May 02, 2007

Meta-post on HD-DVD AACS Key, Digg, and the failure of blogging part N+3

I feel like I'm obligated to get in on today's pile-on regarding the topic of Digg and the HD-DVD AACS Key, but, wow, do I feel like a cricket at a rock concert. Key points - the number which is the AACS key is going to be argued to be "technology" within the meaning of the DMCA, we've been here before, with e.g. DeCSS, and being a data-miner of crowds (like Digg) sometimes means having to ride their madness. The rest is elaboration.

However, right now I look at the labor for that elaboration, and think: "Seth, you can spend unpaid hours writing a researched post on the issue, and then you get to spend even more unpaid hours trying TO BE HEARD over the noise-barrier, knowing that there's really a very small chance of getting much return (but you *could* win a prize for that attention lottery, it's *possible*) - isn't blogging great?" (and of course saying that is going to lose me readers, 'cause I'm a bad Z-lister ...)

So that's essentially all I have to say on the matter.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on May 02, 2007 12:42 PM (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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This whole fooferaw is most interesting to me for the self-contradictions it reveals in Digg's users and the MPAA. It's really wild to see a mob pile-on from a community that is the willing target market for HD-DVD manufacturers, but is also resentful of the poisonous DRM that comes with the technology.

Also, A quick scan of the front page of your blog shows that your post subjects fall into one of two categories:

1. Your recent writings that have made it to Slashdot, BBoing, The Guardian, etc.
2. Self-flagellation over how miserably ignored your writings are.

Almost all have healthy comment sections with input from many respected bloggers and net-people. You sure get a lot of attention for someone who devotes so much space to complaining about how little attention you get. =)

Posted by: Michal Migurski at May 2, 2007 03:19 PM

This event involves a loud subsection of a community of early-adopters, so of course they resent DRM - that hinders portability and re-use, which is important to the early adopters.

Now, regarding my writings that have made it to high-attention sites, the point is that depends on beseeching gatekeepers, which is time-consuming and can even blow-up on me. The title is the failing of *blogging*, not "it's impossible to be a freelancer". I don't need have to have a blog to submit freelance writing to editors. The amount of attention I'm going to get on my own RSS feed is trivial.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at May 2, 2007 04:04 PM

"So that's essentially all I have to say on the matter."

Aww, c'mon. Throw us a bone. I'm not Slashdot or BoingBoing, but I do appreciate your insight. :)

Posted by: Peter Rock at May 2, 2007 05:08 PM

Dear Seth,
I subscribed to your blog because I thought you had interesting things to say. When you go on and on about your popularity it drives me away. I don't mean to attempt to threaten you or anything by this statement, I'm just trying to state aloud what I'm sure many readers are thinking silently. Good blogs are written independently of their readership's size. E.g. my friend Dan writes stuff like this without (as far as I know) anyone but me reading it.

Posted by: Evan M at May 2, 2007 08:11 PM

I posted a serious comment on on the topic, and then realized that I had wasted my time, because the point of all this 09 F9 etc. traffic is not to actually discuss the issue, but to join the whack-a-mole game, making sure the key spreads faster than any attempts to suppress it.

A more general point--one which you might at some point consider spinning into a Guardian column--is that one characteristic of blogging communities (plural, since there is no one "blogosphere" any more than there is a "papersphere") seems to be that when a certain topic becomes "hot", everybody feels obliged to say something about it. This social dynamic discourages responses based on careful reflection, research involving trips to a dead-trees library, or blogging by people who don't have massive amounts of surfing time.

Posted by: Seth Gordon at May 2, 2007 08:23 PM

Unless they can stop people open and soldering inside x-boxes it seems pointless whining about the key.
"The latest attack vector bypasses the encryption performed by the Device Keys"
""This hack/technique enables us to figure out how the Volume ID is stored on the disc,"

Mind you the song on youtube was pretty cool.

Posted by: tqft at May 2, 2007 10:35 PM

re Seth Gordon: "A more general point... seems to be that when a certain topic becomes 'hot', everybody feels obliged to say something about it. This social dynamic discourages responses based on careful reflection..."

Seth G.-- You might find my 10-part series from 2005 The New Gatekeepers interesting; much of its inspiration was due to Seth, and he often cites it here.

For the record, I, too, was looking for some clever insight from Seth F. on this, but I realize it's times like this to just sitting back and watching the typical fireworks show.

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at May 2, 2007 11:26 PM

Peter: Maybe tomorrow.

Evan: Understood. The answer to that cuts both ways though.

SethG: It's well-known. One of the most popular blogs is called very nearly "instant pundit", which says it all.

tqft: Very few people mod hardware

Jon: What good is insight? :-(

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at May 2, 2007 11:45 PM

I didn't say good. I said clever.

Like, we've been hanging up the HD-DVD code in overpasses all over the Boston area, but no one's noticed...

meanwhile, conversations from tonight's BostonPHP meetup in Cambridge:

"So Jon, what've you been writing about lately?"
"Oh, the usual eruptions in the blogosphere."
"I never did understand that Kathy Sierra thing."
"Well, since you ask, it all started when Tara Hunt invoked the name of Henry Ford..." etc.

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at May 3, 2007 12:20 AM

Evan: I find it best to imagine Seth having the same depressed drone as Douglas Adam's 'Marvin the Paranoid Android' character in H2G2.

"Blogging? Don't talk to me about blogging. I had a blog once, wrote a terabyte of topically incisive comment every day, and did anyone ever read it? No.
Although, it did once reach No.7 on The Suicidalist's recommended reading list."

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at May 3, 2007 05:30 AM

I'm starting to think it doesn't matter what intelligent people have to say about anything, and, instead, what really motivates people are rhetorical arguments that present no logic whatsoever -- only emotional story telling -- or something to that effect. Screw this world.

Posted by: joey at May 3, 2007 04:41 PM

So you're saying you don't feel like investing energy in a post on this because you don't have enough readers? Isn't that kind of dissing the readers you do have, who come here for hearing your thoughts?

Posted by: Philipp Lenssen at May 3, 2007 05:27 PM

Crosbie: That's great. I really like it. "Long ago, in another galaxy, there lived a gloomy robot. ..."

joey: Exactly :-(

Philipp: I call that the "One Reader Argument". I have a long discussion of it, I'll email it to you.
Short form: Q. Isn't a single reader enough? A: No.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at May 3, 2007 08:16 PM

Seth, I thought you might like it. :)

Given you've colonised the 'Marvin as blogger' niche, i.e. "Brain the size of a planet, but abused and incredibly under-appreciated", I wonder if you should hijack the branding?

Alternatively, perhaps your plan is to keep at it softly-softly for so many years that your proto-fame as the 'Marvin the paranoid android' of the blogging world suddenly erupts into a virally propagated explosion of popularity up the blogging ranks until you're in the A list?

Is your own branding/modus operandi so solid now (or soon) that you don't need to augment it with something more widely recognised?

Of course, I may be doing an injustice to your appeal. It is possible that you're simply a complex blogger, and it's a slog to collect an audience with a sufficiently refined palate (discovery's probably difficult for the audience too).

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at May 4, 2007 06:18 AM

Philipp: I can't speak for our host, but if I had ten times the readership I do now, I'd almost certainly be motivated to spend more time blogging. That's just human nature--all other factors being equal, we'd rather play to a large crowd than to a small one.

Posted by: Seth Gordon at May 4, 2007 09:57 AM

"Q. Isn't a single reader enough? A: No."

Depends on who your reader is. *We* are clearly not good enough for you.

j/k - sort of.

Posted by: Michal Migurski at May 4, 2007 11:16 PM

Crosbie: The problem is that "Marvin" is too much of an in-joke. "Fake Steve Jobs", for example, works. "The Marvin Of The Bogosphere" wouldn't work for me. People would probably think of Marvin-The-Martian ("where's the kaboom?").

SethG: Exactly. And that answers Michal too.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at May 5, 2007 12:13 AM

Yes, it's a bit tacky (and UK). But, maybe you can use it as a large haddock with which to slap people who can't cope with a blogger who departs from the "McDonald's school of journalism that mandates a sunny demeanour and 100% positive outlook"?

The refreshingly original voice of a jaded skeptic prone to introspection and self-doubt?

Probably a lot more words required, but Infothought ain't your usual run-o-the-mill blog.

Posted by: Crosbie Fitch at May 5, 2007 04:21 AM

> Philipp: I can't speak for our host, but
> if I had ten times the readership I do
> now, I'd almost certainly be motivated
> to spend more time blogging.

Of course, and I've shut down blogs too in the past due to lack of time. Still, there are polite ways to shut down a blog and there are ways where you're basically "dissing the audience." But Seth mailed me and we've continued to discuss the issue...

Posted by: Philipp Lenssen at May 5, 2007 11:20 AM