First things first: I've sparred with MooJuice in the past, back when he wrote about politics and general interest stuff. He and I even spoke on the phone, on which occasion he suspiciously asked if "Joseph Cannon" was my real name. The weirdness of that question sunk in only after the chat was over -- apparently, this guy thinks that the name "Joseph Cannon" sounds phony and "Farhad Manjoo" doesn't.
MooJuice (as my ladyfriend rechristened him) went on to cover computer tech for Slate. And he is, like, almost always
wrong. Never moreso than here
, where he argues that the consumer should cheer the end of unlimited data plans:
And say hooray, too, because unlimited data plans deserve to die. Letting everyone use the Internet as often as they like for no extra charge is unfair to all but the data-hoggiest among us—and it's not even that great for those people, either. Why is it unfair? For one thing, unlimited plans are more expensive than pay-as-you-go plans for most people. That's because a carrier has to set the price of an unlimited plan high enough to make money from the few people who use the Internet like there's no tomorrow. But most of us aren't such heavy users.
He says this at a time when an increasing number of people are encouraged to get video content from sources like YouTube and Hulu and (if you're in the U.K. or if you know a good proxy) the BBC's iPlayer. In fact, internet video is the big (fake) rationale for the end of net neutrality -- to allow more throughput for better-quality video delivery.
But it's not just that unlimited plans raise prices. They also ruin service. Imagine what would happen to your town's power grid if everyone paid a flat rate for electricity: You and your neighbors would set your thermostats really high in the winter and low in the summer, you'd keep your pool heated year-round, you'd switch to plug-in electric cars...
That "nightmare" scenario sounds pretty good to me, if the juice were provided by solar, wind, hydrogen, fusion or some similar just-over-the-horizon tech. But MooJuice's analogy is wrong-headed. Here's a better one: Imagine if you had to pay X to watch 30 minutes of television, and 2x to watch an hour and 3x to watch...
Sound like fun?
None of this matters to MooJuice, who has tech companies begging to give him all sorts of cool electronic gizmos -- a situation he seems to think is his rightful due, even though he doesn't seem particularly savvy. (Would you
ask him to help you fix an intractable networking problem?) He's one of those "Whole Foods" pseudo-progs who simply cannot conceive of what life is like for the poor.
Me? I can conceive.
I don't have and don't want an iPhone, or any other kind of fancy-shmancy phone. But: In order to earn an alleged living, I often have to send massive psd files back and forth to clients -- and I now find myself inhabiting an attic which a cable would not easily reach. Pay-as-you-go 4G is my nightmare, and MooJuice expects me to shout huzzah
. Fuck you, Farhad.