A spell of darkness and some reflection

Knowledge sharing

A spell of darkness and some reflection

They called it the ‘Day of Darkness’ and it did turn out to be quite like that for many.

Access denied: Lack of free information can cripple one’s life.

Just how most people end up noticing a Google doodle most harmlessly, they noticed the blackout and read it with a feeling of some horror.

Wikipedia, the user-based encyclopedia, along with many other websites, staged a blackout for 24 hours in protest of the proposed American anti-piracy laws – SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). Google wasn’t a step behind either and offered people an online petition they could sign in protest of the laws. The proposed laws will effectively result in the shutting down of all websites that are based on user-generated content. This is being looked at as eventually leading to a world without free information.

While a day’s blackout in itself set people worrying, the long term consequences seem like the real scare. At present, the petition stands postponed in the US Senate with a need for changes. “A 24-hour blackout did matter. We always want to find something out and Wikipedia is easily the first result for most search items on Google,” says Meghna Kumbhat, student, Christ University Institute of Management, who strongly believes that it is practically impossible to bring about such changes overnight.

“Awareness about piracy has to be created in phases. It is going to be very difficult and will affect a lot of people, especially students. Piracy is not ethical, but it does make things easier. If anti-piracy laws do see the light of the day, we might have to shell out bucks for the smallest piece of information,” she adds.

Though the darkness lasted a mere day, the message displayed on the Wikipedia page, which said ‘Imagine a world without free knowledge,’ had stronger repercussions. It sparked off thoughts and imagination of a no-knowledge sharing space in many people.

“Everyone wants free information. There would be difficulty in doing anything if websites like Wikipedia are blocked,” says Jasmine Padda, a student of New Horizon College, who admits she logged on to Wikipedia on the day of the blackout and was annoyed.

Rakesh Kumar, a city-based RJ, agrees and believes that the lack of free information could affect his job. “With the sort of work I do, I constantly require off-the-cuff, freehand, freestyle information. Websites like Wikipedia, Google and Yahoo are my constant sources of reference. If I am denied such information, my world will become smaller. Such will be the case with many other people and our circumference of being informed will become much smaller. Eventually, it will reflect on our personalities,” he adds.

While most people believe that the lack of free information will affect people’s immediate jobs and daily life, there are others who are convinced that a world without free knowledge can have long term implications on IQ levels. This would easily result in a world full of people who know too little and have nowhere to go for learning. “People will become more and more stupid. Also, they will have nowhere to look for the simplest bit of knowledge,” says Vignesh Raja, an advertising professional.

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