There are few things that scare the politicians more than sunlight and exposure… unless it is the Internet; which positively paralyzes most politicians as well as appointed public servants.

The prime reason for this fear is that the Internet is the new media; with a collective audience smarter, more diverse, younger, and more powerful than all of those who watch television and read newspapers on a regular basis. An audience of participating responders who will press that button to either “flame” you or send you a few dollars to support your cause.

Consider the following:

     The internet is accessible to large numbers of educated people who can demonstrate their proficiency in communication. The spelling may not be pretty, but the message comes across. And for those who can’t type, they can speak or make gestures to be seen by an online camera.

     Thanks to Google and others, the Internet is easily searchable. Discounting annoying advertising and pop-ups, almost any topic can be researched in mere seconds with less than perfect search words. Along with easy, comes free — not free in the sense you do not have an investment in your computer — but relatively free compared to database search subscriptions like Lexis/Nexis which cost real money.

     The Internet is mostly unedited and moderated. One can comment on almost any topic and find a kindred group of like-minded people. For some, especially the “haters” who spew vitriol, this is a perfect format for hosting their rants. On the other hand, it allows others to see for themselves what true jerks look like and to immediately discount the credibility of such people.

     The Internet is almost forever. Considering that there still is a dearth of material prior to 1960, the Internet is a growing medium which discards almost nothing. As long as the data lives in multiple locations, the magic of hyper-linking will allow someone to retrieve it, quickly and easily.

     The Internet provides a medium for budding graphic artists, songwriters, performers filmmakers and other artists who now can exhibit their works without going through some outrageous selection process at a gallery, record company, film studio, book publisher, radio or television studio … while worrying about the legalities of contracts. If it is original and you produced it, you can show it, sell it, or even give it to the world as a gift — all made possible by the Internet.

The Internet often serves as an amplifier. It allows you to magnify your voice or issues far beyond what you could have imagined in a pre-Internet era. Like I mention in my first post, it’s infinitely better than shouting back at your television set.

     And the Internet  reduces space and time. Yes Einstein, it really does. You can collaborate or commiserate with someone across the room, the state, the nation or the world with equal ease. It allows everybody to put pieces of a puzzle on an electronic table for all to see and admire. 

Then there are the evil-doers…

The lazy media loves the Internet because it allows them to give rise to “hard” media stories by simply quoting material on the Internet. It really doesn’t matter if the item is true or not … they are quoting the anonymous Internet.

Some politicians love the Internet as it is a cost effective means to promote their message and raise funds. Unfortunately for them, their materials often inspire knowledgeable people to engage in fact checking and noting the discrepancies in their pronouncements. In some cases, people will simply use the material to create funny, but very detrimental, parodies using the politician’s own graphics as source material.

Other politicians fear the exposure and that is good. It keeps them somewhat more honest than they would ordinarily be.  Consider the  politician who tailors his message for a local union group and promises some special consideration in New York. And then goes to California to meet with industry executives and promises to protect them from the evil unions. In the old days, unless an expensive-to-run news bureau sent reporters to both events, both groups would cast their votes believing in “their” candidate. Now, any citizen, anywhere can report what was said on a political forum and the politician is busted: caught in their own double-dealing.

Is it any wonder that the proliferation of cell phones and cell phones with cameras are helping to shape the debate on numerous subjects by uploading the material to the “Net” and making it a topic of discussion. Recently police misconduct was exposed and those who transgressed were severely punished. All because of a cell phone camera and the Internet.

And now comes the real heavyweight evil-doers…

Those that want to regulate your access to the content by controlling the “pipes” used to upload and download content. The President of AT&T was once quoted as saying that he owned most of the pipes and someone had to pay. It is not enough that we all pay for our own endpoints and some form of monthly subscription. Other public Internet infrastructure is just that: public — paid with taxpayer dollars. Maybe he has a right to be mad, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls around the world are almost free. However, from the monthly cost of your telephone service, you would think that they are still making a bundle.

And of course, those who want to regulate the “content.” Religious zealots who hate pornography, political zealots who hate free speech, and everybody else who thinks that your access and creations should be influenced by their own brand of learned logic.

     ICANN (International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) recently turned   down the proposal that all adult content providers had to use the xxx as their top level domain. Instead of using an Internet address like pornoxadult.com, they would be forced to use pornoxadult.xxx. The benefits are obvious. A tremendous reduction in sex-related spam and the ability to filter content to protect children. Seemingly a win-win situation.

     You could not believe the problems that this introduced. The right wingnuts claimed that it would legitimize “evil” content. The left wingnuts claimed that it was a denial of “free speech.” And the apathetic middle wingnuts didn’t care enough to push the proposal forward. ICANN, being made up of smart people, said, “We do not want to get in the middle of that catfight,” and killed the proposal.

But, I reserve a special place in hell for the gatekeepers and middlemen who are quietly subverting everything technological for their own profitable pursuits. I am speaking of the Motion Picture and Recording Industry who are breaking the public trust over fair use issues and repackaging material that is in the public domain with electronic gimmicks and codes — and then criminalizing any person who dares to break the code to enjoy the privileges legally available under the copyright law. The people who demanded the government support altered hardware which restricts your rights. The people who collect a royalty on every blank CD and DVD to compensate them for stolen content … even though most disks contain data. And the people who are trying to control every facet of your life by exacting a toll for each of your activities. 

What can YOU Do?

Keep the Internet free and accessible by explaining to your politicians that the Internet is part of the mechanism that keeps this great land free and promotes freedom and understanding among the world’s peoples.

Report on that politician who is bloviating and promising the “world.” Help them keep their campaign vows. Hold them to account.

And, enjoy the Internet as it is surely a technological gift from the Gods… no matter which ones you believe in … and, if you don’t, thank the technicians that keep it up and running.

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

-- steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell