The worst academic paper ever written

Public Knowledge intern Bill Herman has written a marvelous piece of propaganda for net neutrality regulations and managed to have it published in a law journal.

Herman argues, in essence, that the traditional Internet represents the last word on network architecture, and any attempt to improve it will necessarily result in the Lord smiting the American Economy with boils, plagues of locusts, and hordes of hungry millionaires unable to take their rightful place among the billionaires. It’s actually a fine example of the errors that will be made when questions of technical network architecture are decided by legal academics, regulators, interns, and other wannabes.

My short rebuttal: the traditional Internet doesn’t represent the last word in network architecture, it’s actually the first of a series of experiments that will need to be conducted to find the best way to design networks for multiple services. For essentially its entire life, the Internet has only been concerned with providing service to one type of application, the “careful file transfer”, hence it’s not needed to deal with the problems it faces today.

The Internet of the future will absorb the functions that have traditionally been provided by the telephone and cable TV networks, as well as functions that aren’t performed at all today (such as rapid service for massively multi-player on-line games.) In the course of this future development, network engineers need the same freedom to experiment that the original researchers had in the ARPANet and early Internet days.

It’s way too early in the game for government to begin mandating solutions to technical problems that are just now beginning to be researched.

If this paper gets any traction, I’ll do a more detailed critique of the mistaken assertions, shoddy reasoning, and unfortunate smears it contains.

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