First came the Declaration of Internet Freedom, a document defending a free and open internet that would probably have moved the Founding Fathers to eye-roll, hard-core, had they been around to see it. Then there was the Internet Defense League, a collection of websites that promised to bond together in the name of the internet whenever the signal of a cat is flashed. And now? Well, now there’s a bus tour, spearheaded by Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, to raise awareness about the importance of a free internet across the country.
The “free internet” movement cropped up following the SOPA and PIPA debates, and its devotees believe that the government should not censor the internet. Mr. Ohanian and Reddit’s general manager, Erik Martin, are raising $20,000 on Indiegogo for the Internet 2012 Bus Tour, a raucous ride from Denver, Colo., to Danville, Ky. “We’ll host meetups, highlight candidates who support free and open Internet, get people to sign up to vote, feature local tech jobs, and shoot awesome video of the whole thing,” reads the campaign statement.
The gang will be collecting suggestions for route stops on the subreddit r/Internet2012; at those stops, they plan to “talk to local startups, college students, media, politicians and grassroots organizations about the power and promise of the Open Internet.”
It’s interesting to note the campaign’s planned route, which snakes from the site of the first presidential debate in Colorado to that of the first vice presidential debate in Kentucky. The tour is focused on middle America, the everyday users of the internet who aren’t engaged in the Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley battle, and instead are simply interested in how policies might affect the way they live their lives.
Choosing middle America was “a very conscious choice,” Mr. Martin told Betabeat by Gchat. “The Open Internet often gets categorized as an issue for Silicon Valley & Hollywood, and a few other specific regions, but the Open Internet is important in every district. And it’s not even about Internet and high-growth tech start-ups (of which there are many in the midwest), but it’s about all of the tools now in the hands of small business, local governments, and individuals.”