Thursday, December 15, 2011

Piracy, The Sea, and The Infinite Net

There are many modes of communication these days. Many facets, many nodes. Far too many to list. But there are attempts to stifle them as well.

In the last two decades we have come to know communication in ways that were previously impossible. With a mouse click we can befriend people on the other end of the globe and share conversations contrasting our childhoods. We can see the farthest corners of the Earth without any hesitation or impedance for the net is vast and its possibilities endless. But it's possibilities may end.

As a child I saw the internet as the dawning of a new era. I saw it as the freeing of mankind. How truly could democracy thrive in a network of infinite information and near instant communication? What great hopes I had. I believed in the thought that information could truly be free, that humanity could bridge the gap for a global conversation, that this one thing could inspire innovation.

I must be an Idealist, possibly even a romantic. In the two decades since the internet went public it has become so much more than I had imagined and so much less. Streaming video, constant status updates, RSS feeds, piracy, porn, wikis, news, blogs, tweets, demotivational posters, troll face, and MMOs all with a focus on the trivial. All bound to the mundane. I'm as guilty as the next guy.

Now, 2011, capable of talking instantly to people on the polar opposite of the world thanks to Skype, and yet that distance has become greater. We have lost ourselves in a sea of information. And most of what we find time for is the trivial. We could learn so much just from reading Wikipedia entries. But instead we watch hours of YouTube  videos.

Ironically, we have made a blight of one of the greatest resources ever conceived. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to say it was planned, but that's too complicated. This we've done to ourselves. And now, the fear of information freedom strikes another blow against us, our previously free resource is threatened by legislation. The fear of Piracy has brought the motive of legislation to internet censorship. If this push was against the useless information in the infinite net I would champion its coming. It is, however, against the freedom of information. It is granting an ISP the right to deny you access to a website based upon that website's content.

The internet is a global resource. And governments are hard at work censoring and stifling it. I can't help but think there are bigger evils they should turn their attentions to. Another time perhaps.