The House and the Senate are working up anti-piracy bills, respectively code-named SOPA and PIPA. If passed in their original forms, these measures would fundamentally change the structure of the Internet, making online publishers utterly responsible for anything their users might say or do. In a fully SOPA-fied future, posting a link to copyright-infringing material in the comments to this story could lead to The Fool going offline for weeks while the courts figure out what happened.
This frame, used with permission from XKCD, illustrates the futility of regulating the Web. He'll be up all night.
That's how the Wikimedia Foundation sees it, anyhow. To protest the twin bills, the foundation has taken the English version of Wikipedia offline on Wednesday, showing lawmakers exactly what they're asking for. Rather than crowdsourced overviews of white blood cells and the economy of Nepal, now you get a black page with a handy form to find your local Congress members and file a complaint.
With mild apologies to David Letterman, here are the top 10 things I think about the Wikipedia blackout:
Will the Internet explode in a white-hot fireball without Wikipedia? Should the foundation have hit the brakes given that officials want to take the sting out of SOPA and PIPA? Has anybody learned anything important today? Add a basket of important Internet companies to your watchlist and check back again on Thursday -- if you still can.