Our Web. Our Conversation. Our House Rules

The 'shape' of our Internet

It’s not everyday you get an email from Vnt Cerf, a.k.a. the father of the Internet.

His email yesterday read: “You spoke out and showed that, when we stand together, we can prevent bad policies from hurting the Internet. You proved we can stop something, but now it’s time for us to start something.”

He was probably referring to my joining in on the online petition in January, in support of massive, worldwide protests against SOPA and PIPA. Some 7 million people signed that petition. Apparently such widespread laws could ‘break’ the Internet.

Now, since there is talk of a renewed attempt to get those laws passed (read the recently published White House Intellectual Property Report) Vint is calling for you and me and your next-door who walks around with her face buried in her tablet, to do something about it.

The newly worded act talks, among other things (such as fear of China) that “U S innovation and creativity (needs to be) protected around the world and allow Americans to do what they do best—out-innovate, out-compete, and continue to lead in the global marketplace in this decade..” yada, yada, yada.

We’ve heard this blathering before. Funny how other nations are out-innovating, out-competing, and out-thinking us –sans such laws.

Vint makes a good point. It’s not enough for us to be always reacting  to legislation. We ought to be demonstrating to the people pushing for these laws that the value of openness outweighs  the value of putting handcuffs on every node of the Net.

The call to action is a tad too simple, if you ask me. It is a web site called Start Something. Basically you are asked to complete the sentence “The Internet is the power to…” You could have your say on Twitter, Google or Facebook.

I am not convinced that adding to the noise as to what the Internet is, will make the lawmakers do a double take. The content creators of this world, the thought-leaders, and social media evangelists ought to come up with a deeper, richer conversation.

What would you do? 

Online Privacy for the rest of us

If you didn’t see the blackout yesterday in protest of the Online Privacy Acts going through the House of Representatives and Senate (known by their acronyms SOPA and PIPA) it’s time to pay attention.

It won’t be trampling on the Wikipedias and the Facebooks of this world alone. Google, Reddit, and Craigslist, WordPress, Mozilla, and O’Reilly also protested the acts.

As Shel Holtz rightly noted in a great insightful piece, SOPA threatens much of the content residing on websites of organizations “as long as it resides on a .com, .org or .net domain. All it takes is for a user to upload a video, a photo or a presentation that violates someone’s copyright—even if it’s someone singing a cover of a song at a party—and under SOPA, Internet service providers could be ordered to block the domain name.”

Even those involved in advertising and SEO work.  Even Higher education! Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, according the ReadWrite Web.

I just submitted an article for publication on infographics, so this one caught my eye. It summarizes the issue well. But…. does that mean this blog too could come under scrutiny by the SOPA police?

If you care about having your voice heard, you can sign the petition here.

Updated: The House of Representatives statement on the blackout, says that this was a Wikipedia ‘publicity stunt.’ In a press release (responding to the claim that some organizations had dropped their support of SOPA) it stated that ““Contrary to critics’ claims, SOPA does not censor the Internet.”