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

from the look-back dept

Five Years Ago

One topic naturally dominates this week’s look at 2011, and will for several weeks to come: SOPA. The industry’s plan was becoming clear: pretend the bill doesn’t say what it says and offer up nonsensical interpretations. Pay no attention to the studies showing it will harm investment and innovation, the fact that it will not solve infringement, the loud voice of Rep. Darrel Issa opposing the voice, the huge censorship concerns summarized in Time magazine, or the opposition of the American Library Association. The House of Representatives certainly seemed to have no problem ignoring all these concerns either. No effort was made to resolve the convoluted language in the bill, and we pointed out that it also massively expands the copyright industries’ diplomatic corp. Soon, the internet began planning the first of many protests.

Ten Years Ago

This week in 2006, Australia was facing its own copyright reform, but began to smarten up as Google explained how it would kill the internet and the government actually looked into (and debunked) the industry’s absurd claims of losses. Meanwhile, much like today, people in the US were discussing what the recent election would mean for various policy issues — in this case, the Democratic takeover of the House in 2006. It actually offered some encouragement, but lots of questions, for areas like copyright policy and telecom policy and net neutrality.

Fifteen Years Ago

This week in 2001, the world was still reeling from September 11th while also preparing for the holiday seasons. These things intersected in the occasional prediction that fear of going to malls would drive shoppers online — but evidence didn’t back this up, and besides, there were a lot of other factors in what the e-holidays would bring. As for physical retailers selling high-tech equipment, they were facing their own crisis. Meanwhile, Microsoft was under the anti-competitive microscope and negotiating with the DOJ, while the Hewlett-Packard/Compaq merger met with disapproval from both the Hewlett family and the Packard family.

One-Hundred Years Ago

This week we can note an interesting centennial in the history of technology and politics. On November 7th, 1916, an experimental New York radio station broadcast the U.S. election results in audio for the very first time (they had previously only been broadcast in morse code). Amusingly, this first ever broadcast also called the election wrong, declaring Charles Evan Hughes the winner before signing off at 11 PM, only to find out the next day Woodrow Wilson had actually won.

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

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That One Guy (profile) says:

I love how the comment sections in those first two were absolutely packed by AC’s who consistently and repeatedly proved the article’s point. It’s like they didn’t even realize that they were doing nothing but providing Examples A, B, C, D, and thought that insults and personal attacks were valid forms of debate(the more things change right?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Focusing on someone’s use of insults or personal attacks to classify their argument as invalid is every bit as juvenile as the opposite.

Person A: Telling Person B they suck donkey balls
-is no different than-
Person B: Telling Person A that their argument is invalid because they cast the aspersion.

aspersion = an attack on the reputation or integrity of someone or something. -Person A

condescending = having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority. -Person B

In both cases each side is antagonizing the other, and only fools fall for the antagonistic. If words damage you so much, perhaps you should discontinue discourse with people you disagree with and find like minded folks where you can feel comfortable and threatened.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

When their entire ‘argument’ is nothing but use of insults or personal attacks, yeah, it absolutely is fair to dismiss them and their ‘argument’ outright.

When you’ve got ‘responses'(many in the cases of even just those two articles, which I can only assume you didn’t read given your comment) to points raised and arguments made that can be boiled down to ‘Nuh uh, you’re an idiot/criminal so I win!’ then that person is not making a valid counter-argument, they’re acting like a child throwing a tantrum, and to say that they’re being treated unfairly or disparaged by being dismissed is ridiculous.

A personal attack and/or insult is not a valid argument, and the idea that dismissing someone using those tactics as childish is acting no better than them is absurd, as the two are not even remotely on the same level.

And just to clarify, such tactics don’t ‘threaten’ me, they entertain me, as my comment should have made clear. Watching someone shoot their own foot like that again, and again, and again is a great source of schadenfreude, as they’re spending so much time and energy only to undercut any point or argument they might have made by their own words and actions. ‘Self-defeating’ comes to mind, and when you’re talking about people who’s default response to criticism or even just being asked to defend their claims tends to be along the lines of ‘You disagree with me, I’m absolutely right and only criminals would say otherwise, therefor you must be a criminal, therefore your argument is invalid by default’ that self-defeating tactic of theirs is all sorts of funny.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think you might have misunderstood.

If the entire response is just insults, then there is no argument actually occurring, right? I really never implied otherwise. So yea, nothing to bother even paying attention to or responding unless you just want to have fun with it.

I was just stating that if someone was actually engaged in the argument while including aspersions, with or without merit, is not reason enough to throw out the ‘substance’ part of their argument. I should have extended my examples to make that more clear, but I was just focusing on the foul parts at the time.

Sure lots of people create self-defeating arguments. I think we have all been there a time or two, some more than others. And yes, there is some entertainment value to it as well.

Regarding the ‘only criminals would say otherwise, therefore you are a criminal’. I am not sure what you mean by that, are you saying that is what I was claiming? Because I was claiming no such thing. If you are just describing a situation in where someone employed such logic then sure, I think we agree there.

I have been on the giving and receiving end of the aspersions. I have found focusing on them is a waste of time. Sure spewing them offers some idiotic form of release, but humans are humans. The strange thing about the human mind is that sometimes it just wants to experience something different, even though it is not really a healthy thing to be experiencing. People like that usually are not healthy or happy at that time.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Regarding the ‘only criminals would say otherwise, therefore you are a criminal’. I am not sure what you mean by that, are you saying that is what I was claiming? Because I was claiming no such thing. If you are just describing a situation in where someone employed such logic then sure, I think we agree there.

No, that one wasn’t aimed at you, I was describing a favored tactic of several people in those threads, one that pops up fairly regularly on TD(though less so recently as the ‘regular’ trolls seem to have wandered off for the most part, only cropping up when an article really touches a nerve).

TD/commentor on TD makes argument.

Other commentor claims TD/commentor is wrong, and as evidence they provide… accusation that other person is guilty of copyright infringement, and therefore they only hold that position because it helps their ‘criminal ways’, making it wrong and pointless to actually argue against by default. That’s it.

As for the rest of your comment in general, it does looks like there may have been misunderstandings on both our parts. I personally see a personal attack/insult in a comment as a black mark against the person’s argument, an indicator that the person making the comment isn’t really interested in an honest back and forth discussion, but is merely posting to throw out some insults and pat themself on the back for it.

If a comment starts with an insult/personal attack then I pretty much dismiss it offhand for the reason above, slipped in towards the middle/end then it weakens the argument presented, or at the very least leaves a sour taste in my mouth as I feel disappointed as what might have very well been a good argument was paired with a cheap dig.

Is that perhaps ‘unfair’ at times to the other person ? Quite possibly, but if someone wants to be taken seriously, and their argument given serious consideration I’d say the burden is on them to present themselves and their argument in a way that indicates that they are interested in a discussion, rather than just slinging mud.

Put another way it’s kind of hard for me to take someone seriously when they seem to still be stuck at the stage where they think that insulting the other person is a valid tactic to use to win an argument.

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