Today I became a member of the Internet Defense League and registered my site for their Cat Signal campaign. The IDL is an awareness group inspired by the SOPA/PIPA Internet Blackout and is backed by such Web heavy hitters as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Mozilla. It's basically an emergency broadcast system for the Open Internet.
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a lover and advocate of technology. You might even go so far as to call me a tech-utopianist and that's probably not inaccurate. I've blogged before about efforts to protect the Internet in terms of network neutrality, and that's about access; however access is just one side of the control coin. The other side is content.
Now, I don't want to get into my ideas about what is going on in the world of online content because that's a pretty complex and touchy issue, but what I do want to highlight is the hasty drive to control it. In trying to regain control of content, monied interests - usually content "creators" - are making hasty decisions (or, rather, pushing law makers to make hasty decisions) which endanger the very fabric of the Intenet.
Let's be clear about this: THE INTERNET IS ONE OF THE GREATEST - IF NOT THE GREATEST - INVENTION OF ALL TIME.
Undermining the thing that most brings us together is a far greater crime than petty violations of "intellectual proeprty." Initiatives like SOPA and PIPA are dispicable and we need to make people aware of this. I have a small blog here, read by an average of 0.1 people per week, and so participating in the Internet Blackout wouldn't have done a lot of good, or would it? I don't know, but awareness is a great thing and so is collective protest.
The IDL have a great and simple idea - turn blackout-style activity into an organized campaign. Keeping it kind of topical, they're organizing it around tonight's release of one of the most anticipated movies of the year - "The Dark Night Rises" - and styling it after that same hero. Instead of the Bat Signal, we'll have the very Internet-appropriate "Cat Signal." It's going to be cast on some walls in a few cities, but even cooler, I think, is that it's going to be broadcast on participants' websites.
Again, this is all about awareness. But awareness breeds empowerment. The hope is that participants and people who see this will engage law makers and we as a society can have a real dialog instead of policy driven solely by monied interests. It's hopeful, but so am I. Anyway, I've registered my site and joined the IDL. I think this is a very cool initiative and even though my little site is just a drop in the bucket, without me there'd be one less drop.
If you have a website I urge you to consider the IDL or membership in a similar group. And, when you can, donate to the EFF.
Update on 2012-07-20 13:36 by Chris Durham