Some may think the world's coming to an end in December 2012, but the end of the Internet as we know it may come even sooner! And we'll be getting a preview during a 24-hour Wikipedia blackout that begins tomorrow. It's not just the online encyclopedia giant that's going to be temporarily erased from the web ... Reddit and Boing Boing, among other sites, plan to go dark on Wednesday. And whoa -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr seem tempted to do the same.
That's because these huge sites are rightfully pissed off about a couple of new bills floating around in Congress called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), which pretty much aim to please the entertainment industry. The bills make it so your Internet provider would have to block websites involved in (or thought to be involved in) digital file sharing, leading to massive Internet censorship ... aka the END of the web as we know it.
For the record, those who like to cluck about Obama being so into big government should note that the White House is not supporting SOPA (introduced by a Republican Representative) or PIPA (introduced by a Democratic Senator). In fact, they've issued a statement noting that they "will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet." Right on!
Still, it couldn't hurt for Wikipedia and other sites to stage this protest to make their point. At the very least, it should teach us all a valuable lesson by showing us what the world would be like without Wikipedia.
Think about it ... without Wiki at our fingertips, we'd have to actually go to a library to use dusty old encyclopedias. Or, OMG, we may have to dig up those old discs that have Microsoft Encarta software on them. (Remember that?!) Man, Encyclopedia Britannica might be back in business again, going door to door! But pfft ... none of those sources would have any of the most up-to-date info we usually search Wikipedia for. Whatever would we do without the Real Housewives' "Personal Life" sections or Oscar nominees' Filmography sections? IMDb only gets you so far, you know. I don't even know what students would do to write essays or do their homework.
Let's face it. In a world without Wikipedia, we'd all be screwed. As it is, tomorrow's blackout will put us all in the dark on some of our most coveted info. But hopefully it'll also bring more people's attention to these asinine bills, which we should hope -- and do our best to make sure! -- never get passed.
How would you feel about a world without Wikipedia -- or even some of your favorite sites (Facebook, Google), which could be shut down thanks to SOPA/PIPA?
Image via cisc1970/Flickr