While the foundations are good: protecting the web from bad laws, restrictions etc... the execution is really ridiculous. Imagine you're an old style Senator or representative and you see that website with a weird ass looking cat... Do you really think it's going to make them think you're anything but a joke?
I find that the words used are equally ridiculous: "League", "XXX signal".
It really feels like a little club of geeks trying to have an impact in the world and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It could have been a great idea, it's ruined by a poor execution.
edit: I have seen a lot of negative reactions and I appreciate people taking the time to answer to me. I won't edit my previous comment but let me add some things:
I didn't mean to be insulting but if you want it to be a democratic movement you have to avoid inside jokes at all cost. It's literally filled with Reddit/ geek pop culture references and it won't take off in the general public because a very large portion of the population do not understand or don't like it. It's like saying a meme out loud: you feel ridiculous.
For old style senators I am talking about basically any person over 35 that has no idea what reddit/ twitter/ cat facts are and who will find that ridiculous. Yes Senators and representatives are supposed to work for you, but it's like for everything they have to take you seriously. We belong to the Z generation but in order to talk to other generations we have to use common references and avoid cats or internet memes or super hero folklore for what it matters. Serious business in two words.
Anyways, all of you youngsters who get the cat signal are certainly capable of calling or writing your local representative. I'll cheer for anything that raises awareness and reduces apathy among my generation and yours.
This is about engaging young nerds and non-nerds, average citizens and making an impact on main stream media. It's a marketing and PR stunt. It will trigger media coverage and thousands of phone calls... politicians fear at least one of those two things like the plague. And it's probably not the phone calls.
We already have a formal projects such as the EFF. They are the backbone of all this.
The problem is not with old style senators. The problem is with the 95% of the general population that is confused or turned off by it. You're trying to convince the general electorate, which then determines who gets elected.
It does feel like a little club of geeks, which is not effective as a movement that aims to convince/beyond that circle.
Lets hope a majority of people will be fooled into thinking they are part of a special club of l33t interweb freedom f1ght3rs.
I am being both sarcatic ( about how everyone thinks they are a geek these days ) and honest ( about that it could actually work ) here.
Which, coincidentally, is a LOT of what you can see happening these days with "social networking" and "cloud computing" and all those other hypes and trends that basically existed very well in the 90s and before but now the public is "catching up" with technical developments.
They dont care what a small group of nerds and tech companies want and think. They care what average people think they want.
Symbolism, accessable tone of voice .. Thats extremely relevant.
You shouldnt compare it to lobbyist webites. You should compare it those of political movements and politically oriented charities.
The memification of the message is brilliant marketing, because its funny, accesible and honest.
Rescue the lolcats from the evil clutches of the internet hate league! So load up your meme gun and blast these seniors out of congress.
That right there. Tell me GP when youve found someone who can't get behind that. I think you'll be surprised.
The organizational style is very similar to that of other organizations that attempt to motivate constituents like the NRA and AARP and if you really want to spend some time boggling, check out their communications to their constituency.
In other words, the "general public" is not the target here. Neither are representatives, directly. The target is the "Z generation", which are underrepresented in political debates, I think. And if you want them to do something, you probably want to use some memes.
 That's hyperbole, but I do suspect that if .01% of the American readers of icanhascheezburger were to call their representatives,
 "Z generation"? I prefer to think of it as "Force Z".
Yeah, there's nothing worse than geeks trying to have an impact. What a bunch of ass holes!
I'm curious, what impact do you have on "old style Senators"?
And the problem with educating people isnt the quality of the informational value of the message, its the lack of entertainment value.
Consider the daily show or colbert report, do they make people read less well informed newspapers? Most of their viewers were not reading those. It is however taking attention away from reality shows.
Likewise this is not to replace the EFF, but to widen its reach, and get people actively involved, that wouldnt get involved otherwise.
It's literally the absolute least you could do.
This is what I'm worried about. Who really stopped SOPA? You can bet that anyone who signs up for this will go around touting how they stopped SOPA, just like the guy next to me pretty much single handedly saved Haiti in 2010 with his $5 donation to the Red Cross.
There is a disparity between giving money so that others can continue to do work and being the one doing the work. I want that distinction clear, and to remain clear. The doctor who flew down to Haiti to personally help is infinitely more valuable than someone who donated.
EDIT: I'm not saying that this is useless or dumb. It's a step in the right direction, albeit (IMO) a small one. I just don't want to see "I signed up- I'm going to save the internet!" I think the people who really devote themselves to these causes should be respected on a different level than those that, for instance, sign up for this.
People who aggravated against SOPA certainly did something -- an important thing -- but people who made hard decisions, called or emailed their representatives and really coordinated this effort did more.
Really? Let's say I donate enough money that the Red Cross can afford to send an additional doctor to Haiti. How is that not in the same ballpark as volunteering your time as a doctor to go work there?
We should care about the effects of our actions, and donating money to effective charities (see http://givewell.org) is one of the ways we can have the biggest positive effect.
(I take this seriously; I give about 1/3 of what I earn as a programmer to the most effective charities I can find.)
Going back to the Red Cross example: If I'm a doctor in the US I'm making very good money, I get to see my family every day, and I have a very high standard of living.
It takes one of those doctors (not necessarily from the US, but I imagine most doctors live well) to give all of that up and fly over to a country in ruins to help. Without the people who are willing to really make those sacrifices, we've got a bunch of money and that's it. Money in and of itself is not what is usually needed to rectify situations.
What's wrong with that? Go geeks!
Don't you think the first time the "Cat Signal" is activated, it will make the news, and bring attention to the issue?
Also, old senators die. We'll replace them with redditors.
As a marketing strategy - and let me be clear, this is a marketing & people problem, not a technical one - you need to be able to reach the "Joe the Plumber" types. Someone who checks his facebook & email on the weekends, possibly forwarding glurge. Someone who does not own a smartphone, because they are confusing. Someone who will not get troll culture, memes and lulz, seeing them as juvenile foolery.
Put another way: a campaign like this needs to drive on many fronts, including the internet culture drive, the corporate drive, and the blue-collar drive.
Basically they are trying to institutionalize a network of "like-minded" internet activists; which will at least be interesting as a sociology experiment to see how it evolves and what kinds of reaction it gets.
Remember, most of the world are not geeks, and in a representative democracy, that means very few people in power are geeks. Geeks need to be able to communicate these socio-technical issues to non-geeks. I really hope that the Internet defence league works to communicate to the mainstream of the culture - the non-geeks - what's going on, because the mainstream is the primary driver of how we move politically (technically it's a feedback loop with the mass media playing a large part, but mainstream culture carries a large momentum and sway).
Not sure if the cat signal will be involved in this "final-mile" of the distributed protest action or not.
It kind of is though. Also some of these "little club of geeks" have extraordinarily deep pockets and any Senator/representative worth their salt knows how much that matters. I don't want to make demean important movements in the sixties by making comparisons of their oddities but money/power worked then and Senators/Representatives know it.
Besides, just what the hell is wrong with cats? Maybe you're a dog person but a lot of us are not. Elitist.
I for one think he has a point and if you don't please come up with something better than name calling.
To be fair, the following all get a lot of congressional hearing time:
* American League
* National League
* National Football League
* Anti-Defamation League
If shitty internet legislation costs them popularity or makes them look out of touch then they'll stop doing it.
The key is that this is going to be put in place on many sites so that the power can be readily abused to bring the kinds of legislative changes we want to see.
If it works within a few years you should start seeing earmarks for whoever controls the switch.
OK, I don't disagree with the general sentiment of what you're saying... but I think you overstate the extent to which you can generalize the youthfulness of the audience here, and/or the extent to which the Internet is only know nto the young. As a 39 year old "Gen X"er, I'm aware of plenty of people my age who know and use Reddit, Twitter, etc. Plenty of people roughly my age were in college in the 90's when the Internet was first becoming widely available, and are 'net savvy.
I'm sure if they start doing anything in earnest for the general public the campaign materials will change.
After what happened with SOPA and ACTA, they can regard it as a joke at their peril.
Lots of memes are only said out loud. Don't forget the original meme definition.
> Our organization and network helped to defeat SOPA/PIPA [..] The Internet Defense League continues this work. But it depends on its members' donations
It then goes on to ask for a donation to support staff who 'work behind the scenes'.
I think to people who are unfamiliar with what happen around the community action with SOPA and PIPA this section can be interpreted as the Internet Defense League taking credit for the defeat of the bills.
It also suggests that without financial contributions from members that this work wouldn't happen and SOPA/PIPA/what-comes-next may just succeed next time, even though this organization wasn't even around during the SOPA debate.
There is also no transparency around how this money that is raised will be spent. Who will be hired? What will they do? What will be volunteer roles and what will be hired roles? Weren't SOPA and PIPA defeated by volunteers in ad hoc communities and not paid salarymen working for a quasi online charity? Why is this not structured as a charitable organization? Why is my donation not tax deductible? Who are the people behind this? Where are they based? Why is this so United States centric? Who is backing this financially so far? Where is the about page? Is this a scam?
There should be a lot more details on that page before you ask people for money.
I would have preferred that donations were directed to the EFF, and that the online organization is done by volunteers - as, you know, it has worked just fine in the past.
But they dont actually do that. They use "we" in a politically rethoric form, where they try to convince the reader what their position already is. Its like saying "we the american people, need lower taxes to be free".
Its a marketing trick.
If you think this is stupid and ridiculous, what exactly are you doing to save the Internet?
I just became an EFF member too.
I'm holding my rock. It keeps internet-killers away.
<script async src="//members.internetdefenseleague.org/include/?variant=banner">
Its political marketing aimed at voters. It should target the type of teens on facebook, that you and i may look down upon.
As far as im concerned, they dont even go far enough. We need a comic. We need memes.
RESCUE MONORAIL CAT FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE EVIL INTERNET HATE LEAGUE. FIRE UP YOUR MEMES AND BLAST THESE CORRUPT SENIORS OUT OF CONGRESS.
That kind of stuff!
The type of teen who legally can't vote? Sounds effective.
Im suspecting that most people here, are already being served well by the EFF.
Consider this a branch, with a different tone, aimed at the facebook / youtube / 9gag crowd.
And its still usefull for us, since we can eaily integrate the "alarm" with our own websites.
My memes were an exaggeration, but they were not sarcastic. Lets just hope the people here can be practical enough to accept that maybe the tone of voice isnt for us, it is the most effective way to promote a cause we all already care deeply about.
I think the Internet Defense League has got it right.
Piano cat plays
Prepare for battle soldier
Evil is afoot
If they use this sparringly ( only for things as big as SOPA ), most site owners wouldnt mind.
And the impact, together with all major cities suddenly blasting a cat light, will likely reach the news.
At which point, people like the EFF ( which are also part of this initiative ), will likely have serious, well spoken individuals available for interviews and such.
But this? This political action is literally what killed SOPA; that's not me talking, that's straight from Dodd's mouth. Now they've developed an easy call-to-action for future, similar bills? It's genius. Politicians thrive on the historical forgetfulness of the public. It was a matter of weeks before another bill similar to SOPA was in the works. The politicians will adjust their strategy and count on less political action the "next-time-around". I hope this can prevent it.
Who cares if it's about cats and comics? That's the theme of a generation and internet culture. And (combined with their high unemployment and lower expectations of future standard of living) this generation is going to be a political force. Bank on it.
I posted a Chinese saying attributed to Confucius the last time we discussed an effort to use the Internet to bring about more transparency.
始吾於人也，聽其言而信其行。今吾於人也，聽其言而觀其行。"At first my attitude toward people was to listen to their words and to trust their deeds. Now my attitude toward people is to listen to their words and observe their deeds."
I listen to the words "Internet freedom should not be restricted" and I say, as people did during the 1960s civil rights movement, "Right on!" But then I observe deeds and I wonder if anyone has an effectual plan to stop the prior restraint of all print publications in China or the direct party cadre oversight of all broadcast media in China. I can access the Chinese media (and do) just fine, via the World Wide Web, but the common people of China, even the many who now have Internet access, are far from being able to access any available news source from anywhere around the world to the same degree that most Hacker News participants can.
All kinds of tough world problems would be easier to solve if the common people of China (and Russia, and a few other countries) had less restricted access to news and information, both about the country they live in and all other countries, and more opportunity to practice political dissent and open discussion of public policy, culminating in voting for national leaders in free and fair elections. If an Internet Cat Signal helps bring that about, I'm all for it. But if the Cat Signal serves mostly as yet another silly publicity tie-in for a Hollywood movie, I have better uses of my time and the server for my personal website than to link into the project.
I would really like to see an Internet freedom project that has significant advice and direction from political dissidents experienced with one-party dicatorial regimes, such as the current regime in China. Such a project could help Western Internet freedom activists better understand what issues really matter, and what technical means can overcome determined governmental opposition.
for examples of research on this important topic.
Best wishes to everyone working for more free flow of information to more people all over the world.
Think something like the NRA or NAACP, but for the internet. Things like the EFF are cool but not nearly as popular and accessible as things like NRA.
Unfortunately there is very little which western political groups can do to force the hand of the Chinese government with regard to censorship.
So Tor then?
"Earlier this year, I wrote about the Hacking Society gathering, put on by Union Square Ventures. During that discussion, Clay Shirky brought up the idea of an "Internet Volunteer Fire Department" and Tiffiniy Cheng, from Fight for the Future, explained the IDL and how they were already working on it. You can watch that discussion to get a sense of the thinking behind this effort:"
 - http://www.openrightsgroup.org/
I had hoped for a truly global 'Internet Defense League', which then could have smaller branches for country/region specific issues.
Anyone from the United Kingdom will immediately associate the name with the English Defence League, a violent far-right Islamophobic street protest movement.
As branding ideas go, having a name that has that connotation is a really dumb choice.
Yes they are. They are bad because they are a massive risk center to their customers. For a small industry this is just kind of annoying, but for a massive one it can have a detrimental effect on the entire economy and not having massive single points of failure in your economy should be (and sometimes is) considered a matter of national security.
I'd even argue that the regional monopoly system we currently have actually frequently does have to act in communal ways in the best interests of different providers across regulatory regions. People without billions of dollars on the table just aren't allowed in those conversations.
I don't have anything against whitespace spectrum (though I do feel it becomes a shoving match of who has the biggest tower), but there are certain applications that demand a monopolized spectrum, such as cell phones. If providers were not able to provide national, dedicated networks, the cell phone industry as we know it could not exist. This is not to say that cell phones wouldn't exist (perhaps just a patchwork of regional providers), but the level of seamless service that consumers have come to demand would not. Even a patchwork of regional carriers would require regionalized monopolies. Why would you go to the trouble and cost of building a tower if someone can just build another, larger one next to it?
Of course -- and I've said this before -- anything important enough to be a monopoly is important enough to be heavily regulated in order to operate in the public interest (as utilities, roads and spectrum are).
The government does nothing to enforce monopolies in the sports world (remember the XFL? It failed because not enough people watched. Also, there are pro/semipro baseball teams not affiliated with MLB. A somewhat local to me example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traverse_City_Beach_Bums).
I dont even have an account.
EDIT: It doesn't matter BTW if you're logged in. The cookie will still be set.
>And as for tracking cookies: every website has them to some extend. And every browser lets you pick the policy you prefer.
That's true, but I think it's just careless from the designers to leave out something like this on a website standing for a mission to get rid of "bad monopolies". It's obviously not a big thing, but still something which makes me scratch my head.
>But if you care some much.. Go help them out!
Yeah, I should do that since I'm bitching here.
And as for tracking cookies: every website has them to some extend. And every browser lets you pick the policy you prefer.
But if you care some much.. Go help them out!
This utterly misses the point. This is not about being logged into Facebook or
not. I don't have a Facebook account I could be logged into, and they still
try to track me (if they could, and wouldn't be shitlisted by at least 4
different filters, that is).
Facebook has no business with me. They can - and should have to - stay the
fuck out of my life. The same goes for the other billions of people who don't
have a Facebook account and hopefully won't get one.
And even if you are logged into Facebook, that still gives them no right to
track you. Privacy is an inalienable right that you cannot give away by signing
up for a Facebook account.
>And as for tracking cookies: every website has them to some extend.
That's not an argument, that's a lame excuse. Everyone needs to stop this
shit. There's no justification for it. And no, targeted ads are not a
justification. If your business model depends on infringing on the privacy of
people, then your business modell is highly unethical and should be illegal.
Although, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I can't take them seriously because they decided to use the buttons.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that privacy is not a worthwhile concern, but this movement seems to be about protecting the Internet from government abuse, not about privacy practices of private companies. Sure, it could be about both, but that would dilute the message and create a handicap, especially if it means having to avoid some of the primary methods of communication online.