So, yesterday was the SOPA Blackout, and it honestly went better than I expected. It got a good amount of media coverage, and there were plenty of people who were shocked that even Wikipedia went down … of course it was amazing how many people assumed Wikipedia died or just panicked that they couldn’t write their term papers now, which is sad considering Wikipedia shouldn’t be used by itself for academic research anyway and you know… there’s still Google. And books. Look, I’m getting off point.
Yesterday I wrote a post that was more about the facts of SOPA and PIPA and why they suck so bad. But today I feel the need to express why the open internet is a beautiful thing. Because it’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing.
The first time I really remember using the Internet was probably around 1996 when I was 11. I had used computers at school, but at home I wrote stories on my parent’s hand-me-down word processor. When we finally got the Internet at home (dial-up, of course), I was so excited. I had learned how you could talk to kids all over the world, like pen pals. As a lonely kid treated like crap at school, the idea of finding friends like me was awe-inspiring. It never quite happened like that, especially because it could take an hour (if we were lucky) to get online.
We might not have flying cars or self-tying shoes (yet), but we do have a world where communication is more open than it’s ever been before. Even ten years ago, could you imagine streaming films through your computer as effortlessly as many of us can through Netflix or Hulu? Can you imagine so easily video-chatting with family all over the world?
And that writing I was doing on the word processor? Now my writing is shared with thousands of readers every month. This blog led to my work at CliqueClack.com, which then led to my full-time job writing web copy for businesses.
But more than anything, I have found some of the greatest friendships from my experiences online. Just in the last year or so, Twitter and brought me some amazing friends of all walks of life. These are creative, intelligent people with their own brilliant projects and they drive me to make my own projects even better. Yes, just Twitter alone is a wealth of encouragement and inspiration. And I’ve found the Harry Potter sub-Reddit is one of the most intelligent topic forums I’ve ever seen. The large majority of the users are courteous, enthusiastic about the topic and supportive of the material shared on it.
But I need to talk about Red vs Blue. I think I wrote about this site in the past, but I really need to stress what my involvement in the site has meant to me. I joined the site in 2004, and I can count off the top of my head at least a dozen of my closest friends that I met directly from the website (I could name more if you gave me some time). Many of these people I’ve hung out with in person and many of them inspire me with their own projects. This July I’m going to my 5th and final RvB:TO, which is jam packed with as much camaraderie that you can put into one weekend. I also happened to meet my boyfriend of over six years on the site.
Why do I mention this? Well, besides the fact that it still amazes me how lucky I am to have found such amazing friends on RvB, the fact is that the videos that made Red vs Blue is known for producing – machinama – could easily fall into the category of “infringing content” under PIPA and SOPA. While Bungie has given their blessing to RvB a long time ago, remember that under the vague wording of these bills, it doesn’t even have to be the content owner who makes the claim. So, let’s say Red vs Blue was never created because the men who would become RoosterTeeth didn’t want to get thrown in jail for a funny video. The Red vs Blue community would have never existed, which means I never would have met all of my amazing friend nor would I have met my partner of over half a decade.
In other words? I love the Internet. It’s an amazing place that has made me feel at home more than any social club or classroom. I am met brilliant, wonderful people that I consider to be my friends.There are days when I can’t help but grin from ear to ear thinking of the people I get to enjoy and who enjoy my work. I have done amazing things I never could have without this technology.
That’s why we need to fight for the Internet.