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Oct 01, 2000

Contact: How Much Is Enough?
Technology & Sociology10/1/2000; 10:37:09 AM This is not a news article, this is a brief essay by me.Dave recently shut down discuss.userland.com, and I think it no coincidence that today (don't be surprised if it gets pulled into a DaveNet without me noticing) we get a highly personal statement of interests, and what amounts to a ringing condemnation to the entire tech industry (because it takes corruption on both the part of the company and the press to offer bribes for good press).Discuss.userland.com probably would have flared up over this; I'm reading between the lines but is it really a stretch to say that Dave might be more comfortable this way and thus better able to say the hard things?Last year I too experienced the river-of-flame effect. When you can't step foot on the internet without seeing 10 flames aimed personally at you, it's tough, even if there are a 100 supportive e-mails (and that doesn't happen often). It took me most of this year to get over my active aversion to checking my e-mail. It creates a strong self-censorship effect, as you grow an aversion towards saying the controversial things... unfortunately, these are the things that need saying.Step back a bit and look at this in general. As the Internet moves us closer together, enabling new ways of communication with new speed, it also makes it impossible to escape from anyone. Larry Niven wrote some stories dealing with the practical consequences of instant teleportation to effectively anywhere on the planet, and it's much the same problem.Are we as a species ready for this? I don't suggest that we drop the Internet, but we may well need some more time to deal with the consequences then the normal march of technology will give us. We probably need to develop better ways to communicate with each other that don't give themselves so naturally to antagonism. LinkBack is sort of an attempt at that, albiet a poor start, and my Weblog Communities is related to why I think they are a candidate for such a form of communication.Anyhow, I encourage you to step back and think about this, and keep an eye out for possible solutions, because nobody really knows. We're all learning.(p.s.: I sort of work in a journalism sense here to so here's a full financial disclosure: I'm a poor college student and own nothing. Thank you for listening.)


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Sep 30, 2000

Digital Signiture Law To Go Into Effect This Weekend
Misc.9/30/2000; 7:39:46 PM 'The law is designed to make consumers and businesses feel more secure about sealing big-ticket deals, such as buying a house, online by making an electronic signature just as binding as one in ink. While that legal guarantee is expected to accelerate the growth of e-commerce, the law may be more of a boon for companies developing e-signature technology than for consumers or businesses, analysts said.'All I can say is that I have no intention of obtaining or using a digital signiture until my primary concern is addressed:'Concerns of fraud remain high. The bill doesn't set standards for e-signatures or provide a defense against fraud, whereas the Fair Credit Billing Act of 1975 gives consumers protection against fraud over $50. It also intentionally leaves open the type of technology that can be used for the online transactions. Signatures may be a cinch to forge--some say stealing a password or faking an electronic autograph is far easier than duplicating a handwritten signature.'If a case of fraud comes up, the easiest defense will be "I have no digital signiture, therefore I could not possibly have conducted that transaction."


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Sep 28, 2000

Libraries Threaten Publishing Industry
Humor/Amusing9/28/2000; 10:07:08 PM Thanks to View from an Iowa Homestead for the pointer.
'A book locating/lending phenomenon known as the "Dewey decimal system" - enabling users to get access to copyrighted text material for free - has sent shockwaves through a panicked publishing industry.'Why would anyone pay for a book once it's accessible for free?!'


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Sep 28, 2000

Second Sight
Free Speech9/28/2000; 7:48:18 PM 'Those of us worried about censorship focused on government as the main threat to progress. We thwarted their early efforts at limiting the spread of "objectionable" content, and declared the internet beyond the province of any government agency. The problem with suppressing the role of government is that it gives business free reign. It's like using antibiotics to combat bacteria; when the bacteria are killed, fungus grows unabated.'As a result, the internet became a privatised zone, and altogether more insidious forms of censorship emerged.'A polemic against our (more-or-less willing) acceptance of corporate choice of what we hear and see.


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Sep 28, 2000

Copyright Music Groups Agree on Web Licenses
Music & MP39/28/2000; 7:40:43 PM 'The legal issues surrounding online music distribution may have taken a small step toward clarity Tuesday when a number of copyright organizations convened to hammer out a deal for Web-related content.'Five copyright societies met in Santiago, Chile, and signed a number of separate bilateral agreements in an attempt to simplify the licensing issues surrounding the public performance of music used online.'With Congress recently signaling interest in the digital music distribution debate, I wonder how that is affecting these deliberations? Congress amounts to a giant gorilla who's actions will be very difficult to predict.


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