To my delight, surprise, and slowly dispelled confusion I am a recipient of Fight for the Future’s “Nyan Cat Medal of Internet Awesomeness.” Me? Huh?
I have been honored.
Holmes Wilson, Tiffiniy Cheng, and the fighters of the Good Fight at Fight for the Future have seen fit to induct me into the “Order of Defenders of the Internet,” and have presented to me — via the United States Postal Service — the “Nyan Cat Medal of Internet Awesomeness,” pictured above.
Me? What did I do?
Enclosed was the letter explaining exactly what it is that I did:
After careful review, the committee for the Defenders of the Internet identified you as one of the top internet defenders in the world. You went above and beyond the status quo and staked out against SOPA, PIPA, and censorship on the internet. Your efforts have been noted because they required an exceptional combination of wit, tenacity, vision, and a belief in the transformative good the internet give to society. You helped lead us to a gigantic victory against internet censorship – it was an important fight for the public good and our free society. The web continues to be great because of you.
On behalf of the Internet, Fight for the Future bestows upon you the Nyan Cat Medal of Internet Awesomeness – the highest honor known to Internet Defenders.
I later discovered that two other fellow recipients of this honor were none other than Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment scholar and de facto activist that helped lead the charge in the battle against SOPA/Protect-IP, and Mike Masnick, business and technology expert and the driving force behind the eye on technology, politics, the internet, and where they all collide known as TechDirt.
(Marvin Ammori wrote a simply delightful post about receiving his medal — a post I could not even dream of upstaging: “Medal Ceremony in Real Life: for Internet Awesomeness.”)
And then there’s … uh … me.
Honestly, I was a bit conflicted with the idea that yours truly, a little known writer/blogger could stand next to either of these accomplished gentlemen. All that my efforts against SOPA/Protect-IP took was a tiny bit of web savvy and a slight case of monomania, monomania that, when I expressed it around my older stepson, would cause a rolling of the eyes that basically said, “There goes Daniel again.”
Though once I posted a photo of the medallion, Lyman Reed, one of my closest online friends, said, “Congratulations! Of everyone I know online, I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. Thanks for all you do, Daniel.”
Thanks for all you do.
And with that, I had a few other congratulatory comments and nods from other online friends, which told me that I actually had made a difference in their internet lives.
All right, Fight for the Future, I accept. Thank you again.
The “Nyan Cat” and … Awesomeness?
Not being a follower of internet memes (the most recent one I really recognized was the epic online hatred of Rebecca Black’s “Friday”), I had absolutely no idea what the “Nyan Cat” was, let alone why it was awesome. So, I did some searching, and got my answer.
(I would suggest that if you watch this, you watch no more than 20 seconds because, well … because nothing else happens.)
The Nyan Cat has become something of a cottage industry for the creator of the original animated gif, Christopher Torres, and there are numerous websites devoted to it, including (of course) a Facebook page.
Having found the Nyan Cat and still not “getting” it, I had to ask another internet friend of mine, Tom Redwine, who is far more conversant in the memes of the internet than I will ever be.
I caught up with him on Facebook:
This — no fault of Tom’s — did not clear up the mystery at all, and I continued in my befuddlement until I realized in a flash that the Nyan Cat was so awesome because it was so absurd, so absurd that the entire internet (with the exception of yours truly) delighted in the absurdity of it. It was internet huge. Absurdity raised to the viral level. Ginormous.
When, via Twitter, I ran across the designer of the medallion, Fight for the Future’s lead designer Ali Ali, I was curious as to why the imagery of the Nyan Cat was chosen for such a revered and coveted award.
But wait — if he designed it, doesn’t he already … uh …
… oh, forget it.
Update, June 6, 2012: Ali Ali has gifted us with his story of the creation of the medallion on his Tumblr blog Ali Ali Thinks, with his post, “Defenders of the Internet Medal Design.”
But, Seriously …
In reflecting about what efforts I made that were noticed by the committee for the Defenders of the Internet, I remembered something actor/political activist Martin Sheen said in his 2003 interview with Progressive Magazine:
Question: Why are you so active in social justice and peace issues?
Martin Sheen: I do it because I can’t seem to live with myself if I do not. I don’t know any other way to be. It isn’t something you can explain; it is just something that you do; it is something that you are.
Now, let me first say I am not about to compare myself with Martin Sheen. The idea of risking arrest for some kind of political protest or demonstration is pretty “out there” for this boy from the rural Midwest. But the core of his statement is how I feel — I couldn’t not speak up about SOPA and Protect-IP, and currently about the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. In recognizing what these things are, in really getting the impact of these completely wrong-headed pieces of legislation (and the mentalities and motivations behind the creations of them) made me and continues to make me see red.
And I am absolutely astonished that every user of Twitter, of Facebook, of Google Plus, of every social media service and every form of internet presence doesn’t see red at this as well.
And here is the place where I shake my finger at the blogosphere:
I had a few fellow bloggers “get” the significance of SOPA and Protect-IP, and do their parts to protest the passing of these monstrosities. (One friend I’m thinking of in particular isn’t even an American.) They put up the “Stop Censorship” banners and wrote the emails and signed the petitions and made the phone calls, and I am radiantly proud of each and every one of them. (And you folks know who you are).
And then there were all the other bloggers, the ones who brushed it all off and went blithely along, not giving a damn that the very foundation of the internet, the medium that gave them the opportunity to find their successes was being blasted out from under them.
Self-centered jackasses, every single one of them. (And you know who you are, too.)
SOPA and Protect-IP drove home to me how fundamentally broken the political system is in our country. I confess I did not recognize it until it became obvious to me that it was my ox that was being gored.
Don’t wait until your ox is gored.
Wake up. The freedom you lose may be your own.
Please support the Fighters of the Good Fight at Fight for the Future. They need us as much as we need them.
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Copyright © 2012, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.