New Year's Message: Opportunities Come From Unexpected Places

from the keep-an-eye-open dept

It’s that time again. Ever since 2008, my final post of the year has been a reflection of some sort — not necessarily on stories from the past year, but usually somewhat of an echo of what inspired me to write the original post in 2008. People had highlighted two seemingly contradictory things about me: that I was perpetually optimistic and happy about the state of innovation and future possibilities, but also that I seemed to focus so much attention and energy (some misleadingly have called it “anger”) at efforts to impede, hold back, or simply block important and useful innovations. As I’ve said repeatedly, these two things are not in conflict. It is entirely possible to be optimistic about innovation, while frustrated at those who seek to prevent it, for whatever reasons. If you’d like to look over the stories from the past, they’re all listed here:

In this past year, as the so-called “techlash” narrative has gotten even stronger, and the first major efforts to chip away at intermediary liability (FOSTA in the US and the EU Copyright Directive in the EU) have been successful, even more of the people whose views I appreciate and respect have turned from being optimistic about technology towards being pessimistic and have made some arguments about how innovation has maybe gone too far and needs to be reined in somehow. I believe that, with the benefit of hindsight, we will eventually recognize that this techlash narrative was overblown (and often pushed by those with other agendas) and we will once again recognize that innovation has the power to make everyone better off.

Last year’s message was about experimenting and trying different things — as we did that year in releasing our first game. This past year, we continued to do that in releasing our first fiction anthology, the “Working Futures” collection of science fiction about the future of work. We also did some more gaming work, and you’ll see some details of that very, very soon (so stay tuned). This year also represented the end of a headache for us that has allowed us to finally put more focus on some of these new projects we had been hoping to do.

Indeed, I think the key lesson learned from this year has been that opportunities for amazing things to happen can come from unexpected places — and it’s important to continue to keep an eye out for those opportunities. After all, they’re the easiest ones to miss and let slip by.

For example, I completed my long “Protocols, Not Platforms” article for the Knight 1st Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which has partly inspired Jack Dorsey to have Twitter begin an experiment with protocols that I’m excited to follow closely. You can assume I’ll be writing more on this topic as well, and following developments in this space. At the very least, as a friend told me after Dorsey’s announcement, it showed how the power of writing out ideas can help influence changes in the world. I certainly hope that Techdirt can continue to do exactly that, and again bring about more powerful, useful innovations that make the world a better place for everyone.

This year, we also successfully sued ICE over publicly claiming that it had seized over a million domains, and then saying it had no responsive records when we asked for a list of those domains. Eventually, ICE disclosed to us that its own press release was misleading and it didn’t really seize them. Unfortunately, that didn’t actually stop ICE from making similar claims this year…

Techdirt’s think tank arm, the Copia Institute, also got quite a bit done this year, including releasing two major reports — the 2019 version of The Sky is Rising, all about the state of the entertainment industry, and Don’t Shoot The Message Board, with a quantitative look at how stronger intermediary liability protections drive innovation. We’ve also continued to focus on small gatherings and roundtable events, bringing people to discuss various challenges and opportunities regarding innovation. We’ve got more planned for 2020 as well.

As we head into 2020, we hope to continue to experiment, to try different things, and to seek out those exciting unexpected opportunities. Of course, we can’t continue to do what we do — whether it’s keeping Techdirt going or experimenting with these other ideas — without your support. We’ve put together a handy-dandy page on all the different ways to support us so you can just go check that out. I’d also recommend checking out our Working Futures collection of short science fiction as well, since that’s new this year.

Finally, the last point I make each and every year is that what has always made Techdirt worthwhile was the community of folks here. That is: it’s you reading this right now. In an era where so many journalism operations are pushing people away and chasing the latest trends and “clicks,” we’ve always felt it best to try to focus on building a better community. The discussions by all of you, whether directly on the site or elsewhere, continue to make what we produce better and better each year — and we can see what kind of impact that can have on the world around us. So thank you, again, for making Techdirt a special place where we can share and discuss different ideas. As always, I look forward to find out what you have to say in 2020.

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Comments on “New Year's Message: Opportunities Come From Unexpected Places”

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

No, thank YOU, Mr. Masnick!

It’s the high quality of you and your workers’ work (except for Mr. Geigner’s who, um, could do a bit more research and fact-checking) that make me come back here and even support you financially. No other news web site has made me come back with the frequency that Techdirt has. You should be extremely proud of yourselves!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Every year’s message turns out to be a laughfest because the usual naysayers never fail to shake their fist at the sky in copyright-flavored outrage. There was the year where they tried (and failed miserably) to hide their malicious glee over Shiva Ayyadurai bringing a lawsuit.

One troll even proudly predicted that 2018 would be Techdirt’s final full year. I’m personally amused to note that said troll fucked off after spamming the vaccine-based content moderation thread and hasn’t been seen in months. My guess is that he finally realized the futility of trying to spam his dedicated Nunes memo thread, though I prefer to think he flew to Samoa for a first-hand front row seat experience of the measles epidemic.

2019 was also the year that put the final kibosh on Prenda Law’s enforcement of copyright, and things haven’t been looking too healthy for their contemporaries in Malibu Media and Strike 3. Of course this meant that another frequent Techdirt troll lost his shit after Strike 3 managed to set more unfavorable precedents for scattershot copyright enforcement, like having to actually own the copyright you’re enforcing. Which in turn meant more hilarity for anyone with a functioning brain, so… c’est la vie.

It also means that Jhon Herrick "Section 230 allows women to be called and/or work as hookers" Smith is going to be here like he was on the dot, every year, to swear revenge. So more fun!

Happy New Year, Techdirt. May you stand as an omnipresent reminder that Shiva Ayyadurai didn’t invent email.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

2019 was an interesting year in observing troll evolution.

out_of_the_blue went on as strong as ever until the content moderation article on vaccines, and really went the whole hog with his "people who log in again after posting anonymously is proof that I’m right about something" theory. He certainly picked a very odd place to vanish into the ether considering that he’s been framing 2019 as some big winning streak for copyright. Granted, he wasn’t wrong, with Article 17, CASE and FOSTA breathing down everyone’s necks, but then there’s also the incidents mentioned by the OP. There was a time when HADOPI was expected to be the solution to piracy in France and it’s achieved nothing outside of leading to the arrest of one pirate… ‘s husband. The post-Prenda days of copyright enforcement are going to make it much harder for trolls and plaintiffs to get away with swindling as easily as they used to.

The same could not, of course, be said of John Smith, previously having gone under the pseudonym of MyNameHere in a long list of other poorly thought out nicknames to the point where Mike was exasperated enough to point it out. To his credit, John Smith was his most successful attempt at masquerading as someone else, using the persona of a "concerned" copyright holder. Then the cracks started to show in his stories about being a powerful, connected Hollywood writer who got his mailing lists of e-book readers stolen. And who could forget his consistent rants about Section 230, and assertions that he was the alpha male on the site asserting his god-given right to mock beta cucks because women slept their way to power and privilege?

Once the facade slipped, he opted to insist that Mike is somehow a small fish in a large criminal conspiracy he’s been chasing for a long time and his obsession with Techdirt is clearly not because he hates Masnick with a deep-seated loathing that borders on yandere-level affection… which in turn outed himself as a long-time visitor of the site even though the name "John Smith" was only used from late 2018 onwards. Eventually, angered that people could put 2 and 2 together to realize that John Smith’s frequent typos matched MyNameHere’s patterns when replying furiously on his phone… he just lost it. He’s now devolved to swearing vengeance, lawsuits and rape against anyone he disagrees with, and making disparaging remarks on Mike’s family as a demonstration of how classy copyright supporters are. May 2019 was the worst (read: best) time for his frame of mind, with Strike 3 getting dealt another blow in the courts causing him to throw an epic temper tantrum. A close follow-up was his rants against Mike after Shiva Ayyadurai gave up on his appeal, and insinuating that Masnick knew who he was and that Mike would soon get what was coming to him. John Smith still shows up regularly to complain about Section 230 regardless of whether articles talk about it, like he’s picking up the slack after out_of_the_blue’s passing.

Meanwhile, the possibly real Shiva Ayyadurai, aka Hamilton, has not been a thing for a while. Not having an ongoing lawsuit and political campaign takes a lot of the sting out of his punches, if you could call whiny mosquito bites punches. This despite the impeachment vote unlikely to pass the Republican-majority Senate. You’d think that this is the sort of bait that Hamilton would crow like a raven over, but then again Hamilton has not been the particularly faithful or loyal sort.

Richard Bennett’s been hard at work trying to defray the public backlash levied at ISPs. The death of net neutrality was a hard-fought war on his side and he’s still trying to put out fires, particularly the states all telling Ajit Pai to screw off and let them regulate what his department outright refused to. His last signed in comment is dated 12th November (cleaning Reese’s pieces from Ajit Pai’s rectal cavity is a full-time job, after all) but it’s only a matter of time before his rage at Karl Bode still leading a breathing existence boils over again.

average_joe/antidirt still makes it in from time to time. No longer capable of citing court cases to fit his skewed "forever minus a day is still limited copyright" views, just throwaway one-liners about how he dislikes Masnick and wish this website was shut down. Tough tits for him.

Michael L. Slonecker is an even bigger rarity, though when he shows up, he demonstrates his evergreen dedication towards rushing to the defense of anyone with a cultlike reverence towards copyright… so it’s business as usual for antidirt’s biggest diehard fan.

Somehow Techdirt managed to pick up some anti-vaxxers along the way, likely due to the Trump presidency sputtering and failing to deliver on the Mexico border wall and Hilary Clinton’s arrest. JdL and John88518something number among the more prominent ones who have the testicles to sign in on an account, but nobody comes close to the new resident nurgle cultist who has doubled down on insisting that the smallpox vaccine should not have existed. He seems to be still keen on polluting the threads and minds in 2020. I say he’s free to bring it on.

ROGS is… pretty fucked up, not gonna lie. Hella shame because he didn’t start out too nutty, commenting on police brutality threads like a rational human being, compared to John Smith’s moniker of Whatever who would gleefully stroke one out at the suggestion of an unarmed civilian getting shot. Goodness knows what madness would drive a man to work at becoming Hamilton’s replacement of all things.

And what of other doomed trolls of the past? bob, the predecessor to John Smith’s worship of IP addresses as incontrovertible evidence? darryl, who vividly begged his Australian government to reject fair use so his countrymen could pay higher prices to watch Game of Thrones? Maybe they found true love in each other and adopted a family of solar panels.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Happy New Year

I’d like to thank every writer and commenter here on TD (even the trolls!) for making this my favourite tech website. I love the well-written stories and the thoughtful comments, which have taught me much of what I know about tech and all that is possible. I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.

Keep up the great work, all of you!

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