Thoughts on DOPA, Round two

It appears that Mr. Internet himself, the esteemed Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, is at it again. He has introduced into the Senate a new bill entitled “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (S49).” But this post is not so much about this proposed legislation as it is about you and I.

Danah Boyd brought this latest version of DOPA to my attention in her post from February 9th. Danah was active in speaking against the first version of the bill and is feeling that another battle may be brewing. Her frustration is summed up in this quote:

“…i spent the bulk of the fall talking to politicians about this issue. I spoke twice in DC to rooms full of Hill folks and FTC people. I spent hours with AGs who were unwilling to listen to anything that i said. I talked with congresspeople and senators, aides and state officials. I talked to hundreds of reporters. Perhaps it is immature of me to wimper on my blog about my exhaustion with this topic but i am most definitely heartbroken by having to face this bill again. It took up the bulk of my fall and i felt very alone in that fight. Politics is not my world and i don’t know how to engage with it productively without it tearing me apart.”

I was compelled to comment on her blog and I’ve included the text below but the bottom line for me is this –

For all our talk about how Web 2.0 changes everything, we still have neither cultivated nor mastered the ability to come together as one and become our own political action machine. Yes, there are paid lobbyists whose sole job is to sway the vote of our elected officials. But what prevents all of us from becoming an even larger voice? What prevents us from creating the next evolution of the Read/Write web – the Read/Write/REACT web? Reading and writing is critical for personal and collaborative reflection but what we need now and will need in the future is to harness that and turn it into ACTION! Seems to me that we should be cutting our teeth on smaller issues so that we are better able to address the larger ones.

Food for thought…

My comment to Danah:

Danah, I can definitely understand your frustration although I admire the passion and commitment that it took on your part to see it through the first time.

It strikes me that perhaps some of your frustration stems from the feeling that you are a lone voice in the wilderness. For all the talk I hear in the edublogosphere and elsewhere proclaiming that the wonderful world of Web 2.0 is bringing people together and shrinking the world, we aren’t necessarily walking the walk so to speak. NCLB, DOPA and its progeny are just one example of what can occur when the best of intentions are co-opted by the political machine. Rather than going it alone, what would it take for us to combine and bring to bear the consolidated efforts of our library professionals, education professionals,  and affected individuals from around the world. Rather than speaking as individuals, could we instead create a community of practice that cultivates a voice, a very loud and voting voice? Let’s make the web our tool, rather than being tooled ourselves.

Sorry for the rant but I hate to see someone with the passion you possess succumb to despair. The world requires balance – when the scales tip to one extreme, it is up to us to bring them back around.

Cheers!

John

[tags] dopa, internet, legislation, danahboyd, tedstevens [/tags]

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