Operas are known for being tragic. Soap operas are also known for being tragic, but with so little quality to the writing, filming, or acting. But what we are in right now is the SOPA opera. It’s a very vocal public debate over American legislation that will drastically affect international communication through the world wide web. The internet we know today has been built from the grass roots up into the vast and essential system of information infrastructure the world operates from today.
Free and open access to information has been the accelerator of change for the past two decades. What’s driven innovation in the world economy has been ways to engage the public with information, because the information is there to be taken in. If laws like SOPA are passed around the world – or even just the US as that affects pretty much everywhere – the information will no longer be there. The private sector will drastically reduce the research and development of technologies because the majority of consumers will no longer see benefit in using them. The pirate sector will continue to flourish because their consumer base is more tech savvy and determined to do what they can to get around these laws.
I haven’t studied SOPA in depth, nor do I have a thorough legal understanding of this area, as my determination to be a failure outweighed any desire to go to law school. But the public dialogue surrounding this has clued me in on what this will do to whom, and in whose interest with what limited understanding.
Tomorrow is an organized protest of a number of websites that will shut down for the day, showing the potential ghost town the internet could be turned into. I support these protests, and I will not be partaking in online activity outside of the basics of my job. Government cannot crush the collective spirit of The Internet.