17/01/2012

The Wikipedia Blackout

The Wikipedia BlackoutWe have lived through a lot of strikes in recent times. The teachers strike when some teachers went shopping, a postal strike when for one day we didn't have little red elastic bands dropped in our gardens and a journalist strike at the BBC which didn't really get in the news for obvious reasons. I can't help thinking they need a new plan.

But now there's a strike that will affect our daily lives in a deep and troubling way. Wikipedia is going on strike. The site co-founder Jimmy Wales said it will black out on Wednesday in protest of pending anti-piracy legislation.

But what am I supposed to do? What if I suddenly get the urge to know who invented the cankle, what is the chemical formula for farts, or what the hell the Alt Gr button does? We live in a world where we're used to being able to answer any pointless and trivial question. If you take that from us we'll go cold turkey.

And now I'm wondering, "Do they say going cold turkey because it makes you feel as bad as you do on Boxing Day after all that eating?" But I can't look it up now.

It's all because of anti-piracy bills in America. And by that they mean copying films and things. Anti-piracy bills in Somalia would be a more important thing. The central argument that the bills would help preserve jobs but that has been overshadowed by opponents' alarm that the legislation threatens the freedom of the Internet.

It's a difficult issue. Companies spend millions making a film only to see people on the web download it for free, which cuts into their profits. But on the other hand, some of those films are rubbish. Who in their right mind would pay any money to see the Cuba Gooding Jr version of "The Hit List"? I actually paid money in the cinema to see "The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It" and I still cry at night sometimes.

The Stop Online Piracy Act is pending in the House Judiciary Committee, and the PROTECT IP Act is facing a floor vote in the Senate.

I don't really know what that means but I can't look it up on Wikipedia right now. What will I do?!?

Oh yeah, I'll just use Google's cashed version. Panic over.

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