Okay, don’t lie. How many of you knew what SOPA was before this morning?
You woke up, had your coffee, and went to work, per usual. But then something random reminded you of this one obscure movie from the 90s and for the life of you, you couldn’t recall the name of that one blonde actress! True story. You (I) HAD to jump on Wikipedia and look it up. Otherwise, this irrelevant, insignificant albeit urgent bit of info would plague you for the better part of the morning. And it would, in fact, end up plaguing you for the better part of the morning.
Why? Because Wikipedia has been blacked out. It’s almost unspeakable. How long can we actually thrive without free and infinite knowledge at our fingertips to satisfy every possible whim, qualm and curiosity?
Confession: I didn’t know what SOPA was until this morning when I happened upon the darkest, most depressing Wikipedia homepage I have ever seen. I use “dark” here as a big-time metaphor. Will I ever see the light again?
Wait, does this mean I can’t look up what SOPA is on Wikipedia? Actually, that's the only bit of Wikipedia info you're privy to today.
If you navigate to Google’s homepage, you will see it is still functioning, but the logo is blacked out. Wikipedia and Google aren’t the only “blacking out” in protest of the proposed SOPA and PIPA. Wordpress, Craiglist, Firefox, Reddit, Wired and the Huffington Post are only some of the online heavy hitters that are going AWOL today protesting SOPA.
Whether you are a proponent of the bill or a staunch opponent, the point is that many of us were “in the dark” this morning, but I’d be willing to bet that the blacking of some of our favorite sites has pulled us into the staunch opponent category. Our web leaders have taken action and have persuaded us to follow suit. Google’s homepage has a link to a petition you can sign against SOPA, FYI. I’ve signed it and I urge you to do the same.
The web is powerful, and no doubt thousands have mobilized, called to action by the blacked out homepages of major websites. I feel like this SOPA business came out of nowhere. Why did it not break wide open before today? Granted, it’s a new bill, but it’s definitely been in the works for some time.
Today, it was the Internet who told us what we needed to know. It’s almost like we weren’t really familiar with SOPA until it was here, immediately upon us. Had Wikipedia, Google and others failed to protest so boldly, would this bill pass through Congress with relative ease come voting time? Imagine if this was the case for other hot button issues. It’s under the rug, it’s under the rug, here’s Johnny! We would be utterly powerless as a people. To be a force, you need to be able to mobilize, and the only way to mass mobilize in such a short amount of time is the Internet. It's the link.
The backlash of the "2012 SOPA Outbreak" has been significant, and it has been so because of the very engines and innovators this bill aims to commandeer. Censorship is a slippery slope, and it’s seriously scary. To Wikipedia, Google, Wordpress, Craiglist and others sticking it to the man today: keep on keepin’ on, and a sincere thank you from your loyal users. Somewhere in some imaginary, ethereal forrest up in the sky, Henry David Thoreau is beaming down at you all, clutching "Civil Disobedience" tightly in his arms.
But seriously, I am going to need to know the second Wikipedia is back up and running because that one actress thing from earlier is still bothering me.