Friday, February 16, 1996 by Dave Winer.
If I have to beg and plead for sympathy.
I don't mind because it means that much to me.
If I have to sleep on your doorstep all night and day.
Let my friends laugh -- even this I can stand!
I'm not ashamed to come and plead with you baby.
The Temptations. Motown.
The Internet. Now.
What goes around.
No, I ain't too proud to beg.
We're at a crossroads for the Internet medium. Will it be a narrow-channel one-way medium as the east coast media people glibly claim it will be? Soap commercials, sensationalism, imitation friendship -- a continuation of the suburban culture of isolation, lies, dysfunction and unhappiness?
Or will it be the medium of Great Hair? Of speaking and being heard?
They're telling us to shut up! The chill is real. What are you prepared to do about it?
I decided to do something about it. I believe every voice makes a difference. I believe in the power of the Internet. It just needs a bit of organization. It needs someone to stick his or her neck out first.
I listened to Howard Rheingold when he asked what we will tell our children ten years from now. I listened to Howard and I heard him. It gives me a chill! What *will* we tell them?
Speaking for your kids, Mom and Dad -- what were you doing the week of February 18, 1996 that you couldn't spare some space on your home page, or spare a few hours to write down your own thoughts about freedom of speech?
If not for the rest of us, do it for your kids. Write them a letter and put it in a time capsule. Show them later what you stood for today.
People want to be spoon-fed. They're looking for mommy! I think the kids have more guts than us adults do. It's their future we're fighting for. Do you care enough to get involved? It's time to grow up. The opportunity is great, but so is the threat.
No one spoon-fed the founders of our country. They fought a revolution for our right to free speech. You don't have to die for freedom, at least not yet. You just have to say you're in favor of it. A right that's not practiced is lost. Once it's gone, you *will* have to die to get it back, or worse, your kids will have to die!
It's really simple. On February 22, everyone who cares about freedom, write an essay so everyone can see it. I don't care if you agree with me. It isn't a Dave Winer fan club. It's about numbers and voters. This is a two-way medium. We need to demonstrate that before it's too late.
Companies like Microsoft and Netscape have a stake in the two-way-ness of this medium. Microsoft has FrontPage and Netscape has Navigator Gold. Both products are based on the assumption that lots of people will speak thru the worldwide web.
But is it safe to do speak in this medium -- to really speak your mind -- if the community standards of Memphis US apply to the writing of people in Paris FR? Judges in the US are deciding that every community's standards apply to every bit of writing on the web! Man. Talk about a chilling idea.
How much do French people know about Tennessee? How much do they *want* to know? That's not a joke!
They say it can't happen here. Over and over. It can. It's happening!
Look, I'm angry with Bill Clinton for putting us in bed with the bible-thumpers. I feel very strongly about this. You may think Clinton did the right thing. Say so. Thanks to the work of some very fine people, it's easy to get your ideas on the web -- this week. Take advantage of this opportunity to really speak your mind. You may not get another chance.
As the week goes by I will have more proposals. Today's message is directed at webmasters -- people who manage websites.
Please learn about the 24 Hours project.
It's totally non-commercial. We will share all the software we've developed for the project. There won't be any ads on this site.
Browse around the website. Listen to me, then listen to your heart. Does free speech belong on your home page? Does your site support democracy? If so, link to the 24 Hours website so your users know where you stand. If you decide to link in at the last minute, say February 21, your users will complain that they didn't have enough time to prepare their essays. And they will be right!
Honestly, right now, Sunday morning, the project looks like a failure. We've attracted some honest hardworking people who really care. The site you're looking at is a group effort. We had fun doing it. It was hard work for a good cause. I will be able to sleep knowing that I did everything I could for the cause of free speech. What about you?
Dear webmaster, if you have to sell this inside your company -- sell it! Your president will thank you later, as Bud Colligan of Macromedia thanked me a few days ago. You can't afford to not stand up for free speech on the Internet.
Your future, my future, their shareholder's future, the next generation's future -- they all depend on what you do right now.
No, I'm not too proud to beg.
So webmasters, I'm down on my hands and knees, begging -- get behind the 24 Hours of Democracy project! Today.
Put a link on your home page.
PS: The next message is to reporters and editors, leaders and celebrities. It's the right time to write!