from the minus-the-conflicts dept
My overall favorite of the week is the "War on Computing" commentary, which isn't exactly a single story but a commentary, inspired by Cory Doctorow, on the continuing theme we're seeing where old laws or uninformed lawmakers aren't keeping up with the state of technology, security and communication. Some of these laws are akin to banning certain steps in the scientific method, or academic peer review process. They hinder the way we learn and improve systems, some of the greatest advances in technology arise from the unintended use of an existing system. It doesn't need to be the wild west, but we could stand to have laws that reflect current technology with reasonable repercussions that consider harm and intent. The War On Computing: What Happens When Authorities Don't Understand Technology
Next were stories about the Aaron Swartz tragedy and the broader political and societal themes that intersect with it. I particularly liked Mike Masnick's recap, which analyzes some of the debates that took place in the week following Aaron's death and juxtaposes the events with Internet Freedom Day. I feel badly highlighting it as a favorite post, since it replaced last week's list of favorite posts. As Mike Masnick said, “these are not my favorite posts. Far from it. These posts are a lament for what we've lost, a plea to prevent any more such losses, and a smidgen of hope that within all this tragedy, true reform might blossom." Amen. Brilliantly stated. A Week Later: Reflecting On Aaron Swartz
Not to be missed is the post discussing the criticism of Swartz prosecutor U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz by recently retired federal judge Nancy Gertner: Now that’s a slapdown. Retired Federal Judge Criticizes Carmen Ortiz's Handling Of Aaron Swartz Case
Two stories on violence and video games touch on the fierce debates that the Newtown tragedy has spawned. Jeadly recommended the Obama Directive on video games to the CDC; he didn't know there was a ban on studying video games, and as a gamer he welcomed the news as an initiative to finally debunk false claims. Not that lawmakers use or believe government studies, but it’s a step in the right direction when people are complaining about wasting tax dollars trying to link games and violence. The wording of the directive, to research causes and prevention of gun violence, is apt: maybe access to firearms of mass destruction will be front-and-center rather than scapegoats like video games. Obama Tasks CDC With Study Of Video Games And 'Violent Media'
I also liked Tim Cushing's post on Ralph Nader's crusade against television and videogame violence. I think I sympathize with some of Nader's concerns, particularly the elevation of "entertainment" over other values, and I admire his courage as a consumer advocate, but Tim's post rightly takes him to task over hyperbole and misplaced focus. Ralph Nader Makes First Serious Bid For 'Crazy Old Man' Position; Refers To Video Games As 'Electronic Child Molestors'
Real copyright thinking is not for the faint of heart or the feeble minded. Its complexity can be mind-numbing. Tim Cushing wrote a great post analyzing what country's law would apply to different combinations of activities according to the various locations of a copy source, the person copying, and a copy destination. "So, to sum it all up, magic 8-ball style: 'Answer unclear. Ask again later.'" It's sad how true that is in real-life, not just hypothetical situations. 'Quantum Copyright:' At What Point Does A Legal Copy Become Infringement?
Finally, to counter those who believe that investigative journalism requires newsprint or a broadcasting tower, Timothy Geigner's post on Deadspin’s investigation of the Manti T'eo girlfriend hoax provides a useful corrective. The world of a few "culture keepers" equipped with expensive plants and facilities for production and distribution has given way to a messy but robust and vibrant new era with many paths to truth and accuracy. Deadspin Shows Again That New News Media Can Do Investigative Journalism
Guilty pleasure: Ahimsa: Sita Sings The Blues Now CC-0 'Public Domain'