Comments: DMCA 1201 Anti-circumvention rulemaking THIRD ROUND BEGINS


I'm glad that you have done all your work, which I consider important. I just want to point out some of the cognitive dissonance you seem to be experiencing might be due to having the wrong expectations. Generally, and although there are exceptions, most activist work is done on a pro bono basis. True, there are those who manage to capitalize on it, but it's the same with weblogs or Usenet posting or writing: it depends on steadfast dedication, a lot of luck and social contacts.

Because of the fact that aristocratic views are still quite prevalent in our societies, it's understood (by people) that political work is something admirable but shouldn't be a source of income. Most work on political organizations is voluntary, and this creates a sort of attitude that "you shouldn't be in it for the bucks" and so on. Of course the result of this is that only relatively wealthy people have the means to get into politics properly, and when people without these means try to get in and try to get some money to sustain themselves they are told that they're in it for the money, etc.

So, politics is free if your time is worthless, or, if your time has so much worth that you can afford to waste it. As a result the people who get into politics are (and activism is no different) 1) idealistic students who have nothing better to do and can live with what they have for now and 2) wealthy people who can afford to spend their time freely.

I understand that this makes it very hard for you, and I see why you'd want it to be otherwise, so that credit would come to you and eventually you could capitalize on that credit somehow. But expecting it to change is, I think, unrealistic. At which point you have to make the choice on whether the work is worth it for you in its own terms, without any foreseeable compensation, or whether you'd be better off doing something else. Either way, if you decide the work is worth doing in itself, complaining about it is useless and perhaps counterproductive. If you decide the work is not worth it in its own terms, then just let it go.

I may be wrong about this, of course... Maybe there are some alternatives, through organizational support. Trade unions for example do make allowances, at least in Europe, for the fact that union representatives need to get something out of it, since they're working people and can't afford to freely give their time. But generally that's the state of affairs as I see it.

Good luck,

Posted by David at October 3, 2005 03:57 AM

David, thanks for the thoughts.

I've written about some of my expectations. It's not that I expected to get rich. But I did expect to receive far more support than I did. Part of my very negative experience was being told I'd get reputation-building publicity, and I was deeply let-down on that pledge. As I detailed, for example, there was a explicit grudge held against me in terms of all that went on with Slashdot. And several people actually helped the censorware companies attack me!

Now, one might say that's life, life isn't fair, etc. But I think there's value in detailing what happened, that it matters.

Of course, I could just be rationalizing ... :-(

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at October 3, 2005 08:28 AM

Would something similar to this help?

(Set up your own pledge for funding so you can pick up the research again?)

Posted by Bill Godfrey at October 3, 2005 09:25 AM

Bill: Thanks for the suggestion, but it's never looked like I could raise any significant amount of money, even in small amounts. One of my problems with funding the research was that I wasn't high enough in the academic ladder to have a good chance of getting grants, and didn't have enough PR resources to have a hope of succeeding at my own non-profit. I did explore these questions. However, the outcomes weren't encouraging.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at October 4, 2005 07:53 PM