September 07, 2003

Slashdot deject

Y'know, it's extremely discouraging to find that I'm recently getting more readers to my website as a result of Slashdot trolls, than I ever get from my censorware reports, when that work is constrained to publicity via third-string websites (sorry, my friends there, that's just the numbers - note I didn't say third-rate).

On Friday, I spent some time chasing around to several people to mention my research in connection with various post-CIPA (Federal library censorware law) efforts, to favorable results. But the sum total audience there seems to less than one popular Slashdot comment. Now, one could argue it's a much better class of people, quality over quantity. But still, the relative "reach" numbers are daunting.

The worst outcomes of my life have come from not believing in mathematics. And mathematics is staring me here in the face. I am caught between "shouting to the wind" (nobody reading my work) and "telling it to the judge" (which will be the inevitable result of doing work that absolutely will be read).

Update: Ambiguity ... Clarification: By "Slashdot trolls", I meant Slashdot's population of trolls doing troll things, not that I posted troll messages! I almost never post to Slashdot these days (note my uid is #90154)

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on September 07, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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I hesitate to comment because I actually respect the work you do. As a homeowner, I understand your reluctance to put your neck on the line with a lawsuit. Any average, reasonable person would fear being put in the poorhouse by a well-heeled corporation intent on preserving its place in the market.

But this decision limits the amount of political capital you have. Someone who is willing to be sued generates a lot more political capital for themselves. Someone who is willing to take a stand in a court of law generares an order of magnitude more political capital.

With sufficient political capital, you can take an unpopular position, like calling John Gilmore a troll, and get people to at least listen to you and consider your arguments. With political capital to burn, you can even be wrong.

Posted by: Roy Murphy at September 8, 2003 03:10 PM

I believe, as a statement of fact, that you are completely correct in what you say. That is, my political capital is limited by my unwillingness to be sued, etc.

However, I fear that outcome of being sued would be personally devastating to me. Even if by some miracle I won the case, the stress and disruption to my life would be ruinous.

Related, I resent deeply that my efforts to build political capital, such as with DMCA testimony, have generally gone for naught.

That lack is not an accident or happenstance. It's where Slashdot's de facto support of Michael Sims isn't a silly flame-war, but is extremely destructive.

I really have to write-out all my reasoning. Michael Sims actually teamed-up with D-v-d B-rt of N-H- to attack me. I believe if I get sued, the censorware company is going to get their smears against me put on the front-page of Slashdot!

And that's why getting trashed by John Gilmore was so discouraging. The implications are that if I get sued, I'll be attacked far and wide from "on high", yet be told I can defend myself to an audience orders of magnitude less.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 8, 2003 04:08 PM