The Internet Is Serious Business

Have you ever wondered how the Internet’s physical infrastructure works? Who owns it and why that might matter? In the spring and summer of 2008, CUP and CUP teaching artist Helki Frantzen worked with youth from New York City’s City-As-School and People’s Production House to investigate the politics of the Internet in New York City. The resulting video follows the adventures of an extra-terrestrial studying communications technology on planet Earth.

The alien’s investigations bring her into contact with city council members, Verizon engineers, law professors, telco hotels, subterranean landlords, and packet switchers. Underneath the physical structures that move the data around, the alien discovers a pattern of ownership and regulation more shocking than she could have imagined.

The Internet is Serious Business is available as a packaged DVD with an Educator’s Guide to help teachers use the video in the classroom and get people talking about the Internet and how we can make it better. The guide is packed with discussion questions and exercises that educators can use to reinforce and expand upon the themes of the video. The video is also a great tool for community organizations looking to explain concepts like net neutrality in an accessible and fun way.

Get your own copy of the video and educator’s guide here!

You can also watch the video here:

Resources & Links

Bway.net is an independent ISP founded with the goal of providing the highest quality Internet service for the residents of New York City.

People’s Production House (PPH) is a journalism training and production institute focused on producing stories that bring unheard voices to the fore.

Funding Support

This project was made possible by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the support of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, The North Star Fund, Funding Exchange/the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media; the Bay and Paul Foundations; the Sprint Foundation; the Media Democracy Fund, and the Wallace Global Fund.

Special Thanks

Andrew Allen, Damien Barrett, Henry Bertoni, PhD, John Bonomo, Joshua Breitbart, Hon. Gale A. Brewer, Susan Crawford, Dharma Dailey, Leonard Ferguson, Tim Lance, PhD, Al Patrizzi, Dana Spiegel, Tyrone Stith, Richard Windram

Participants

  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Helki Frantzen
  • Project Lead
  • Rosten Woo
  • Project Support
  • John Mangin 
  • Valeria Mogilevich 
  • Sarah Nelson Wright
  • People’s Production House
  • Project Coordinator
  • Josh Breitbart
  • City-As-School 
  • Students
  • Kristian Roberts 
  • Joanna Pajuelo 
  • Darnell Lubin
  • Brain Garrido
  • Intern Coordinator
  • Andre Knights

Press

We Seriously Love The Internet is Serious Business
  • Detroit Digital Justice Coalition zine #3
  • June 30, 2011

The film is instrumental in engaging people in disenfranchised communities who have been previously intimidated by the Internet. It is understandable by ANYONE from age 8 to 80.

The Internet is Serious Business
  • Manhattan Neighborhood Network
  • September 30, 2008

Takes what could easily be a snooze-fest – an examination of Internet access, the “digital divide” and technology governance issues – and whips them into an entertaining and informative mix that is truly all ages.