I have been spending a lot of time daydreaming about one of my life’s ambitions… dreams… to some day give back to a world that has given me so much, and this video helped put some of these thoughts into words. I aspire to someday create a non-profit organization that empowers low-income and at-risk families with access to technology. I’m a strong proponent on the free distribution of information as a whole, and technology is a means to that end. With the rise of the Internet comes the subsequent interconnection of an entire species, and the possibility for social, economic, spiritual, and personal transparency that is finally within grasp. We now live in a world where despotic tyrants should no longer be able to run rampant campaigns of destruction and hate without someone capturing it in real time, uploading it for the whole world to see and react to. The only thing that we are missing from reaching another level of “being” in our culture is the “want” and the “desire” to care. The tools are all in place to allow us to educate every soul on the planet. Technology is the new weapon of the people to defend ourselves from ourselves.
Several individuals have pointed out to me that often times when technology is introduced to people who would of otherwise never had access to it, it is often misused and “they end up addicted to Facebook, Fotolog and social media, and that’s where their tech experience ends.” I have to partly agree with this statement, as I myself am culprit to falling into the time wasting traps of technology. All you have to do is look at the internet and see that over one third of the bandwidth is used for porn, while the rest is commercial B.S., hate mongering, and disinformation… but I also believe the Internet is a mirror reflection of our human condition. It does in fact diagnose our disease, but also highlights our best strengths when you look deep enough. So, what am I getting at? Freedom! The Internet and technology are tools of freedom. It’s up to each and every one of us to decide how we will yield this great power, and where we want to go from here…
Here’s a blurb from an article that kinda got me going on this subject:
Wired: Speaking of going after people tooth and nail, that brings us to your new novel, Pirate Cinema. What’s that about?
Doctorow:Pirate Cinema was inspired by a legislative event in the United Kingdom where I live. In 2009 they introduced legislation called the Digital Economy Act, which includes something called “three strikes,” which says that if you’re accused — without proof — of three acts of copyright infringement, you and your family get disconnected from the internet.
This legislation was introduced right around the same time we had a report from our champion for digital inclusion, a woman named Martha Lane Fox, whose government posting is to make sure that everybody in the country has access to the internet. She commissioned a Price Waterhouse Cooper study into a follow-up of a trial program where people who lived in government housing — in very vulnerable populations in the north, where the local economy and industry have collapsed — they followed it up to see what happened when those people were given internet access and compared them to their neighbors who hadn’t been given internet access, so they had a naturally occurring control population experiment that they could use to analyze the impact of internet access.
They found that these people who had been given internet access, that everything we use to measure the quality of life went up for them. Their kids not only got better grades, but they were more likely to go on to post-secondary education and to be socially mobile. The parents got better jobs and had more disposable income, and so there was better nutrition, and their health outcomes were better. They were less socially isolated, they were more civically engaged, and more politically engaged. Really the whole raft of human experience improves when you give people internet access, so it follows that when you take away people’s internet access, you confiscate those benefits too.
It’s bad enough to say, “If you watch TV the wrong way we’re going to take away your access to civic engagement, education, employment and health.” But it’s even worse to say, “If you live in the same house as someone who is the named subscriber for a DSL modem that has been accused — without proof — of being involved in someone — possibly not even someone who lives in your house — watching TV the wrong way, we’re going to take away all these benefits.” This was just wildly disproportionate and really just evil.
It passed without debate because they snuck it into the final session of Parliament, just before they dissolved the Parliament for the election. And it had passed in other countries in the same way. In New Zealand, the way that they passed it was as a rider to the Christchurch earthquake bailout, the bill that was passed to free up resources to help save the people dying in the rubble of Christchurch. They snuck it in there.
This made me so furious that I decided I would write a book about it. So I wrote this novel called Pirate Cinema, and it’s about a kid who lives in one of these northern towns, these rust belt towns, a town called Bradford that was once the center of the textiles industry. His name is Trent, but he calls himself “Cecil B. DeVil” after Cecil B. DeMille the movie producer, because he makes movies. But he doesn’t make movies the way they did in Spielberg‘s era, where they had Super 8 cameras, like that Spielberg movie. He doesn’t make them the way they did in my boyhood, with VHS cameras. He makes them the way that you can if you’re a kid in the 21st century, namely by downloading other people’s movies and re-cutting them, and making new movies out of them.
And he’s very good at it, and it totally consumes him, and people love what he does and it’s very popular, and like many consumed, passionate adolescents, he gets careless, and he forgets to use the proxy that hides his internet identity from the snoopers that are used to catch pirates and disconnect them. And so his family gets disconnected, and his dad loses his job, and his mom loses her disability benefits, and his sister can no longer get the grades that she was getting and probably won’t make it into university, and so he’s really effectively destroyed his family.
And he runs away to London, the way the hero of so many British novels do, and he joins a gang — a kind of “ha ha only serious” youth gang of anarchistfreegansquatters — who make their own movies and show them in underground movie theaters, not just “underground” in the sense that they are all on the down low, and you have to know who to ask, and it’s all with a wink in a nudge, but “underground” in the sense that they break into beautiful vaulted brick Victorian sewers and turn them into cinemas — pirate cinemas — and these screenings become a citywide and then a nationwide phenomenon — everyone’s doing them, everyone’s making their own movies.
But even though they think that they can no longer engage with the law, that they can just ignore the law, what they discover is that just because they’re not interested in the law doesn’t mean that the law won’t take an interest in them, and very soon the law’s gotten much worse, to the point where people are going to jail just for downloading. When I wrote that, that was science fiction, but two or three weeks ago Japan passed legislation which says that if you download copyright-infringing material, you can go to jail for two years. Which effectively means that if you click the wrong link on YouTube, you go to prison. Japan also provides for 10 years in prison if you upload copyright-infringing material.
And so as these laws get worse, Trent and his friends decide that what they’re going to do is actually prevent new laws from being passed, and that the way that they’re going to do that is by bankrupting the entertainment industry with systematic piracy. So rather than just pirating things in a slapdash way, they’re going to pirate the things that cost the movie industry as much money as possible. So when new movies open, they’re walking up and down the ticket line in Leicester Square — which is kind of our answer to Times Square — and walking up to people in line to buy the ticket to the premiere screening, and they are handing them SD cards with copies of the movie on it, and a note that says, “If you buy a ticket, they’re just going to use the money to screw up our country. Here’s a copy of the movie, go watch it at home, make your own mixes, and come show them at one of our showings.” And, you know,jailarity ensues, because clearly the entertainment industry isn’t going to take that lying down, and that’s when the novel really starts to kick off.
read the article in its entirity here: Wired