Today's been an interesting day. I've been surfing the web to see the effects of the SOPA protests. It's interesting to me to see how Google and Wikipedia, two of the most visited sites on the internet, showed their support. Wikipedia, as a nonprofit organization, shut down their site in solidarity with the Stop-SOPA protests, while Google, a publicly traded company, showed their support in the only way they'd possibly be allowed by shareholders. Only time will tell whether or not these protests championed by activists from all walks of life are truly successful, although for now it appears to be so. Today's events have brought to light some very key concepts that I feel need to be further explored.
Over the course of the last 30 years, the internet has evolved into much more than a simple communication device. The internet has become a safe haven for people to hide from the mundane or difficult routines of their daily lives. Due to financial, time, and physical constraints, many people experience a large portion of life through the internet (including via cell phone). I've found many people are completely uninterested in their lives outside of the internet. No matter where you are in the world, the world wide web is your home. This is why I support SOPA/PIPA, or at least some sort of government intervention in the internet.
Our government is not for the people, as they would have you believe. Being of the people, the majority of the government is comprised of the majority of the populace...those looking out only for themselves. Many people feel this way about the government, but as the interwebz become more and more entertaining and widespread, the complacency of the general populace has spread as well. Who gives a shit what's going on outside as long as I've got the internet, right? The government suddenly telling such a large, angry, and broke population what they can and can not do online will provide this large cross section of the country with a reason to get involved. People would finally get off their asses and participate in the actions necessary to invoke much needed change in today's society. Wikipedia (along with thousands of other websites) has proven this point.
Wikipedia not only forced the SOPA issue onto your computer screens, but has taken one more step toward the inevitable future in which digital tech companies are as influential in our government as financial companies are now. Although a nonprofit organization, Wikipedia has proved it's clout in today's world. People noticed. People got angry. People got involved.
On the flip side, we have the publicly traded Google. Support for the Anti-SOPA protests could be felt within the company, however Google has shareholders to answer to. These shareholders want profits. A one day black out of of all Google sites, as Wikipedia invoked, could actually be catastrophic to our economy. The tech sector of the stock market would take a huge hit. Tens of thousands of companies would be unable to do business. Google would have effectively created a shutdown of resources comparable to shutting down a ship or train route. The strategy of cutting off valuable resources has been historically utilized to weaken an opponent, forcing negotiation or surrender. Fortunately for us Google thought better, and our point was proven without them having to actively participate in today's events.
Now that we understand this power, how do we best utilize it? If Wikipedia had shut down in support of the Occupy movement, what effect would that have? What if Google joined them? In the United States, internet is as valuable of a resource as money, as we learned today when two of the top 10 most visited sites on the web supported a cause. Your bank shuts down for 1 day every week, and you barely notice. We've been fighting the banks on their terms this entire time. Isn't it time we find more effective ways of fighting them on grounds we're more familiar with? In the tech realm, the banks no longer hold the power. The people do.
About the Author - Brian Penny creates awful music under the name Mr. Versable. He tweets under the name @Versability. He believes in true love, and won't rest until he's found his...oh, and his last blog cost Bank of America a whole lotta dough although not pointing fingers, but the typos weren't his...! Peace and love! haha ;)