By now the SOPA/PIPA protest may seem like old news, but I learned something this week that I want to share with you.
I had been under the impression that the SOPA protest was led by Internet heavyweights like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia, who, in the face of burdensome and ineffectual regulations, mobilized the online community.
But, according to an article by Larry Downes in Forbes magazine, the real momentum came from the denizens of the Net themselves. He writes:
“to imagine that the millions of Internet users who took to the virtual streets over the last few months were simply responding to the clarion call of technology companies misses the real point–dangerously so.
Rather, it was the users who urged and sometimes pressured technology companies to oppose the bills, not the other way around. While the big companies eventually came on board, the push for them to do so came largely from activists using social networking and social news sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit, to build momentum and exert leverage, sometimes on the very companies whose tools they were using.”
Downes refers to this movement as a “bitroots” effort as he goes on to describe the democratic nature of the Internet and the role it played in the SOPA/PIPA debate:
“The political philosophy of the Internet, though still largely unformed, is by no means inarticulate. The aspirations of Internet users largely reflect the best features of the technology itself—open, meritocratic, non-proprietary and transparent. Its central belief is the power of innovation to make things better, and its major tenet is a ruthless economic principle that treats information as currency, and sees any obstacle to its free flow as inefficient friction to be engineered out of existence.”
I’m not too proud to admit I had to look up the word “meritocratic,” but the description fits. On the web it’s not about who you are, but what you have to offer. If you want to be an Internet aristocrat amass and distribute Internet currency. Information freely shared on the web will generate a positive reputation for you and draw both visitors and customers to your site.
Downes’ article is an articulate explanation of the problems with the SOPA and PIPA bills and how their supporters don’t seem to have learned anything despite temporarily backing down. I highly encourage you to read the whole thing at Forbes.com.
To me, this entire event illustrates the significance content marketing. The Internet community demands free access to information. Provide that access and you can be richly rewarded. Deny it and risk facing an angry mob. Channel it and you can mobilize said mob in your favor.
Want to learn more about how to use information to market your business? Contact me here.