This great graphic (found on BongBong.net) depicts the changes in support for the SOPA/PIPA anti piracy legislation pending in Congress on the day of, and day after, the internet black-out protest. The visual impact of this graph proves that civil action still has a powerful effect in our democracy. Those in Congress who weren't paying attention stood up and took notice. Those who were supporting SOPA took a second look at what made opponents so upset. Those who planned to support SOPA were forced to make their positions known and many fence sitters jumped to into the rising tide of public opposition.
The problem of how to protect intellectual property rights and reward creative inventions is real and pressing. It needs to be solved. But this public policy earthquake has opened cracks and fissure in the crust of the old "inforcement model" thinking through which alternative ideas and new paradigms are escaping and arising in Congressional consciousness. This is a good thing for all parties concerned.
But the graphic itself is also a really good thing. It is a brilliant example of how creative new ways to depict data can immediately and effortlessly engage almost anyone in the story that the data has to tell. Edward R. Tufte, "The Leonardo da Vinci of data." (according to the New York Times) should be well pleased. http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/
But the graphic itself is also a really good thing. It is a brilliant example of how creative new ways to depict data can immediately and effortlessly engage almost anyone in the story that the data has to tell. In our complex world the data we are presented is often overly simplified (data points and all nuance lost) while being presented in graphics that are hard to intuit. This is just the sort of visual explanations that can best inform our citizenry. Edward R. Tufte, "The Leonardo da Vinci of data." (according to the New York Times) should be pleased. http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/
In this graphic, the faces of Congress, their names, their party affiliation, their before and after positions on the issue and the scale or magnitude of the change from one day to the next are beautifully captured without the need to translate the data into the lines, axises, scales, grid lines, and legends found in more conventional graphics. Cudos to BongBong and whoever put this graphic together.
Addendum: NY TIMES OPINION
Published: January 28, 2012
We welcomed the collapse this month of two flawed bills to prevent online piracy, bills that could have stifled speech and undermined Internet safety. But piracy by Web sites in countries like Russia and China, which offer high-quality bootleg copies of movies and music, is a real problem for the nation’s creative industries. And there is legislation that could curb the operation of rogue Web sites without threatening legitimate expression.
The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Darrell Issa, offers a straightforward and transparent approach to the problem. Content owners could ask the International Trade Commission to investigate whether a foreign Web site was dedicated to piracy. The Web site would be able to rebut the claim. If the commission ruled for the copyright holder, it could direct payment firms like Visa and PayPal and advertising networks like Google’s to stop doing business with the Web site.
The bill addresses concerns of copyright holders that the process would be too slow to match the pirates’ speed. It would allow them to request temporary restraining orders when there is urgency to, say, stop a Russian Web site from illegally streaming the Super Bowl. That Web site would still have a chance to respond, but it would have to move more quickly to make its case.
[See more at: .NY TIMES OPINION ]