Type any topic into Wikipedia today and you’ll get a glimmer of what you would’ve had–the full article–followed by utter starkness–the Wikipedia black out screen.
Wikipedia, along with many other big online names such as Reddit, has chosen to go dark today to protest the anti-piracy legislation, SOPA and PIPA, that are believed to threaten how the Internet works as we know it. Wikipedia and other sites believe these bills provide ambiguously broad mechanisms for enforcement of copyright which would restrict innovation and threaten the existence of websites with user-submitted content, such as, drum roll, Wikipedia.
The free Internet encyclopedia we have taken for granted is making sure we’re astutely aware how different the Internet experience would be without a free and open policy. And more importantly, how different the college or student experience would be without Wikipedia. Probably a lot different. A lot.
What’s easier or more accessible than hitting up Wikipedia to help you write a paper or prepare for an exam? Not quite sure what Immanuel Kant was talking about? Look him up! Forget when the Tennis Court Oath happened? Look it up! Now, professors will ridicule you endlessly for citing Wikipedia as a source, but that doesn’t mean Wikipedia doesn’t make the best jumping off point ever. It can help you decide which “real” resources to hit up next.
And what about when you’re at a party where you don’t really know anybody, except that person who coerced you into coming along, and the conversation comes to a halt because nobody can remember the name of Newt Gingrich’s third wife. A little smart phone maneuvering here, a little Google search there, and you’re the savior of the party by pulling up the Wikipedia article on Callista Bisek.
But in all seriousness, how would the Internet change if SOPA and PIPA were to pass and how would it affect you?
Are you in favor of these legislations or against them?
As a student, how are you coping without Wikipedia today? Do you even notice a difference?
Share your thoughts! Leave a comment below.