Reddit Challenges Policymakers on the Open Internet, Creating Jobs

    October 11, 2012
    Sean Patterson
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This year’s internet blackout and the fights against SOPA and PIPA show that the community of the internet, as diverse and weird as it can be, does have a common intrest in keeping the web open for everyone.

Reddit, the popular social news and entertainment website, led the charge for the internet blackout protest and has now embarked on a tour across the middle of the U.S. The Internet 2012 Bus Tour has traveled from the first presidential debate in Denver, Colorado and made its way to Danville, KY, where the vice presidential debate will take place tonight.

Along the way, the tour has held panel discussions highlighting local internet businesses in places such as Lincoln, Nebraska and Des Moines, Iowa. Last night, the tour held its final panel discussion about the “Future of Local Communities” at West Sixth Brewery in Lexington, KY and WebProNews was there to take in the event. The discussion emphasized that the internet is creating jobs all across the country – not just in coastal cities.

Do you or does someone you know have a job that was created by the internet? Tell us about it in the comments.

FARK founder Drew Curtis led the panel, which consisted of Reddit General Manager Erik Martin, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and Michael Beckerman, CEO of The Internet Association, a new policy advocacy group founded by some of the biggest internet companies around.

The panel preached the virtues of the internet, lamenting that politicians too often don’t understand the technology or its culture.

“There’s no instruction manual, there’s no puppet master at the top,” said Martin.

“All of the best stuff that has come out of Reddit has come from people that don’t work at Reddit,” added Ohanian. He pointed out that President Obama’s Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) interview took place on a section of the site that was user-created.

It’s easy to see how a system with no appointed leaders might seem foreign to politicians. However, those same politicians will soon be making decisions and implementing legislation that could affect the structure and freedom of the internet for decades.

“Politicians saying they don’t understand the internet is like someone in 1980 saying they don’t understand TV,” said Curtis. “That’s how long this technology has been around.”

Beckerman made a point of stating that internet freedom isn’t just about the great content it produces. Those jobs that politicians are always speaking about creating could, given an open internet, be found online.

“It’s about jobs and growth, and we’re gonna tell policymakers about it,” said Beckerman.

The panel also encouraged attendees to build their own local communities and experiment with their own internet startups.

“The communities we have online are not that different from the ones we have offline,” said Ohanian.

Zach Cohn, a representative from Startup Weekend, told the crowd that starting their own internet business could be easier than they imagine.

“If you do something, something happens,” said Cohn.

Startup Weekend is a global organization that helps individuals and teams create startups in only 54 hours.

After the panel, the tour settled in for beers and more personal chats with the people at the event. Betsy Barrett, the communications director for The Internet Association told WebProNews that the goals of The Internet Association are very similar to those of the Internet 2012 tour.

“We want voters, the public, and congressional members to understand that there is a unified voice, there is a public policy advocacy group on behalf of the internet for internet freedom, for economic development, and for empowering users on the internet,” said Barrett.

The Internet Association’s policy stances are driven by its members, which include companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

Martin and Ohanian, when chatting with WebProNews, reemphasized that the internet revolution and startups don’t have to just benefit New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

“With the internet, you now have the ability to start a company anywhere,” said Martin. He went on to explain that successful startups need talented people, money, and a supportive community surrounding them, which are things that could be cultivated in places such as Lexington.

“What we’ve seen from Denver to Danville is Americans all over care about this issue – they care about internet freedom, and the are going to make their voting decisions based on it,” said Ohanian. “So I hope that every politician, no matter what district they represent, no matter what state they represent, knows that their voters are going to care about how they decide the fate of the internet.”

How will the issues surrounding internet freedom affect your vote? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.linktothetop.com/ Shawn

    For more than 14 years, every dollar I’ve earned has come from the internet. As an employee for virtual companies, and employer of virtual employees, and as an entrepreneur selling my own digital products and services to consumers, the internet has led to my owning a house and a car, it’s paid my insurance premiums and allowed my family to eat every day, it has helped to fuel an economy that would not have otherwise existed.

    It is not just about the growth of my company and myself as an individual… It is about the webmasters and companies that have excelled as a result of using my products and services as well as the growth of companies using my internet skills to grow from $2M to $10M revenue within a year.

  • http://www.ccisolutions.com Dana Tan

    Yes! I definitely work on the Internet. I am an in-house SEO Strategist at CCI Solutions. It’s a great job with a great company. I always tell people that if the Internet had existed when I was in high school I would have aspired to be an Internet geek a lot sooner!

  • http://www.cannonwater.com David

    I started using the internet to market my company in 1996. Since then I attract all new business via websites and online marketing. We invest over $50,000 per year in online advertising which results in about 2 million in online sales. If I had to use traditional methods to advertise my budget would be over $500,000 resulting in a net loss of $450,000. This savings allow us to hire more people and pay higher wages. We employ 7 people, purchased our own commercial building and and will hire 2 more people this year. Without the internet we would not have a business and 7 people would not have the jobs that we provide.

  • Rick

    I’m an engineer at Cisco Systems, so you could say my job is both created by the Internet and vice-versa. I feel strongly that achieving universal, unfettered public access to the internet is a mile marker in the evolution of our society, and is an integral component of freedom of speech in the modern era.

  • http://grepscience.com Pete

    I work for a company called support.com that allows me to do IT work from the house by remoteing in to customer’s systems and fixing issues on there PC’s

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment Inc.

    It’s 2012; do we really need to be told how important the Internet is these days? Having said that, our ‘esteemed leaders’ in Washington need to be reminded that the Internet should remain free from government restriction and excessive oversight, so anything that helps to bring light to this subject is a good thing.

    However, does anyone over the age of 30 use Reddit? If so, what for?

    • IMBack?

      Grabbed a computer for the first time when I was 19. The rest is history. Work for myself, pay my taxes, and own everything I have and never have to worry about where my bill money is coming from. Can travel anywhere in the world I want at any time. All the extras I want. Any schedule I please. Never sold an ebook and not a self proclaimed guru either. Through every recession, every economic downturn and luckily (or maybe not), every Google update my businesses have only grown exponentially. I am a much happier, successful, and productive person since beginning business online and wouldnt have it any other way. There is no telling where I would be now if not for the internet. I will never go back to working for someone else. Ever. People don’t realize the way of doing business has already changed and those who are still using the “traditional” models of business (most people) will die out while people like myself quietly become self made millionaires. You better listen to those under 30 years, they are the ones who can teach you how to survive and change your outdated and terminal business practices. I made a mil before I ever even turned 30.

      • http://www.safari.gateway-africa.com Christian

        Every one is shouting at the politicians to keep the Net free. The Net is far from free. It is controlled by mostly Google, who are playing dirty politics to keep its monopoly going.

  • http://daisharkey.com Dai Sharkey

    HI guys, love your publishing’s by the way……just wanted to state that without the internet I would have no music career. It started online and my traffic grows day by day, slowly earning cash but as a disabled person (and I know many others in the same boat) the ease of access to the world markets are freely accessible and also operate with less social boundaries than the business world outside it. I now know thousands of people who’s work is dependant on the internet and the freedoms it creates. Dx

  • http://www.safari.gateway-africa.com Christian

    The Internet is the only way for many small businesses to do make a living, but this has many dangers involved, as we as the small guy, do not have the knowledge or help to compete with the bigger brands.

    Internet has the possibility to create a lot of jobs and stimilate business, but for who? Only the big brands?

    The past year has seen thousands of the small internet based businesses being destroyed, not only in the USA, but all over the world. Thanks to Google.

    Where will we, the small guy get help? Who will be our champion? From the politicians? Not likely. From evil Google? Forget it. Only if you buy your way in.

    Do Reddit got the balls to be a champion? They talk the talk, but can they help us? Maybe it is all about Internet politics?