What a drag it is getting old.
[Notice: This is not a cheery post ]
Happy New Year. Let me do a personal post looking back and forward.
To recap some recent turning points, in 2003 I was driven to quit censorware decryption research and then abandon major net freedom-fighting efforts (update: despite almost single-handledly winning a DMCA exemption) . I have a huge amount of censored censorware research which was destroyed or I can't publish - either nobody will hear it and/or I'll be sued. I still did some writing. But I think in 2004 I got yet another message that politics just isn't for me. I enjoyed attending the Berkman Center iLaw event, but ultimately it didn't change anything. Much worse, the Mike Godwin / Greplaw attack was another major turning point (I still should do an aftermath follow-up post on it all). My law/policy prospects never were all that great. But despite wishful thinking to the contrary, it matters to be targetted by a mean lawyer (who teamed-up with a domain hijacker).
Blogging doesn't work for me. The irony there this year, was when it was evident that I'd get far more reputation-points, far more easily, by inveighing against the Blizzard v. Bnetd court decision, than I personally could gain by actually co-writing a friend-of-the-court ("amicus") brief supporting reverse-engineering rights. In retrospect, it was absolutely the right thing, on a personal level, that I did not do that bit of fighting for net freedom, in terms of what would have been the cost to me. But I look back on it as a very sad commentary overall as to what gets rewarded. Drink the blog Kool-Aid, and you get attention and echoes and links. Don't, and you'll be talking to the crickets (but perhaps you like talking to the crickets, perhaps they make a pleasant sound, and anyway, who is to say that the crickets are not a worthy audience ...).
It was laudable that I was an expert witness in the Internet censorship / "community standards" case of Nitke v. Ashcroft (which was a pre-existing activism commitment). But, in terms of it being a reputation-builder for me, the lack of publicity was disappointing. Eventually there was an EFF newsletter mention, thanks, but that was the maximum (e.g. no Slashdot). I rate this, again for me, as another example of "I tried it that way, and it didn't work".
Overall in 2004 I passed another milestone in terms of giving up fighting to keep the net free. As a programmer, nobody is trying to tear me down (much less succeeding!), and it's an occupation both profitable and sustainable.
So for 2005, I resolve to maximize paid work, maybe more Google investigation again (Google doesn't sue!), and work on further avoiding the horrible negative that free speech activism has been for my life.
[PS: Of course, there's always people worse off than me, e.g. who need Tsunami Aid]By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on January 01, 2005 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups