A World With SOPA.

This is a warning. I am going to get political in this post. And, to be clear on the matter, I am by no means a pundit, politician, or anything else cool sounding with the letter “p”. What I am though, is a person on the internet, who knows and understands the internet. The internet speaks to me late at night, and whispers sweet nothings into my ear as Rainymood softly supports the atmosphere The Fragrance of Dark Coffee is setting.

Just this once, I am willing to discuss politics, because this is something that could not only have a negative effect on my relationship with the internet, it could very well sweep away the rain and stop the Gyakuten Orchestra from playing that sweet saxophone. Sure, I could experience that by going out in the rain and listen to real people play the sax, but rain is wet. The internet as it currently is allows me to experience the joys of rain without any of the negative side-effects it might cause.

SOPA. PIPA.

Most people who know how to find this blog will know the basics of these bills, and what they represent. They stand for a restricted internet where corporations tame the wild seas of the internet, and with it our take away our platforms. It’s like ending the golden age of piracy by sinking every ship in the harbor, and beyond, but for the major commercially owned ones. What’s even worse is that it’s, for a large part, the traders who dealt with the pirates and profited from them who are doing this.

You know that already. You are fighting against that already. You are doing what you can to keep the internet as it is a place that can continue to exist. That is good, but it isn’t going to be enough.

Sorry. I don’t want to rain on your parade (I’m not kidding about listening to Rainymood right now), but sooner or later, a bill will pass. And how good or bad that is depends not just on the bill that will pass, but on how we respond to it.

You see, the internet is going through changes. It’s getting older, and it’s starting to show true signs of the thing that it will settle down to become. For many of us, the internet didn’t become the big serious thing we now all know it to be. And it’s only half-way there. If anything, what we are at now is the rebellious teenager phase of the internet.

Most of the online communities, circles, even the first signs of an awareness and understanding of memetics, were all attached to the media forms that came before it. Television, print, radio.

We’ve developed all these things to a point they can continue, work, and exist on their own without that initial connection being there.

Radio? We have podcasts. We have so many podcasts out there, on so many different subjects, it’s almost insane to keep up with them. What’s even more crazy is that so many of these podcasts are much more in line with how radio used to be. I don’t know about all you crazy foreign folks out there (I’m Dutch, even you Americans are foreigners to me), but over here radio talk shows have pretty much died out. Oh, sure, there are still a couple of shows where they talk in between songs, but the relevancy and level has dropped to a point where there really isn’t a point to tune in because of the hosts and their talk anymore. There are no stories being told any more, and the ones that are generally are found on some website somewhere. Whoops, they’re actually relying on the internet now.

(Pssst, hey. Figure out the rights to your materials, we may want to create an even ground with other media formats later on. This might be useful if other platforms ignore our rights. Commercial establishments using your material, and even worse, doing so without even crediting you for it is a no-go under Creative Commons.)

Print? We have articles on subjects everywhere you look. You know what the sad thing here is? At some point print forgot that it isn’t about finding the exclusives, it isn’t about being the first to something, it’s about how you present this. Especially in an established format that, once it’s out there, will always continue to be out there. It’s solid. Set in stone. Printed. They should push quality, and make us care why they are talking about it, and why this interests them so much. Instead, the quality in most print magazines these days seem to be at the level of most tabloid sites. A collection of noise. Blogs are even doing a better job at carrying voice admits all the noise. Speaking of which, there’s enough print magazines that like to feature bits and pieces of information from the web, screengrabs, slabs of text and all, without properly crediting it as something from the internet. The more tech-savvy naturally will credit everything properly, but the ones less so? I’m afraid not.

(Pssst, hey. Hey. You are listening right? Figure out the rights to your materials. Do it.)

Television? While there’s a lot of good shows on there, there is just so much noise on there it’s nearly an all-static media format. Although it has been improving as it seems it finally found a way to grow up and be itself. Remember when TV shows weren’t expected to deliver the level of quality movies do? Remember when we actually expected something from Hollywood? I don’t know about any of you reading this, but the more movies from 2011 I watch, the more I’m convinced that movies are the new “daytime television”. Although that doesn’t mean that TV is completely in the clear here. There’s still those “homevideo” types of broadcasts that, instead of making people feel special by having them send in videos of themselves making fools out of themselves, broadcast videos ripped from the internet and broadcast those to ridicule them.

(Psssst, hey. Hey. Rights, motherfucker. We can’t do this to their materials, they shouldn’t be able to do this with ours.)

Now, one of these days, a bill is going to pass. It’s inevitable. It’s not completely bad, but there will be a compromise.

In all probability, we will need to figure out a way to create a bubble for ourselves in which we don’t use any materials that major corporations have copyrights to. Fair enough. It would certainly end a heck of a lot of controversy regarding copyright.

I say, let them have their goods. We all know that they’re doing this for control over the internet. For control over our thoughts, for control over what pop culture is. Let them have it. Let them be in control of their own products. But, let’s try to keep their control there. If we play this whole thing right, we can turn it around and disentangle the internet culture from the pop culture that they have created. Suddenly, they have full control over their goods, because nobody is getting anywhere near it.

Teach them how big a thing word of mouth really is. And let’s teach them that by holding on to our own culture. The internet has been around for long enough for us to create our own standards. Our own culture. Our own music. Our own brands. Our own intellectual properties. If we learn our rights, if we learn how to play this game the right way, we can lock them out of the internet harder than they’d like to lock us out.

The internet is home to many, many innovators. Home to many creative people. Lots of extremely intelligent folk dwell these plays. And many of them are incredibly charitable. if there are any folk who could actually come together and play this thing out in a direction the pushers of legislation like SOPA and PIPA don’t want it to go, it’s them. It’s us.

And you’re afraid of memes to die…

Well, if you know anything about memetics, the nature, and the mutation of it, you’ll know memes will never die. Heck, how many internet-only memes are there that don’t include anything from outside our bubble already? How many times must you be warned about stairs before this stops happening? I’m telling you dog.

We had a nice day where we all stood together and watched the lights go out on the internet. But this isn’t the end of it. Not by any stretch of imagination. These things will keep coming back, and we can either keep trying to stop them at the last minute, or find some way to preemptively take control.

Have a nice internet.

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One thought on “A World With SOPA.

  1. Pingback: Rest in Peace MEGAUPLOAD « Remy van Ruiten

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