January 31, 2012

SOPA on a ropa

I initially wrote this blog post on 1/21/12 during #alamw12 but didn't get a chance to post it. With the boycotting of Elsevier, I thought it would be a good time to pull this back out:


There has been a lot of talk about SOPA and PIPA leading up to the conference, and now during. One of my conference roommates, Lauren Bradley, pointed out this Tweet that is pretty hilarious:

http://twitter.com/#!/danwho/status/160800863298916353

Clearly, there is some inner turmoil in dealing with these vendors professionally, and having good relationships with them for our libraries and in general, yet if they are supporting something you (or I, I do) oppose such as SOPA, then what is our professional obligation versus personal ethics? This last Wednesday was a blackout day in solidarity of protest for SOPA. ALA made commentary via the website, and librarian projects such as Radical Reference and In the Library with the Lead Pipe went black for the day. I even blacked out Librarian Wardrobe.

Now that we’re physically at the conference, though (or, those of us who are here), what can we do to not have the cognitive dissonance of being so vocal on the internet battleground, but feeling politely silent at the conference? For starters, Andy Woodworth at Agnostic Maybe made an *amazing* color-coded guide to the exhibit hall. Amazing, really! So you know which vendors to complain to and/or avoid. I’d say this extends to the parties, too. I had RSVP’d to the Elsevier Dessert Reception but now decided I’m not going to go. Some of the ALA Think Tankers are going to go and protest while there. I guess it goes either way it’s kind of like if you don’t go and they see there are significantly fewer people there then maybe they’ll realize our collective voice is pretty strong. At the same time, if we don’t go to these things and actually verbalize our opposition, what will actually come of it? They could just think we aren’t showing up because of unrelated reasons. 
So what vendors have you spoken to, who support SOPA? What are you doing to fight against this crap? Do you think going to the party and protesting or not going by silent protest is more effective?