For some, last Wednesday’s Internet blackout was an annoyance or a surprise. For those who were aware of the meaning, it was something much more. And now, Congress has withdrawn or postponed voting on both SOPA and PIPA as MSNBC was reporting the other day. Whether we will see either of these bills in reincarnations remains to be seen. The parties behind the initial legislation are very powerful and have deep pockets, but obviously the masses have spoken too.
This would be the time to step up and point out all of the other resources and good learning points that have come out of this movement. We saw the success of social networking with the Arab Spring movement and the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Now we’ve seen the success that the masses can have in America. Wikipedia put it to a vote of its users and contributors before deciding to blackout its English language page last week. Twitter did not participate in the blackout, but #SOPA was the largest trend of the day – and that was user generated too. Google, the powerful search engine, provide a link to tell your Congressman you don’t support SOPA and PIPA – and millions clicked!
We need to truly embrace the power of the people – whether it is sharing with the next generation the real power of the words they use or showing older generations how they can access the same tools and information. Can you imagine a more powerful tool than an understanding of just what information can do? Now it is up to each and every one of us to use our powers for good – share your knowledge because together we have even more power. We’ve lost two fine examples of this in the past year: Steve Jobs and Joe Paterno. Jobs believed that the little man could create and it led to the Apple revolution. Now we see iAuthor for the Mac. Giving students, teachers and other educators the power to create their own digital textbooks, just as GarageBand gave musicians the same opportunities – this is one master stroke from the folks at Apple. And Joe Paterno, who believed that college football should be about college. Yes, I know that most of us remember the scandal, but let’s also remember everything that he did not just for Penn State, but also for college football in general. Speak to his thousands of players and they all say that they knew they were going to get a college degree – a refreshing idea in this day and age. He exemplified the search for knowledge, always trying to improve and stay current – not only that, the library at Penn State Main Campus bears the Paterno name.