I’m not saying there should be federal intervention, but this Google-Verizon thing is EXACTLY what legislated Net Neutrality advocates warned about. Corporatists who opposed Net Neutrality regulations liked to ask, “Where’s the harm?” Well it’s right here.
So step-up, you so-called “libertarian” advocates of unrestricted freedom for the corporate beneficiaries of government largesse. Are you going to write scathing articles criticizing the behavior of Google and Verizon, urging consumers and businesses to “vote with their wallets” and support providers who stand up for the end-to-end principle? Or will you turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of giant corporations who made their billions on the back of that principle, and now wish to deny it to the next generation?
So I was going through a drawer today where I absentmindedly tossed a bunch of old Zip disks and CD-Rs containing backed up Word files, e-mail and such. I made some delightful and unexpected discoveries. Among other things, I discovered an ancient cache of writings from my college days, including my senior honors thesis on H.L. Mencken and a journal I kept for about three years.
Anyhow, I also have thousands upon thousands of pieces of e-mail saved. The problem is, the vast majority of it is old, old AOL. The kind of AOL files that would have worked just fine with, say, Mac OS 9.2 or thereabouts. The kind that would be supported in Mac Classic... if Classic were still supported, that is.
Now, I suppose I could look this up, but I was hoping one of my dozen or so regular readers might have an idea of how to recover this material. I expect some trouble. I fear some expense. The question is: How much?
Joel takes a momentary respite from politics to pen a nice little bit of reporting and analysis for Macworld on this weekend's second-most important event. If this were one of our Scripps-Howard columns, I wonder which way Joel would go?
Update: I won't have time today to follow all of the iPad coverage, but I did notice Cory Doctorow's dissenting post at Boing Boing. Doctorow links to another post likening the device to "the second coming of the CD-Rom," slams Marvel's comic app (fair cop), and concludes: "If you want to live in the creative universe where anyone with a cool idea can make it and give it to you to run on your hardware, the iPad isn't for you." Now who's naive? (Via Memeorandum.)
...you'll likely enjoy this Academy Award winning movie trailer. It's the feel-good hit of the season!
(Hat tip: Steve Hayward)
Daniel Weintraub's new, independent and nonprofit news site is up and running. The mission of HealthyCal.org, which is funded in part by the California Endowment, is "to inform Californians about public health and community health issues, to engage readers in an ongoing conversation about matters ranging from health care policy to land-use, transportation, environment, criminal justice and economic policy, and to show how all of these things are connected."
Joel and I talked to Weintraub about the project back in November. Congratulations and best of luck to Dan, who is a very fine journalist. I hope HealthyCal.org is hugely successful.
As Big Government's Capitol Confidential noted the other day, net neutrality is an issue that that is dear to the left, but has flown under the radar of most Americans. It's a rather technical and arcane subject, but can be summed up rather simply: Net neutrality rules enforced by the Federal Communications Commission would allow government bureaucrats to micromanage the Internet — thus sucking out the lifeblood of the digital economy and threatening the dynamism and freedom we've come to take for granted online.
Proponents of net neutrality claim that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) abuse their position as "gatekeepers" to the Web, and the public needs government to establish strict "rules of the road" to protect us from their scheming. Trouble is, the evidence of abusive practices by ISPs is anecdotal and thinner than an iPod mini. The digital economy is currently so dynamic and cutthroat that free-market forces work quickly to correct any undesirable hiccups that arise — all without any micro-managing of the tech industry by government.
Net neutrality advocates insist we need government to preserve an "open" and "free" Internet and claim the market has failed. But they cannot point to any market failures that make the Internet less open or free. In short, the Internet isn't broken. And it doesn't need a government fix. No matter. The left presses ahead, because the facts are irrelevant. The goal is to put government in charge of digital policy, taking away your freedom as a consumer to shape the Internet with your own choices.
This would stifle the enormous private investment and innovation that has created the modern Internet — in part, because industries would be relegated to playing "Mother May I?" with the FCC before releasing its latest innovation. And that's the best-case scenario. The Reason Foundation's Steve Titch argues that if government-enforced net neutrality rules were in place five years ago, the iPhone as we know it wouldn't exist. But on a more basic level, only a committed leftist could believe that more government involvement in ... well ... anything results is more economic dynamism and gains in personal freedom.
As noted in the video below, produced by The Heartland Institute, government isn't in the business of preserving freedom, but of exercising power to regulate industries and control people. And this is an important thing to keep in mind — especially since President Obama recently reiterated his commitment to have government enforce a net neutrality regime on your Internet.
The video takes apart Obama's statements on the subject in his Feb. 1 YouTube interview, and attempts to take the broader view so what's at stake can be better understood by non-techies.
All Internet lists exist to prompt arguments, spark controversies, share a bit of knowledge, and generate lots of links. Ken Denmead -- a.k.a. GeekDad at Wired -- has contributed the best and the worst of the new decade with his "100 Quotes Every Geek Should Know," a document that at once delights and appalls. I mean, he includes Roy Batty's last three words in Blade Runner but not the immortal lines that precede them? Seriously? And he will rue the day he chose a couple of pedestrian lines from Real Genius.
I would note, too, that not all of Denmead's selections are from sci-fi or fantasy films. There are even a couple of song lyrics. Fine. But with such a broad criteria, where's Apocalypse Now? No, not the obvious one. Any self-respecting geek ought to know you can't land on one-quarter or three-eighths of Venus. That's dialectic physics!
The comments on the piece are lively and there are some excellent suggestions. (And it's really not such a bad list... I guess. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that.) One I would have liked to have seen from the endlessly quotable Army of Darkness: "It's a trap, get an axe!" I use that one all the time.
Well... what say you?
When I was co-moderating RedBlueAmerica.com, I had an excellent intern/editorial assistant/researcher by the name of Charles Johnson. Charlie -- or Chas, or Chuck -- is an industrious and entrepreneurial student at Claremont McKenna College who blogs at the Claremont Conservative. Though a man of the right, Charlie interned for Alan Dershowitz... in high school. In his short but illustrious career, Carlito has worked for Scripps-Howard, Amity Shlaes, the Kauffmann Foundation, and the Claremont Institute. I told Chuck not too long ago that I'd be working for him some day, and I wasn't kidding. He's going places.
My Charles Johnson, in other words, shouldn't be mistaken for this Charles Johnson. He's not going anywhere.
A man who considers Robert Stacy McCain to be a "fascist" doesn't know what fascism is. (Update: McCain replies to Johnson.) A man who believes opposing abortion is akin "throwing women back into the Dark Ages" doesn't understand history or the present. A man who believes Hot Air and Ace of Spades are redoubts for "raging hate speech" debases the language. A man who conflates the tea party movement with the birther conspiracy has parted ways with his judgment and taken leave of his senses.
I don't begrudge Johnson his success, his reach or his influence. Then again, until I saw his post linked from Memeorandum earlier tonight, I hadn't read his site in months.
These are strange, unsettled times in our politics. The Republicans are struggling and the Democrats are dispirited and confused. The old left-right, conservative-liberal paradigm no longer seems adequate to the task of explaining or understanding where we stand or why vote the way we do. But I would not recommend conflating or confusing Johnson's peculiar prejudices, eccentricities and self-absorption with the political independence many Americans now embrace. His constituency is a cult. Once you understand that, it's easier to see the service Johnson has done explaining why he's "parted ways with the right."
Put another way: I wouldn't go to the wall for Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin or a particular Charles Johnson.
Today, FOX News host Gregg Jarrett was talking about Republican Sarah Palin's book tour and the crowd she is drawing at the start of it -- no small turnout, with some 1,500 people lining up early this morning for a chance to get into this evening's premier book-signing for Going Rogue in Grand Rapids.
"Sarah Palin continuing to draw huge crowds while she's promoting her brand new book,'' FOX's Jarrett told his viewers. "Take a look at -- these are some of the pictures just coming into us... The lines earlier had formed this morning.''
But it turns out that Happening Now had pulled some video of something that happened last year: Displaying video today from Palin's campaign for the vice presidency, on the ticket with the GOP's Sen. John McCain -- which also drew considerable crowds, as shown today in video of a smiling Palin before an adoring campaign crowd.
Recall that last week, as Joel noted here, The Daily Show pointed out how Sean Hannity's program used old B-roll to apparently distort the crowd size of the Nov. 5 "Kill the Bill" tea party event on the Washington Mall. Hannity apologized (more or less). I didn't quite believe Fox's excuses, but I didn't quite see malice aforethought, either.
This, however, is embarrassing and beyond sloppy, even if sloppiness turns out to be the root cause. Shenanigans of this sort lend credence to Fox News' conspiracy-minded critics, of course. It also further validates the Bradbury Rule.
Update: Fox News explains the different footage was a control room gaffe. As much as it pains me to link to Think Progress, you can watch the video of the on-air apology there.
You'll notice we haven't had much to say around here about Thursday's massacre at Fort Hood. We do not honor the dead by wildly speculating about the motives and the background of their killer, although the we're learning more by the hour. It's usually a good idea to assess the facts before venturing an opinion, especially about an event such as this one.
Citizen-war correspondent Michael Yon set just the right tone last night at the Corner:
First reports are notoriously wrong. The shooter already has been killed then resurrected by the media. Some media are in a frenzy and so the reports are particularly untrustworthy at this time. Now is not a time to psychoanalyze the attacker by using a media-supplied telescope that already said he was dead, and that there were multiple attackers. Media: STOP, please. There will be time to pursue answers and justice after Christmas. We must remember that family members lost loved ones just before the holidays. Justice and answers will come with time.
Most important is to remember that we have just lost a dozen people. Others are wounded. Children and other family members will need care and thoughtful attention.
And over at Right-Wing Nuthouse, Rick Moran helps clear the air a bit. Although I would take issue with a small part of it, this is a post I would have loved to write:
The rationalizations for Major Hasan’s rampage -- his motives, his state of mind, even the environment in which he carried out his horrific attack -- are being tossed about the blogosphere on both sides as if everything that can be known about the circumstances has already been revealed.
This must be the case because without any definitive word from authorities, from his friends and associates, or from Hasan himself, both lefty and righty blogs have already “solved” the mystery of motive and any argument to the contrary is “racist,” or “pro-jihad,” or “hate speech,” or “political correctness.” ...
News flash: Everyone can’t be right. In fact, it is likely everyone is wrong. Was it an example of Muslim extremist terrorism? Or a reaction to bullying and name calling by brother officers? Or the prospect of being deployed to Iraq? A combination? None of the above?
Moran goes on to criticize two bloggers in particular -- Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugs and Digby of Hullaballoo -- for their over-the-top speculations. (Moran also throws elbows at Robert Stacy McCain, with whom he's been feuding lately, and Andrew Sullivan, who still attracts an audience for some reason.)
Moran sums up:
This is why the FBI has not ruled out terrorism but is refusing to call it that at the moment. Law enforcement has a little different standard than partisan bloggers; they feel the need to investigate carefully and make a judgment based on the facts and not wild, politically motivated speculation. This may inconvenience those who seek to score political points, or show off their anti-Muslim bona fides. But then, reality is always more boring than what bloggers can come up with to increase their audience, and garner links.
We'll know more in due course what drove Nidal Malik Hasan to murder 13 fellow soldiers and injure 28 others. These stories always turn out to be more complicated than they may appear at first. To reiterate what Michael Yon wrote: There will be plenty of time to assess causes and effects and to debate policies and responses. For now, Americans would simply do well to remember Hasan's victims and their families.
Ben minus Joel is joined by a finite group of Infinite Monkeys -- David Burkhart, Robb Leatherwood and Jim Lakely -- to discuss the pros and cons of network neutrality and to preview the Autumn of Apple.
We had originally planned to talk about medical marijuana, which might or might not explain Ben's introduction. But the net neutrality discussion turned into a real knockdown, drag-out among Lakely -- who is co-director of the Heartland Institute's Center on the Digital Economy and managing editor of Infotech and Telecom News -- Leatherwood and Burkhart, both of whom have professional backgrounds in information technology.
If you have no idea why net neutrality is controversial or why you should care about the issue, you must listen to this episode.
After listening to the discussion, however, you may find yourself in need of a drink. Ben and David talk about applejack, calvados, pommeau and various apple-infused cocktails in a sequel to the Winter of Apple.
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Capitalism" - Oingo Boingo
• "The Internet is for Porn" - Lea DeLaria (from Avenue Q Swings)
• "I'm Free" - The Rolling Stones
• "Touch of Grey" - Grateful Dead
• "Applejack" - Dolly Parton
• "Applejack" - Dave Appell & The Applejacks
My old boss John Temple gave a speech in Montreal last week in which he attempted to answer that question, and what lessons, if any, could be divined from the paper's demise. I don't want to spoil any surprises, but John offers his own "Twitter" answer at the top:
"Yes and no. Internet the fundamental cause of death. Economic collapse the final blow. Denver could not support two general interest papers."
The rest of Temple's fascinating talk delves into the whys and what-fors.
(Incidentally, he could have included a verb in the second and third sentences if he shortened the fourth with a contraction and an abbreviation. Just saying.)
UPDATE: They want me to start on the show at 3 p.m. Pacific Time (6 p.m. Eastern), and I'm game but awaiting confirmation.
I just received an invitation to be the Hugh Hewitt Show today (Friday, Oct. 23).
Guest host Carol Platt Liebau will be interviewing me about net neutrality at at 3:20 p.m. Pacific Time.
Tune in if you happen to live in one of the 150 markets where Hugh's Show is broadcast.
Got so busy with other work, I forgot to mention that an oped I penned in my duties with The Heartland Institute was published in today's Washington Examiner. I'd like to thank the academy, and the editors of that fine paper's opinion pages, for this honor.
The subject is Net Neutrality, which has finally gotten the attention of Dragon Slayer Glenn Beck. And considering his track record, that's a very good development. Here's a taste, but you can click here to read the whole thing:
Advocates of imposing "network neutrality" say it's necessary to ensure a "free" and "open" Internet and rescue the public from nefarious corporations that "control" technology.
Few proposals in Washington have been sold employing such deceptive language -- and that's saying something. But few public policy ideas can boast the unashamedly socialist pedigree of net neutrality. ...
The concept can be traced to an iconoclastic figure, Richard Stallman, a self-described software freedom activist who introduced the term "copyleft" in the mid-1980s. In his 2002 essay "Free Software, Free Society," Stallman fiercely attacks the idea that intellectual property rights are one of the keystones of individual liberty, so important that patents and copyrights are affirmatively protected in the body of the Constitution. ...
Most bold and radical of the neutralists is Robert W. McChesney, founder of Free Press -- the leading advocacy group in Washington pushing for net neutrality. In an August interview with a Canadian Marxist online publication called the Bullet, McChesney rejoices that net neutrality can finally bring about the Marxist "revolution."
"At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies," McChesney said. "We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control."
If only a majority of the Federal Communications Commission believed as Robert McDowell does. The headline above is a paraphrase, but gets the gist of what McDowell said at The Heritage Foundation's "Bloggers Briefing" Tuesday morning (I listened in).
Anyone who likes the Internet as it is now, and would like to see even more innovation and investment in the future, needs to get hip to the arcane subject of "net neutrality." In short, the FCC is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist so it can regulate the Web from both ends — content creation and its delivery to all of us. I write about this issue extensively for The Heartland Institute, and in fact have recently completed a policy study on the subject. Click here if you're interested in a pretty thorough run-down. I've also done some radio spots talking about this subject here and here.
Anyway, by late spring or early summer of 2010, the FCC will very likely be micromanaging the Internet when a sweeping net neutrality rule is officially adopted. Here are some highlights from McDowell's almost hour-long talk — of which I posted at more length at the From the Heartland blog.
McDowell questions whether the FCC even has the authority to regulate the Internet by imposing net neutrality rules — and is especially concerned that new chairman Julius Genachowski intends to put net neutrality in the commission's "broad .. Title I bucket." ... (Click on "Read more" beneath the icons below for more.)
Forgive all the "uhms" I commit in this interview. I must work on that!
Anyway, I was honored to be a guest on American Journal Radio, to talk about Net Neutrality, and the danger it poses to Internet freedom by the imposition of government regulation of the Web.
To listen to me speak (I lead off the show), click on the American Journal Radio's home page and then on the "Steaming Download" window on the right column, then be sure to click on Oct. 8 edition of the program.
I was on this story weeks ago fulfilling my duties for The Heartland Institute. We published a story about it in the October edition of Infotech & Telecom News. So it's good to see the MSM get on the train, though after the Federal Trade Commission had already issued rules regulating bloggers.
The Federal Trade Commission will try to regulate blogging for the first time, requiring writers on the Web to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.
The FTC said Monday its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final Web guidelines, which had been expected. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews.
How absurd and overreaching is this? If, say, a blogger got a free product from some manufacturer — or even a review copy of a book — and that blogger offered his opinion, a punitive fine comes down from Uncle Sam if the blogger does not disclose how that product landed in his or her hands. I'm no lawyer, but the "reimburse consumers for financial losses" clause seems to be an open-ended sop to the trial bar. And how does one know he's disclosed enough information to satisfy the Web's minders? Well ... that's up in the air. But you'd better not screw up.
The commission stopped short of specifying how bloggers must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be "clear and conspicuous," no matter what form it will take.
So ... it will be up to the FTC to decide of a blogger's "disclosure" was "clear and conspicuous" enough. Nice. And if you and the FTC see things differently (a guarantee), prepare to answer this question: Is it cheaper to pay the up-to $11,000 fine for each "offense," or the services of a lawyer to defend your right to offer your opinion on the Web? This bit of nonsense from the Fox News story really irritates me, since I've worked in newspapers most of my nearly 20-year journalism career:
Bloggers have long praised or panned products and services online. But what some consumers might not know is that many companies pay reviewers for their write-ups or give them free products such as toys or computers or trips to Disneyland. In contrast, at traditional journalism outlets, products borrowed for reviews generally have to be returned. [emphasis mine].
(Kindly click Read more beneath the icons below to ... well ... read more. I get on a roll.)
The Muffled Oar blog calls shenanigans on an alleged unit of the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs "tasked with posting anonymous comments, or comments under pseudonyms, at newspaper websites with stories critical of the Department of Justice, Holder and President Obama."
The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky elaborates at the Corner:
I doubt that the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has received an ethics opinion from Justice’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) saying that it is acceptable for OPA employees to be harassing critics of the department through postings that deliberately hide their DOJ affiliation (a practice that is not very “open” or “transparent”). DOJ lawyers also ought to be aware of ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. If the report in The Muffled Oar is correct, tax dollars are being used directly for such dishonest, deceitful behavior.
I'd like to see some follow up about this from other bloggers and perhaps even a mainstream media outlet before weighing in further. (With respect to the Muffled Oar, I'd never heard of it before today.) I would simply remind readers that the Pentagon found itself in a boatload of trouble last year over revelations that it had paid retired generals to parrot the government line on TV. This sounds similar, if not more insidious.
It was my honor to be on the G. Gordon Liddy Show Friday, Oct. 1. We talked about the FCC's attempt to more strictly regulate the Internet — which is not a good idea, for many reasons.
CLICK HERE and a new window playing the MP3 should open.
This video is all over the place, so why not here? (Consider this a lame offering in lieu of something more substantive on Gore Vidal's and John Perry's madness, or indignation over Alan Grayson's calumny on the House floor, or a long-overdue post on why the stimulus really hasn't worked as advertised, or more Whoopi.)
Jim Lakely, better known to Infinite Monkeys' dozen regular readers as Dr. Zaius, posts his thoughts on the FCC's proposed "Net Neutrality" rules at the Heartland Institute's blog. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the plan in a speech Monday. Jim responded later:
“Genachowski is attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist—and will end up harming the vast majority of broadband and wireless consumers in the process. In today’s ultracompetitive tech sector, market forces efficiently punish those who would impose ‘unfair’ network practices and reward those who provide the best service. The FCC chairman would make a grave mistake if he replaced the swift judgment of millions of consumers with the dictates of a handful of uninformed and unaccountable bureaucrats.
“The FCC should not claim for itself the power to determine what level of traffic management is ‘reasonable.’ Free-market forces, with broadband consumers regulating with their wallets, answer such questions with more fairness and efficiency than any government bureaucrat.
“If Genachowski is really interested in ‘preserving and maintaining an open and robust Internet,’ he should keep the FCC out of the way of the market.”
That sounds about right to me. The Wall Street Journal echoes Jim's concerns and expounds in the implications in an editorial Tuesday:
The new policy is a big political victory for Google and other Web content providers whose business model depends on free-loading off the huge capital investments in broadband made by others. Telecom has been one of the bright spots during this recession. Phone companies like Verizon and AT&T have spent tens of billions of dollars on broadband pipe in the past two years. To pick one example: AT&T's capital investments in the U.S. totaled some $18 billion in 2008, the highest of any company. By threatening to limit what telecom companies can charge and to whom, net neutrality rules will discourage such investment.
If enacted, the new proposals will inevitably lead to lawsuits challenging the FCC's authority over the Internet given that Congress has never passed a law giving the agency net neutrality enforcement powers. And telecom firms that recently paid a premium at auction for what was advertised as unencumbered radio spectrum will not take kindly to being told after the fact that net neutrality requirements now govern use of that spectrum. That's another lawsuit in waiting.
The proposed rules really aren't about competition. They're about power. If the Obama Administration really cared about competition in broadband access, it would stay out of the way.
Our last discussion about health care, fascinating though it was, lacked a certain level of expertise on the subject. In this episode, Ben is joined by David Burkhart, who when he isn't lurking in the shadows of Infinite Monkeys is consulting with hospitals on how to navigate the ins-and-outs of bureaucracy while continuing to turn a profit.
Also joining us is the Heartland Institute's Jim Lakely, a.k.a. Dr. Zaius at Infinite Monkeys. Joel sat this one out.
(By the way, we recorded this one a couple of weeks ago -- and before President Obama's address to the joint session of Congress. But it still holds up!)
Among the questions we discuss:
• Can Medicare be fixed? If not, how does the government expect to fix the whole health care system?
• Which typeface is better for treating a sick person? Times New Roman or Helvetica?
• Are medical savings accounts worthwhile?
• Is health care reform akin to intelligence reform?
• Should presidents even bother with sweeping reforms during their first year in office?
• Is Obama trying to take over the Internet? Or is the real threat that the Internet will become as efficient as the Department of Homeland Security?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Blast Off" - The Monks
• "Complication" - The Monks
• "Higgle-Dy-Piggle-Dy" - The Monks
• "Monk Time" - The Monks
• "He Went Down to the Sea" - The Monks
• "Oh How To Do Now" - The Monks
• "Treat Me Like Your Mother" - Dead Weather
Via Gateway Pundit comes this learned discussion on NBC's Meet the Press about the Internet's role in Van Jones's downfall. I don't know how long that video is going to last, so here is a transcript of Tom Friedman and Tom Brokaw sharing their wisdom with host David Gregory:
To read the rest of this post, please click "Read more" below
This story has been dominating as Drudge's main headline all day. Trouble is, the story isn't exactly new. I wrote a column on this bill — the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 — back in April, which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Go here to read my column, which invokes Jack Bauer.
And go here to see my post on this rather troubling development at the From the Heartland blog.
I posted this yesterday at The Heartland Institute's blog, and share it here because I suspect our regular readers would be interested. (I'd appreciate a click to the original post, as the additional hits would make me look good to my bosses).
The Heartland Institute promotes and defend free markets and individual liberty — and believes that these principles are essential to maintaining the freedom we take for granted on the Internet. But many of the pundits who specialize in technology issues, and blog about it, lean to the left. They are, in general:
Among the leaders in promoting this anti-market view is an organization called Free Press, which is not well known by the general public but familiar to tech watchers like me, the Federal Communications Commission and the Obama administration. I've been reluctant to characterize Free Press as a socialist outfit — though its criticism of my recent piece on the dangers of "net neutrality" certainly had some socialist characteristics. But as we see from this interview with Free Press founder Robert W. McChesney in The Bullet, a Marxist publication in Canada, I was being too cautious in withholding that dramatic moniker.
Though Free Press has co-opted the language of freedom — starting with its very name, its calls for a "free" and "open" Internet, its stated advocacy on behalf of "the public," etc. — it is no ally of American traditions of freedom and liberty. McChesney is an avowed socialist/Marxist. Through Free Press, he is promoting an agenda that would replace the free market system that has led to once-unimaginable advances in information technology — including freedom of communication — with a state-controlled system directed by government on behalf of "the people." In short: McChesney and Free Press see the Internet as the last, best realm to finally usher in the long-dreamed socialist utopia.
I wish I was exaggerating. This McChesney interview from August 9, 2009 with The Bullet's Tanner Mirrlees lays bare the agenda — and, more troubling, the Free Press founder's belief that the stars are finally aligned to bring about "revolution" on the Internet and elsewhere. Here starts Part 1 of several breaking down this remarkable interview. ... (click on "Read more" below the tiny icons beneath these words to continue, or CLICK HERE).
We've added some spambot countermeasures to Infinite Monkeys because, frankly, I'm tired of deleting crap from the comment approval queue. The upshot is, if you haven't registered, you really should. (I'm looking at you, Christian Toto!)
No, I think of Flight of the Conchords. I know, I know: The New Zealand folk power-duo's international super-hit single is all about robots vanquishing humans. But did you hear that the defunct HBO series and co-star Jemaine Clement have been nominated for Emmys? How great is that? The humans are very much alive -- and 30 Rock will almost certainly dominate -- but I still think the news calls for a binary solo...
As The Inquisitr story notes, Danah Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft and fellow of the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society, recently delivered the keynote speech during New York’s Democracy forum at Lincoln Center. Boyd said she was disturbed by the possible reasons for mass abandonment of MySpace for the "more cultured" and "less cheesy" social networking site Facebook. The phenomenon apparently exposes a form of digital racism for which America should feel shame.
"We might as well face an uncomfortable reality … what happened was modern day ‘white flight’," Boyd said. "The fact that digital migration is revealing the same social patterns as urban white flight should send warning signals to all of us. It should scare the hell out of us."
Boyd, from the looks of her resume, is the embodiment of the over-educated elite who consider themselves our "cultural betters." Only they have the insight and courage to filter seemingly innocuous social trends through the left's race and class prism and reveal the real truth. That's why she's "scared," and must sound the alarm by referring to MySpace as the "ghetto of the digital landscape."
She said her research has found that MySpace users are more likely to be "brown or black" and espouse a different set of ideals in conflict with those espoused by the teens she surveyed over four years. She said that patterns in migration across social networking sites echoed those of a white exodus from cities in the past.
Ok. Let's play along. Perhaps it's true that a higher percentage of MySpace devotees are more likely to be "brown or black" than Facebook users. Is this proof that a white user is revealing his or her racism by leaving it in favor of Facebook? It is, I suppose, if one confuses correlation with causation — something a serious researcher takes great pains to avoid — and is careful to never venture far from the echo chamber of the academic elite.
Aside from that, Boyd's invocation of "white flight" is beyond absurd. Unlike the "white flight" to the suburbs of decades ago — where poor inner-city "browns and blacks" did not have the economic power to join the exodus to a more comfortable living environment and better public schools — there is no barrier at all to those "left behind" in the "digital ghetto" of MySpace. Migrating to Facebook takes about 30 seconds of computer time. That's one of the great things about the Internet age: It breaks down, rather than erects, racial and socioeconomic barriers. The question to ask is why "browns and blacks" remain at MySpace instead of joining the Facebook community. Voluntary self-segregation, perhaps?
At any rate, MySpace is being abandoned because it's annoying — most pages I'd visit would automatically start playing the host's favorite and obnoxious music, and often quite loudly; many pages are photo-heavy with crazy backgrounds that are hard on the eye and make it difficult to consume; and it is also less intuitive than Facebook. It should also be noted that even Facebook is becoming a victim of its own success, becoming increasingly clunky and annoying to many users (like me) who are now utilizing Twitter as a more streamlined way to socially interact on the Web.
MySpace was, and remains, primarily a social network for teens. MySpace is in the "digital ghetto" only in the sense that its own institutional inertia has resulted in it being lapped by a superior service. To suggest that it is racist for one to leave it behind for better, more mature alternatives is not only silly, but insulting.
But if Microsoft wants to put such a fool on its payroll and Harvard wants to keep subsidizing such "research," that's their business. Who am I to get in the way of them eroding their credibility?
So says Ross Douthat. He's right about the monkeys. We matter plenty -- even if a dozen people know it. He's only partly right about Mark Helprin's new manifesto, though. Which part? Well, read the review and draw your own conclusions. (The link is to the Kindle edition of the book, by the way.)
I was a guest for an hour on Dimitri Vassilaros Saturday night show on Pittsburgh's mighty KDKA radio yesterday.
Monkeys and monkey friends who have yet to hear my voice, or see my handsome mugshot, may listen by going here.