January 19, 2012

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Reaction to the SOPA blackout?

Yesterday was the internet blackout. A day where thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of websites big and small (from Wikipedia to Snowulf) went “dark” to protest SOPA. There was a LOT of news coverage on the topic with many from the government officially backing out of SOPA/PIPA. So it seems that the blackout worked, for now. I suspect that this might be a giant game of door-in-the-face. Regardless of the long term effects, I’d like to share a few reactions I saw about the blackout.

First thing to note, Wikipedia going dark was, by and far, the headline news of the day. Instead of seeing “Internet goes dark protesting SOPA” or similar headlines, they tended to be “Wikipedia goes dark”. This is probably good because most people these days understand and use Wikipedia, and might even be upset by this. The generic “internet” is less upsetting because it’s too big of a concept for most people.

The problem with this, of course, is that I got asked many times by people as to why Wikipedia was dark. A number of the less tech savvy people I work with and/or know (like Mother) saw the headlines and didn’t understand much beyond “Wikipedia was down”. I know a few people thought it was down because it was going out of business.

I don’t think the protest part really and truly got through to the general public. I think most of them were confused. Now the more internet savvy people, they did take note. Many senators/congress-persons had their websites tanked, phone lines filled up, or were otherwise barraged. So the protest worked… but it still didn’t get through to (what I would guess) is at least 50% of people.

Is there anyway to really get through? Probably not. It probably doesn’t even matter either, but the danger is lurking in the distance with the next legislation. Only so many times will the internet band together and go on strike. Only so many times will the media/regular Joe give a crap.