The poor commissioners

The FCC commissioners are going to sit through seven hours of non-stop testimony tomorrow, a severe test of bladder and patience. Here’s the last-minute witness list:

12:45 p.m. Panel Discussion 1 – Network Management and Consumer Expectations

Introduction: Lawrence Lessig, C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

* Rick Carnes, President, Songwriters Guild of America
* Michele Combs, Christian Coalition of America
* George Ou, Independent Consultant and Former Network Engineer
* Jon Peha, Associate Director of the Center for Wireless and Broadband Networking; Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
* Jean Prewitt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Film & Television Alliance
* James P. Steyer, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Common Sense Media
* Robb Topolski, Software Quality Engineer

2:15 p.m. Break

3:00 p.m. Panel Discussion 2 – Consumer Access to Emerging Internet Technologies and Applications

Introduction: Barbara van Schewick, Assistant Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

* Jason Devitt, Chief Executive Officer, SkyDeck
* Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Media Access Project
* George S. Ford, Chief Economist Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies
* Brett Glass, Chief Executive Officer,
* Blake Krikorian, Chief Executive Officer, Sling Media
* Jon Peterson, Co-Director, Real-Time Applications and Infrastructure (RAI), Internet Engineering Task Force
* Gregory L. Rosston, Deputy Director, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
* Ben Scott, Policy Director, Free Press

The ratio is two rational people to four lunatics and one moderate on each panel, which is about what you’d expect. It’s progress over the last hearing, however, where the there was only one rational person and one moderately rational person on each panel.

The people who will have me throwing bricks are Michele Combs and Robb Topolski on the first panel, and Jason Devitt and Ben Scott on the second one. Combs won’t talk about the current issue, as she’s unaware that the debate has moved on since she signed up for net neutrality two years ago. We’re actually talking about managing bandwidth hogs today, a subtly different notion. Topolski, the unemployed software tester, will spend most of his time talking about himself, and probably pull some numbers out of the air, and Scott will be generally annoying.

The lineup is less overtly biased than the last one, but the Stanford venue and the introductions by the highly partisan Lessig and van Schewick will set the tone.

Network neutrality is a nostalgia trap, the longing for a return to an Internet that never was. The question is how long this circus can continue before the players are unmasked.

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