January 05, 2009

New Year's Resolutions 2009

Revisiting and updating what has gone before:

0) Looking back at e.g., 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, be aware that I tend to repeat myself in frustration, and try to address the reasons for that.

[Still failing here :-(]

1) Stop arguing with marketers about "conversation". It wastes my time, and it annoys the flack. It's not going to do any good.

[God, what a huge amount of time I've wasted on this, squeaking against bullhorns]

2) Stop being delusional about ever having more influence. That ship has sailed.

[Sigh ...]

3) Keep OUT of the "Net Neutrality" politics. It'll only hurt me.

4) "Life Trumps Blogging"

[Need more work here, though making progress :-(]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on January 05, 2009 09:00 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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Hi Seth,

Apologies for an off-topic post. But I want to talk to you.

I want to talk to you, first, because you're a Wikipedia critic, and second, because you've thought about wider issues of internet social norms and their enforcement.

Here's the situation: Professor T. Kelly Mills taught a class where his students created a hoax and turned it loose on the 'net. Then he 'fessed up. And there's some reaction.

Part of Professor Mills' class project involved vandalizing Wikipedia. When I say "vandalizing", I mean there's no doubt that this violates Wikipedia's ToS. It may also violate GMU's responsible use of computing policy.

Understand the situation?

What are your thoughts on this? I'm not sure a complaint to abuse@gmu.edu would do much good, but I think that would be vastly preferable to, e.g., sending him a email virus.

My guess is that you'll argue that there aren't really any "community norms" about Wikipedia vandalism: No real community and no real norms. And, further, even if there are they can't be enforced and moreover shouldn't be enforced. But let me not put words in your mouth ;-)

Posted by: vigilante at January 5, 2009 01:17 PM

Don't stop blogging in 2009! You're on a short list of lucid voices in the wilderness, and I would hate to lose one.

Posted by: Ryan at January 5, 2009 01:18 PM

vigilante: Of course there are community norms about Wikipedia vandalism. Just like there's norms about not throwing pies in people's faces. The question is when violating a social norm is insightful and helpful in a greater-good sense, versus being at best self-indulgence, and at worst destructive. Now, I deal with enough people trying to trick me and con me so that I'm not too sympathetic to the idea that people should hoax and prank as a way of keeping others on their toes. On the other hand, there's so much agenda-pushing on Wikipedia that I can't get real excited over some avowed nonsense, and showing its flaws to academics has some value even if it's not exactly news. So I'd come out overall with the judgment that the goal was fine, but the tactics left a bit to be desired. But I don't think it's worth any formal complaint.

Ryan: Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, there's a harsh recession going on, and being a blogger arguably has negative return to my life :-(.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 5, 2009 07:25 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Seth. You don't argue like a lawyer would.

Posted by: vigilante at January 5, 2009 07:39 PM

I say give in to the dark side.

Troll the internet for fun and profit.

At least you would be smiling a lot more.

Become the enemy.

It might even be the only profitable blogging model.


Posted by: tqft at January 7, 2009 08:07 AM

vigilante: Another compliment :-)

tqft: Nah. It's not my business (note that "profit" part). There's plenty of trolls on both sides, too much competition. To succeed there, one really needs to have a certain skill regarding how to please the audience, and I don't have it.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 7, 2009 10:36 AM
I say give in to the dark side.

Troll the internet for fun and profit.

You know, many services prohibit “trolling” in their terms of sevice (ToS) or acceptable use policies (AUPs).

Further, perhaps you're familiar with United States v Drew, the so-called “MySpace Suicide ‘Hoax’ ” case. That case caused a little bit of comment here and there. Especially in the legal “blawgosphere”. And the EFF filed an amicus brief.

The prosecutor's theory in Drew is that violating MySpace's ToS is a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C § 1030, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Elsewhere, I myself have argued against this reading of the CFAA. But just as a description of the state of the law, well, the precedent is there. Right now.

Trolling —in violation of an internet service ToS/AUP— might not be so fun and profitable anymore. At least if you piss off someone with enough political influence. 'Cause, you know, there just really aren't enough prosecutorial resources to charge all the trolls.

Posted by: vigilante at January 7, 2009 03:36 PM

Oh, I know what he meant. There's a type of pundit who makes a business out of saying outrageous and provocative statements. The thing to realize there is that it's harder than it looks, and the practitioners really work at it.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 7, 2009 10:38 PM

Happy new year, Seth!

whatever it involves blogging or not :)... I'm sure people would understand if you decided to stop blogging or take a break. I closed all my "serious blogs," BTW. I never took them all that seriously... so I was surprised to see some fans come out of the woodwork at the end...

Have you thought about writing a personal blog? It can be much less stress and it's a fun way to preserve memories. You may want to adopt a pen name or something if you decide to do it -- much easier to put down whatever... Let me know if you end-up doing it. I'd read it!


P.S. Tell Jon I said Happy New Year, if you run into him. It was fun meeting you two on Dan Gillmor's blog. D.

Posted by: Delia at January 7, 2009 10:40 PM

Thanks, Delia. Unfortunately, I've already hurt my life from this blog, so being even more personal sounds like a horrible idea. Even supposedly "anonymous", I wouldn't want to take the chance.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 7, 2009 11:09 PM

the beauty of it is that you can be as personal as it suits you and only blog when it does indeed suit you -- it's completely different from seriously writing on particular topics; much less pressure (nothing to constantly keep up with) and much more fluid... it can be... whatever you want it to be! at any time... (when I started my "serious blogs" I would have never imagined I would end-up blogging about those things for as long as I did -- it seemed to take on a life of its own that I resented plenty of times but had a hard time ending) D.

Posted by: Delia at January 8, 2009 09:35 AM

Seth, Delia: Happy new year. Jon

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at January 9, 2009 06:18 PM