“While the planet’s nervous system pulsates with waves of information, including reports of wars, scientific discoveries, political conflicts, economic dislocations, and environmental disasters, its organizing capacity (with 5 billion mobile phones and 2 billion Internet connections) sits quietly on standby, waiting to spring into action, to spread the word and to coordinate a unified response upon the inevitable arrival of that long-awaited ‘idea whose time has come.'” — The Coming Global Coalescence, page 43, print edition.
This week we got a hint of that potential. When the Internet community finally understood the threat to its freedom embodied in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) making its way through the House of Representatives and a similar Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) under consideration in the Senate, the speed and the strength of the reaction was breathtaking.
Without much fanfare PIPA was introduced in the Senate in May, but by the time SOPA was introduced in the House of Representatives, Internet activists were beginning to take note. The awareness built slowly at first, but exploded this past week. For example, according to a report in the NY Times, SOPA had become the subject of 200,000 Twitter posts on Monday, which grew to 450,000 on Tuesday, and 3.9 million on Wednesday, when Wikipedia closed its website for a day in protest, with thousands of other websites joining in the resistance. On Thursday, a few senators declared they would not support PIPA. And today, both houses declared they were shelving their bills! Can anyone doubt that this is a game changer and that we have entered a new world of bottom-up political and social activism? I think not.