Ideas

How to defend net neutrality in 3 simple steps

Most of you won't care about this topic enough to read the next few lines.

That's perfectly fine, I understand.

Even less of you will care enough to watch this video explaining why net neutrality directly affects you.

Again, perfectly understandable.

But if you've made it this far, please let me tell you about a guy named Aaron Swartz.

Aaron was a ridiculously smart kid who passionately believed in freedom of speech and in ensuring everyone had equal access to the magic of the internet.

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Yes, he helped build Reddit, but net neutrality isn't just about equal access to cat gifs or Suicide Girls.

Aaron - and many more like him - understood that the internet is our first opportunity to even the playing field since the Industrial Revolution trained the entire human species to line up in rows and wait for our turn to become the manager of a dozen more miserable souls.

Information is power.
But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.
— Aaron Swartz, The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

Sadly, in 2011, Aaron hung himself after being arrested for some jumped-up charges involving breaking into a university computer to download and distribute academic journals.

Tonight, I've been lucky enough to be invited to the premiere of the Kickstarter-funded film about his life titled 'The Internet's Own Boy', so I thought I'd take this opportunity to remind myself (and you, dear readers) of his importance in the ongoing fight to keep the internet - and all the information it holds - free for all.

So what now, you ask?

Good question. We've already fought so many essential battles against the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry, governments and corporations attempting to 'own the internet', so what on earth can we do as individuals?

I am far from a militaristic internet user, probably closer to a Clicktivist than a Swartz-style Hacktivist, but if you're wondering what we can do to keep Aaron's message alive, I recommend 3 simple steps.

1. Be generous.

Be generous with your words.

Be generous with your time.

Be generous with your ideas.

Tell the world what you are working on and how you feel about it and why they should care, without fear of trolls or organisations telling you to stop or be quiet. More importantly, encourage others to do the same. 

2. Stay curious.

The only way we can learn is to pay attention and ask questions.

When you find an answer you don't like, or doesn't satisfy your thirst for knowledge, ask a different question or a different person until you understand what's going on.

And when you realise something uncool is going on...

3. Do something about it.

What better place than here?
What better time than now.
— Rage Against The Machine, Guerilla Radio