Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nudism Online: What Will Data Rationing Do ?

AN INFORMAL survey of our team reveals that the earliest a Platypus began using the Web was about 1994.  (Some had inter-office email before, but nothing more.)  In 1994, our “oldest veteran of the Web” visited it only at work.

Soon dial-up Web access was available to most homes using a modem and standard telephone line at laughable speeds today. But the REAL kicker: Back then you paid by the hour for every hour spent online.  We vividly remember checking a box which agreed to let America Online bill our credit card $6 per hour to “Surf the Net.”  There wasn’t much incentive for internet providers to offer an all-you-could-eat data buffet, but market competition drove things onward, upward, faster, and cheaper over time.  

Still, during the transition people rationed the time they spent online and---at least mentally---prioritized which websites they were willing to visit.  Too many pictures on a site made it load intolerably slowly. Often the only reward at the end of a wait was an “Error: Server Timed Out” message. It was the Web’s way of saying, “Dummy this is taking too long. Move on to something else!”

The Platypus point with this walk down memory lane is that expensive rates and limited usage meant people used the Internet for a LOT less commerce or playfully checking things out.  Not only with the Web in its infancy, but because heavy usage would have bankrupted the average person.  Imagine pouring through an online catalog the size of an or if EACH picture took about 30 seconds to load. For similar reasons, fully-functioning Google Earth satellite views or Map Quest interactivity would have been unthinkable. (Nudists communicated even then, though largely through text-based media such as Rec.nude on Usenet, or RixPlace, a list server some Platypus readers will remember.)

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s deja’ vu all over again.”  This week the FCC Chair went on record in support of measures by local cable companies that charge per data usage to “drive efficiencies.” Many readers already experience data caps and fees on mobile plans.  Humorous ads air in which fictional subscribers to such plans must choose between watching footage of their daughter’s school play from the road or downloading an important business app.

The Platypus won’t ponder whether such measures are justified in this post… only ask what it may mean to spreading the nudist message. Clothes  distributes Nudes in the News videos.  Will people be able to afford to download em?  How about reading the near-constant Twitter and Facebook feeds some nudists use to get everything from weather conditions at a nude beach to news about the latest map / navigation app that can help get them there? Will we store nude photos in "cloud based" albums like Flickr if we're paying per gigabyte for uploads and downloads?

It’s kinda like asking, “What would happen to travel to remote and distant nude beaches if gasoline was unbelievably cheap and plentiful, then suddenly got crimped into very short supply and skyrocketed in price?”  But, we’d have to walk further down memory lane to the gas crisis of 1974 and we’re already sounding like a Grandpa Platypus.