Friday, January 20, 2012

The SOPA and the PIPA Agenda (A Few Elaborations)

*Image is from

Before anything else, I am in agreement that piracy has hindered the entertainment industry from maximizing its profits. While the legislators of SOPA and PIPA believe that these are credible solutions to the problem spread across Internet space, it's certainly a frightful thought to hand-over authority and power to a certain few, as represented by institutions controlled by the empire of media companies. What the Internet has allowed through the years are the expansion and effective dissemination of creativity, knowledge, ideas, and opinions, among other things that people have come up with. It is the manifestation of true freedom that no one person or institution can manipulate or put covers on through censorship. Why would some "Universe" that is made up of networks (of networks) of computers (i.e., people) submit itself to a "higher power", when it has thrived through the years without any serious hitch or flaws? Is the mouse wheel so incredibly broken that a few people would choose to put it for "administrative repair and custodianship" to make it "better"? And what right do these few people have that can override the belief of so many with regard to the liberty and freedom bestowed by the Internet? If you hand the power and authority of discretion to a few (especially on a medium like the Internet, where freedom of information is equivalent to civil liberties) then you know there's a high probability of abuse, misuse, and manipulation. The few I am referring to are people after all, they are subject to all the whims, weaknesses, perversions, frailties and tendencies of self-righteous justification that most if not all people innately possess.

Now, you've got to wonder, the entertainment industry is lobbying for the passage of these laws and academicians are saying nay! It's sad to think entertainers have the deeper pockets than learned men.

Why can't the belief of the entire body be the authority (I had to restate this. Is this less vague now?) To a broader extent, which involves human civilization, this is tantamount to handing over the keys to an "Illuminati" if I might allude to such a cabal. Whether imaginary or truly in shadowy control of the system placed on human society, what might happen before our eyes is truly alarming. There are people who think of conspiracies (real or imagined), but this situation the Internet is in is already in plain sight for people to discuss and take a stand-on. As what Wikipedia probably represents being a microcosm of the situation, there are indeed pitfalls to a forum-like model, wherein somebody can just come in and edit the hell out of a database of "perceived" facts. IMO, on the other hand, this system promotes a collaborative construction of the human database of knowledge. From what I've been told, Wikipedia does "crowdsourcing", but they employ people who do outreach and tutorials on how to create and edit articles. That's why sometimes you can see articles that have marks requesting for clarification, merging, citing of sources, comments on ambiguity, etc. Pragmatically speaking, however, I don't think any one person can check all the facts and information the entire human populace can think of. That's why I think "zealots of knowledge", pundits, academicians, and experts who believe in the vision of Wikipedia would likely be "policing" the contents of the website to the benefit of humanity. If we get knowledge vandals, conspiracists, and conspirators who are out to distort history, facts, and knowledge, then we might have a problem.

Interestingly, some people on the web opine that the texts on Wikipedia articles are at the 8th grade level and that the information contained in all articles are at the risk of being construed as facts, even if they might not be facts at all. This probably requires a shift in paradigm and perception. If some people are so vocal enough to discredit whatever is put out there in the web (it's entirety, aside from Wikipedia), then they should take their criticisms further by actually policing the contents of the web themselves. Information dissemination is a case of "he says, she says", IMO, when the originator, inventor, theorist or what have you doesn't have the abilities or resources to go beyond the circle of people, media, channels, and methods that he has access to, then the best that these ideas and discoveries can amount to would probably be as rumors, hearsay, opinions, or plain fiction. So I can make (or stumble upon, lol) the biggest discovery in human civilization's history, but if I can't get that knowledge out there then it will forever be limited to the mere facilities and capabilities I have to spread it to everyone and I'd probably take it to my grave. Moreover, not everyone might believe me and there's a chance that it will be interpreted as a hoax or an opinion, unless it undergoes the scientific processes of experimentation and evidence substantiation by others. These are of course what academic institutions, research labs, Universities, etc. are for. In any case, however, the channel of dissemination is key. Will the information be diluted, censored, tampered with, destroyed, elaborated on, cut, copied, pasted on with, etc?

As long as people browse through Wikipedia and possess an innate and benevolent belief that the world deserves the truth and only reliable facts, then we shouldn't worry because we will be policing ourselves. We can live in an opinion-ridden Internet, just as long as everyone on Earth can be on the same page with undeniable universal facts and uncorrupted and untwisted history. Wikipedia is a reflection of how humanity (at least those who have access to the Internet) can create a knowledge database on its own.

All compositions, statements and opinions of the author are copyright © Earl T. Malvar 2009-2012. All rights reserved. There is no honor, respect, admiration, intellectual and academic dignity garnered through plagiarism.

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