This Week In Techdirt History: October 6th – 12th

from the hindsight dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2009, we were awaiting the shutdown of Geocities, and contemplating what it could teach us about the future of the web. We were similarly contemplating the implications of the FTC’s new disclosure rules.

The always-aggressive IOC was trying to block Olympia, Washington’s Olympian newspaper from trademarking its name and threatening Flickr users for posting photos from the Beijing Games. Apple started a trademark fight with Woolworths over a barely-similar logo halfway around the world. CBS was, confusingly, trying to take down clips of David Letterman’s recent and infamous on-air confession. Ralph Lauren was discovering the Streisand Effect following a Bad Photoshop Scandal. And Steve Ballmer, bafflingly, declared that “free is not a business model!”

Finally, five years ago this week, we wrote a fairly short post about the FBI going way overboard in their investigation of a programmer. At the time, we had no idea that Aaron Swartz’s story would continue, nor did we know how tragically it would end. We didn’t even use his known-in-some-circles-but-not-yet-famous name in the headline — an odd thing to see now. It’s moments of contrast and reflection like this, I think, that are the true value of these Techdirt History posts, and I hope you all agree.

Ten Years Ago

Last week, we noted that SpaceShipOne had completed its first of two flights. This week, it completed the second and officially won the X-Prize. For the rest of the world, this week was a mix of tech-optimism and tech-panic.

Okay… mostly panic. Wardrivers were on the loose! The internet was causing sex obsession! Video games were terribly addictive! People were misdiagnosing themselves online and becomng cyberchondriacs! (Actually, that last one was and still is pretty accurate, I suppose.)

But there was a bit of optimism: a study suggested that texting brings families closer.

This week in 2004 is also when Google launched (or re-launched) Book Search, planting the seeds of a legal controversy that rages to this day. We’ve also got yet another quote from Steve Ballmer, this time as part of Microsoft’s (futile) efforts to create a new DRM. Ballmer trashed Apple, saying “The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’.” Of course, another reporter suggested the whole thing might not have been as ridiculous as it sounded.

Fifteen Years Ago

Survivor is in its 29th series, with the 30th set to start in 2015. But this week in 1999 it hadn’t even begun — its May 2000 launch was being aggressively promoted, and even Techdirt couldn’t resist commenting on the idea. But hey, this is back when Silicon Valley was weird, and some executives believed technology came from aliens, or something like that.

In 2004 we had videogame addiction, but in 1999 we had an early stab at the simpler web addiction. But this was a time when net hype tended to win out — and a time when geography still mattered for this kind of thing, which is why that net hype was just spreading to the UK. Wal-Mart’s much-hyped website was delayed, Amazon had just added a gift registry, and UPS was offering free internet access… but only to the UPS website.

Oh, and long before PRISM, there was Echelon. Remember Echelon? This week in 1999, some folks were trying to figure out how to gag it.

One-Hundred And Forty-Six Years Ago

Long-time fans of the site surely know that Mike Masnick’s alma mater is Cornell University. Well, this week in 1868 marks its inauguration and subsequent enrollment of 412 students, the highest of any American university up to that time.

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Comments on “This Week In Techdirt History: October 6th – 12th”

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

And this didn't get taken down.

This is what I get for having a skitchy copy function and being too quick on the post.

Instead of transferring a proper reply from a text editor to this, it instead posted what I was editing prior.

I requested TechDirt staff to take it down before it popped up, but here it is, a slice of my life irrelevant to the post.

Feel free to flag for takedown, or if you have the power, take it down.

Sorry, all, and thanks for your forgiveness of my clumsiness.

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