November 15, 2006

COPA - Censorware Report Media Coverage And "1 Percent" Result

More news articles are being written about the Child Online Protection Act censorware report. I've dug up a reference to illustrate what I keep saying about there being no surprise in the conclusion:

Here, Accessibility and Distribution of Information on the Web, 1999:

Information distribution

83% of sites contain commercial content and 6% contain scientific or educational content. Only 1.5% of sites contain pornographic content

COPA censorware expert-witness report 2006:

About 1 percent of the websites in the Google and MSN indexes are sexually explicit.

Yes, another go-around in 2006 is a nice confirmation and additional data-point. But essentially nothing has changed. Which means that whatever one's position beforehand about censorware and COPA, there's nothing changed from this study.

The only thing which has changed is to temporarily quiet the objection that those other studies were old and hence no longer valid. Oh, and maybe debunking media hype about how The Internet Is For Porn.

[Update - Consider this item in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Net not so dirty?

Conventional wisdom has it that the Internet is loaded with porn. But, according to the San Jose Mercury News, only 1 percent of all Web pages contain sexually explicit material (based on random samples taken from the Yahoo, MSN, Google and AOL search requests). This may well be meaningless, though, because the analysis cannot reveal whether this is a declining or increasing amount or whether the weight of the estimated 55 million blogs is drowning out the porn. Seth Finkelstein, a civil-liberties activist quoted in the piece, has another theory. "What we are learning about the Internet is that it reflects life and that the Internet is not -- contrary to what some people might think -- more sexual than people are in general."

Note, exactly what I've said - the value in this study is getting the word out to "conventional wisdom". The writer is apparently unaware that the results are consistent with other studies going back several years, because that's not the "conventional wisdom". ]

Z-list blues note: The MSNBC / article has this statement:

The findings, first reported in the San Jose Mercury News, were disclosed in Federal court in Philadelphia last week during the latest hearing into the ACLU's injunction.

Cough. Ahem, ahem, ahem ... Not that I'm especially annoyed - as I said, the findings were released in an authorized email to many reporters and other interested case-watchers. But I do think I had the first material on the web about it. Again, it doesn't matter, as I didn't really do anything except be awake at the time (which is a dubious achievement) and have a blog. So I'm noting this more for amusement than anything else. But it's yet another little point about the silliness of blog triumphalism.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware , copa | on November 15, 2006 05:10 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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One of the things I've learned is that it doesn't matter if you beat the "big names" to the scoop if you don't already have enough authority.

If the first few "big names" mention you, it'll be good... but otherwise...

Posted by: engtech at November 15, 2006 02:36 PM

You can email tips to mainstream reports, they'll be happy to get info. (Just as any blogger is happy to get tips emailed, I might add.) I don't expect mainstream news to always get the attribution right when it comes to scoops... sometimes -- at least in German media -- you will see "according to news that broke in blogs on Wednesday bla bla", which is a weird way to attribute everyone and no one. But hey, so what -- mainstream news just leanred how to use hyperlinks like, 2 years ago ;)

Posted by: Philipp Lenssen at November 15, 2006 11:31 PM

AP picked it up now. (, among others).

It's funny to watch the progression of news stories. Sometimes old news--like the guy who published his boarding pass generator, doesn't become news until it is blogged about.

I listened to a radio interview this morning with one of the reporters who broke the news about Bill Walsh's illness. Apparently dozens of reporters were sitting on the news out of respect for the former NFL coach's wish to keep it private. He finally caved and asked a couple of Bay Area reporters to write their articles. It was on AP within an hour.

Posted by: Travis Finucane at November 16, 2006 08:45 PM