Thursday, January 19, 2012


As you may have noticed from your friends facebook statuses and from visiting many of your favorite websites, yesterday was official SOPA/PIPA protest day on the Internet or, as I will remember it as, the day Wikipedia didn't work. Now I'm all for an unfettered, free Internet (you may have noticed my blog has been preemptively protesting SOPA/PIPA by not contributing an entry since last Wednesday). From what information I've skimmed both proposed pieces of legislation appear unduly restrictive and would cause more harm than the proposed good (although I do feel all I've been getting is the anti-legislation viewpoint; where can I get some pro-SOPA information? The RIAA website? A brief chat with Chris Dodd?). I for one though am not too worried that these laws might pass, there appears to be such a negative majority reaction to it and (although no one is really publicly stating it) there is no way modern American society will allow anything that would hinder or burden the free flow of easy access, streaming, pornography. With that said, the real lesson I learned on Jan. 18th was how important wikipedia was to my everyday life.

Not to get all former communications major on everyone but Wikipedia has to be one of the few completely beneficial things to have come out of the Internet. It's one of those innovations that the Internet was created for (along with of course the free flow of easy access, streaming, pornography): a constantly updating collaborative compendium of human knowledge that's standardized and summarized and freely available for the masses; an amazing achievement that could not be done in any other medium. Aside from the participation and scale of the project, the really great thing about wikipedia has been its democratization of information. Without the burdens of physical media along with the accessibility for anyone to contribute an entry, all information, regardless of importance or cultural significance is included and treated the same way. An article detailing the WWE/WCW Monday Night Wars is covered and treated with the same standards as World War II; you won't get that from Encarta 98.

Being suddenly denied daily access to this diverse, dynamic source of information made me realize how much it had become my daily fact checker and reference guide for the mindless minutiae in my life from petty disputes in conversations, random connections, forgotten facts, to fleeting obsessions. It was downright frustrating how I found myself being denied quick and easy facts about all the random topics that flew into the scattered brain. Ten things off the top of my head I couldn't look up or had to consult inferior sources yesterday:
I think I'll go click on one of those ubiquitous banners and donate a fiver.

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