• August 2009
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Internet Communities Making Revolutionary Changes

I’ve recently discovered an interesting phenomenon creeping up on then net. Well, political grassroots movements are not new to the internet at all. Every organization out there has a website, some using technology with varying levels of effectiveness. Politicians are using the net to communicate their platforms. Online communities have been around for a long time, from the early days of Usenet, to web bulletin boards, and now Web 2.0 sites like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. One impressive grassroots Youtube movement in particular has caught my eye as a movement that has stood out with a rather amazing and recent success story.

A couple of months ago, I watched an interesting vlog on Youtube from AtheneWins. As an ex-WoW player, I’ve watched Athene videos before, particularly for their humor. The rather large following that Athene videos have created apparently lead to a spin-off by the amateur film makers of the AtheneWins videos, I Power. I Power’s focus was self-improvement, and, more to the point of this article, politics. I Power has taken a particular stance on supporting Net Neutrality in Europe.

I had known about Net Neutrality before, but this was the first that I heard about it being considered in European Parliament. As a US citizen, I suddenly became increasingly interested in Net Neutrality. If laws could be passed in Europe that allow ISP’s or governments to restrict what their users can view on the internet, why couldn’t it happen in the US?

Inspiration happened when I Power posted an “emergency” video on on Youtube that encouraged Europeans to contact their Parliament, and support Net Neutrality. The video got 40,000 hits. As a skeptical, somewhat apathetic American, I had to wonder just how this would affect the European Parliament’s decision on whether or not to allow ISP’s to control the content of the internet as it’s delivered to their customers.

A few days later, I Power posted this follow up video announcing a victory in protecting Net Neutrality. Apparently, European Parliament members received so many letters, emails, and phone calls, that they realized just how important Net Neutrality is to the internet as we know it today, and refused to allow ISP’s the ability to control what content their users could view. I couldn’t believe it!

This is a very real example of how online communities are making their voices heard, and making a difference. You always hear about how the “world is being changed by technology”, and the “internet is a huge part of change”. From politicians using Youtube and Twitter to spread their campaign message, to the leaked Iran protests videos (which Iran’s government has tried to suppress by blocking direct access to Youtube), these are more than just buzz words. The success of I Power stands out as one of the most impressive examples of how every day people can use technology to make their voices heard, and when voices are heard by politicians (in democratic countries), change can become a reality.


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