Evangelism Reps Training Program/GreatTalks/ClayShirkySOPA

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Clay Shirky gave a very interesting talk at TED about SOPA/PIPA when they were hot topics. Following the video you can see a very detailed description why this is a great talk and what tricks Clay used to raise interest and keep the audience going. This being TED there is also a full description and notes available.

Clay Shirky - Defend our freedom to share or why sopa is a bad idea


00:30 - 01:20 Prelude/Introduction

Instead of telling the audience about SOPA/PIPA Shirky shows that a local bakery used to allow kids to have their paintings on sugar plates for cakes. He then explains that the shop had to stop doing that as the kids painted copyrighted characters and the shop, in fear of retribution and legal action against them, disallowed kids to bring in their own pictures. You now need to pick from a preset of pictures - you need to be a professional.

Tricks used:

  • Anticipation - Shirky alludes to the main message of the talk already - that SOPA and PIPA are first and foremost making sure that amateurs are not allowed to be creative as that might involve the use of copyrighted material.
  • Real world example - instead of diving into the main copyright fight of videos and music, Shirky starts with a sugar plate in a bakery.
  • Uncertain connections - people knew this talk is going to be about SOPA/PIPA, why would we hear about sugar plates?
  • Emotional topics - kids not being allowed to customise their cakes because of companies running scared is a sad thing.

01:20 - 01:40 Here's the topic

Shirky explains what really is the topic now, SOPA and PIPA and spends 20 seconds explaining what they are, already alluding to how complex just the naming is.

Tricks used:

  • Building confidence - he explains the two laws that in the press were just named with the acronyms quickly and knows what they are - he gives the impression that he spent a lot of time on this and is sick of it (exasperatingly look up)
  • Targeted humour - he makes a glib remark about congressional aides having a lot of time on their hands, alluding to their incompetence in the matter and being just a channel for the needs of other people.

01:40 - 02:00 Revelation

Shirky explains that SOPA and PIPA are mainly there to raise the cost of copyright compliance to the point where nobody can offer amateurs to create things.

Tricks used:

  • Repetition - going back to the first image and reminding the audience about the sugar plates - with all the emotions connected.

02:00 - 02:10 Problem statement

Shirky explains that the bills try to tackle the issue of copyright infringement by removing web sites from the domain name system. He also points out that the bills do not define specifically what a violating site is.

Tricks used:

  • Hinting - instead of saying that the bills have a fatal flaw insofar that they never define what a violating site is we hear about this in a quick remark. This entices the audience to think how that might be even possible.

02:10 - 02:25 Quick aside

Shirky explains the domain name system, basically that domains correspond with computer readable numbers.

Tricks used:

  • Preventing confusion - instead of losing part of the audience to thinking what the heck the domain name might be, he quickly explains it. 15 seconds spent to keep the audience with you.

02:25 - 03:00 Going in for the kill

Shirky explains that the whole SOPA/PIPA proposal is based on a technical fallacy - that you can remove domains, but it doesn't mean the sites committing copyright infringement will be off the web. He also for the first time uses the term censorship (identification and removal). He continues to explain that the main danger of SOPA and PIPA is that the policing layer it would introduce is the real threat.

Tricks used:

  • Sarcasm - "It seems that something that doesn't work would be a big problem for a law but that doesn't let congress bother them too much".
  • Building confidence - explaining that you could type in the IP or make a link to it shows that Shirky is clever enough to work around the upcoming "protection methods" in a very simple fashion.

03:00 - 03:10 Building up to the revelation

Shirky wonders how it could be that congress is even discussing a law that can not achieve its goal but can lead to a lot of side effects and tells the audience that there is a backstory.

Tricks used:

  • Question statement - Shirky introduced the issue and made the proposed law highly questionable. Now he asks how that could happen anyways - and alludes to having a theory.

03:10 - 8:50 The revelation

Shirky now tells the story of media companies and publication of content. He explains how technology advancement allowed us to not only consume but also to produce and to share. He also explains how that scared media companies and started a whole series of laws preventing media to be recorded. The law didn't deliver what the media companies wanted. Instead of condemning copying it actually claimed it to be OK to do mixtapes. So the media industry went to lock down hardware to not allow you to copy. And SOPA/PIPA is just the next chapter. As the internet can not be locked down as easily, they want a new law.

Tricks used:

  • Rhetoric - Shirky turns from the mild mannered speaker with slight humourous touches to a much more outwardly and openly sarcastic speaker.
  • Quoting - Shirky quotes the president of the MPAA to show just how scared they were and other experts with humourous quotes "uncopy-able material is like water that isn't wet"
  • Pace change - Shirky uses much more body language and speaks faster, hinting that now we have a list of important facts coming
  • Building confidence - Shirky throws out a lot of information here and explains every single bit. He shows that he looked at all these laws and has been around.

08:50 - 11:00 Making it personal

Shirky explains that SOPA/PIPA would mean that not content would have to be taken off the web but the links to that content, which is not only impossible, but also means that all of us are getting policed. The ability to share content is being made illegal until we prove that we do not share copyrighted content.

Tricks used:

  • Examples - Shirky shows that policing all users would be impossible to pay for a service even "if it costs a dime peruser"
  • Building on very known concepts - "innocent until proven guilty is turned into guilty until proven innocent"
  • Repetition - going back to the sugar plate
  • Listing - Shirky lists services everybody in the audience uses and can identify with that will be affected by the law.
  • Making it real - Shirky says that Ted would be impossible - at a Ted conference.
  • Making it personal - Shirky claims that the law would treat everybody like a thief. Nobody wants to be called that.

11:00 Call to action / homework

Shirky tells the audience what they can do to make this happen, to not break the web. He furthermore explains that there is more to come and even if this doesn't get through, that more will come.

Tricks used:

  • Giveaways - Shirky explains that the simple thing to do is to contact your congress representative
  • Teasing - Shirky explains that you can look at the list of people who co-signed on the bills and see that they were sponsored by the media industry - hinting at a bribe-like state of affairs
  • Showing the bigger picture - Shirky shows that whilst this is an American law, it will affect the whole world.
  • Repetition - Shirky is going backwards to all the law proposals to remind.
  • Offering a solution - Shirky ends with explaining that in the past with the Napster case, blatant copyright violations had a legal solution.
  • Ending with a call to arms - "Don't be turned into a couch potato"