Beginning with beating drums and smoke signals, down to text messages and tweets, conversation is the pulse of a community. As an open, unmediated, symmetrical connection between participants, conversation creates opportunity with an effectiveness that is almost unimaginable. In the digital age, Matson asserts, open, unmetered access to communications networks operated as a public trust - the "network neutrality" model - is crucial to bringing about widespread social and economic prosperity.
Matson contrasts past technological revolutions with today's world of digital communications to probe how political and economic decisions influence progress. Can a vertically-integrated, communications service-provider model, he asks, ever bring about the global benefits observed with past technology breakthroughs such as the steam engine, electricity, mass production, or flight?
Drawing on his experiences as an entrepreneur in the area of open public local access networks, Matson describes a thought-provoking alternative: a high-capacity, unmetered, unrestricted local network operated as a trust for the benefit of all participants of a community. Beyond sketching the many benefits of such an implementation, Matson outlines the critical requirements of "getting from here to there" and the formidable challenges to meeting them. While creating an open public local access network starts with technology, it also requires equal measures of political will, market incentives and respect for personal freedom.
This free podcast is from our Emerging Communications series.