Wikipedia blackout an exercise in clear communications

Gotta love the clear, elegant way that Wikipedia handled its 24-hour blackout designed to bring attention to the ominous Internet legislation being considered in the US and soon to be adopted by other countries including Canada.

Under this Draconian and unprecedented law, any web site can be shut down by the simple mechanism of someone making an unverified complaint of copyright infringement. If a company decides to shut down its competitors, it can merely complain that they are using copyrighted material and their websites will be taken down. No due process. No proof necessary. We all agree that copyright infringement is a problem, but this so-called solution is so outrageous you wonder how thinking people ever allowed it to get this far. Maybe I’ve answered my own question. Politicians aren’t known for thinking.

In protest, Wikipedia enacted a worldwide blackout to help people see how much we rely on free exchange of information. And you have to hand it to them for the elegant way they have handled their protest. Just a visually appealing home page with a short and clear explanation. Nothing overly dramatic or shouting. “Imagine a world without free knowledge.” So simple. Kudos to the Wikipedia communications team for how they handled this. At the time of this post, the blackout is still making its way around the world’s time zones, but has ended in Europe.

Here’s hoping the people who make decisions on laws like this are paying attention.

George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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