Lego reconstructions of pop videos and cakes baked in the shape of iPods are not generally considered relevant to serious political debate. But even the most earnest bloggers will often take time out of their busy schedule to pass on some titbit of mildly entertaining geek ephemera. No one has done more to promote pointless, yet strangely cool, time-wasting stuff on the net than the editors of Boing Boing (subtitle: A Directory of Wonderful Things). It launched in January 2000 and has had an immeasurable influence on the style and idiom of blogging. But hidden among the pictures of steam-powered CD players and Darth Vader tea towels there is a steely, ultra-liberal political agenda: championing the web as a global medium free of state and corporate control.
Boing Boing chronicles cases where despotic regimes have silenced or imprisoned bloggers. It helped channel blogger scorn on to Yahoo and Google when they kowtowed to China’s censors in order to win investment opportunities. It was instrumental in exposing the creeping erosion of civil liberties in the US under post-9/11 ‘Homeland Security’ legislation. And it routinely ridicules attempts by the music and film industries to persecute small-time file sharers and bedroom pirates instead of getting their own web strategies in order. It does it all with gentle, irreverent charm, polluted only occasionally with gratuitous smut.