What I learned from the SOPA/PIPA Blackout

As three of your may have noticed, I blacked out Ironclad Illogica in solidarity with others protesting SOPA/PIPA. If you don’t know what it is, the answer is here. I’ll wait.

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s get down to brass tacks. To say the internet is a powerful tool would probably be the greatest understatement ever written. It has connected the globe in ways we could not have imagined, provided a new global market, and been a cat spouting fountain of information for those willing to learn search heuristics. I could go on, but I don’t want the internet to get a fat tube.

Now, I’m not going to go too nuts on what could happen if this passes. I will say that pirating is not so bueno, but it won’t go away if SOPA/PIPA becomes law. What will happen is some folks will potentially get dinged for really silly stuff. Searching google for an image of a movie poster, and putting it on your web page could get you shut down. Best part? Without any hope of seeking legal recourse, and conceivably without warning. That’s pretty ridiculous.

Now that I’m all worked up from typing that last paragraph extra hard to exercise my displeasure, here are some things I learned from the blackout :

1. In America, the only way to spur real political action is to use the internet. I am stoked that the global reaction was enough to show key supporters that this was a bad idea. That’s pretty freaking cool. And nobody got pepper sprayed, I think. Which is a plus.

2. The internet is seen as an untapped market… and product. Though web marketing and commerce are certainly alive and well, it is not owned and controlled. I saw references to the internet still being the ‘wild west’ in several posts yesterday from some rabid opponents of SOPA/PIPA. In a very real way, this is true. Pioneers headed west and bore the elements, disease, and oxen dying fording rivers. They were virtually ungoverned, and they found gold. Then everybody on the developed side of the nation wanted a piece of that action. They needed to own the commodity so they could control the flow, reap the benefits of this shiny, precious commodity. Bringing the metaphor home, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the capabilities of the internet. We’ve carved out a few sizable nuggets, but we have yet to hit the motherlode. So it makes sense to control it as best you can so when it is uncovered, you can collect. It has not been tamed yet. It’s like my back hair.

3. I am supremely jealous of the generations after mine. That students are going to wikipedia and google for answers is crazy. In my day, I had to go to the library and use a card catalog and talk to someone who smelled like the inside of a century-old hope chest to find the books I needed. And AND I didn’t just get to open the book and go to the answer either. No. I had to look at the table of contents, index, and glossary to try and locate the needle of information I needed in the haystack of potential papercuts. What do they have to do? Ctrl + F. Game over. That’s a load of bullcrap, but it also shows how awesome things like google and wikipedia are.

I am really happy that folks are so eager to defend their rights on the internet. And I am also proud that they were defended for the time being.

But we should also care about the passage of the NDAA .


One response to “What I learned from the SOPA/PIPA Blackout

  1. Pingback: 2012 : Year of the Honey Badger | Ironclad Illogica

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