A tech lover's call to arms

Don Reisinger thinks we should all stand up to the injustices being hoisted upon us by lawmakers and misguided organizations. Will you stand with him?

For years, I've wanted to write this piece, but for one reason or another, I didn't think it was the right time to do it. But now, as I look at technology zealots like myself who have been forced to submit to the will of the vocal minority that has no idea what this industry is all about, I think it's time.

Whether it's lawmakers, the RIAA, MPAA, "family groups" or other misguided individuals, these people are taking the technology industry to task for everything it stands for and anything it does. Gone are the days of appreciation for what technology provides and here are the days of contempt.

Years ago, technology lovers were not-so-affectionately called geeks who had no idea what the real world looks like. These people were ostensibly scared of the opposite sex in high school, enjoyed tinkering with electronics on weekends and hardly ever played sports. But as those geeks created technologies that transcended industries, they suddenly gained respect and the pejorative has become a term of endearment in appreciation for the creature comforts those people created.

But now, a new group of people has emerged to confront the tech lovers all over the world and stop them from being able to do what they want with the technology they own. And while many have tried to confront them on an individual basis, it has not worked. And it's for that reason that we must all come together and fight the ridiculous impositions brought upon us.

How many times must we hear that video games cause violence before we stand up together and stop the spewing of inaccurate ideas? How many times must we listen to the RIAA tell us that college students are the root of all evil as it pertains to piracy before we tell the organization that it's wrong? How many times must we listen to public interest groups allow families to get off the hook instead of blaming them when "security concerns" are revealed to the public before we tell them the truth? How many times must we listen to people who have no knowledge of the technology industry restate the misguided ramblings of lawmakers before we vote for change?

These questions have yet to be answered. Sure, some of us have ensured that we continue to inform tech lovers from all across the globe about what's really going on in the industry, but none of us -- journalists and readers -- have stood together to confront the beast that continues to grow each day.

Everyday when I wake up, I'm constantly reminded by how limited we are in our rights with technology. Why are women forced to pay ridiculous sums of cash for stealing 20 songs? Why are ten-year old children forced into a deposition that the plaintiff hopes will yield even more cash for a misguided cause? Why are college students blamed for piracy when huge cartels overseas are allowed to run amok? Why can companies charge too much for too little and get away with it? Why am I paying for 10mbps service when I only get 2mbps?

According to GamePolitics.com, an Arizona bill that was passed in the state's House of Representatives last month "would make content producers, publishers and distributors liable for monetary damages if any written, audio, visual or digital material from which they profited was judged to have been "dangerous" or obscene and motivated someone to commit a felony or an act of terrorism."

The ambiguity of that bill is indicative of many of the laws enacted by lawmakers all over the country. Instead of forcing people to be responsible for their own actions, lawmakers have seen it fit to embrace a policy that makes those who provide technology to individuals the lawbreakers. Ironically (or maybe not), that doesn't happen in any other industry. In other, more political, industries, the companies win out, but in the technology business, we're expected to suffer.

Of course, the plight of the technology industry goes far beyond video games. Each day, we're told that what we really want to do is wrong. You want to download music? Nope, you should be paying a ridiculous premium on CDs. You plan on ripping a DVD you own onto your computer? Don't even think about it. You're paying for faster speeds than you really get? Oh well. You're forced to pay $175 to get out a cell phone contract? Tough luck.

Some have said that it'll eventually get better when the younger generation assumes positions of power and I agree with that. But who really wants to wait that long? Why has the entire technology industry rolled over in the face of lawmakers and misguided organizations for no good reason?

Enough is enough.

I think it's time that every person who truly cares about the future of the technology industry and their own well-being stands up and rights the injustices being forced upon each and every one of us. We shouldn't be forced into specific arrangements that promise more than they provide and we surely shouldn't wait in anxious anticipation of what could be.

For what it's worth, I call on all journalists, readers and companies to forego their apathy and do what they can to stand together and fight the ridiculous notion that technology should be throttled back for fear of its inability to adapt to the expectations of the Old Guard.

If nothing else, technology is the beacon of hope in these times of economic and socio-political tumult and we should do what we can to ensure that misguided individuals and lawmakers alike understand and fully appreciate the value and importance of technology.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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