How GoDaddy lets our whole industry down
The only thing more amazing than the Internet is how we take it for granted. In fact, we can actually slip into holding it in slight contempt. It remains the butt of many a radio panel-show's tedious jokes ("haha, Wikipedia is not always reliable. haha, the Internet contains pornography" and so forth). You'd have thought that nearly 20 years of the Internet's absorption into public consciousness would have dampened such fatuous punchlines. But no, the audience titters still, as if in eternal sympathetic vibration with the 90s collective memory of "it's just a geeky CB radio fad".
Recently, the director Steven Soderbergh discussed his latest film on a radio review programme. The movie makes fun of blogging, which he terms as no better than "graffiti on a bathroom wall". His leading man even wore prosthetic buck-teeth so he could be the "typical blogger". Quelle dérision! Soderbergh mused, happily, that in his test-screenings, the audience gained almost orgasmic pleasure every time the Internet was attacked. They couldn't get enough of Net bashing, which they enjoyed more than the rest of the film put together. The film-reviewers interviewers chuckled along, in amiable agreement. That they then immediately promoted the Internet podcast in which this interview was being promulgated didn't seem to phase them.
Such cognitive dissonance abounds. Even while they giggle nervously, most of the technophobic titterers would rather have a limb extricated than their smartphone. They would sooner cancel the whole postal service than one Email account. However they sneer at wikipedia, they would whimper if ordered to visit the public library every time they needed to look up a footling fact or all-encompassing concept instead of using this astonishing online resource.
In this season of Goodwill to all Men, we should pause to consider what an astonishingly lucky species we are to have managed to coalesce about us something as miraculous as the Internet. A miracle can be defined in a number of ways. One definition that captures its essence without having to rely on playing supernatural games is to term a miracle any happenstance that was somewhat unlikely, and did not necessarily follow the predicted contextual logic of the times. Such a miracle emerges as a delicate butterfly from a cocoon of capricious chaos. Such a miracle might be seen as something delicate, something as fragile as a growing crystal, however ubiquitous and sturdy its eventual shape. Its formation was mercurial and unlikely and, were we to reverse time and reset the experiment, so to speak, would likely not follow the same path again.
And when you start taking such a miracle for granted, you can put it on a neglectful path to destruction. You forget how lucky you are to enjoy its benefits. You forget how delicately inchoate was its formation. You assume that its features are part of a solidly inevitable march of historical progress. And your hubris bloats to the level where you even enjoy a little contempt for its stale ubiquity. Haha, that wikipedia. Hoho, those blogs. And you forget that the whole complex collection of services and social conventions that make up the Internet is predicated on a fundamental notion of liberty. And you forget that all liberty comes at the price of an eternal vigilance. And you allow the desperate, malign or merely opportunistic to take advantage of this amnesia and eviscerate the miracle. And then you walk despondently amidst the shards of the shattered crystal, wondered what went wrong. But no cyber-equivalent of humming "Where Have all the Flowers Gone" will bring it back.
Early in the New Year, the American government aims to help Big Media to eviscerate the Internet, to destroy the miracle and shatter its crystalline delicacy. As ever, Big Media is blaming "piracy" as its excuse to stamp its jackboot repeatedly on the face of our online lives, and is bundling this repression into a horrible proposal entitled SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). That there are plenty of more engaging and fruitful ways to fund creative endeavours is ignored. It seems we must all be coerced into accepting that a failing business-model from the last millennium deserves no less than full might of the State to bolster its clumsy missteps. Suffice to say, it is sadly not hyperbole to claim that the provisions of this act would help to destroy the Internet. It is technically inevitable. And it would give to the American government the same arbitrary rights of censorship now enjoyed by such places as North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Fortunately, a large constituency of the online world refuses to join Soderbergh's titterers. It is taking action, writing to Congress and fighting against the dying of the enlightened Internet. Happily, this panoply against the disembowling of the Internet includes a wide range of organisations and individuals, many of whom can be found bickering in other circumstances, including Google and Microsoft. You might assume that the fightback would also include the Internet hosting providers of the world. And you would be correct. With one glaring and shameful exception: GoDaddy. We do not make a habit of dissing or even merely discussing our competitors. It is unprofessional and usually seems peevish at best; however, in this case, when the whole industry is standing up against the forces of darkness, we wish to join our ethically-sound competitors in drawing to attention such obnoxious behaviour. This is not the first time that GoDaddy has courted controversy. But this time, it doesn't seem merely happy to exterminate the odd pachyderm: it is eager to help to destroy the Internet that gives it profit. Such behaviour brings the whole hosting industry into disrepute, and we join our honourable competitors in countering this crawlingly tawdry display.
A large campaign has formed to urge people move their domains from GoDaddy in protest at their behaviour. It might be self-serving of us to support such a campaign. After all, capitalism enjoys nothing more than the opportunity to kick a competitor when it is down. This really does go beyond that for us, though. We have always revelled in the miracle of the open Internet, and feel an existential shudder in our core whenever someone attacks it. Thus, if you have domains with GoDaddy, our hostmistress will be happy to advise how to transfer them to someone more ethical. Whilst we would, of course, be delighted to take the domains under our own wing, we will also be happy to advise on how to transfer your domains to any competitor of ours more ethically sound than GoDaddy. This means so much to us that we would prefer to take the hit in time and effort to give business to a reputable competitor than to see GoDaddy remain unscathed by their wilful defilement of the miracle that sustains us all.
Update: After a flurry of bad publicity, GoDaddy have just announced that they will no longer support SOPA after all, although apparently they still support its principles.