"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Net Neutrality

Stoller nails the message: This is the First Amendment of the Internet. It means you can publish, and anyone can access your stuff, regardless of telco payola.

MoveOn is in on the act too.

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Robot Snake!

The technical term is "ACM-R5 Amphibious Snake-Like Robot," but I call it "more proof that we should fear the inevitable invasion of Japanese-designed Chinese Robot Overlords."

Even better then the dancing robots of yore. We're falling behind the curve all over the place here in the US, it seems.

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Bittorrent TV

New version of Democracy, the internet TV app from those revolutionaries in Worcester. It should work great for getting a lot of interesting indie content, and if you feel like it's your right to watch regular TV online (like I do) there are lots of torrentfeeds around for your electronic civil disobediencing pleasure.

Good to see these things are coming along.

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Bittorrent TV

New version of Democracy, the internet TV app from those revolutionaries in Worcester. It should work great for getting a lot of interesting indie content, and if you feel like it's your right to watch regular TV online (like I do) there are lots of torrentfeeds around for your electronic civil disobediencing pleasure.

Good to see these things are coming along.

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Net Freedom Going Down

Telecom reform moves forward / House panel OKs measure favored by phone companies:

A House subcommittee handed phone companies a victory Wednesday by voting 27-4 to advance a bill that would make it easier for them to deliver television service over the Internet and clearing the way for all Internet carriers to charge more for speedier delivery.

The lopsided vote was a defeat for Internet and technology firms like Google and Microsoft, which had hoped to amend the bill to enforce a principle called network neutrality and preserve the status quo under which all Internet traffic is treated equally

This was last week. Looks like the internet is on its way to losing this one. Suxxors. No word on this from any of the players I know of. I have a creeping suspicion that business as usual will bear down. Until Google, Yahoo, and some kind of aggregator of internet participants start handing out big checks, I don't think many Congresspeople will take the time to "get it."

Maybe I'm just in a cynical mood.

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HBO Cracking Down on Torrnts


Apparently, downloading a torrent tracker file is cause for copyright infringement. That's weird. A torrent file isn't copyrighted. It doesn't contain any content. Under the INDUCE laws, one could probably argue that it's meant to gain access to infringing material, but those laws are meant to crack down on producers, not downloaders.

So basically, this is legally kind of FUD, but it's enough to get ISPs het up, and that's all taht matters.

Anyway, this isn't very smart on the part of content creators. Their legal fees and staff costs to try and figure out who's downloading what an lean on people to stop is going to vastly outweigh any increased HBO subscriptions or DVD sales.

People really don't get it. A comment from that post:

How about paying $10 a month or less? How about not stealing? Is that so crazy?

It's not stealing. There's nothing to "take." It's information, not property. When I get it, you don't loose it.

Furethermore, if I wasn't going to pay for it anyway, then there's not even any profit loss. In fact, there's a loss in profit in preventing me from downloading because then I don't tell my friends that show XYZ is awesome and get them excited about watching it. I'm also less likely to watch it and then shell out for the DVD because I'm tired of trying to be a database manager and buy hard drives to store all the media I enjoy.


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Information Policy For Progress

A few weeks ago at Drinking Liberally someone asked me to explain my Skull & Crossbones armband so I gave my rap:

I don't believe in Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property is for Intellectuals. I am a man of action.

And I got some flack. "You don't believe in Intellectual Property?" The lawyers are incredulous. What? That's nonsense! You're an anarchist!

No. I'm a realist, and I understand the purpose of copyrights and patents.

The term "Intellectual Property" is fundimentally a mis-framing of how to understand laws that governs ideas, knowledge and information. You cannot "own" an idea in the same way you can own a thing; you can't "own" an mp3 in the same way you own a CD. Accept this and stop trying to fight reality.

Information, as far as human beings are concerned, is non-thermodynamic. There is not a fixed amount of it, as there is with matter and material items. You don't loose your idea when you transmit it to someone else, and when a new one is created it doesn't mean that some other resource is consumed.

Moreover, attempts to own or control the spread of ideas have always failed in the long run, even when massive amounts of effort are expended to do so. The British tried like the dickens to keep the US from getting the technical knowledge to build our own textile mills. More contemporarily, the nuclear powers that be are confronting the fact that it is impossible to control the spread of the know-how to make atomic weapons. Is it any wonder that the RIAA is having problems keeping the music industry locked down?

In contrast to the flawed model of "Intellectual Property," what does work with relation to ideas and information is creating a legal structure that gives innovators, artists and inventors the opportunity to have a limited monopoly (aka a patent) on their idea, or a copyright over the publication of their creations.

This suggests the model of Information Policy. That is: under what circumstances do we recognize the rights of creators and innovators to monopolize their ideas and how long do we grant them for?

These are legitimate questions. Copyright is in need of reform, as the ulgy realities of our governing process here in the US mean that whenever Mickey Mouse comes up against the limit of a copyright term, the timeframe is extended thanks to the lobbying power of Disney. Copyright now stands at the lifetime of the Author plus 70 years, 95 years if the author was working under the auspices of a corporation. That's just ridiculous.

There's a compelling public interest in having a large commons of information and content which is grist for the creative mills of the next generation. The constitutional mandate for Congress to manage copyright is as follows:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Copyright exsists to promote progress. That's what Information Policy is all about. Promoting creativity and progress. That means making sure that entrepreneurs and individuals who make can turn that into a living, and even maybe get rich if they strike gold.

However, the current corporatization of our Information Policy serves to prevent competition, cement existing business models and practices, and ensure that business institutions -- which are effectively immortal -- retain a perpetual monopoly over the creativity of the people they've employed, even long after those people have died. It makes perfect sense for businesses to be able to profit from their employees in a limited context. Corporations sometimes support important research and can provide stable employment for a lot of creators, and that's cool; but life-of-author plus 95 years? That's not progress.

One of the largest current frontiers of human endeavor is all about information. It is a revolution, just like industrialization. In this context, it's imperative that we start thinking seriously about what kind of 21st Century we want to have, culturally, economically, and politically. Information Policy is deeply tied to all these questions, and it's high time that the next generation made its voice heard.

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At Drupal Camp in SF. Nice to be out here. It's familiar and comfy and it's the West Coast and that's nice. Should be an interesting weekend.

Also, there's a new port coming out you should be aware of: Drupus.

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LA student protests organized on MySpace

Boing Boing had this on monday, but I've been busy with work. This is interesting and important. Everyone's been casually aware for some time that social networking will be a big part of how the next generation will organize. Seeing it happen is exciting.

Also, your social networking technology isn't worth anything. The userbase is worth something, but good luck trying to keep them. These groups who are doing big-money deals for these tools are going to end up disappointed, unless there's some sort-term payoff (like datamining the user database for marketing information) that I'm missin.

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