Apply For Priority
Dreamed 2000/7/11 by Wayan
I work hard on the World Dream Bank--edit twenty-odd dreams! My housemate Yirko is impressed; he offers, once it's done, to help get it publicized and search-indexed. Flattering--if intimidating. He's a web pro. I'm just an artist.
I'm in a sort of high-tech cave with a woman who explains the secret side of Web interactions. "All modern computers have a price chip inside that announces how much your machine cost. Heavily trafficked sites all ask, and assign a priority to you based on how much you spent on your computer! They figure if you're cheap with equipment you won't spend much on their site either."
So rich technophiles see a fast, smooth Web; the poor, the frugal and ecological (who upgrade existing machines rather than toss it and buy new) and all those using library or school machines, see a slow, glitchy Net--even if they're paying for fast broadband. A high-speed link won't help if you're quietly being snubbed!
Outrageous, but companies get away with it because only industry insiders even know.
But this woman tells me "There's a Bay Area nonprofit that can grant exceptions to the chip rating to deserving causes and individuals. I recommend you apply--your World Dream Bank and this Coil," [a chromatic spiral piano/synth] "are both ideas I think will easily merit exemptions. Really, I'm shocked you haven't applied already."
I say "I just didn't know. I never heard of this chip. Plus... I work alone; I have no idea how to compare my projects with others."
She says sharply "Then it's time you started to take your originality seriously."
NOTES IN THE MORNING
I posted this partly for its surreal but prescient anticipation of the furor over net neutrality a decade later. True, my dream conceives of a privileged group of users getting priority, not providers, but it gets the core problem right: rich insiders conspire to get more than poor outsiders. Not that that's ever a risky bet in America.
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