A Look Back In Techdirt History

from the the-more-things-change dept

Five years ago I was just a Techdirt reader. Ten years ago, I was starting journalism school and first discovering the site. Fifteen years ago, the main thing I used the internet for was playing Team Fortress Classic and a MUD called AfterShock. With that perspective in mind, let me take you on another of our weekly digs through Techdirt history:

Five Years Ago:

Today, Time Warner Cable and Comcast are working on getting their merger approved — five years ago, TWC was in the process of rolling out its metered/capped broadband services for the first time, while claiming it was what customers wanted. At the time, the response from other service providers offered a prime example of how broadband competition encourages lower prices and unlimited data. Unfortunately, when you get down to it, it's hard to say there's been much progress in improving US broadband since then, at least not from the consumer perspective — and this new merger is certainly not going to help.

Five years ago was also when a second circuit ruling opened Google up to trademark liability in AdWords — something that, we noted just this past November, may finally be coming to an end. The same can't be said for the Associated Press' aggressive interpretation of copyright law, which manifested as them targeting news aggregators for the first time in 2009. Nor can it be said for EA, which was fresh off the Spore DRM failure while Atari was following in its footsteps. Nor still can it be said about GEMA, which we were still identifying first as a "German Collections Society", for the name was in the early days of its notoriety.

These were also the days just after the ProIP bill. We noted at the time that Hollywood was already brainstorming its next round of draconian copyright legislation and, well, we all know how that ended.

Ten Years Ago:

Well this is interesting: five years ago this week Google was beginning to face trademark issues over AdWords — and ten years ago this week they had just decided to allow purchasing trademarked terms in the first place. The company was also just launching localized ads (only weeks after first testing local search). In fact, location-based services in general were only just starting to appear. Gmail was brand new and causing a stir in California with one state senator seeking to ban it, and we were also still musing about the future Google IPO.

Ten years ago this week, we also featured an innocent one-paragraph post about "the rise of patent hoarding houses" — the term "patent troll" hadn't even appeared yet. Little did we know just how bad things would get.

Back in 2004, only one in six US users had gone online via WiFi. AOL was still sending CDs and DVDs by mail. California had just made its first arrest for recording movies under its new anti-camcording law — meanwhile, the state's first anti-violent-videogame bill was shot down. Some analysts were mocking the low resolution of what we still called "camera phones" while others were smartly realizing the potential of a camera that's connected. The still-unsettled question of smartphones on airplanes was just being raised, and the finally-starting-to-settle debate about blogs and journalism was firing up as well. This week in 2004 was also the first time that salespeople started popping up in chat boxes on websites.

Fifteen Years Ago:

Things were very different this week in 1999. Microsoft had just announced that it would enter the instant messaging game. I believe I was still on ICQ at the time (uh-oh!) Some folks were trademarking Y2K. PalmPilots were still a big deal, though some were beginning to talk about the mysterious "web phones" that the future held. Network Solutions was still clinging to its monopoly on domain registration — and there were still some dictionary word dot-coms available to be registered.

Amazon.com was sued by Amazon Bookstore, and since I don't think I've ever heard of that latter one, I can guess how that ended. Folks were insisting that Mozilla was dead at the hands of IE 5.0, but even though Firefox was years away, we weren't ready to bury them yet — though we were less optimistic about web portals. Online bill payment existed in 1999, but it still usually cost money to use, and the first free services were just appearing. Linux also existed, but the first distribution with a graphical installer was still being finalized.

400 Years Ago:

In 1614, John Napier devised logarithms and shared them with the world, paving the way for countless innovations, discoveries and advances in virtually every field of science, engineering and beyond. Techdirt did not cover this — but I like to think we would have.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    zip, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    It's a shame that Mike & co. had not done cut-and-paste quotations way back then, instead of just posting links -- which are now all dead.

    I'm guessing that even in the '90s, it couldn't possibly have been due to bandwidth issues, so I wonder if copyright fears might have been involved in this decision ?

     

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    po snouou, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    Sounds tough.

    Are you glad you quit playing computer games?

     

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    justok (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    1000 years ago

    Then came King Ethelred home, in Lent, to his own people; and he was gladly received by them all.

     

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      Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 10:45pm

      Re: 1000 years ago

      I totally didn't realize that was 1014 or I might have chosen it over logarithms. I really need to beef up my pre-Stamford Bridge knowledge. Here I was waiting for 2066 so I could reference an entirely different arrival from Normandy.

       

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        identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:21pm

        Re: Here I was waiting for 2066

        Well, 960 years ago (1054) the star that gave birth to the Crab Nebula exploded. It was seen by Chinese astronomers, but curiously nobody in Europe noticed—or bothered to mention it, if they did...

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 4:11pm

    Don't forget about the taxi cab monopolies and how one person came up with an ad funded taxi cab, got it shut down by the incumbent taxi cab services and their lobbying, and got his idea of putting ads on taxi cabs stolen by those same incumbents.

     

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    blaktron (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Yo, what clan did you play TFC with?

     

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    charliebrown (profile), Apr 12th, 2014 @ 8:29pm

    Huh

    15 years ago, I had this idea to make a kiosk that was connected to a central server with every song ever recorded on it. And the idea was, custom CD's. You pick your songs, chuck in your money and return after several minutes to get your freshly burned CD-R. Then my idea went nowhere. Bandwidth in those days sucked. Hard drives weren't big enough. And, besides, the record companies probably wouldn't do it anyway. I mean, what if you only picked two songs from EMI, six from Sony, three from Universal and one from Warner: I bet they'd argue over who gets what? So idea good, execution non-existant, I got nothing, I don't care!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2014 @ 11:43pm

    I wonder...

    Imagine if John Napier had patented lograthims... and then started suing anyone who dared use them.

     

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    zip, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 2:56am

    SPAM

    I had started to wonder why Techdirt does not automatically block duplicate comments (like the half-dozen posted above) then I noticed that they differ by one character.

    It's the first spambot attack I've seen here, which is quite remarkable for a completely unrestricted "open comments" site. Other 'guest posting allowed' sites I've dealt with have had rather onerous filtering mechanisms set up, and despite that, plenty of spam-bots still got through.

    Like anything else, it's always a delicate balance between freedom(anarchy) and order(oppression) but I've got to say that Techdirt seems to handle it remarkably well. I've not had a single comment deleted here (that I'm aware of) -- and yet, this place is not overrun with spammers (and trolls) as many lightly or unmoderated sites tend to be.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 13th, 2014 @ 3:47am

      Re: SPAM

      I had started to wonder why Techdirt does not automatically block duplicate comments (like the half-dozen posted above) then I noticed that they differ by one character.

      Damn that's sneaky.

      It's the first spambot attack I've seen here, which is quite remarkable for a completely unrestricted "open comments" site. Other 'guest posting allowed' sites I've dealt with have had rather onerous filtering mechanisms set up, and despite that, plenty of spam-bots still got through.

      We've put a fairly strong effort behind our spam fighting -- but one with a focus on allowing most comments. We still get somewhere around ~1000 spam comments per day, but on a good day, less than 5 will get through. I won't say much about how we fight it, so as not to reveal any hints for the spammers, but it involves a variety of different approaches all working together. It's not perfect -- and generally about 5 legitimate comments also end up being held for review, but we try to be pretty quick to release those. Thankfully, our system is set up in a manner that makes it easier to spot the legit comments that are held (w/o revealing much -- certain types of spam are so obviously spam they can be routed to a different review queue, whereas only a small number are in the question mark category -- which is where all "false positive" comments end up.

      Like anything else, it's always a delicate balance between freedom(anarchy) and order(oppression) but I've got to say that Techdirt seems to handle it remarkably well. I've not had a single comment deleted here (that I'm aware of) -- and yet, this place is not overrun with spammers (and trolls) as many lightly or unmoderated sites tend to be.

      The only comments we'll delete are the obvious spam attacks like the one above. But, as I said, those are pretty rare to get through.

      Anyway, I've just cleared out that spam attack. Sorry about that.

       

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        Spam, Spam, Bacon, and Spam, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:13am

        Re: Re: SPAM

        generally about 5 legitimate comments also end up being held for review


        Those must be mine. I frequently find my comments held for moderation. I'm guessing it's because I use TOR and some of the exit nodes I end up with have probably been used to deliver spam in the past.

         

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        Blue Sweater (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re: SPAM

        Very cool to get some insight into that aspect.

        I wish other sites had your commenting system, it's one of the best I've seen. I love how nothing gets deleted. You can read a 2 year old story with comments and see the context.

         

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    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    Speaking Of AdWords...

    ...looks like the situation in New Zealand is quite the opposite: Nakedbus has been found guilty of trademark infringement by buying AdWords keyed off the “InterCity” trademark.

     

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    Gaurav, Apr 13th, 2014 @ 11:57pm

    How on earth you just quit playing computer games

     

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    fgoodwin (profile), Apr 14th, 2014 @ 12:05pm

    Logarithms and slide rules

    Do they still teach logarithms in school? Does anyone use slide rules anymore?

    I feel like I should be yelling, "Get off my lawn"!

     

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      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, Apr 15th, 2014 @ 12:28am

      Re: Logarithms and slide rules

      I did write an Android app that takes frees slide rules from the limitations of actual physical rules...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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