The story of "Round 1" is the battle won. When the smoke cleared I still held the high ground and the ISP Channel went back to Palo Alto to change their business plan.
The story of "Round 2" is the "Sell-Out," and the results are below (see Final City Council Meeting). I am tempted to say "and we lost the war" but right now Bainbridge Island's great value is in its story, not in whether or not Comcast owns this community. (I will talk about what Bainbridge Island Broadcasting pays Comcast for a building in another chapter. Ever hear of the "Sword of Damocles," it hangs over the head of this community.)The real war is being waged in cyberspace, with the Net Neutrality issue and with Congress and the FCC (The situation with Congress and the FCC is similar to what happened with the leadership of Bainbridge Island in many respects.) We are at a precipice in the future of the world brought about by a new mechanism (the Internet) that allows every individual to communicate with and receive communication from the world. When we step off this cliff with the settlement of the Net Neutrality issue either it will be a fall of a 100 years or we will catch an updraft to take us to heights we have yet to imagin. (I used to hang glide The first step off the cliff is the unknown: it's an updraft that takes you away or you just glide down to the predictable landing and have to climb back up the hill.)
Final City Council Meeting
I sat in the back of the room at the final Bainbridge Island City Council meeting that was passing the franchise agreement with the AT&T folks. AT&T's team (soon to be Comcast) were seated in the row in front of me (they didn't know I was there). Every time the City gave them everything they wanted (and they eventually got it all) they got all excited and patted each other on the back. I would really like to know what profit they made by adding Bainbridge Island to their inventory when they sold to Comcast a few months later.
In a way this is not so important to me. This is just "business as usual" at City Hall. What is important is the mining of our local economy (to the detriment of our local merchants and social structure) with cable and internet combined in one very effective marketing machine in the future, owned by one company (COMCAST). The key to negotiating this future lay in the franchise agreement. But our local leaders sold us out for a few trinkets. (We didn't learn from the methods of conning the Native Americans out of their land for a few beads and blankets either but the corporations did.)
The next morning I received an email from Northland instructing me to remove all references to them from my community site. (I was working with Northland on a project to demonstrate the effectiveness of a Community Internet Site and a local Cable Company working together on a project to benefit the community. I knew I had to set this up before AT&T/Comcast arrived. Northland didn't understand the significance of what I was demonstrating and AT&T didn't dare yank it untill the franchise/sale was done. Another important story to be told).
The next day I did a little online research and found the email address of AT&T's west coast operations manager in charge of expansion
And then I watched my site logs: First the AT&T domain addresses rolled though my web site for a week and after a pause, Comcast addresses for another week, and then they faded. My message got through. The message was: There was at least one ethical person on Bainbridge Island who knew the game, would stand up for the future of this community and could not be bought.
That brings us to the current battle. The cyber war in my lifetime. It is National and Global:
Bainbridge Island Community Network will be 15 years old in March, 2007 and it is evolving.
A pioneering effort in the nation at that time. Using the internet to benifit the social and economic health of communities.
BACK TO NET NEUTRALITY