In previous posts, you may have heard me refer to certain technologies as “magic.” On occasion, I find myself struck by the wondrous superpowers that humans currently wield. Growing up, whenever I had a question about history, or the spelling of a word, or any tidbit of information that I had yet to possess, the standard answer from my parents and other adults was: “Look it up!” To this day, I often wonder if this was because they believed I would better retain the information by actually looking up the answer myself, or perhaps they did not know the answer and this was their way of deflecting my question.
Either way, I grew up just prior to digital media and all of its handy access points that we currently enjoy. This means that “looking something up” involved locating a book or other source that MIGHT contain the information I was seeking. If we did not have this source in the house, it meant a trip to the library.
Note: For those of you born in the 1990s or later, a Library [lahy-brer-ee, -bruh-ree, -bree] is a building where books, periodicals, and other reference materials are stored. This is the place where everyone used to go to get information. There is a REALLY nice one in Washington D.C. that I would recommend visiting should you be in the area.
Now, the magic I was referring to above is that all of the information previously available in libraries is now available to most of us through a device that we carry in our pockets! Think about that for a second, all the information in the world is in your pocket, magic.
Although rambling on is one of my strong points, I assure you I am working towards a purpose here. Perhaps the greatest thing about libraries is that all the information stored within is available for access by the public for FREE. Yes, you heard that right. Anyone that is willing to fill out a short form and obtain a library card is welcome to utilize all of this great information at their leisure.
Now I will be the first to admit that I am hooked on my smartphone and tablet. Instant access to the collective knowledge of this planet that we all share is one of the greatest assets we as humans could even dream of having. Unfortunately, there is a movement by internet service providers to limit our access to this information.
I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this hot topic, I am only truly qualified to offer my point of view, and some might even debate that. However, I would urge everyone to take a little bit of time to familiarize yourself with the topic of Net Neutrality. This is a huge issue that affects everyone. Our rights to access information shared freely by others on the internet is being threatened by large corporations in the name of increasing profits.
For small businesses, a great impact is looming. Currently, with the right digital marketing strategy, even the smallest business can compete for visibility online with the largest corporations in the world. Without Net Neutrality, internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T would be able to serve up this visibility sold to the highest bidder. Thereby, the small businesses would be marginalized if not left out altogether. This is another aspect of this debate that I take personally, as many of our clients are small business.
As with most hot button issues, there is, of course, much more depth to this debate. At minimum we need to stay informed, and make our voice heard. If not, we risk losing the basic freedom of access to free information that is a global treasure, and a little bit of magic.