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Thoughts on Wikipedia’s SOPA/PIPA blackout

January 17, 2012

So, tomorrow Wikipedia is going black! While it seems this specific incarnation of SOPA has been stopped now, there is no doubt there will be new efforts to pass similar legislation in the future. Maybe they will be sold as a compromise between digital world and old media industries, maybe it will be strong-armed. This show will go on.

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

We had a debate with a friend on how much sense it makes for more sites to join this specific SOPA protest tomorrow since the goal has already been achieved. My opinion is that if you have media momentum, you should use it. It will make your job easier next time. Media will cover the story and journalists will get slightly more informed about what’s at stake. So next time you approach them to cover something fishy, they’ll be (at least slightly) quicker to comprehend it. Especially if the article about ‘your issue’ they wrote last time got them lots of page views.

However what really got me thinking was this. What if SOPA would be still on the table and there would be a really really large scale blackout by search giants and new media industries (imagine Google, Facebook and Twitter going black).  Suspend your disbelief for a second. What would be an effect of such move? Would it work? Would politicians take note?

Here’s my theory: It would work. Politicians would kill the bill. … now comes the but… But, this would mean that these companies have made a show of force and projected their “true power”. And you don’t want to be in a power games against the politicians. In the long run they will win. You can be soft and try to sway people left and right, but if you force something on them, you will create loud or quiet enemies. And then it would be only question of time when the appropriate time for “return favour” would come and politics (and government) would reassert their power over IT crowd.  That’s my theory why ramp-up of the lobbying from new media industries is so slow – fast ramp-up would create tension and long-term enemies.

Anyway here’s the original story:

Formal announcement of Wikipedia’s SOPA/PIPA blackout

Press releases/English Wikipedia to go dark
From the Wikimedia Foundation
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English Wikipedia to go dark January 18 in opposition to SOPA/PIPA
San Francisco — January 16, 2012 — On January 18, 2012, in an unprecedented decision, the Wikipedia community has chosen to blackout the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours



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