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A Tech-Econ Mashup with a Libertarian Flavor

How to be Anti-Net Neutrality Without Being a Reactionary Conservative or a Corporate Shill

1. Techno-literacy: Know how the internet and various other “technical things” work.

2. Cultural Relevance: Stay up-to-date with the trends shaping the ‘net, current internet memes, video games, tech news, and other tech-geek stuff. If you’re a digital artist, IT professional, or software engineer, even better.

3. Be One of the Common People: Don’t make too much money. If you aren’t a lawyer and you aren’t on the bankroll of a corporation with a vested interest, this is easy.

4. Credibility: Don’t be one of those self-appointed, overpaid “social media gurus.” Digital marketing is a legit business, but it’s difficult to know whether you’re getting the real deal or one of these tech-hipsters who doesn’t know the difference between “trendy” and “useful.” Many of them hop onto the neutrality wagon because it signals that they are cool, tech-savvy, and perhaps even “leet.”

4. Be Forward-Thinking: Recognize how fast and dynamic inter-connected masses of people are; market conditions can change rapidly, but internet market conditions can change overnight.

5. Liberalism*: Be an avid supporter of free-speech. Not in a reluctant, holding-your-nose way, either. Optimally, support other progressive-liberal civil issues like gay marriage and separation of church and state. Bash conservative politicians whenever it is convenient to do so.

6. Skepticism: Be wary of the government, politicians, and politically-appointed regulators in pretty much any situation. In fact, be skeptical of the entire political process. Recall that “Deception is an inherent, inseparable part of politics. Politics itself is a big lie.

7. Face the Reality: Recognize that corporate interests pay legions of lawyers hundreds of millions of dollars to shape policy in their favor. Thus, policies and regulations originally intended to benefit the many in practice will generally benefit the few and well-represented.

8. Rhetoric: Articulate your disdain for net neutrality well, explaining how government regulation of one internet layer will lead to regulation of all layers, and how government regulation of the medium is anathema to free speech. Be artful, logical, savvy, reasonable, and compelling. You’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you.

Are there any other rules I should add to the list?

*Liberalism in the old-world definition: i.e. advocacy of the individual’s rights and limited government intervention.

Filed under: Internet, Politics,

Teens Sue School for Punishing Them over Lewd Photos

Two teenage girls, along with the ACLU, have filed a lawsuit against their school district after the school punished them for publishing racy photos on their myspace pages. Let’s get ready to rage.

The background: a group of girlfriends had a sleepover earlier this summer that involved phallic lollipops and a digital camera. “Suggestive” photos of two of the girls eating the candy found their way to myspace (surprise), though the girls set their privacy controls so that only “friends” could see them.  A few months later, some jackass kid (probably an ex-boyfriend or a vindictive drama queen) printed the pictures out and brought them to school, where they were shown to school officials. School officials then suspended the girls from their fall semester extracurricular activities, made them apologize to an all-male coaches’ panel, and made them seek counseling.

There’s so much wrong with this situation that I don’t even know where to begin. First, you’ve got school administrators disciplining kids for activities that didn’t take place on school grounds, during the school year, and had nothing to do with school, period. When kids bring phallic-shaped candy to school, confiscate it. When they violate dress code, send them home. When they misbehave, discipline them. But when they exercise their free speech rights as private citizens (and at fifteen, who among us wasn’t experimenting with the power of sex appeal?), the school has no business acting as a censor.

Second, it seems to me like the wrong people were punished. What about the kid(s) who printed the pictures out and brought them to school? Aren’t they the real evildoers here? They took what was intended to be private knowledge and publicized it. While that may not be illegal, there’s definitely a lesson here that these creeps aren’t learning. You don’t tell other people’s secrets, and you never spread unflattering or character-destroying photographs of anybody around school or the web. Those are two things that civilized, decent people just don’t do. Isn’t that a more important life lesson for becoming a decent person than the glib message “don’t take pictures of yourself licking a dick-shaped lollipop?”

Third, the punishment here does not even come close to fitting the “crime.” 1) The crime here is young ladies acting lewdly. Not minors engaging in sex acts. Not peddling child pornography. They were acting un-ladylike. If school admins looked around their lunchroom any day of the week, they’d see the same thing happening among giggling groups of girlfriends. It’s called “adolescence,” and while teens might be annoying to everyone else, they’re not doing anything out of the ordinary (I recall an old video of a friend of mine performing two seconds of over-exaggerated fake fellatio on a banana back in the 8th grade – good thing myspace wasn’t around then). 2) The punishment resulted in the situation going from merely embarrassing to downright humiliating. Someone tell me WHY these girls had to seek counseling. Even more important, tell me WHY they had to issue apologies to an all-male panel of coaches. Shaming someone over his or her sexual expression is a sure-fire way to really screw with their head and unleash their insecurities; the effect is worse if done publicly. Why on earth is the school getting away with publicly shaming two teens?

Fourth, the sanctimony displayed on the part of the school’s administrators is out-fucking-rageous. High school teachers: as much as you’d like to think otherwise, you are not charged with the sacred task of instilling a moral compass into other people’s children. You are civil servants – basically government employees. Your job is to educate, supervise, and when necessary protect these teens from external danger or from other students. Your job does not include the right to impose disciplinary sanctions on the basis of your subjective ideas about drugs, sex, rock and roll, politics, etc. That’s a job for parents. If anybody had any responsibility whatsoever, it would have been for a concerned teacher to quietly notify the girls’ parents of the photos, and let them deal with it. Instead, they made the whole incident into a much bigger deal than it needed to be.

The girls in question here have every right to be upset. School officials overreacted and overstepped their bounds. At the same time, these girls learned an unfortunate but important lesson about posting unsavory photos on the web. As I’ve said before, kids are stupid, and when you post pictures of yourself acting uncharacteristically lewd on the ‘net, you’d better be ready to be judged. But being teased by peers is punishment enough; being shamed and humiliated by school authorities is totally uncalled for.

Filed under: Internet, Off-Topic, , , ,

Did Glenn Beck Rape and Murder a Young Girl in 1990?

Meme.

Just so we’re clear: Glenn Beck probably didn’t rape and murder a young girl in 1990.

Please tell all your friends that Glenn Beck most likely did not rape and murder a young girl in 1990.

Still… if he’s innocent, then why hasn’t Glenn Beck denied that he raped and murdered a young girl in 1990?

I love internet memes, especially ones aimed at dramatic political douchebags.

Filed under: Humor, Internet, Odd,

Twitter went down?! Oh noes!!1!

Denial-of-Service attacks brought down the little media-darling Twitter yesterday morning, prompting over-reporting of this story by nearly every major news outlet. In the hours following the Twitter fiasco, severe torrential storms in South America killed millions, scores of jets crashed down from the sky across the northern hemisphere, and for a few hours, reports indicated that black became white.

Filed under: Internet, Pop Culture,

Dumb Idea: Making Cyberbullying a Federal Crime

For those geeks among us that have ever spent any time on internet forums, we know that it’s pretty common to see tempers flare, resulting in mean comments directed towards the n00b asking all the stupid questions. Lightly-moderated boards, in particular, draw a lot of trolls. Teens and adults acting childish? You bet, although I’d guess that most of the profanity-laden cruel language found in these forums is part of the common lingo of such communities. Every member on the site knows that the cranky moderator who uses racial slurs and sexually-loaded insults is really some rotund, greasy, girlfriendless network admin or tech support specialist in real life, and not a grand wizard or a hardcore porn-peddler.

However, it would seem that most people over the age of 40 still don’t understand “teh internets,” including Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA, who incidentally just turned 40 this year). Rep. Sanchez recently introduced the “Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act,” which seeks to make it a federal felony to “cause substantial emotional distress to a person” via the internet. From Ars Technica:

However, as with many bills of this nature, the murky language and vague standards leave much open to interpretation, which has caused critics to call it the Censorship Act instead.

. . .

…criticism has been building. The language in the bill is so vague, it could be interpreted to apply to practically any situation, including blog posts critical of public officials.

It’s unlikely that the feds would ever be in the business of policing web forums, and this legislation is obviously intended to punish the repeated real abuse of kids and teens. However, it appears that this bill runs into some serious first amendment issues. Telling a n00b to go get hit by a car could be considered a federal offense. Heck, I’ve had things written on my facebook page that could constitute “emotional distress” (e.g. phallus jokes, toilet humor, sexual insults, references to alcoholism, personal threats, etc. You should see the “bumperstickers” we’ve sent each other-thanks Mark and JaLen!). Even the internet’s lowest common denominator, the /b-tards over at 4chan, could effectively be labeled an entire freaking army of felons* under this kind of legislation.

The guys at PFF have released a white paper that compares the effectiveness of regulation and legislation vs. educational efforts.

*Actually, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the /b community is already populated entirely by felons, deviants, and/or sociopaths.

Filed under: Internet, Politics, , ,

You Know the Internet has Reached a New Low

…when a live webstream of a woman being raped shows up online.

Seriously, this is disgusting:

According to police, Hock raped the woman in her own bedroom after she had been asleep for four to five hours. The victim told police she learned about the video after receiving numerous text messages from her friends. She said she then signed onto the Web site and found photos of Hock lying next to her as she was nude from the waist down, the statement said.

Phoenix police said they obtained the five-minute video and heard Hock comment about how the victim was completely passed out and how he can have sex with her without her knowledge.

I have no commentary to add to this detestable story, except to say ladies: always, always be sure you know what kind of people the guys you’re drinking with are.

This is just absolutely revolting. I’m going to go vomit now.

Filed under: Internet, , ,

The Feds’ YouTube Channel

Google reports that the federal government now has its own YouTube channel. There, viewers can watch weekly addresses from President Obama, videos from NASA, the Department of Education, and several other government agencies. The move into cyberspace is part of Barack Obama’s goal to make government more transparent and accessible, although my guess is that outside of political junkies and Obamaphiles, government videos aren’t going to capture much attention. Obama’s first weekly video (released during inauguration week, four months ago) has been viewed about 1.2 million times; the  Slap-Chop Rap has been viewed 2.1 million times in the last month, and this idiot kid  has been viewed 4 million times in the last three weeks (and my faith in humanity has just died a little more).  The view counts for all of BHO’s videos since inauguration week have steadily declined, and last week’s video is sitting at 85 thousand views. But the government videos are there if you want ’em, and that’s probably a step in the right direction.

So, can we do away with those televised presidential addresses now? I don’t watch much television, but it always seems that the SOTU is on the one night I want to watch House, or whatever. 

Also, it looks like all the videos are in the public domain, so have at it, comedic media mash-uppers! (Masher-ups? Up-mashers? What’s the correct word here?)

Filed under: Internet, Politics, , ,

Facebook Allows Developers to Access User’s “Streams”

Facebook announced today their new “Open Stream API,” which will allow 3rd-party developers access to users’ “data streams” (i.e. status updates, posted links, pics, wall posts, and anything else that could show up on a user’s Wall). Privacy advocates, take heart:

Users will maintain control of their data privacy, [platform designer Dave] Morin noted, and applications will be able to access streams only with individual users’ permission — largely the way Facebook’s current on-site application system works. The data harvested by new applications will be subject to the same privacy strictures as any other data on Facebook: Even if it’s on other websites, it will still be visible only by your friends, not the public at large.

Facebook is taking a step closer to what I suggested right here last week, in opening up and allowing other networks and developers to more easily interface with users’ profiles and data (I love when I’m on the right track without even realizing it). Facebook is on track to becoming a ubiquitous technology – imagine if ten years from now, people refer to all online social networking activity as “facebooking” (similar to how performing an online search is commonly called “googling,” something Google has been fighting for some time).

Now, if only Zuckerberg & Co. would end this senseless “Twitterization” of facebook’s appearance, there’d be no stopping them.

In related news, MySpace has hired Owen Van Natta, a former facebook executive, as its new CEO (does this mean Tom is no longer my friend?). My $0.02: cleaning up the MySpace cesspool and turning it back into a company that anybody will take seriously is one of the most difficult jobs a web entrepreneur could have.

Filed under: Information Tech, Internet, Tech Biz, , ,

How to Improve Social Networking

OpenID is onto something.

Apart from Facebook, neglected LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and some Delicious.com bookmarks, I haven’t embraced social networking to the fullest because I don’t want to bother with 75 different accounts, profiles, usernames, etc. I’m already keeping track of about 4 different identities (or “brands” as those so-called “new media gurus” would call it) across the internet that I’ve created over the years, and I’m not looking to add more complexity to my life at the moment.

An example of how to properly incorporate social networking into your business: Netflix now allows users to interface their accounts with their facebook profiles, so that any film that a user rates on Netflix will show up as a little blurb in their facebook feed (typically a short line reading “Libby rated Swingers 3 out of 5 stars”). Admittedly, the only useful purpose for this is that I can now broadcast my taste in film to my facebook friends, but it’s a heck of a lot easier than maintaining a Netflix account for my movie rentals, PLUS rating everything I’ve seen on facebook’s Flixter app. My life is now a wee bit simpler.

I feel like facebook has an opportunity to become a huge internet launch pad for people, the biggest thing since Google. Imagine if, instead of every niche social community each starting up its own separate social networking website, they instead were able to build off of facebook’s? I’m not talking about setting up a “fan page” (who really ever reads those updates, anyway?). Think of how easy it could be to set up a new social network if users could just login to these new separate, smaller networks with their facebook profiles, similar to how I can leave comments on my friends’ Blogspot blogs with my WordPress ID. Again, life is made simpler.

Does anybody have more examples of integrated social networks?

—–

Afterthought: at some point in the last couple years, it seems like we’ve begun moving away from the old wisdom of never putting our personal information online, towards making our personal information freely available, even so far as using our real names as our cyber-identifiers. Thoughts?

Filed under: Information Tech, Internet, Tech Biz, , , , ,

Archetypealyze Me

A few months ago, the Blog Typealyzer determined that I’m an INTP personality type (logical, analytical, imaginative). Now the makers of the Typealyzer have unveiled the “Archetypealyzer,” a utility that attempts to describe a blogger’s Jungian personality archetype (or something like it, anyway).

The Archetypealyzer’s take on Technagora:

The analysis indicates that the author of
http://technagora.com
is of the type:

Motivation: Independence

Desire to be yourself and find out about the world

Archetypes:
Innocent – “Free to be you and me”
Explorer- “Don´t fence me in”
Sage – “The truth will set you free”

That feels about right to me, although granted, it’s a somewhat romanticized, idealistic description (hey, I’m a sucker for flattery). Readers, what do you guys think?

There’s also a Sport Typealyzer, which doesn’t seem as accurate (it thinks I like golf… I hate golf).

Filed under: Internet, Uncategorized, , ,

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