Congress’s brinksmanship with new media.
At lunchtime today I stopped by the San Francisco Civic center to listen to some talented people speak out against SOPA and PIPA. Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, legend venture investor Ron Conway, Craig’s lists founder Craig Newmark and MC Hammer all took the microphone and condemned the legislation for its violations of law, common sense and economic good.
It is hard to determine if congress is that easily influenced with campaign contributions from the old media music and movie industries or are they out of touch with the internet’s transformation of the world during the last 20 years. Did they miss the memo on the Arab Spring in which new media played a significant role in toppling three governments. Clearly they have miscalculated in choosing sides.
Congress has aligned with old media in an attempt to turn back time to $14 CDs and daily late charges at Blockbuster. Old media has chosen to lobby for protective legislation rather than take advantage of the internet’s capabilities through innovation.
Even if consideration is not given to the opponent’s charges that SOPA and PIPA will violate freedom of speech and due process, you have to question the wisdom of congress to pick a fight with the people that build and operate the internet. The people that know how to attract billions of daily internet views like Craig Newmark and Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz and many others who have been energized into activism to oppose congress’s threat to their beliefs and livelihood.
Even if new media loses and congress passes SOPA and PIPA, there will be an army of well educated, competent and economically advantaged new media internet opposition that will boil them in an ocean of electrons come the next election.
Matt Bai detailed and predicted the political influence of new media in 2007 in his book “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics” and predicted Obama’s presidential success in part due to the creativity of Blue State Digital‘s harnessing of the influence of new media and the internet to help him. “The Argument” should be on every congressman’s night table though it might keep them awake for fear of their reelection.