We’re releasing a semi-dystopian science fantasy novel written by Mike Speegle for RealtimeConf where the bad guys are a dark and nebulous force called SILOS—an analagous mix of everything we hate about the NSA and the corporate tech company buffoonery that is forcefully and rapidly undermining the Open Web.

And here I am, reading the day’s news, after months and months of horrible news for the Internet, and now wishing that the dark vision of SILOS was the more dramatic and dark one instead of the reality of the Internet that we’re not far from looking down the barrel at.

People like Lavabit who’ve walked away from their businesses rather than compromise users’ privacy or their own integrity and others like Silent Circle who did the same out of chilling effects are just the tip of an iceberg that has the potential to sink a big part of what we value about the Internet.

And at this point, I’ve just got to say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

It’s time to “disrupt”, except, um, for real—not just the startuppy thing where we share pictures of bespoke taxis.

We already know we can’t trust the government to do what’s right. Yet we know the government can and will answer to the people, if the people are vocal enough.

The biggest and most painful problem is that not enough of the American public is angry enough that this is a terrible thing to do something about it—largely, I think, because they don’t understand and because there’s so much misinformation and spin about it.

Massive civil disobedience has proven to be a loud voice for change and the people of the web have a big megaphone.

What if we chose a date and coordinated a 24 hour Internet shut down, strike, and information campaign—a “snow in”, so to speak?

Here’s how I think it might work:

  1. Walk out and refuse to work for 24 hours. I believe this shouldn’t just be developers and web designers and sysadmins or people changing their avatars, it should be a widespread and painfully disruptive protest strike.
  2. If you are willing and have the rightful authority to do so, shut down any Internet services and websites under your power, with a temporary redirect to a white page with simple text describing why there’s nothing there.
  3. Write your customers, managers, and clients an email in advance saying you’re participating and why you feel this is important enough to do something about—and ask for their support.
  4. Spend that period of time piling calls and emails to government officials, spreading the word about why this matters, and educating people.

This isn’t a call to do this—it’s a prod and a question and an invitation for discussion. If it were to happen and capable of being effective, it should be a massively organized protest with a ton of lead time.

What do you think?

Do you think enough people would put in the energy and have the guts to participate in this to make a difference? And would it make a difference? And if not this, then what?

Edmund Burke’s famous quote comes to mind: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good women and men to do nothing.”

I can’t believe there’s nothing we can do about this.


PS This post is great. But I think it’s not enough at this point.

We truly need a system-wide autoimmune response that says “this has gone too far”, it can’t just be an expert-level battle.

I believe engineering can make a big difference, but then it’s just a war of engineering, when this needs to be a line-in-the-sand ethical decision by the people whose lives and futures are and will increasingly be influenced by the state of the Internet.

The web is not just for web developers!