I know a lot of people who are unhappy with their ISP (Internet Service Provider) — connections are often slow and unreliable, customer service is abysmal, and sometimes there are even explicit usage restrictions. Even worse, many areas are dominated by a single companies with local monopolies, so the consumer doesn’t even have a choice. Finally, there are many rural areas for which no one has even bothered to build broadband access, raising issues relating to the ‘digital divide’.
My idea consists of two main parts: first, a map that shows which ISP’s are providing access to which areas of the country/world; second, discussion boards for the users of a specific ISP in a specific region. These would facilitate self-organization of users who are victims of a particular location-specific policy of a particular ISP, allowing them to assert themselves to that ISP’s customer service not as single individuals, but instead as important customer groups with the power to organize a boycott or take some other action.
(In writing this, I felt I was villifying ISP’s more than I should be. I don’t blame them for acting as they are as profit-maximizing entities, but I see it as a problem that the current arrangement discourages competition and creates a sub-optimal equilibrium. As I recall, capitalism works most efficiently when everyone has perfect information.)
(For the first few of these, at least, I think I’m going to link back to the introductory web idea post.)