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  • Gerrit Eicker 09:43 on 3. January 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Confidentiality, Crystal Cox, , Editing, , , , Freedom, , , , , Journalistic Practices, Journalistic Protection, Journalistic Standards, , , , , , , , , Professional Standards, , , Qualification, , , , , , ,   

    Bloggers: Journalists? 

    Are bloggers journalists? The case of Crystal Cox heats up the never ending story; http://eicker.at/BloggersJournalists

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 09:44 on 3. January 2012 Permalink | Reply

      CP: “On November 30, United States District Judge Marco A. Hernandez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, ruled against a blogger, Crystal Cox, who had represented herself before the court in a defamation case in which she was the defendant. In the end, the judge ordered Cox to pay $2.5 million in damages to the plaintiffs. …Judge Hernandez suggested that bloggers could only sometimes count as journalists, based on a multi-factor test he set forth. … Judge Hernandez also ruled that, under Oregon law, Cox did not have the right to protect her sources. … In sum, Judge Hernandez should have taken a functional approach, and read the terms of the two statutes to encompass methods of publication that were closely analogous to those listed in the statute. Doing so would have meant that blogs, including Cox’s, were included. … On one hand, Judge Hernandez was surely reasonable to include factors referring to practices such as fact-checking… But on the other hand, it may not be fair to include the factors of journalism education, institutional affiliation, or proof of credentials… Yet, to establish such a credentialing body might prove to be a double-edged sword. One of the very points of blogging is that anyone can do it, and that is also one of its great virtues. Thus, this issue may be one in which either bloggers’ independence will be sacrificed a bit, or the legal protections journalists enjoy will continue to be withheld from bloggers.

      Hernandez: “Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting ‘the other side’ to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not ‘media.’

      Forbes: “In case involving self-described ‘investigative blogger’ Crystal Cox, Judge Hernandez ruled that in order to qualify for basic First Amendment protections like state shield laws, freelance journalists have to meet a rather stiff set of criteria. … On page 9 of a 13-page ruling, Judge Hernandez last month set out these requirements to qualify as a journalist… ‘Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not ‘media,” the ruling says. Obviously, the judge – an Obama appointee – doesn’t understand either media or the First Amendment. His ruling also went much farther than the case before him required. … Hernandez’ qualifications suggest that only ‘news reporting’ is journalism. … Does this mean I think everyone who publishes a blog qualifies for whatever ‘journalistic protections’ exist? Hell no. My opinion is that Crystal Cox isn’t committing journalism on the two blogs I’ve seen associated with her – this one and this other one. I am not taking sides, but her writing and sites would get most ‘real’ journalists fired. This is an example of where journalism and pornography are both hard to define, but I know them when I see them. … Judge Hernandez missed the point in several ways, but he is right that no single attribute can define who qualifies for special journalistic protection and who does not. The First Amendment applies to all, but the law can help journalists in cases of slander and libel, protection of sources and access to news events.

      NYT: “Everyone knows that you no longer need to buy ink by the barrel to be considered a publisher. Your grandmother can do it with a laptop. But can anyone be considered a journalist? That is the focus of the Cox ruling. It suggests that a journalist may need to act on a set of professional standards to be recognized as a protected member of the tribe. – So who is a journalist? A journalist – good or bad – possesses a hunger to pursue the truth and to share it in compelling ways. Yet some of the best journalists have had no academic training in the field. – Blogs compete with mainstream media every day. In some cases, they have become more trustworthy as sources of information than some old school practitioners. … The First Amendment is not just for journalists. It affords all Americans the right to unfettered speech. We should celebrate how technology lets us express more speech than ever before – without discriminating against the ‘non-journalists.’ That doesn’t mean that online publishers should not be judged according to an evolving set of standards and practices.

  • Gerrit Eicker 18:12 on 16. December 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Freedom, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    SOPA Nightmare 

    Petri on Judiciary Committee’s SOPA hearings: I just want the nightmare to be over; http://eicker.at/SOPAnightmare

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 18:12 on 16. December 2011 Permalink | Reply

      WP, Petri: “Last night I had a horrifying dream that a group of well-intentioned middle-aged people who could not distinguish between a domain name and an IP address were trying to regulate the Internet. Then I woke up and the Judiciary Committee’s SOPA hearings were on. … [T]his is like a group of well-intentioned amateurs getting together to perform heart surgery on a patient incapable of moving. … This is terrifying to watch. It would be amusing – there’s nothing like people who did not grow up with the Internet attempting to ask questions about technology very slowly and stumbling over words like ‘server’ and ‘service’ when you want an easy laugh. Except that this time, the joke’s on us. … This afternoon, the hearings continue, with even more amendments. But at the rate it’s going, it looks likely that SOPA will make it to the floor. – I just want the nightmare to be over.

      VB: “A group of influential and iconic tech entrepreneurs have written an open letter of opposition to the recently proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which has been published as a paid advertisement in several major U.S. newspapers today. … The opposition letter warns of the dangers that SOPA would bring to business and innovation. It’s signed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Netscape co-founder and prominent investor Marc Andreessen, PayPal and Tesla founder Elon Musk and several others. … In addition to those top tech executives, several companies and organizations have publicly come out against SOPA. Open-source online encyclopedia Wikipedia is even toying with the idea of staging a blackout in protest of the proposed law.

      An Open Letter to Washington: “We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online. – However we’re worried that the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act – which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online – will undermine that framework. – These two pieces of legislation threaten to: Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation; – Deny website owners the right to due process of law; – Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and – Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet. – We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.” … [Signed by] Marc Andreessen (Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz), Sergey Brin (Google), Jack Dorsey (Twitter and Square), Caterina Fake (Flickr and Hunch), David Filo (Yahoo!), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post), Chad Hurley (YouTube), Brewster Kahle (Internet Archive and Alexa Internet), Elon Musk (PayPal), Craig Newmark (craigslist), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Biz Stone (Obvious and Twitter), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia and Wikimedia Foundation), Evan Williams (Blogger and Twitter), Jerry Yang (Yahoo!)

      NYT: “For years, pirated movies, television shows and music have been on the Internet. … Now, however, two bills, broadly supported on both sides of the political aisle, aim to cut off the oxygen for foreign pirate sites by taking aim at American search engines like Google and Yahoo, payment processors like PayPal and ad servers that allow the pirates to function. – Naturally the howls of protest have been loud and lavishly financed, not only from Silicon Valley companies but also from public-interest groups, free-speech advocates and even venture capital investors. They argue – in TV and newspaper ads – that the bills are so broad and heavy-handed that they threaten to close Web sites and broadband service providers and stifle free speech, while setting a bad example of American censorship. – Google itself has hired at least 15 lobbying firms to fight the bills; Mozilla has included on its Firefox browser home page a link to a petition with the warning, ‘Congress is trying to censor the Internet.’ A House committee plans to take up one of the bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act, on Thursday. … Many in the Internet world, however, see ominous aspects even in the revision. ‘There are some provisions that have improved,’ said Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a group of technology companies that includes Facebook, LinkedIn and eBay. – ‘Unfortunately,’ Mr. Erickson said, ‘the amendment also creates new problems in other places and fails to correct some of the original concerns we have raised since the start of the debate.’ … A third alternative emerged last week, as Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been blocking the Senate bill from getting to the floor, introduced a new proposal that would make the United States International Trade Commission the arbiter for Internet disputes over copyrighted material. ‘Butchering the Internet,’ Mr. Issa said, ‘is not a way forward for Americirca.’

      TLF: “On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee is slated to take up the misleadingly named Stop Online Piracy Act, an Internet censorship bill that will do little to actually stop piracy. In response to an outpouring of opposition from cybersecurity professionals, First Amendment scholars, technology entrepreneurs, and ordinary Internet users, the bill’s sponsors have cooked up an amended version that trims or softens a few of the most egregious provisions of the original proposal, bringing it closer to its Senate counterpart, Protect-IP. But the fundamental problem with SOPA has never been these details; it’s the core idea. The core idea is still to create an Internet blacklist, which means everything I say in this video still holds true. Let’s review the main changes. … These changes are somewhat heartening insofar as they evince some legislative interest in addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised thus far. But the problem with SOPA and Protect IP isn’t that they need to be tweaked in order to get the details of an Internet censorship system right. There is no ‘right’ way to do Internet censorship, and the best version of a bad idea remains a bad idea.

      WMF: “How SOPA will hurt the free web and Wikipedia – Wikipedia arguably falls under the definition of an ‘Internet search engine,’ and, for that reason, a federal prosecutor could obtain a court order mandating that the Wikimedia Foundation remove links to specified ‘foreign infringing sites’ or face at least contempt of court sanctions. The definition of “foreign infringing sites” is broad and could well include legitimate sites that host mostly legal content, yet have other purported infringing content on their sites. Again, many international sites may decide not to defend because of the heavy price tag, allowing an unchallenged block by the government. The result is that, under court order, Wikimedia would be tasked to review millions upon millions of sourced links, locate the links of the so-called ‘foreign infringing sites,’ and block them from our articles or other projects. It costs donors’ money and staff resources to undertake such a tremendous task, and it must be repeated every time a prosecutor delivers a court order from any federal judge in the United States on any new ‘foreign infringing site.’ Blocking links runs against our culture of open knowledge, especially when surgical solutions to fighting infringing material are available. … In short, though there have been some improvements with the new version, SOPA remains far from acceptable. Its definitions remain too loose, and its structural approach is flawed to the core. It hurts the Internet, taking a wholesale approach to block entire international sites, and this is most troubling for sites in the open knowledge movement who probably have the least ability to defend themselves overseas. The measured and focused approach of the DMCA has been jettisoned. Wikimedia will need to endure significant burdens and expend its resources to comply with conceivably multiple orders, and the bill will deprive our readers of international content, information, and sources.

      Forbes, Tassi: “How SOPA Could Ruin My Life – Hi, my name is Paul, and I’m a small business owner. But my storefront isn’t quite of the traditional variety. Rather, it’s a virtual one, a website I built from scratch, and currently own and operate. … But that might not be the case if the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) passes. My virtual small business, along with many others like it, might be history. – Why is this? Am I a pirate, who feeds my users stolen content every day and deserves to be slain by a new law like this? Not at all, and this is the fundamental problem with SOPA and other prospective laws like it (Protect IP most recently). … The fine print of the law says sites that distribute copyrighted content could be subject to summary censorship, ie Torrent sites and the like. But it also encompasses any sites that LINK to copyrighted content, which is the bomb that blows up any semblance of sense this bill might have had. … So how many of these reports would it take before I lose my advertisers? Get my site on a government blacklist? Twenty? A dozen? Five? As an owner of a YouTube channel and Facebook page, I’ve had content falsely reported for copyright many times. … Stop SOPA, stop Protect IP, stop letting congressmen who don’t even understand the internet to dictate its future. Go here to voice your concerns, and pray that even if you’re not handing them tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash, that your representatives might actually listen to you.”

    • Gerrit Eicker 09:41 on 17. December 2011 Permalink | Reply

      TC: “What was expected in this contingency was for the committee to resume work whenever the House reconvenes in January. After all, with such controversial and far-reaching legislation, it is better to take one’s time. But no: the committee has announced it will continue markup this coming Wednesday, the 21st of December. … It’s telling how badly the bill’s supporters want this thing to go through that they’re willing to come in right in the middle of the holidays to do work that could easily be done a few weeks from now. We’ll follow up on Wednesday, when the bill is likely to be approved and sent on to the House.”

      SEL: “The delay is to allow more experts to weigh in with opinions and recommendations addressing technical, legal and first amendment issues. – If you’re involved with any type of online marketing, you should learn as much as you can about this proposed legislation, as the implications (mostly negative, unless you’re a large content provider or trademark holder) are huge.”

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:37 on 13. December 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Freedom, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    We Work For The Internet 

    Wales thinks about a blackout of Wikipedia to protest SOPA. – We Work For The Internet; http://eicker.at/WeWorkForTheInternet

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 07:38 on 13. December 2011 Permalink | Reply

      VB: “Strike! Wikipedia founder floats idea of site blackout to protest SOPA – Wikipedia, the web’s edit-friendly encyclopedia, is considering drastic action to get the government to back down from passing the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), a bill that opponents consider the equivalent of legalizing web censorship. – In a note posted to his personal page Saturday, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales floats the idea of a community strike that would make the entire site blank to U.S., and possibly even global, visitors.

      Wales, Wikipedia: “A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track. I may be attending a meeting at the White House on Monday (pending confirmation on a couple of fronts) along with executives from many other top Internet firms, and I thought this would be a good time to take a quick reading of the community feeling on this issue. My own view is that a community strike was very powerful and successful in Italy and could be even more powerful in this case. There are obviously many questions about whether the strike should be geotargetted (US-only), etc. (One possible view is that because the law would seriously impact the functioning of Wikipedia for everyone, a global strike of at least the English Wikipedia would put the maximum pressure on the US government.) At the same time, it’s of course a very very big deal to do something like this, it is unprecedented for English Wikipedia. … So, this is a straw poll. Please vote either ‘support’ or ‘oppose’ with a reason, and try to keep wide-ranging discussion to the section below the poll. – To be clear, this is NOT a vote on whether or not to have a strike. This is merely a straw poll to indicate overall interest. If this poll is firmly ‘opposed’ then I’ll know that now. But even if this poll is firmly in ‘support’ we’d obviously go through a much longer process to get some kind of consensus around parameters, triggers, and timing.”

      I Work For The Internet: “We work for the Internet. We know first-hand that the Internet powers the American dream. American innovators have built the world’s most popular sites, selling products and services to every corner of the globe, creating high-paying jobs from Maine to Hawaii. If Congress passes the Stop Online Piracy Act, America’s most promising engine of future jobs and opportunity will be put at risk. Don’t stop us now – we’re just getting started! Tell the world you work for the Internet.

      TC: “Congress is moving ahead with trying to pass SOPA – the so-called ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ that includes all sorts of draconian measures that would stifle free expression as we know it. Here’s a simple action you can take to tell everyone how you feel about that. – A site called ‘I Work For The Internet’ lets you upload a photo and first name, and what you do for a living. … You might not change any votes by sharing your photo, but you’ll get some comfort out of participating if you’ve been feeling that the bill has been incorrectly portrayed as ‘media companies versus tech companies,’ like I have. Browsing the site will also give you a visceral sense of who all those other random internet users are out there.”

      GigaOM: “In contrast to SOPA and PIPA, which many critics said were far too wide-ranging in their definition of what constitutes an ‘infringing site’ – a net some believed could easily have trapped popular media and content sites like YouTube as well as obvious piracy-focused services – OPEN narrows that to concentrate on those ‘dedicated to infringing activity.’ It also requires that the International Trade Commission be the independent arbiter of whether a site qualifies, whereas SOPA gave companies the ability to shut down websites with just a court order. – In a long analysis of OPEN, technology and intellectual-property law expert Eric Goldman said the new proposed law isn’t perfect, but is a ‘useful starting point’ for a conversation about how to implement anti-piracy legislation – and how to do this without caving in to what he called ‘rent seekers’ in the media and entertainment industries, and without breaking the Internet by forcing ISPs to change the domain-name system. … Whether any of these efforts will result in Congress turning away from its support of SOPA and PIPA remains to be seen, but it appears a number of forces both inside the government and outside are determined not to let that happen without a fight.

    • Gerrit Eicker 20:34 on 13. December 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Zeldman: “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do today: help STOP SOPA once and for all. – The Stop Online Piracy Act could pass this week. U.S. friends reading this, call your Representatives now to be heard before the bill is finalized and voted on. Fightforthefuture.org makes it easy. Go there and do this. – We thank you.

      VB: “So far, 87% of Wikipedians support an anti-SOPA blackout – Wikipedia might see a blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which goes before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee this Thursday, December 15. – Wikimedia chief Jimmy Wales recently started a poll to determine whether Wikipedia’s vast community thought SOPA was worth protesting. He noted that a similar protest conducted on the Italian Wikipedia site had a profound impact and asked users to weigh in on a blackout for the English-language version of the site.”

      RWW: “There is already a well-functioning administrative body for handling intellectual property disputes between U.S.-based companies and parties in foreign countries. It’s the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), and if you’ve followed the many disputes brought by Apple against mobile phone makers, by mobile phone makers against Apple, and among IP portfolio holders such as Qualcomm and Broadcom, no doubt you’ve heard of USITC. – So why didn’t Congress consider the Commission as a solution for the burning problem of resolving piracy matters with unknown parties outside U.S. borders? That’s a question being asked, and possibly even answered, by an alternative bill introduced last week to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP bills in the House and Senate, respectively. This morning, a cavalcade of leading tech companies known to oppose SOPA already have signed on as supporters of the USITC-based alternative.

  • Gerrit Eicker 09:37 on 5. December 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Copyleft, , , , , , , , , , , , Freedom, , GNU, GNU Project, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Proprietary Software, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Surveillance 

    Stallman: Facebook and Google Plus mistreat their usersFacebook does massive surveillance; http://eicker.at/Surveillance

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 09:37 on 5. December 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Stallman interview on RT (Russia Today) and video on YouTube: “Facebook and Google Plus mistreat their users… Facebook does massive surveillance. If there is a ‘like’ button in a page, Facebook knows who visited that page. And it can get IP address of the computer visiting the page even if the person is not a Facebook user. So you visit several pages that have ‘like’ button and Facebook knows that you visited all of those, even if it doesn’t really know who you are… Free software literally gives you freedom in the area of computing. It means that you can control your computing. It means that the users individually and collectively have control over their computing. And in particular it means they can protect themselves from the malicious features that are likely to be in proprietary software… This doesn’t automatically give you freedom in some other area of life. To get that you have to fight for it. But human rights support each other. In an age when a lot of what we do, we do with computers, if we don’t have freedom in our computing, that makes it harder for us to defend or fight for freedom in other areas. You loose one set of rights – and it’s harder for you to keep the others…

      VB: “Social networks are under constant scrutiny by their users but also privacy watchdogs as companies add more sharing tools to to connect millions of people from over the world. – Facebook, created by Mark Zuckerberg, hit the headlines over the past week after its co-founder admitted the company had made ‘a bunch of mistakes’, agreeing terms with the FTC to make its networks more transparent and allow users to control their own levels of privacy. – However, there are many that believe companies like Facebook and Google aren’t helping their users, insisting that they are mistreating them. Richard Stallman, creator of the GNU Project and founder of the Free Software Foundation, is one such person, believing that not only do Facebook and Google mistreat users on their social networks, they are putting some people in danger. … Circling back to social networking and the privacy implications involved, many still believe Facebook and Google are working hard to track users across the web, extracting their preferences and information for their own gain. Facebook has said moved to employ two dedicated members of staff to oversee its privacy practices on its website, also agreeing to have its practices audited by the FTC on regular intervals. – Stallman might not believe that Facebook is doing all it can to remain transparent but with the FTC on its back, it is a case of making sure it does to ensure it doesn’t land itself in more hot water. With upwards of 800 million people, Facebook’s growth shows no signs of slowing, suggesting many people simply don’t care about the information they share with third-parties.”

      Wikipedia: “Richard Matthew Stallman (born March 16, 1953), often shortened to rms, is an American software freedom activist andcomputer programmer. In September 1983, he launched the GNU Project to create a free Unix-like operating system, and he has been the project’s lead architect and organizer. With the launch of the GNU Project, he initiated the free software movement; in October 1985 he founded the Free Software Foundation. – Stallman pioneered the concept of copyleft, and he is the main author of several copyleft licenses including the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman has spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as campaigning against software patents, digital rights management, and what he sees as excessive extension of copyright laws. Stallman has also developed a number of pieces of widely used software, including the original Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU Debugger, and various tools in the GNU coreutils. He co-founded the League for Programming Freedom in 1989.”

      Winer: “Why I stand up for Stallman – But I still see it going on for Stallman, and that makes me feel ill. I think a guy like Stallman should be heard and we should think about what he says. And if you disagree, have the self-respect to express it with dignity. And if people start getting personal about it, there should be moderators around to put a stop to it at least stand up to it. No one should stand alone when being subjected to personal attacks. … What Stallman does is what any good blogger would do. He says what he thinks. And if you really listen to what he says, you’ll learn something. Probably the biggest thing you’ll learn about is your own fear. Because there’s something about Stallman that scares a lot of people. They wouldn’t try to isolate him so much, if he didn’t evoke their fear.

  • Gerrit Eicker 08:26 on 20. November 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , Burn Rate, , , , , , , , , , Free Market, Free Services, Freedom, , , , , Milton Friedman, , , , , , , , , , , TANSTAAFL, There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, , ,   

    TINSTAAFL 

    There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch: and there is no exception for #TINSTAAFL on the Internet; http://eicker.at/TINSTAAFL

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 08:27 on 20. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Guardian: “Physics has Newton’s first law (‘Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed’). The equivalent for internet services is simpler, though just as general in its applicability: it says that there is no such thing as a free lunch.The strange thing is that most users of Google, Facebook, Twitter and other ‘free’ services seem to be only dimly aware of this law. … But it costs money – millions of dollars a month, every month. The monthly amount is called the ‘burn rate’. … It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the best way to get big fast is to offer your services for free. … The penny drops for most suckers, er, users when it occurs to them that the service is, somehow, becoming more intrusive – whether through abrupt changes in default privacy settings, or sudden changes in the way their update and news feeds are reconfigured. What started as a lovely, simple, clean interface suddenly starts to look very cluttered and, well, manipulative. … It doesn’t have to be like this, of course. It just needs a different business model in which users pay modest fees for online services.

      Wikipedia: “‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’ (alternatively, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’ or other variants) is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing. The acronyms TANSTAAFL and TINSTAAFL are also used. Uses of the phrase dating back to the 1930s and 1940s have been found, but the phrase’s first appearance is unknown. The ‘free lunch’ in the saying refers to the nineteenth century practice in American bars of offering a ‘free lunch’ as a way to entice drinking customers. The phrase and the acronym are central to Robert Heinlein’s 1966 libertarian science fiction novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which popularized it. The free-market economist Milton Friedman also popularized the phrase by using it as the title of a 1975 book, and it often appears in economics textbooks; Campbell McConnell writes that the idea is ‘at the core of economics’. … TINSTAAFL demonstrates opportunity cost. Greg Mankiw described the concept as: ‘To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another.’ The idea that there is no free lunch at the societal level applies only when all resources are being used completely and appropriately, i.e., when economic efficiency prevails. If not, a ‘free lunch’ can be had through a more efficient utilisation of resources. If one individual or group gets something at no cost, somebody else ends up paying for it. If there appears to be no direct cost to any single individual, there is a social cost. Similarly, someone can benefit for ‘free’ from an externality or from a public good, but someone has to pay the cost of producing these benefits. – In the sciences, TINSTAAFL means that the universe as a whole is ultimately a closed system – there is no magic source of matter, energy, light, or indeed lunch, that does not draw resources from something else, and will not eventually be exhausted.”

  • Gerrit Eicker 09:48 on 18. November 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Civil Rights, COICA, , , Demand Progress, E-Parasite Act, , Fight For the Future, , , , , Freedom, , , , H.R.3261, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , PPF, PRO-IP Act, , Public Knowledge, , , , S.986, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Internet Censorship: SOPA and PIPA 

    Internet censorship made in the USA: SOPA and PIPA are a major attack on Internet freedom; http://eicker.at/InternetCensorship

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 09:49 on 18. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Wikipedia: “The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R.3261 and the E-Parasite (Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation) Act, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011 by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. – The bill’s sponsors and advocates say it’s needed to help U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders fight online traffic in copyrighted intellectual property and ensuing revenue and job losses. Its opponents say it will ‘break the internet’, cost jobs, and threaten whistleblowers and other free speech. Now before the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008. The Senate’s corresponding bill, the Protect IP Act, was prevented from passing in early 2011 with a hold placed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). – The bill is divided into two titles with the first focusing on combating ‘foreign rogue sites’, websites outside U.S. jurisdiction that enable or facilitate copyright infringement, and the second focusing on increased penalties to combat intellectual property theft via digital means.

      Wikipedia: “PIPA – Protect IP Act, or (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011), is also known as United States Senate Bill S.968. It was introduced on May 12, 2011 by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 11 initial bipartisan co-sponsors. Its goal is to give the government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to ‘rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods’, especially those registered outside the U.S. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that implementation of the bill would cost the federal government $47 million through 2016, to cover enforcement costs and the hiring and training of 22 new special agents and 26 support staff. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, but Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) placed a hold on it. – The Protect IP Act is a re-write of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which failed to pass in 2010. A similar House version of the bill, theStop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced on October 26, 2011.

      American Censorship: “American Censorship Day: Nov 16, 2011 – Congress holds hearings of the first American Internet censorship system. This bill can pass. If it does the Internet and free speech will never be the same. Join all of us to stop this bill. … Website Blocking – The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users. … Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users – It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook. … Chaos for the Internet – Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the internet more secure wouldn’t be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system. … Supporters: Public Knowledge, EFF, Free Software Foundation, Mozilla, Demand Progress, Fight For the Future, PPF, Creative Commons, Wikimedia

      Mashable: “Tumblr, Firefox and Reddit drew broad black lines on their websites Wednesday to protest a proposed U.S. law that Internet companies have dubbed ‘censorship’ and entertainment companies ‘piracy protection.’ – Tumblr has blacked out all user-generated content you see when you first log in. When you click on the gray lines to investigate, you’re told: ‘Congress is holding hearings today and will soon pass a bill empowering corporations to censor the Internet unless you tell them no,’ and then have an option to leave a phone number to be connected to your elected representative.”

      TC: “Among numerous other issues, SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, would allow copyright holders to easily obtain court orders to stop US payment and ad providers from doing business with foreign sites, force search engines to block links to allegedly infringing sites, and require domain service providers to block domains of allegedly infringing sites from being accessible. Be sure to check out Devin Coldewey’s excellent teardown of SOPA and PROTECT IP for more details on why we and many (but not all) other internet users are opposed.”

      Guardian: “Stop Sopa now – The Stop Online Piracy Act will kill online innovation and serve the interests not of ordinary web users but a corporate cartel – America is fond of chiding other nations about freedom of speech in the internet age. Leaders including President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are constantly reminding their global counterparts, especially in places like China, that internet censorship is a detriment to open government and honest self-rule. Yet, the Obama administration has used tactics that smell of censorship, and Congress is making common cause with a corporate cartel that wants to turn the internet into little more than an enhanced form of cable television. … The damage Sopa would cause to existing services is bad enough. But the longer-range damage is literally incalculable, because the legislation is aimed at preventing innovation – and speech – that the cartel can’t control. … Meanwhile, the major media have been essentially silent on the issue. I’m not surprised. Big Media is an ally and member of the copyright cartel – and there may be more than a few people in traditional news organisations who fear the internet more than they worry about stifling speech.”

      GigaOM: “The Internet isn’t just pipes; it’s a belief system – Draconian new anti-piracy laws that are being pushed through both the Senate and the House of Representatives are about more than just an academic debate over different legislative methods for fighting copyright infringement. … As the Stop Online Piracy Act – and its cousin the E-Parasite Act – have worked their way through the Senate and the House, a loose coalition of technology companies and open-Internet advocates have come together to oppose the legislation – including companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo… The Internet by its nature is – among other things – a giant copyright-infringement machine. Because anyone can grab whatever content they wish and change it, mash it up with other content and instantly republish, it’s hugely frightening and threatening for many media companies and content owners. … That doesn’t mean we should encourage piracy, or deprive content owners of the tools to fight it when it occurs, but the reality is that they have those tools already in the DMCA and other existing legislation. SOPA and the E-Parasite Act aren’t just an expansion of those tools, they would alter the balance of power on the internet in fundamental ways and threaten the openness and freedom that generates a lot of the web’s value, both for businesses and for society as a whole. That’s not a trade we should make lightly, if at all.”

      EFF: “This week the House of Representatives opens hearings on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that EFF – along with a number of prominent organizations and other actors – has opposed loudly and vigorously. – Though the bill would have grave implications on free expression for American Internet users, website owners, and intermediaries, its effects on the international community are even worse. In light of that fact, a coalition of international civil society and human rights groups have penned a letter expressing their opposition to the bill.

      SOPA Letter From Int’l Human Rights Community: “As press freedom and human rights advocates, we write to express our deep concern withH.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). While this is a domestic bill, there are several provisions within SOPA that would have serious implications for international civil and human rights which raise concerns about how the United States is approaching global internetgovernance. … Through SOPA, the United States is attempting to dominate a shared global resource.SOPA puts the interests of rightsholders ahead of the rights of society.Censoring the internet is the wrong approach to protecting any sectoral interest in business. By adopting SOPA, the United States would lose its position as a global leader in supporting a free and open Internet for public good. – The international civil and human rights community urges Congress to reject the Stop Online Privacy Act.

      GigaOM: “What the web is saying about SOPA – We’ve gathered a sample from various sources to help readers get a feel for the comments out there and see the big picture. Happy reading.”

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:49 on 14. November 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , Federation, , Freedom, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Ilya Zhitomirskiy 

    RIP Ilya Zhitomirskiy: Co-founder of open source social network Diaspora dies at 22; http://eicker.at/IlyaZhitomirskiy

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 07:49 on 14. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      ATD: “Social network co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy has died. Zhitomirskiy, along with Maxwell Salzberg, Daniel Grippi, and Raphael Sofaer were preparing to launch Diaspora, a social networking site designed to be open and decentralized. He was 22.

      TC: “Late last night, word began to spread around the tech community that one of Diaspora’s four co-founders, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, had passed away. With much sadness, we’ve now confirmed this terrible news with the Diaspora team. … Our sincerest condolences to Ilya’s family, friends, and the entire Diaspora team.

      HuffPo: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the young co-founders behind social network Diaspora*, passed away suddenly on Saturday, TechCrunch has confirmed. – No details about Zhitomirskiy’s cause of death had been issued at the time of this writing. He was 22 years old.”

      Mashable: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the co-founder of the open-source Facebook alternative Diaspora, has died at the age of 22. The cause of death is not yet publicly known. – Zhitomirskiy, along with Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg and Raphael Sofaer, created the open-source software as part of a project while they were students at New York University.

      ZDNet: Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the co-founders of social network Diaspora, has died at age 22, TechCrunch reported today. The cause and date of his death were not reported.”

      CNET: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of co-founders of the social network Diaspora, has died at age 22,TechCrunch reported today.”

      TTO: “Diaspora co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy has passed away at the age of 22.”

      TCMG: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy, 22, was one of four students at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences to design Diaspora, a platform which differentiates itself from the highly centralised Facebook, by leaving ownership of whatever is posted with the users who posted it, and allowing users to host their own content.”

      WPN: “If you’re unfamiliar with Zhitomirskiy, he was one of the four co-founders of Diaspora, a free personal web server that implements a distributed social networking service. It’s been rumored that Diaspora could eventually become a direct competitor to Facebook. – The death of Zhitomirskiy is pretty hard to grasp, he was only 22. The exact cause of his death is unknown at this time.

      TCMG: “Zhitomirskiy’s last post on Diaspora on November 7 has become a tribute, with other Diaspora members posting their thoughts and condolences. – The tragedy of someone passing at such a young age is mitigated slightly by his achievements and legacy in bringing Diaspora into being. He will be remembered by many.”

      GigaOM: ” I am speechless. I met Ilya on a couple of occasions and am having a tough time coming to grips with the news. Our hearts and prayers go to his family, friends and the Diaspora community.

      Examiner: “Regardless of the cause of death, it is unfortunate to lose a bright young star in the community of individuals working to make the web, and the way we use it, a better place. Condolences go out to Ilya’s family, friends, and the entire Diaspora team.”

      TD: “The network was due to launch this month, although it is not known whether this will still go ahead.

      TC: “Following Founder’s Passing, Diaspora Opens Redesigned Alpha To Invitees – Diaspora sent out a new round of invites to a redesigned alpha version of its open source social network today. The invites came just before the saddening news broke that 22 year old founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy had recently passed away. … Diaspora has now covered the bases to become a satisfactory solution for those uncomfortable with the compromises of control required for joining the leading social networks. Even if it doesn’t grow to hundreds of millions of users, Diaspora’s working alternative could influence the conversation about what a social network should be. This could inspire Facebook and Google+ to adopt some of Diaspora’s flexibility and expand the impact of Ilya’s ideals.

    • BirchWind 09:09 on 14. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Goodby Ilya. Thank you for all you have done. Diaspora has kicked off its training wheels and is ready to roll on forward thanks to the work of you, the rest of the D* team, and this wonderful community of Diaspora. <3

    • Gerrit Eicker 15:18 on 14. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      FT: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the co-founders of social network Diaspora, has died at the age of 22, TechCrunch reports.”

      MB: “Diaspora co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy has died at the age of 22. The cause of death is, as of yet, unknown.”

      DM: “Social networking pioneer found dead at age of 22 – Friends and fans of Zhitomirskiy have written tributes on Twitter after hearing of his death, with one posting: ‘So sad! Social networking pioneer dies at 22.'”

      SR: “Just as a new batch of invites to the much-anticipated open source social networking platform Diaspora were issued, the sad news emerged that one of the platform’s co-founder’s, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, has died. He was only 22.”

      Register: “Open-source social network Diaspora has launched a redesigned alpha version of its software, with invites going out to users of the site hours before it was confirmed that co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy, 22, had died.”

      DJ: “Very sad the world has lost an innovative thinker, and Zhitomirskiy’s vision will be carried forward.

      SB: “Our condolences go to Zhitomirskiy’s family, colleagues and friends.

    • Gerrit Eicker 18:26 on 14. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Get the full media coverage on Diaspora’s Media Coverage page on GitHub; http://eicker.at/DiasporaMediaCoverage

  • Gerrit Eicker 10:20 on 11. November 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Freedom, , , , , , , , , , , , , Metaphors, , , , Phenomenons, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Sociopath, Sociopaths, , ,   

    No Social Graph 

    Ceglowski on social networks: The social graph is neither a graph, nor is it social; http://eicker.at/NoSocialGraph

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 10:21 on 11. November 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Ceglowski, Pinboard: “The Social Graph is Neither – Last week Forbes even went to the extent of calling the social graph an exploitable resource comprarable to crude oil, with riches to those who figure out how to mine it and refine it. I think this is a fascinating metaphor. If the social graph is crude oil, doesn’t that make our friends and colleagues the little animals that get crushed and buried underground? But right now I would like to take issue with the underlying concept, which I think has two flaws: I. It’s not a graph – This obsession with modeling has led us into a social version of the Uncanny Valley, that weird phenomenon from computer graphics where the more faithfully you try to represent something human, the creepier it becomes. As the model becomes more expressive, we really start to notice the places where it fails. Personally, I think finding an adequate data model for the totality of interpersonal connections is an AI-hard problem. But even if you disagree, it’s clear that a plain old graph is not going to cut it. – II. It’s Not SocialWe have a name for the kind of person who collects a detailed, permanent dossier on everyone they interact with, with the intent of using it to manipulate others for personal advantage – we call that person a sociopath. And both Google and Facebook have gone deep into stalker territory with their attempts to track our every action. Even if you have faith in their good intentions, you feel misgivings about stepping into the elaborate shrine they’ve built to document your entire online life. … My hope is that whatever replaces Facebook and Google+ will look equally inevitable, and that our kids will think we were complete rubes for ever having thrown a sheep or clicked a +1 button. It’s just a matter of waiting things out, and leaving ourselves enough freedom to find some interesting, organic, and human ways to bring our social lives online.”

      GigaOM: “If you’ve ever gotten a little creeped out by the way social networks have invaded our lives, then you aren’t alone. There are a lot of people who enjoy using the social web, but struggle with it too. … The real problem with the social graph, he argues, is that it’s based around a series of troubling assumptions – including the idea that we can and should model human relationships, and for profit. As he says, ‘Imagine the U.S. Census as conducted by direct marketers – that’s the social graph.‘ – This is partly because the social web has really been spun off from the idea of the semantic web, and ways of describing connections between data that require all kinds of sleight-of-hand to work. How do you interpret messy relationships into things computers can understand, or translate meanings that are complex and constantly moving? … But he’s certainly right that mapping this stuff is very difficult, and perhaps impossible. … The real difference, however, is that while sociologists try to come up with ways to define interaction, technologists end up building systems that define the interactions that can happen. That means the processes behind today’s biggest social networks actually place themselves as a layer over human activity, as much as they help that activity exist. … This conflict is, I think, why Facebook is constantly struggling with privacy issues, or why the real names controversy on Google+ exploded. The social graph, to them, is an attempt to codify what people do rather than act as midwife to their ideas.

      Marks: “People choose to model different relationships on different sites and applications, but being able to avoid re-entering them anew each time by importing some or all from another source makes this easier. The Social Graph API may return results that are a little frayed or out of date, but humans can cope with that and smart social sites will let them edit the lists and selectively connect the new account to the web. Having a common data representation doesn’t mean that all data is revealed to all who ask; we have OAuth to reveal different subsets to different apps, if need be. – The real value comes from combining these imperfect, scrappy computerized representations of relationships with the rich, nuanced understandings we have stored away in our cerebella. With the face of your friend, acquaintance or crush next to what they are saying, your brain is instantly engaged and can decide whether they are joking, flirting or just being a grumpy poet again, and choose whether to signal that you have seen it or not.”

      ORR: “It’s hardly surprising that the founder of a ‘bookmarking site for introverts’ would have something to say about the ‘social graph.’ But what Pinboard’s Maciej Ceglowski has penned in a blog post titled ‘The Social Graph Is Neither’ is arguably the must-read article of the week. – The social graph is neither a graph, nor is it social, Ceglowski posits. … But if today’s social networks are troublesome, they’re also doomed, Ceglowski contends, much as the CompuServes and the Prodigys of an earlier era were undone. It’s not so much a question of their being out-innovated, but rather they were out-democratized. As the global network spread, the mass marketing has given way to grassroots efforts.

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