Benjamen Walker had a theory that priority queues are changing the American experience of waiting in line. So he visited amusement parks, highways, and community colleges to find out how these priority queues work and who is using them. What started as an episode of 99% Invisible became a half-hour radio documentary for the BBC.
Along the way Walker met the man that may be responsible for the reason why many Americans know the word “queue” at all: Neil Hunt from Netflix. He has been trying to abandon the word ever since he introduced it into the DVD service over a decade ago.
Walker also met up with Susan Crawford and she is a net neutrality advocate who thinks that queues are a good way to examine the pitfalls with what she calls the “cablelization” of the internet. Comcast has taken the lead in providing high-speed internet to consumers, but people like the CEO of Netflix have been critical of how Comcast favors its own video content over video from third party services like Netflix and HBO Go. Crawford’s concerns go way beyond streaming video to the heart of the net neutrality debate: is a market without any meaningful competition a safe place to determine the future of communications in this country?
Maybe we should all move to Kansas City.
ALSO If you’re in New York City, I’m appearing at WFMU’s Radiovision Festival on October 20. Come out and say, “Hi!”