Today is the day of global protest against ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a copyright treaty negotiated in secret (even parliaments and other legislatures weren’t allowed to see the the working drafts), and which many governments (include the American government) are planning to adopt without legislative approval or debate. ACTA represents a wish-list of legislative gifts to the entertainment industry, and will seriously undermine legitimate users of the Internet. It imposes criminal sanctions — with jail time — for people who violate copyright, including remixers and other legitimate artists and creators. ACTA requires governments to shut down legitimate websites whose users “aid and abet” copyright infringement, creating a regime of fear and censorship for sites that accept comments and other media from users and curtailing discussion and debate in order to maximize entertainment industry profits.
The arts should always be on the side of free expression. Creative industries should always be against censorship. This secret, undemocratic agreement that seeks to “preserve the creative industries” by imposing censorship and surveillance on the whole Internet lacks all legitimacy and should be rejected. If the entertainment industry wants laws passed to its benefit, let it use the same democratic mechanisms that all bodies use in free societies. Smoke-filled rooms and crony capitalism have no place in a free society.
Go to the post and use the form that is there to add your name to the growing list of people opposed to corporations deciding how to use government to seize control of your rights to free speech, free thought and free expression on the net.
Note: I tried posting the form here on my pages but I kept fucking something up so now I’m just linking to Cory’s post – one extra step – big fucking deal – click the link and sign the damn thing already.
Other people around the world are taking to the streets to loudly protest ACTA (and other similar secretive measures) and while it ain’t the equal of the desperate and bloody fights going on in Egypt or Syria it is just as important because ultimately if any of these corrupt treaties are enacted and acted upon it will be the gross legitimizing of corporate ownership of you and your children – and you’ll have no one to bame but yourselves.
Tell your friends, tell your family, stop strangers in the street, share links, sign petitions and if there are actual physical real world events happening near you then for fuck sake go to them and add your body to the movement and be counted.
And remember, TODAY will not be the only day needed to stop bullshit like this dead in its tracks. This is a fight that is going to continue on for the next few years until every single greedy weasel pushing for corporate control of our nervous system finally gets it into their pointy little heads to shut the hell up and sit the fuck down.
Internet Rising is an utterly awesome documentary which describes itself as
a digi-documentary investigating the evolving relationships between the Internet and collective consciousness of humanity. It provokes many questions about ancient and modern paradoxes of life, its pleasures and pains… and the gray area contrasts in between – but most of all it is meant to be an inspiring conversation starter; a launchpad for future remixes of a collective search for some meaning/mindfulness. It is also spiced with a bit of humorous satire to give our *overloaded* BIG DATA _information_ dump() brains a little break from the daily race :)
Brooke finishes the book with a manifesto of sorts, a call to arms to press, politicos and public to confront the coming deluge of data and channel it for transparency and accountability, but away from surveillance and invasion of privacy (a delicate operation, to be sure!) and to resist using the net as an excuse for more intrusive information policy.
Henry James Ferry of Grounded News reports from Liberty Park in New York City, comparing the growing protest movement and accompanying police response to previous Tea Party events. Concise and to the point, Ferry debunks the corporate media bulshit and points out the obvious differences between the actions of the far right and the popular revolt which is spreading across America.
I’ve nattered on in these pages before about how Net Neutrality equals Free Speech and needs to be vigorously protected by an engaged and active citizenry. Watching the major news outlets ignore and then distort the events unfolding in New York serves as a very strong example of precisely what I was taking about.
Can you imagine what would happen if the only access to news we had was through the papers, radio and television networks?
Back in the 1960′s and early ’70′s there was still a modicum of journalistic integrity which allowed news unfavourable to the corporate classes to be broadcast and discussed freely. Reports on riots in the streets, mass arrests and use of the National Guard on campuses – as well as front line footage which brought an un-embedded view of the Vietnam war into the living rooms of America, and the rest of the world – played a decisive role in slowing the corporate takeover of U.S. democracy and ending the profitable and tragic debacle in Vietnam.
The lessons from those days was obviously learned by authorities within the police and news industries – just as it was within the music and other entertainment industries (you won’t find any anti-war songs on the Top 10 these days) – and more pervasive and monolithic controls of these information sources has been corporatized to craft a simple, bland and diverting flow of stories that pass for news and culture.
The net eludes that control and will continue to do so as long as it remains free and out of the controlling hands of corporate power and corrupt governments. Otherwise we’ll just be listening to more Justin Beiber tunes sung in reality show competitions while the few who choose to stand up against corruption and theft get the snot smacked out of them by police thugs with no one paying attention – or being able to pay attention – or being allowed to pay attention.
So – pay attention.
Thankfully we are at a cusp where the ability to control the net has not been entrenched and cannot be enforced – yet – and the lies or non-news being spewed by old media is readily being shown to the world as the truckload of rancid horseshit it actually is.
I don’t care who’s side you’re on or what your personal political perspectives are. What I do care about is the ability of everyone to engage in free and open debate. That will not be possible without a neutral net.
The Occupy Wall Street protest continues through it’s 3rd week and is spreading to other cities. Trade unions are joining the crowds in support. The major media outlets are only now beginning to cover the ongoing and growing protest – mostly because of the “eye candy” of police violence. Twitter and other social media have held the role of citizen journalists from the beginning.
The mainstream media is not reporting a continuing protest on Wall Street, New York. The encamped protestors are growing in numbers as they continue their vigil to force a change in the political and economic war being waged within their country. Arrests have been made, people have been clubbed, gassed and harrassed – but the protest continues. It’s kinda like the G20 in Toronto – in slow motion.
It has been fascinating to watch unfold online – especially considering the dearth of coverage by major news outlets that habitually swarm over paltry Tea Party demonstrations and yet somehow find the spectacle of a few thousand people marching and camping out in the nation’s financial district despite being battered by an increasingly belligerent police force to be not worthy of a single mention. Shame on them.
Thank goodness for social media – the Twitter feed #ourwallstreet is a good source of news as are numerous independent video streams – thank goodness for Keith Olbermann (this from a few days ago):
- and a big thank you to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (you’ll want to watch this more up-to-date coverage):
I want to post more on this but I have pressing concerns here at home. When I can I’ll let out a bigger longer rant.
These protestors aren’t going anywhere soon but it would serve you well to delve deeper and find out more about what is happening in New York and, potentially, more cities as this protest continues to grow.
I found this over at BoingBoing where Cory Doctorow said: “This young man is one of the best speakers I’ve heard, and I salute his passion and his integrity.”
I have my faith in humanity restored whenever I hear young men and women speak words like this:
They can’t stop us demonstrating, they can’t stop us fighting back, and how ever much they try to imprison us in the streets of London, those are our streets. We will always be there to demonstrate, we will always be there to fight… We are no longer that generation that doesn’t care, we are no longer that generation to sit back and take whatever they give us. We are now the generation at the heart of the fight back.
They deserve our praise and, more importantly, our support. There is a very big fight coming. Large storm clouds of unrest are looming on the horizon of our lives. The stakes are going to be very dear and the end result – as much as these things ever have any true end – is in no wait a certainty. The next decade is going to be hell. No doubt about it. The young men and women who think and act as this student does will bear the brunt of the fight. Old farts like me must be prepared to do more than write angry blog posts or rage on Twitter.
I have a lot more to say about the recent events around the world with respect to freedom of speech and the right to dissent. There is a post-production deadline I must endeavour to meet and that will keep me busy for the next few weeks. Come the new year there be other projects that will occupy my time. But I do have more to say and I will find the time and the various ways and means of doing so. In the meantime, don’t be cynical, don’t be depressed, and don’t be savagely angry. Just be determined to add your own voice, in whatever way, regardless of how trivial it may seem. We are Spartacus, we are Anonymous, we are Assange, we are the Who’s of Whoville – and we will be heard.
UPDATE:- I added a relevant TED talk at the bottom of this post.
The past several days have seen great upheaval in Iranian society and this has drawn the attention of the world. There have already been many blogs, articles, cartoons and op-eds posted about the protests, the crackdowns and the innovative use of internet social media in response to the clumsy and blatant subversion of an already flawed democratic process in Iran. I was among those online, within the Twitter community, watching and commenting in real time as these events unfolded – astonished and inspired by the level of participation in helping people to continue to communicate their experiences of the situation in the streets of Iran, to travel safely and to find relative anonymity and escape from immediate persecution.
The major news media, complacent with their level of professionalism and their entrenched foreign bureaus remained blind and mute for an extraordinary length of time whilst the online community rallied to provide the means to evade censorship, pass along reports, photos & videos, facilitate communication amongst allied groups and demonstrate a disruptive solidarity by not only turning their Twitter avatars green (the emblematic colour of the protest movement) but by also altering their Twitter location & time-zone to create a mass of Twitter traffic from Tehran in an effort to dilute and confuse the efforts of the authorities to track down vocal dissidents.
Some of it was, admittedly, childish stuff. It was fun and it was thrilling for the most part – and downright scary and tragic from time to time as reports came in of beatings, shootings, arson and thuggery. The overall tone within the Twitter community was one of somber determination to keep the lines of communication open. Those efforts continue as I write these words.
Last night CBC television aired a report on the events and, as the major news media so often do, characterized the protests as a battle between candidates – carving out the tired icons of good guy and bad guy in their dramatic scenario that attempted to pass as news. In doing so they entirely missed the point of what the protests are fundamentally about.
Regardless of which candidate may be favoured by one group or another the major source of discontent within the protesting Iranian citizenry is how the results of their votes were ignored and a winner was decreed. The process of voting – regardless of how skewed it may have been by virtue of a ruling theocracy – was negated. Therein lies the justified fury of the public. It’s not one group getting snippy cuz they lost the election – it’s a pantload of people getting outraged because there was no fucking election at all.
We live in an age of ever increasing transparency. You can’t get away with shit anymore. Want to abuse your authority and taze someone to death? Okay – just be prepared to watch your sorry guilty ass doing it over and over again for all the world to see for all time on YouTube. You want to run a dictatorship? Go ahead – call it that and carry on about your business – lots of big companies will continue to invest in you – and eventually, inevitably, you’ll be eaten alive by those you oppress. You want to call it a democracy and get folks involved? Great! Just don’t be surprized at how pissed off they get when you dick with the results.
We must always remember that the internet isn’t about LOLCats and funny videos and porn and gossip and pirated music & movies – well, it is all that – and more. The internet is communication; the ability to see, hear, speak and act on a global scale instantaneously. The repercussions of that ability are only just now being felt in the way it is dissolving old media business models, triggering new economies, crafting new cultural works and entirely new cultures and, perhaps most importantly, forever altering how politics is conducted.
I’m under no illusions that Twitter or Google are some sort of progressive saving force for humanity. They’re not. They’re just part of a larger and growing process we are experiencing that is the direct result of increased communication amongst all people.
The idea of democracy is still relatively new to most of the world – hell, America is still trying to figure out how to make that one actually work. It isn’t something that can be imposed or imported from one country or culture to another. It is, at it’s most basic level, the will of the people. When people have the ability to communicate freely, democracy – true democracy – flourishes. When people have the ability to communicate and act freely, imposed authority will be challenged.
Many wags will refer to this time as being The Twitter Revolution. Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. While revolutions may occur around this world as our abilities to listen, speak and move as one continues to increase, a more important singular event is emerging and we will come to recognize this slim period of time not as a revolution but as part of our evolution.
All part of the process of growing up.
Growing pains will, without doubt, be experienced. The child cannot be commanded to stay a child and once youth finds a voice it will speak and demand to be heard. And then we will put away our childish things.
And that’s when the process really gets interesting.
UPDATE: Have a listen to Clay Shirky speaking at TED just this past May on how Facebook, Twitter and TXTs help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors (however briefly). The end of top-down control of news is changing the nature of politics.
Almost apropos of something, every time I hear someone speak intelligently about the net I keep getting reminded of McLuhan and his observation that old media becomes the content of new media. Fascinating.
I'm going to be slowly making some changes to the website both in format and content - and I'm pretty sure even the URL will change.
It's going to be more of a personal news aggregator with a featured video blog from yours truly. We'll see how long that lasts. So bear with me - thanks.