The Editor’s Brain – February 2012

By Corey Conley

This month we have an article about SOPA and PIPA, the anti-piracy acts shuttered by a wave of Internet fueled protests. The article by Beatty Jamison focuses mainly on the growing role and influence of hacker groups like Anonymous, who are increasingly bringing their power to bear against political targets for political reasons. But it is not Anonymous which fascinates me.

What drew my attention were the machinations of Google, Craigslist, Yahoo, Wikipedia and other Internet royalty who threw their muscle against the legislation. Their calls to action purportedly spurred hundreds of thousands to register their opposition to their representatives, and formerly steadfast advocates for SOPA and PIPA changed their votes for the bills.

It is of course a prime and unprecedented example of democracy in action, made possible by frictionless world of information that is the Internet, but the triumph gives me pause. What SOPA and PIPA have created won’t simply go away once they are safely tucked away in defeated legislation purgatory.

sopa pipa tombstones

To be sure, I cheered inside at the defeat of the bill, but behind that I wondered at this new role for Silicon Valley. They upheld some of the wild west nature of the web, with some even rendering their sites useless to rally opposition; but what will they do with this newfound political muscle?

In addition to the public calls to action, no doubt plenty of things were said behind closed doors, plenty of calls made to congressmen who wouldn’t mind sweet silicon cash flowing into their coffers.

For good or ill, what SOPA has awakened will not be easily laid to rest – Google and its like have flexed their political muscle and gotten results, and this won’t be the last time.

In other news, it is not often I get the chance to back up my written recommendations with my personal funds, at least not in the five-figures, but I’m happy to welcome a 2012 Mazda3i Hatch to my driveway. Diligent readers will remember this car as the “good” in January’s edition of “Good, Bad, and Ugly.”

I gave props to Mazda for incorporating new fuel-efficiency technology into their car without dulling the Mazda3’s sporting character. Diligent readers may also note that in December, Honda fell into the “ugly” category for its recent missteps, and that I ended that article with this warning to the big H: “Don’t make me buy a Mazda.”

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