The internet has been mourning and remembering David Bowie ever since news of his passing broke a week ago. Amidst all the sharing of classic Bowie tunes, astonishment at his latest video being a farewell (a performer to the end), personal tributes (like the one FTB’s Cat McCarthy did) anecdotes, musical tributes, Labyrinth nostalgia and his latest album going to number one in the US (something no Bowie album had done before) something caught my attention.

It was a video of a 1999 interview with Bowie by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman. The conversation turned to the Internet, still a relatively new phenomenon at the time. This was when AOL still shipped CDs and many people still thought it was a fad or simply an emerging platform with which to get pretty much the same content.

Bowie had a different idea. He thought the Internet would fundamentally change the relationship between performer and audience. Over 16 years later, it’s clear he was right.

David Bowie’s enormous talent and creativity were a huge part of his success. His willingness to set trends instead of following them, all the while constantly reinventing his public persona, made it possible for him to have a cultural impact for decades. This much is widely known.

There was, however, a somewhat less known key to his prolonged influence. It was his mind. In particular, his ability to understand our culture on a fundamental level and see just where it was headed. If you want proof, just watch this video:

So it looks like some people who have been downloading movies and TV shows illegally are going to get letters. That’s right, not even emails. Actual snail mail. Threatening snail mail at that.

Not sure if this will have any effect, given that our mail service is soon not going to be a door-to-door thing and also considering that these warnings are nothing more than that. There are no fines or jail time possible, they’re just toothless warnings.

But Canadians are, for the most part, a well-intentioned people. I’m sure we’d happily pay to support the shows we want if there was a way. That is, if there was a way that didn’t involve having to first pay for a cable service and then the content we’re looking for.

Such a thing exists south of the border, or rather it will exist soon. HBO is finally making it possible to purchase the GO platform, accessible through computers, smartphones, tablets and as an app on Smart TVs, without first having a cable subscription, but only in the US.

That’s right, all that fine HBO program… Yes, Game of Thrones, new season, because that and maybe True Detective is all we’re really after, right? The service should cost $12 a month and while that’s a pretty penny to pay for one show, it also may include quite a bit of the back catalogue, kind of like Netflix. That means Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, old episodes of Game of Thrones, pretty good deal, if you ask me.

I would gladly pay $12 a month for HBO legally, instead of “going to a friend’s house” (cause I’d never do anything illegal… and then admit it online). A lot of time, energy, talent and money went into these shows and I’d happily support them. Unfortunately, due to my geographic situation, I can’t. Instead, I’m free to support Canadian cable conglomerates that had no hand in creating the programming I want. I have neither the will or the funds to do that.

It’s time that Canadian media companies shifted focus away from fighting hard to reinforce a system that allows them to become rich by buying then re-selling content they didn’t make, through an outdated method, and instead creating some great content of their own and distributing it through apps and streaming services that the whole world has access to.

There has never been a better opportunity for Canadian-produced media to shine globally. Sure, Canadian companies don’t have the marketing or production budgets that Hollywood does, but that can change and will change if they stop focusing on distribution, and opt for a simple model, using something like a website and an app, and instead of buying US shows, pour that money into content production and promo instead.

Hollywood has a reason to fear the internet, Toronto doesn’t. We should let the full American version of Netflix come in without people having to be clever, same for HBO GO. Who cares what Canadian company owns what? We won’t be buying shows anymore, we’ll be making them.

The internet should have no national boundaries. Not only does that democratize things for smaller content producers, it also makes it possible for national media companies that aren’t American to get a leg up.

Unfortunately, for now, it looks like our media conglomerates are clinging to the old ways so much they’ve resorted to sending letters.

But honestly, guys, if you blow this chance, THE NORTH WILL NEVER FORGET!

I had the clown nightmare again. This time I was marching towards a shinny carousel surrounded by darkness. Some unknown magnetic force was pulling me towards the musical octagon, so I couldn’t get away, my feet were locked, moving forward.

I stepped up the carousel step, a very large awkward step, and sat down in the cold seat of a chariot. Then suddenly, for no reason, the carousel sped up. I tried holding on to the pole in front of me but my hand kept slipping off the side.

Then a clown with a red curly fro and a polka dot white baggy suit jumped out of one of the empty chariots in front me. I recognized the clown from another dream, but I couldn’t remember what dream. He moved towards me with ease even though I was having increasing difficulty standing. He gave me a big smile and that was when I noticed that he looked a lot like John Wayne Gacy as played by Brian Dennehy but with a twisted Pennywise smile.

gacy

Suddenly I had to make a choice: either fall into the pit of darkness or fight this clown who was now taking swipes at me with his shiny knife…That’s when I woke up, covered in the cold sweat of terror.

Since childhood, I have harboured a deep rooted fear of clowns, so I had trouble falling back asleep. I got up, drank an entire carton of milk, then ate a pickle. Afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream so I Googled“Clown Nightmare”and here were my results:

Coulrophobia- Wikipedia

The prefix “coulro-” may be a neologism derived from the Ancient Greek word κωλοβαθριστής meaning “stilt-walker.”[nb 1] Although the concept of a clown as a figure of fun was unknown in classical Greek culture,[4] stiltwalking was practiced. Honestly. Never trust a man on stilts. If he can’t look you in the eye then he’s got to have something to hide.

It’s true that Wikipedia was kind of a cop out, though it has taught me so much about random crap at two in the morning (where else can you learn about the bombing of Dresden while snacking on potato chips?). It even taught me this really cool new psychological nomenclature: “Coulrophobia.”

Neat, huh? And who knows how long humans dreamed about evil clowns; perhaps medieval children’s nightmares were full of evil killer jesters. Maybe even earlier. The ancient Babylonians had diabolic trickster demon-gods that resembled clowns…think about it.

clown workshop

Clown Blog|jondavison.blogspot.ca

Going to the circus as a child may cause latent detrimental effects in adults: some people now walk the earth dreadfully afraid of clowns. But before we give into our fears, we ought to ask ourselves: What is it like to fill a clown’s shoes?

I think Jon Davison’s site Clown Blog helped me understand the motivations and reasons behind the attraction to this profession. There must have been a few good motivations. After all, only a small percentage of  clowns and mimes are really evil.

Analyzing your dreams or nightmares|Dream Bible

No longer convinced that all clowns are out to get me, I started peering at the next site dedicated to the psychology behind clown dreams. The Dream Bible seems to focus on an interpretation of personal embarrassment. Since embarrassment is something we choose to hide it oftentimes come through in our dream state, in the form of clowns.

For instance, did you know that clown sexually assaulting you means that you fear the lack of control you have when embarrassed? The more you know!

clown4

Murderous Clown Nightmare That Feels Sooo Real | Clowns Dream Interpretations|Experience Project

Just like my own sharing of  a clown nightmare earlier, there are many sites dedicated to the sharing of personal experiences. It’s often nice to reach out to people and find someone who shares you fear, or your nightmare; whether it be fear of alien abduction, herpes-type rash or a shared fear of mimes and carnival acts.

People need to know they are not alone. The Experience Project is a pretty good social network for dream analysis.

evilronald

Killer Clown|Tumblr/The 9 Most Frightening Clowns On Film

You know what’s a really bad idea? Looking up all these ridiculously scary clown gifs an hour after a clown nightmare.

With my plans to got bed over I decided that the best way to get over my fears was to watch a movie about them. So after reading  the  9 most frightening clowns in movies  I tried watching Carnieville, which turned out to be a very good idea.

Turns out I  have no problem falling asleep while killer clown movies play in the background . In fact I was knocked out cold…

aaronswartzWhile considering this week’s keyword search for Blog on Blog, I got thinking about the untimely death of Aaron Swartz and his method of protest, hacktivism.

While many may not agree with Swartz’s reasoning for releasing thousands of academic journals from JSTOR,  the co-founder of Reddit’s suicide was undoubtedly a terrible tragedy.

I’m not going to get into whether or not online activists should be tracked and persecuted to the full extent of the law or whether or not hacktivism should be a legal form of protest; that’s for you to decide.

However, I think readers should keep in mind the government’s roll in his death. Conspiracy theories aside, Aaron Swartz faced numerous legal threats and multiple years in prison for his hacktivism while not a single banker received jail time for the financial crash of 2008.

Currently the government of Canada does not consider hacktivism to be a legal form or protest. Hacktivists are viewed as a threat to businesses and national security. For instance, when Visa’s system was shut down on December 8th, 2010, by the hacktivist group Anonymous, they lost over a hundred and fifty million dollars. That’s one costly hack!

Whatever your opinion of them, hacktivists have undeniably become major players in the world of politics.

So here it is, my top 5 blogs from this week’s keyword search:

Wall Street Protest5. New York Times: What is Hacktivism?

Okay New York Times, once again you have taught me so much. Even though Noam Chomsky tells me not to trust you, I just can’t help myself. So, hacktivism is made up of two words: hacking + activism. But is there more to this word? According to this post, there’s an undercurrent lexical war between parties that want to blemish the neologism for political purposes, and those that want acceptance between online activism and the broader outdoor form of protest. So this is about recognition. Intriguing…

 

bankers

 

4. Village Voice: Where’s the justice?

Once again the Village Voice has hit the nail on the head with underlying issues of judicial imbalance between the federal government’s pursuit of hacktivism and their slap on the wrist approach with big banks. This post will make you very, very angry.

3. Radware: Mitigating attacks in 2013

On the other side of the coin are the businesses trying to protect their back-ends from cyber attacks. There are many, many sites dedicated to protecting businesses’ cyber integrity from “cyber criminals, terrorists.”

catputer According to Radware, these cyber terrorist must be stopped by all means and knowing how to protect yourself can save you from financial ruin.

Well, one man’s hacktivist is another man’s cyber-terrorist.

2. The 9 Ways Hacktivist Shocked the world in 2012

From hackers turning informants to federal agents having their phone conferences tapped, 2012 was a very busy year in the news for hacktivists. This is a must-read list of the audacity of hacktivists and how they have joined different political forces and now must be recognized as either friend or foe.

1. Anon News
anonymousAnon news is the main news and discussion group site of Anonymous, the biggest, most ominously anonymous group on the internet. What makes Anonymous so effective is it’s lack of leadership. It is non-centralized and delivers messages through hacking. Recently this message addressed to President Obama was posted on the site regarding his State of the Union address, which was to be directed at cyber security and security in general. The message told Obama to refrain from trying to regulate the internet…or else!

Anonymous’ focus is to keep a free and open internet. Aaron Swartz would be proud!

 

Access to the Internet is a human right. At least that’s how the UN sees it. I see it that way, too, but I don’t think the UN goes far enough.

The UN report, which deems cutting people off from the Internet to be a violation of their human rights and of international law, seems to be mostly concerned with stopping dictators from blacking out the Web in times of civil unrest (think Egypt and Syria) and preventing countries from removing access to people found to be in violation of copyright law (think England and France). Those are very valid concerns, but what about those whose rights risk being trampled not by a government but by their own lack of funding?

With the looming threat of Usage Based Billing in Canada and constant attacks on the principle of Net Neutrality in the US and around the world, maybe treating Internet access as a human right just isn’t enough. Maybe it’s time to classify the web as an essential service and public space, just like the streets.

Now, I’m not saying that you need the web to survive, like you do food and water, but you don’t need the streets either. Still, they exist and since most people use them to get around, they are considered essential to modern urban life.

The web is no different. It’s what people use to get their ideas around and therefore everyone should have access to it. While your own economic prowess and willingness to invest money will determine the speed of your computer or modem, it should not determine where you can or can’t go. Just as whether you’re riding the roads in a sports car, a van, on a bike or just walking the sidewalk doesn’t determine where you can or can’t stop.

Sure, there are financial restrictions on entry to some buildings, but those are determined by the building owners, just as some sites charge for entry. That’s fine. That’s commerce. Commerce exists in public space just as it does in cyberspace.

Things become problematic, though, when ISPs want to charge you more to get to certain sites or stay there. It’s kind of like a traffic cop asking you for a kickback to let you make a legal right turn in order to reach a movie theatre or the same cop charging you a fee on top of what the theatre charges to see the movie.

Right now, companies like Bell are trying to play the corrupt traffic cop and there really isn’t anything in place to stop them. If we don’t want to lose the ability to move around our virtual public space as we please, then we need to act now.

The UN started us off on the right track and now it’s up to us to lobby, push and shout if we have to. We need it to be known that the Internet belongs to all of us and we all have a right to our public space.

The next frontier in defending our access to a neutral net is the attempt to put in place warrant-less online spying.   For more information please visit our good friends over at openmedia.ca and sign the petition below.