There has been much written about Net Neutrality, and the FCC seem bound and determined to leave their mark on the subject. But who cares? Net Neutrality is the least of the problems. I don’t care a dingos kidney if an internet provider wants to charge more to offer a fast lane for Netflix. Of course I do care if they want to increase my price in order to subsidize my neighbor who watches Netflix.

Net Neutrality is an irksome problem, but it is far from the most serious problem.

Rubbish is the big deal! There is more garbage on the internet than can be calculated. There is a part of me that feels sorry for the NSA. So much time and cost wasted snooping on rubbish. Probably the best contract in the universe is selling the NSA hard drives to store all of the snooped rubbish.

It is the US tax payer that funds the NSA so it is tax payers that are buying the hard drives to store 20 or 30 copies of the map, address and phone number of a wholly unremarkable Chinese Restaurant in the back of beyond. Google has also invested time and effort to provide a searcher pages and pages of hits that have no value.

Is there a solution? Not that I can see. The internet has lost its purpose. Thin Content rules the Web, and Spam rules the Inbox. To quote John LeCarre “We used to be such a classy bunch”. Sure I took that out of context, LeCarre was talking about espionage, I on the other hand am waffling on about the Internet. But it is so true, the Internet was a classy place a while back. Today it is toxic.

I remember the first text message I ever sent. It was in 1973, it was to someone I had never met, but we were on Arpanet, $dm3 please load up 2ply and Text Train. Yup today it makes no sense, in 73 it made perfect sense. I was asking the operator to load the printer with a box of paper with carbon in the middle, so two copies. Text Train referred to the font. Text Train was a pain in the ass. It slowed down the printer by 50% Normally we printed all caps. All caps was 1000 lines a minute, Text Train sucked.

20 years later Arpanet had transitioned into the Internet. It was a free for all.

The internet is everywhere, I used to joke about a MIT project that put a Coke machine online. On the internet you could login and see if it was full or empty. A truly pointless project unless you are the person responsible for keeping it stocked. Today you can attach almost everything, why you would want to do this however, is a different question. But if you feel the need to own a coffee pot that will send a Tweet to all of your 2000 followers telling them that the coffee is ready, more power to you. The chances are that one of your 2000 closest friends has an internet connected Bagel Toaster, so you and his 2000 friends will know that the bagel is done to perfection. Meanwhile, the guy with the internet connected Cream Cheese, and his buddy in Canada are tweeting automatically about cheese and Lox.

What a waste of time! No-one has learned a darn thing, but they sure have been busy reading snippets about what you like to eat for breakfast. It required no effort, no keyboard was touched. It was all automatic.

Nothing of value was created and no knowledge of value was shared. This is what I call thin content. It consumes time but actually does not say much. The web is drowning in thin content.

Two days ago I wanted a Chinese Take Out. The town I live in is the size of a postage stamp. Visitors are RFID tagged to see if they ever return. The results of this study which has been going on for 20 years are not encouraging. Salmon return to the stream they were spawned in. Alas that is not the same for people that visit here.

Panda

There is a totally unremarkable Chinese Restaurant exactly 6 blocks from the house. Panda Palace is the carbon copy of every Chinese restaurant in every small town from coast to coast, both here and in Canada. Actually there is a great history behind how and why these restaurants are where they are, but that is another story.

I wanted to peruse the menu. The internet is everywhere, everyone has a website. So it was off to google. Panda Palace Picayune. All you get is ‘thin Content’. After 2 pages of google hits I gave up. The format was almost always the same, a google map of the location, the address and phone number and nothing else that was useful. So we have 20 or 30 sites telling us exactly the same information.

It would be easy to blame Google, but they are in a tough spot. Many of the sites serving up ‘thin content’ are big players and if Google were to mete out punishment law suits would fly. How do you decide which copy of the ‘thin content’ should be listed. FaceBook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, Yellowpages, or one of the dozens of other sites with the same pointless information? It can be argued that all of the sites have value, and I have been unfair for picking on them over the Panda Palace. An unknown and unremarkable restaurant on the edge of civilization, my response to that is well why waste the time and space to list it?

I will now do what none of the other sites do. Tell you what you need to know should you wish to visit the Panda Palace in Picayune. It is cheap, filling, and totally unremarkable. For best bang for the buck select the buffet to go, I think it is $8.50 for dinner and less for lunch. The Styrofoam container is quite spacious and I found it was enough food to last me two days. My wife went for the Sweet and Sour chicken, which looked like every other sweet and sour chicken I have ever seen, but it was a huge amount and it came with a box of boiled rice. At $6.50 it was a bargain. Better still, my wife does not eat rice, so with some milk, eggs, sugar and a few condiments you can whip up a Rice Pudding before you can say Fortune Cookie.

The place is hardly a palace and there was not a single Panda to be found, but for $15 you can have a ‘Woking good time’.

Simon Barrett

 

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