A gaffe is when a politician accidentally says what he really thinks. Net neutrality advocate David Weinberger committed one recently when he wrote:
…I recently spent a dayï¿½sponsored by an activist think tankï¿½with a dozen people who understand Net tech deeply, going through exactly which of the 496 permutations would constitute a violation of Net neutrality. Caching packets within a particular application area but not according to source? Caching application-based non-cached application-based packets? Saying “Hi” to all passing packets, but adding, “Howya doin’?” to only the ones you like? Patting all packets on the back but refusing to buy some lunch? The whole thing makes my brain hurt
FWIW, I agree that the paragraph that cites me should be edited out. It is unencyclopedic. It also is used to make a point that it in fact does not support. The fact that it’s challenging to work out the precise application of NN in some instances doesn’t mean that the meaning of the principle itself is unclear. It’s tough to figure out exactly how to apply, say, affirmative action, gay rights, or the end-to-end principle, but it’d be highly misleading to start an article on them by saying the principles are unclear. It’s the nature of principles to require thought, argument and politics in their application. So, I hope someone removes that paragraph.
The fact of the matter is that nobody knows what net neutrality is, how to detect it, and how to regulate it, so the whole matter of laws protecting it is premature. Weinberger accidentally told the truth, and now he doesn’t want it to get out. There are plenty of people who think net neutrality is a great thing, but that we don’t know enough about it to regulate it; Doc Searls and Tom Evslin, for example. But the Wikipedia crowd isn’t real keen on sharing that point of view with the public.
That’s the way it goes.