Hank Moody: self-loathing on the internet

The news that a Canadian Catholic Bishop has been arrested on charges of having child pornography on his laptop reminded me of fictional author Hank Moody's rant against technology in the excellent television series Californication. "We have all this amazing technology and yet computers have turned into basically four figure w--k machines.

He continued: "The internet was supposed to set us free, democratise us, but all it's really given us is Howard Dean's aborted candidacy and 24-hour a day access to kiddie porn. People they don't write anymore – they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it's just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people in a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King's English."

When Moody is asked if he isn't ust as bad because he too is blogging, he wryly responds, "hence my self-loathing."

While I wouldn't agree with some of Hank's rant, it makes some interesting points. The internet has not yet lived up to its billing as the great social leveller. The potential is there but only if governments throughout the world give their citizens better access to technology such as PCs and broadband.

There's still a gaping grand canyon-sized gap between the digital haves and have-nots. Stepping back a bit we also first need to sort out our social problems. A homeless person's not going to have much use for a laptop with wireless internet connection when they have no roof over their heads. We have to save ourselves first before the internet can free us.

Unfortunately, he's spot on with the point on pornography. It's the most efficient business model on the internet. Easily accessed, easily downloadable. It's the internet's biggest success story. Which is why that aspect of the net is so disappointing. Then again, the pornography industry has always had a decisive hand in technology. It was behind the win for VHS back in the day, helped drive DVD's success and even the Blu Ray Disc Association (BDA) backed down from its initial stance of not letting pornography "in". Why? Because it needed them on board due to the small financial point that these movies make more money than Hollywood fare.

While Hank may be right about 90% of blogs (using Sturgeon's Law/Revelation) there are still at least 10% of them that are fulfilling their democratic potential. Last week I commented on how 13-year-old Tavi Gevinson had broken the rag trade's inner circle with her fashion blog. If she can do it why can't you?

?There's nothing like a price warfare in economically troubled times to get the heart thumping and the blood racing in anticipation of a possible bargain. Price cuts always benefit the consumer in the short term until they are raised again under some stealthy guise.

And there seems to be a few potential ones about to heat up in the tech world.

Eircom and Vodafone have both been cutting the cost of their respective broadband and home phone packages.

Thanks to BT's deal with Vodafone to hand over its broadband business the mobile provider has become the number two operator in the fixed line space.

Vodafone's 3Mb broadband and home phone deal now costs €45 trumping Eircom's €56.99. Both companies are, however, a long way from really good value when you consider UPC is offering a 10 MB broadband and home phone package for €50. Magnet is also offering 10Mb broadband plus phone for around €55. With better speeds from the latter two companies it's obvious there's plenty of room for Eircom and Vodfone to reduce the price of their 3Mb packages even further or increase the speeds for the same price.

What would really put the cat among the broadband pigeons was if a magic regulatory wand could be waved to allow Eircom to abrogate itself from the ridiculous line rental charge it is legally compelled to levy.

Now that would be interesting.

* Another potential win for consumers is the news that Vodafone has won the rights to sell iPhones.

Competing mobile company O2 has had a monopoly on the swanky Apple device for the past couple of years and it has been really making a mountain of money from consumers caught in the techno-romance net of the iPhone.

Bottom line is the device is overly expensive as are the tariffs. With Vodafone now on board there is a chance that it will launch its foray into Apple-mania by significantly undercutting O2's pricing. This is, however, probably unlikely because Vodafone don't do cheap. We can, nonetheless, dream.

* There was excitement in some quarters last week with the announcement that a games company was "considering" moving to Ireland to avail of tax breaks.

Realtime Worlds is currently based in Dundee but is considering moving because Scotland no longer has a tempting enough tax regime.

Ireland has a healthy games culture with a number of games companies located here both foreign and domestic. We are, however "small potatoes" in the gaming world and Realtime's possible arrival here won't change that.

What Ireland really to flourish in this area is for a publisher such as Electronic Arts (EA) to set up shop here. Until then we'll be a very small drop in the gaming ocean.