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Skipping the middleman
January 12, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

If you believe the US government is too heavily influenced by corporations, perhaps apps like No More SOPA are the future of "voting". Will technology enable us to directly push back on corporations influencing government policy?
posted by sarah_pdx (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

A small number of non-rich people cannot win an economic war.
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I meant that they can't win using economic tactics. They could win an economic war by other means.
posted by DU at 11:42 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Does armed revolution count? I mean somebody's got to pay for the guns, right?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:44 AM on January 12, 2012

Short answer, no. Longer answer, no.

What reddit, the people behind this app, and the rest don't seem to understand is that these gestures are completely meaningless. They only affect a relatively small group of people already in agreement that SOPA is bad. If you want a pushback, you need to reach those people who don't agree or have no opinion on the matter, which is the vast majority. Otherwise politicians won't give a shit what a small group of tech-oriented people think.

If Google or Facebook did it, that would actually capture the attention of the general population. But these sorts of things just won't accomplish anything.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:49 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Interesting fact I learned today: Al Franken is a sponsor of PIPA, the slightly-less-evil but still evil senate version of SOPA. Sigh...
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

What if something like Siri started suggesting things that were, for example, only anti-SOPA? That would reach a much wider audience.
posted by leviathan3k at 11:56 AM on January 12, 2012

Perhaps Metafilter could support Reddit and go dark on January 18th as well?
posted by LakesideOrion at 11:57 AM on January 12, 2012 [10 favorites]

Even if everyone used these apps religiously, Monsanto (for example) is not going to stop driving favourable legislation just because the anti-GMO crowd becomes more able to avoid their GMO products. GMO is Monsanto's business model, not some whim they'll change if the people who disagree with it become able to avoid buying it.
Monsanto will continue to buy legislation regardless of anything these apps can do. The only way to stop them buying legislation is to prevent them buying legislation. Asking nicely or trying to take business elsewhere misses the problem.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:59 AM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

LakesideOrion - meta.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on January 12, 2012

these sorts of things just won't accomplish anything.

You have a time machine and know how what was done in the knowable past effected the unknowable future so you "know" of the things that effect the future VS the things that are background error rates>?

posted by rough ashlar at 12:03 PM on January 12, 2012

Minecraft's Notch on SOPA
posted by Artw at 12:11 PM on January 12, 2012

Pfft. I'd rather avoid buying anything from those fuckers on general principle. Should I care if my personal avoidance accomplishes nothing?
posted by jeffburdges at 12:14 PM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

We should also note that has a listing of organizations supporting SOPA and top bribe recipients.

There were a whole bunch of SOPA stories nobody posted here :
- Reddit to 'black out' for 12 hours to protest SOPA and PIPA
- Tech gets its day in Congress as SOPA fight continues
- Lawmakers Intent On Approving SOPA and PIPA
- ‘Rogue’ Attorney General Spreads MPAA-Fed SOPA Propaganda
- US Threatened To Blacklist Spain For Not Implementing Site Blocking Law
posted by jeffburdges at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I personally hope that the future of voting is that each vote cast by our representatives carries the weight of all of their constituents who have not opted to vote on the matter personally (via computer or phone). And we the people can cast our own vote our own way on every bill up for vote, removing it from the pool of votes being cast by the representative, and voting directly for our interest instead.

It is no-longer the 18th century, we should no-longer be constrained by 18th century limitations on participation in governance.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:10 PM on January 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

I vote to give myself more money.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2012

I vote to give myself more money.

At least that beats having someone else use your vote to vote giving themselves more of your money.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:18 PM on January 12, 2012

I just addressed this in an email this morning at work... here's my reply, which I think works verbatim...

Normally I try to keep my somewhat radical political views at a safe distance away from work, but in this case I'll make an exception.

This is only one step in a larger battle, which was pointed out by Cory Doctorow in The Coming War on General Purpose Computation.

When SOPA gets passed, it won't mean the immediate end of the internet as we know it, there are already tools being built to route around it, such as DeSopa.

This will, of course, then lead to an even stronger and more stupid attempt at prohibition (of copying sacred bits). This will repeat ad infinitum.

It would be good to keep the bigger picture in mind, and yes I think it would be good to make a political statement in this case, as a company.

With the bigger picture, it would be good to position ourselves on the technologists / public side. We could tell stories, make a spoof, something that helps raise awareness, entertains, and shows off our capabilities all at the same time.

posted by MikeWarot at 1:27 PM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I vote to give myself more money.

It's good enough for congressmen, it's good enough for their constituents.
posted by absalom at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2012

What the app does is not as important as what it is getting at: every dollar spent is a vote cast.

No, a smartphone app is not going to singlehandedly deliver unto the people the power they should rightfully wield. If we can make it really, really, ridiculously easy for people to boycott companies that lean too heavily on legislators, through various means of spreading awareness of bad actors and making alternatives more visible and attractive, we might take one or two useful steps toward that goal. Smartphone apps are one small weapon in that arsenal.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 1:42 PM on January 12, 2012

Does being vegetarian actually help animals and/or the environment? I donno, but I doubt any vegetarians I know much care. I've always assumed they're simply opting out from doing harm, nothing more. Freegans won't eat meat even when it's free, for example.

I'm planning on using this application once I buy an Android phone. I've planned on buying one ever since I noticed the Guardian Project, which helps you annoy your nation's secret police.

And annoying any relevant secret police has clearly become a moral imperative. You're also obligated to insist upon the fondling when flying by air in the U.S. too, btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:09 PM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Taking one or two steps towards that goal merely enables the status quo, and thus is ultimately a pyrrhic victory. Being an ambulance at the bottom of cliffs gives others complacency about leaving the top unfenced.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:12 PM on January 12, 2012

I thought a cool app to create would be a political app which used the location of the phone to figure out what stores are near by, then show how much money they donated went to republican candidates vs democratic candidates.

Of course I never did anything with it, but seeing the SOPA support app made my day, because someone was thinking along similar lines.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:31 PM on January 12, 2012

And we the people can cast our own vote our own way on every bill up for vote, removing it from the pool of votes being cast by the representative, and voting directly for our interest instead.

Direct voting hasn't exactly made California a paradise on earth. I'd much rather just have smart representatives, but since I'm already at the mercy of the uneducated majority, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

How 'bout just doing away with the 2-party system?
posted by coolguymichael at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2012

SOPA will kill the internet, sure.

But is this really a single link to an Android Market Page on MetaFilter?

Sounds fishy.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

SOPA Blackout JS Utility
posted by Artw at 5:03 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Under voter pressure, members of Congress backpedal (hard) on SOPA
posted by homunculus at 7:12 PM on January 13, 2012

Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on January 14, 2012

Reddit, Still Attacking Paul Ryan, Raises $15,000 For Challenger (via homunculus's arstechnica link)
posted by jeffburdges at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2012

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