Protest

I keep my mouth shut and seldom declare my stance on tabled issues in public. I avoid stirring the pot for the sake of it and do what I can to preserve my nonpartisan relationships. But when it comes to legislation or executive decisions that may invariably keep my mouth shut against my will, I speak up.

I learned a lot from Hollywood in the five years that I studied and worked in Los Angeles. I respect and support the industry’s need to fight piracy. To produce and spread content on a sustainable scale requires considerable revenue chains that dare not waver. Due largely to the size of teams necessary to complete them, films will always be expensive to produce. Losing control of your content – and thereby losing the ability to recoup costs on your production – is a huge issue and must be curtailed.

That said, I do not respect Hollywood’s conservative grapple-hold on content in an antiquated scarcity model. While the studios contend that they make more by staggering the release of a film across all mediums, these rigid exhibition windows from theater to home regularly deprive hungry consumers of content they want to consume. The Hollywood release model is effectively inspiring piracy – not because people want to maliciously destroy the industry, but because people want to consume content and cannot do so when and where they want. Street vendors in the third world do not sell ripped DVDs as an attack on studios or because tickets are too expensive; they do it because Hollywood failed to make the content available in their market. Contemporary piracy stems more from accessibility issues than anything else. Hollywood is utterly failing to provide. By holding product close to the chest, the entertainment industry is failing to reach customers, scale brands at the contemporary pace necessary to survive, and collect the money of eager and willing fans. The media industry is killing itself. They need no help from pirates.

Out of desperation and a lazy aversion to change, entertainment turned to lobbyists to craft a bill that would effectively give our government the power to censor or shut down websites. There are constitutional ways to fight piracy; the Stop Online Piracy and Protect Intellectual Property Acts are not it. To learn more about the bills, I encourage you to watch this video.

Tomorrow between 5am and 5pm MST, I will join many Internet companies – including Wikipedia and Google – in protesting these bills by shutting down my site. You will not be able to read my blog.

Under the First Amendment, we have the right to contest any act abridging the freedom of speech. We have the freedom to protest and stand up for our rights. Do not dismiss protests as mass whining or vanity noise. Without protest and public forums for opinion, women would not have the right to vote and many of us would still own slaves. Do not take the freedom of expression lightly. Celebrate your voice at every possible turn. Use it when you can.

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Webocracy (The Path to Fixing Our Government)

We can no longer blame it on Gen-Y pessimism alone: the American public has fallen out of favor with the United States Government. With the public approval rating of Congress down to 9%, there is an impending need for overhaul. Legislation is wrought with wasted time, private interests, and partisanship. More critically, the legislative process no longer moves as fast as the systems it governs. The business and technology landscapes are changing so fast that no bill can keep up. And they are changing due in a very large part to the same platform we need to embrace to optimize our nation: the Internet.

Albert Wenger inspires me with his thoughts on Wikipedia, Occupy Wall Street, and the Possibility of an Open Congress (I’ve been enjoying Albert’s blog – for tech lovers out there, I encourage you to keep up with it). I think the idea of an “open-sourced government” is very romantic and worth exploring. The thought of communities online authoring bills together through an iterative platform like Wikipedia or Google Docs sends shivers up my spine. Nothing could be more true to democracy than millions of people collaborating together on the laws that govern them. Online, everyone can have a voice. Money, class, race, and stature play negligible roles. Everyone can work together and focus on the job at hand. Everyone can work together for the common good. I want to see a community online like that. I want to be a part of it. I want to have input. A multiple choice ballet is not enough anymore. It’s time to migrate the future of our nation forward. It’s time to build a Webocracy.

Outside Congress and legislation, does anyone else have other ideas for open-sourcing different aspects of our government?