The internet has succeeded in breaking down borders: political (to some extent) and geographical – with great success. Paradoxically, it is precisely this success that has created new types of borders.
These ‘virtual borders’ are now between various ‘virtual communities’ which have sprung up around specific fields of interest.
These communities may not be physical, in the old-fashioned sense of communities which get together in one room, yet they are very real communities: rich and vibrant within themselves. However, there is very little interaction between most of the ‘online communities’. And, the interaction between these various groups is pretty non-existent. After all, when there is no reason to interact – why would they?
Yet, this is also our ‘Achille’s heel’ which allows us to be manipulated…
The very fact that there are so many people on the internet, that there are so many different ‘groups’ and ‘communities’ means that we cannot really ‘absorb’ them all into ‘our world’. Our brains are used to only interacting with a certain number of people (groups) – anything outside of that, we can only conceive of in terms of ‘labels’ and ‘stereotypes’.
(I have gone on and on about this phenomenon in my series of posts on ‘scaling up communities’: the whole ‘monkeysphere’/’Dunbar’s number thing… the reason why one death is a ‘tragedy’ while a million deaths is a ‘statistic’.)
This is not a bad thing in itself – it is simply the natural way our brain operates.
However, it means that the ‘online community’ is not really one ‘online community’: rather, it is a mosaic of many, many communities, divided by the strongest border there is: the border of ‘non interest’
How easy it then becomes for those who wold like to ‘divide and censor’ to manipulate these stereotypes, in order to strip us of our rights, one ‘virtual community’ at a time!!!
Please, consider the following: for ‘non-techie’ types, what does the phrase ‘peer to peer network’ bring to mind? Or the name ‘Bit-Torrents’? Or ‘Pirate Bay’?
Unless I am terribly mistaken, this will make most non-techies think of ‘stealing movies‘: people who abuse the internet to steal ‘content’ and make it difficult for everyone else.
Yet, my husband and his brother use this method to transmit our family photos to each other: this way, if our server ever ‘blows up’, we have backups at his house, and vice versa.
My son likes to download ‘public domain’ (i.e. no payment required) games and programming tools, using Bit Torrnets. No laws are being broken – to the contrary: many of these people are working hard to improve the internet experience for all of us – free of charge to everybody!
And, there are actually legitimate businesses which use the ‘Bit Torrent’ technology for legitimate, legal, copyright-upholding transactions.
If the terms ‘peer to peer’ and ‘Bit Torrents’ DID make you have a dismissive – or even more negative – reaction, then YOU have been a victim of some wonderful ‘spin’ designed to ‘divide and censor’!!!
And, that does not even take into consideration what happened with ‘Pirate Bay’: this company was operating WITHIN THE LAW! Yet, the US movie industry did not like what they were doing: so, they ‘influenced’ the US lawmakers, who ‘influenced’ the Swedish government, who – despite the advice of its own lawyers that the company is not breaking any laws – Swedish or international – the Swedish government ORDERED A POLICE RAID on the company’s business and siezed its assetts!!!
How is that even possible?
Yet, most ‘online communities’ think this is ‘just kids stealing movies’ – why loose sleep over it?
Because it sets precedents, that’s why!!!
In my never-humble-opinion, I have found that most ‘online communities’ outside the ‘dedicated techies’ just could not care about the issues of ‘Bit Torrents’ and ‘channel choking’!
On the other hand…
I have as yet to meet ‘dedicated techies’ – on or off-line – who pay much attention to the ‘Free Speechers’!!! Yeah, a bunch of people, going on about court cases and nazis – so what? Instead, they try to figure out how to technically circumvent the latest form of censorship of their channels…
Then there are the people who are fighting the ‘Creeping Sharia/Anti-Islamists’ – they do, to some extent, overlap with the ‘Free Speechers’. But, not totally. They show little interest in the curbing of free speech, if it does not involve Islamists – come on, be honest! And the Free Speechers do support the ‘Creeping Sharia/Anti-Islamists’ to a great extent – especially when it comes to the suppression of free speech on the topic of Islamist atrocities….
I suggest that the overlap between these two groups is so great because they are currently both threatened from similar sources. And, I suggest that the ‘techies’ do not overlap with these two groups because the danger to them is coming from a ‘completely different direction’!
But, is it???
I suggest to you that it is NOT.
I know, I am not doing a good job of expressing here what I am trying to say. I have re-written this at least 5 times, and it is getting worse, not better…. I feel like my ‘focus’ is slipping away as I try to make my explanations understandable – while when I gloss over the explanations and focus on my main point, the whole thing sounds hollow, because the explanations are too shallow to make much sense…
So, please, let me try to speak more plainly…. I’ll go to point form – then, whatever needs to be covered deeper, please, comment on and I will do my best to expand on it.
1. We can only enjoy our level of online freedom (which translates into practical freedom in ‘off-line’ life) if the internet remains ‘free’ (NOT monetarily – just as in ‘not censored’)
2. Freedom of Speech is constantly being attacked in our society… several completely different guises and excuses
3. The ‘ human rights’ component: the ‘Free Speechers/Anti-Islamists’ are aware of this one
– The UN submission to ‘Blasphemy laws’ (and their desire to force all of its member nations to comply with these)
– The ‘Human Rights Commissions’ and their thought police, political correctness busybodies…
– The EU’s manipulation… even legalizing pedophelia under the guise of ‘tolerance’ -Lisbon treaty… mandatory…
– Can you say ‘Geert Wilders’?
4. The ‘commercial/IP rights’ component:
– Powerful lobbies from entertainment AND soft&hardware makers are succeeding in reducing ‘consumer rights’
– ‘Fair use’ is more and more limited – companies have the right for more and more intrusive ‘monitoring’
– ‘Consumer privacy’ is being legislated away
5. The ‘community protection’ component
– Under the guise of ‘community protection’, more and more privacy is being legislated away
– More and more intrusive methods of monitoring are being implemented: ostensibly to protect kids from pedophelia (!!!)
– ‘Accussation’ of something triggers penalties as if one were found ‘guilty’, to stop them ‘doing harm’ IF they were guilty…
– And, this falls loosely into this ‘community protection’ – but we are talking about the ‘environmental fascism’ movement, which is also pushing for more intrusive ‘monitoring and compliance’ for ‘stuff’ in order to ‘protect’ – yet which is also practicing censorship in a very real way… Personally, I think these are eco-statists, who are undermining the health of our environment by attempting to ‘freeze it’ in its current state – but that is a different rant. Yet, they ARE a very real part of this ‘censorship’ puzzle…
To sum it up: this is a bit of a ‘picer move’ happening. No, I don’t think there is a wide-ranging conspiracy thingy happening! Yet, the effects of each of these separate forces are in the same directions, and are supportive of each other. Sort of like wawes, that build upon each other, rising in amplitude as one is superimposed over the other….until it sweeps all notions of ‘Freedom of Speech’ out to sea!!!
Because there IS a connection: the GOVERNMENT is the connection. It is our government which controls the laws on how ‘human rights’ are – or are not – observed. And, it is the government who passes the ‘consumer’ laws. AND, it is the government which REGULATES the industries: and, any industry ‘actor’ which would not ‘comply’ with government regulation will loose its license to do business…while compliance with the government policies in a highly regulated marketplace usually equals (or comes close to) a monopoly for the company doing the complying…
All the ‘threads’ lead back to the same place… givning our governments grweater and greater control over every aspect of our lives. And, while I think most democracies are not ‘intentionally evil’, I AM very suspicious of the bureaucracies which run the governments… I have seen too many high-level bureaucrats who are much too skilled at handling the elected governments…
So, what we need to do is to get all these diverse groups which would be affected by the end of the internet as we know it (and as I have written about in my last post), and begin comparing notes. Because, people may not always be ‘smart’, but we are always ‘clever: those who would oppress – whether for ideological or commercial reasons – there are laws which give someone (government, business – whatever) an ability to oppress, people will ALWAYS find the maximum possible way to do the oppressing.
That is just human nature…
So, we need to seriously begin comparing notes! Not to dismiss each other, because of the ‘labels’ applied to the different online communities by those who would like to eliminate us! Because, if we stay divided, each of us will only see a bit of the picture – and none of us will build a sufficient defense…if that were even possible!
I suppose one could call it a case of ‘DIVIDE AND CENSOR’!
And, perhaps, we need to begin to build an alternative to the internet: something where there will not be centralized ‘providers’ who can be contrlolled by governments (and thus become tools of censorship) – yet, which would connect us all, the way the internet does now. A sort of an ‘ungerground internet’, if you please… a SUBNET! I don’t know HOW, but knowing we must beging to think about it is a start!
Sorry to have rambled on so long….and for sounding so ‘preachy’. Perhaps it’s my Cassandra complex that’s kicking in. It’s just that – I can see it happening!
And I don’t know how to fix it… and it really, really frightens me!