Aug. 9th, 2007

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

... and want a concert slot, or think you've already been promised one, you need to send email to Rod O'Riley <rodso64 @> -- he apparently doesn't have as many email addresses as he should have.

Also, if you have pre-ordered a copy of Coffee, Computers, and Song!, I'll be hand-delivering as many as I can.

This has been a public service announcement. [Cross-posted to [ profile] mdlbear, [ profile] filknews, [ profile] filk]

mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

Came back from my walk about 1:30 this afternoon and found a big pile of boxes blocking the door to my office. We have disks. Gave it a quick preliminary listen: first track, last track, start of every track. Sounded OK -- nice and clean -- so I distributed the eight pre-orders already purchased at work, and sold three more. I'll take half of the boxes home tonight, I think.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This post by [ profile] elements (found by way of this post on [ profile] fandom_flies) talks about "the user as citizen":

This issue of ownership is much bigger than Six Apart and Livejournal, because it's really about how we as a culture construct the new class of relationships between citizens and businesses that is embodied by the interactive, hyper-connected social nodes that form the new structures through which modern humans are organizing our public lives.

I'd like to propose that any business entity that is primarily driven by and dependent on an active and content-generating user base be obligated to assign some share of real and actualized decision-making power to democratically chosen representatives of that user base. Obviously I don't expect to see this spring into being in law overnight, or even perhaps at all, and I'm not sure that would even be appropriate. But I would like to see businesses encode this principle into their very structures in such a way that we the users - we the citizens of the social web - can count on a certain measure of rights and due process, beyond what we are legally owed by a corporate entity.

That's one possibility, and it's certainly worth pursuing, but I don't think it's likely to work. Let me propose a few others. I think they all have their place, and it's an open question which is going to work better:

  • User-owned services: This is the tried and tested model of credit unions, mutual insurance companies, and co-ops. One user, one vote, and everybody owns an equal share. If LJ had gone this route, and had stuck with paid and invited members, we wouldn't be in this mess.
  • User-owned servers: This uses the even more tried and tested principle of "A Person's Home is their Castle." What's on my server at home, under a domain name that I own, is a lot harder to take away. ISPs and phone companies are under much stricter rules about when they can deny you service than are corporations that own their own servers and kindly let you put your content on them. The nice thing about this option is that it scales well -- exactly like the Web, in fact. Search engines and cooperative tag servers take the place of centralized databases, and even searching and tagging can, and should, eventually be decentralized.
  • Anonymous peer-to-peer: This is the Freenet model. Your content is encrypted, and widely replicated. Anyone with the document ID and key, which you can publish widely as well, can retrieve it and decrypt it. With wide, random distribution it becomes practically impossible to find and delete every copy of something (though it may become hard to find a copy for a while). Something like this has the potential to go a long way toward fixing the current problems with both censorship and overly-restrictive copyright.

Ultimately I think we're going to have all four: a push toward user representation on corporate-owned services, user-owned co-operative services, federated private servers, and anonymous peer-to-peer networks. I'm directing my own efforts toward federated private servers and anonymous peer-to-peer because they're the best fit for my cynical, old, anarchistic hacker's soul. (And, I might add, a pretty good fit with what some of my coworkers are doing, which hopefully will be published soon.)

But if someone else wants to write a Community Member's Bill of Rights I'll be happy to sign it, and if somebody wants to build a user-owned co-op community I'd be delighted to buy a share.

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