Remember the massive geek freakout over the bad anti-piracy bills SOPA/PIPA in January? (Also known as The Day The Wikipedia Blackout Demolished American High School Students' GPAs.) Nerds are trying to make sure this happens again and again by creating an 'Internet Defense League' to protect the internet from bad legislation. It must be the single nerdiest thing on the internet outside of Tumblr The Social Network fanfiction.
The Internet Defense League (IDL) manages to be both grating and smart in the ways that many internet nerds are. Today, digital rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and websites like Reddit, Mozilla and Wordpress are launching the IDL as a counterweight to the powerful lobbying efforts of the entertainment industry. They'll rally the troops and mobilize the internet's hordes whenever bad laws like SOPA come around . Sounds good.
But then things get a little too nerdy.
Fittingly, given the membership of the Cheezburger Network, the League's equivalent to the bat signal is the 'cat signal', a sign representing what is the near-official mascot of the web. Expect to see it shining into the sky on Thursday night in London, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC and, weirdly, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia - the League's launch parties are designed to coincide with the release of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
If the idea of a 'cat signal' makes you feel like the defense of the entire internet is in good hands you live on a different internet than me.
Look, it's great that supporters of an open internet are organizing to stop bad laws from breaking the internet. But why do the internet's self-appointed defenders have to project such a bald stereotype of the Redditor who chuckles to himself over rage comics on one of his three computer monitors while self-righteously Tumbling photoshops of Lord of the Rings characters in Guy Fawkes masks on the other, and using the third to level-up his World of Warcraft character?
And then there's slogan: "Make sure the internet never loses. EVER." Whoa. Chill.
It's like the IDL purposely want to alienate anyone who doesn't fit the monolithic geek-centric idea of what "The Internet" is: goofy memes and cat videos, Wikipedia editors and start-up employees working together in networked frenzy toward a libertarian digital utopia where you can download the Breaking Bad season premiere for free before they even finish making it. (See also: The "I Work For the Internet" campaign launched during SOPA.) Other people exist on the internet, and they stand to benefit just as much—if not more—than hardcore nerds.
It's too bad that well-meaning campaigns to keep the internet open are often sort of close-minded.