, claiming that they themselves are an expert in the field and disagree with Stevens’ statement completely.
I would argue that this is a perfect example of why Wikipedia, wikis in general, and the Internet is one biased community. In social psychology, the term for this is polarization. When a whole bunch of people congregate with similar, but moderate, views, their views tend to get more and more extreme. This also creates an outgroup, where those who disagree with the majority of people on the Internet are ridiculed and shunned. This is not necessarily a bad thing. However, I would not call the Internet an unbiased channel of communication.
Also, did anyone else see this on the New Media Wikipedia Page?