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Helen Popkin
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msnbc.com
updated 8/5/2010 1:52:44 PM ET 2010-08-05T17:52:44

Hey! Remember this morning when the Internet was awesome? Then it went straight to hell? Then it was awesome again … but for how long?

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To the Average Internet Joe, Thursday's reports about Google and Verizon working out some sort of Web traffic deal in a closed-door meeting that somehow involved the Federal Communications Commission — a report both Google and Verizon quickly denied — read like snooze-inducing business mumbo jumbo.

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In the realm of "stuff that happened on the Interwebs," it doesn't doesn't seem nearly as cryptic as the alleged "Facebook Bigamist" whose first wife stumbled upon his second wife's wedding photos on everyone's social network of choice. But unless you're a "Facebook Bigamist" yourself, any deals brokered between giant corporations about how to handle Web traffic could have a real effect on your Internet life in the future.

The problem is, net neutrality is a complex, multi-leveled concept that means more than how quickly or slowly you view pictures of LOLCats and whatnot. As Bob Sullivan points out in Red Tape, "This is not the fight of big companies vs. little people that it has been cast to be. It is big companies vs. other big companies. It's Web content suppliers like Skype and YouTube vs. Web bandwidth suppliers like Comcast and Verizon. You, dear reader, are a pawn."

So why not be an entertained pawn? If you're like me (and, er, a lot of other people I know on the Internet), you don't have the attention span to make it through a long explanation about something so complex and as of yet, not affecting you directly. So here are five more-or-less entertaining videos to explain it to you.

John Hodgeman explains net neutrality to Jon Stewart
In this old-timey video from the July 19, 2006 episode of "The Daily Show," everyone's favorite "PC" John Hodgeman explains how information moves over the Internet and how that traffic might be relegated to pneumatic tubes should the Internet Protection Act fail to pass.

Rocketboom: Hot chick explains how telcos want to make more money
Here's another Internet-ancient piece from the repository of all things awesome, Rocketboom — and like John Hodgeman, it also stands the test of time. Plus, it stars a really hot blonde girl who is lots of fun until she gets to the part about how the inability to choose an Internet service provider (ISP) — and access Craigslist — is a matter of life or death.

Al Franken: 'Net neutrality is the 1st amendment issue of our time.'
Then-Minnesota senatorial candidate Franken is not laughing when he says, "How long do you think it will take before four or five mega corporations effectively control the flow of information in America not only on television but online?"

Humanity Lobotomy - what will the Internet look like in 10 years?
Running a little longer than 10 minutes, this documentary is a little too long to sneak a peek at while you're at work. Plus, if you're  to the "sleepies" caused by middle school science filmstrips and ice cold air conditioning, the reminiscent voice over may make your head snap back in a dozing-preventative action. But it gives a nice history of the Internet, and hey, we can always use a review.

'Debunking industry myths on net neutrality'
The Free Press had a lot to say this morning when news initially broke that Google and Verizon were perhaps brokering a traffic deal. In this video produced earlier this year, Free Press Research Director Derek Turner explains what his organization believes are the industry's main myths about net neutrality — that it will stifle broadband expansion. This is more grown-up (i.e. not fun) unlike the previous videos, but it's a good watch if you're ready to think like a grownup.

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