Gerrymandering the Internet, Continued
Posted by Stephen Lewis on December 17, 2008
Further to my last post, Doc Searls expands on the fragmentation of the web in Splinternet. In World-Wide Regions, James Robertson relates the absurdities of geographic coding of DVDs. As an additional absurdity, I quote below the well-meaning and obviously pained text of a webpage that popped up when I tried to log-on to the music service Pandora from my desk in Sofia, Bulgaria:
Dear Pandora Visitor,
We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.
We believe that you are in Bulgaria (your IP address appears to be 22.214.171.124). If you believe we have made a mistake, we apologize and ask that you please contact us at email@example.com
If you are a paid subscriber, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will issue a pro-rated refund to the credit card you used to sign up. If you have been using Pandora, we will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you.
We will be notifying listeners as licensing agreements are established in individual countries. If you would like to be notified by email when Pandora is available in your country, please enter your email address below. The pace of global licensing is hard to predict, but we have the ultimate goal of being able to offer our service everywhere.
We share your disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.
Readers not familiar with the word “gerrymander,” its etymology, history, and effects might find it worthwhile to click here. How we chart geopolitical boundaries shapes legal jurisdictions, national identities, and the very “non-rationalized” emplacement of infrastructure. It also interprets how we interpret the significance political mandates (see this past post on the mapping of the recent US presidential election). New and old forms of gerrymandering, apparently, affect how we use and envision the internet, are served by it, and structure and control its services and infrastructure.