SOPA, Irish political debate, and keyboard warriors

I work in a knowledge-driven sector (consulting and training). I have written two publications that have ISBN numbers, which makes them books I suppose. They were each over 100 A4 pages long. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and articles over the years and have a large external hard drive filled with every presentation I’ve given in my topic area (Information Quality, Data Protection, Data Governance) over the past number of years.

In my professional capacity I am a member of a number of professional associations and have a number of professional certifications, all of which have an ethics element which, amongst other things, requires me to respect copyright and to give credit to the works of others when I am using them.

As a presenter I’ve experienced flying in economy class to far flung places to see the person in front of me on the agenda ripping off the presentation I was just about to give because he’d come into possession of an earlier version of my slides from a previous event (in that case I just changed my presentation and explained to the audience why while the guy sat in the front row looking for an emergency exit – perhaps repeatedly saying how much I agreed with his points might have been laying it on to thick).

But the SI that is about to be signed into law is just nuts, aimed solely in my opinion at propping up a dying business model in which KPI indicators that were perfectly valid 10 years ago are falling and rather than pull the levers and turn the knobs in their own business model and evolve, an industry lobby is seeking to pull levers and turn knobs in society as a whole and create a time machine that puts the smoke of 20 years of technology evolution back in the bottle.

I teach and consult on-site with clients. I have also been published in dead-tree formats. e-learning and on-line tutorials and coaching, blogs, internet based publications, e-books all challenge that business model. So is my response to lobby hard for legislation and burn cash in litigation to reverse the universe? No. I’m not a moron. I embrace the opportunities for new business models that the Web provides. I look to build a Platform Business (to borrow from my friend Phil Simon) and I seek to develop new ways to distribute and monetise my services and my knowledge. (So expect to see some things developing from my business over the next few months)

That the Irish Music Industry has strong armed the Government into rushing bad law in in a bad way is irksome in the extreme. That a mortally wounded industry has been able to bully (and yes, I do feel that the approach taken amounts to bullying) a Government into bringing in legislation of a kind that a vibrant and growing industry sector (that would be the Interwebs and Cloud) had lobbied and campaigned against successfully in the US only a few weeks ago galls me. That it is happening when the legal position in Europe has evolved and the clear message from TWO EU Commissioners (including the Vice-President of the Commission) is that Internet Blocking is not an option in Europe (ergo the Commission would be unlikely to penalise Ireland for not having it in place) just sickens me.

But what really sticks in my craw is the pantomime of a Dail debate that we saw last night which makes a mockery of parliamentary democracy in this country. A debate where a perfectly workable alternative piece of legislation that achieves largely the same objectives while balancing the needs and interests of the ISPs (who were NOT consulted or engaged with when the original SI was being prepared) was basically ignored.

The debate highlighted how out of touch with their electorate the Government is. Dismissing people who WRITE to you as “key board warriors” is insulting and disingenuous to say the least. I am a keyboard warrior and proud of it. I use my keyboard to effect change in organisations, educate and inform. It is my TOOL. Just as my grandfathers’ tools were pens and typewriters (for one) and trowels and plaster (for the other). My keyboard (and my website) is my own personal printing press with a scope, scale, and reach that Guttenberg could never have imagined.

Bad law, introduced badly, by people who don’t grasp the basics of what they are seeking to regulate and control, with an arrogant dismissiveness of comment and debate from the political class (with notable exceptions) has the makings of a total trainwreck.

As an aside, when I first raised concerns last year about the Fine Gael website I was dismissed  as being “only a blogger”. This keyboard warrior was right, so the track record of arrogant dismissiveness from Government parties has not been good on things internet related.

So I contacted my Government party TDs by phone this morning to express my dissatisfaction. If my keyboard won’t be listened to then I’d better start using my voice.

1 thought on “SOPA, Irish political debate, and keyboard warriors”

  1. It’s interesting that the blogosphere, twitter, online forums and ya know, the Internet, is where this is being discussed. Yet those who are introducing this obscenity of a law are completely not involved in those discussions because, I’m guessing, they aren’t aware that the media in which the discussion taking place even exists.

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