Christopher’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Dec 10th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    She's not totally wrong about one thing...

    I think, interestingly enough, that Valenti is right about Silicon Valley's priorities, and that's actually supported by the fact that ContentID doesn't work very well.

    Copyright infringement frightens these firms enough that they are willing to create seriously ineffective means of stopping it that frequently target innocent bystanders, because attempting to solve the problem is, in their calculus, worth the number of problems their shitty systems cause.

    And, by the same token, they could make another shitty semi-effective system to target online harassment, if they decided that the system's benefits were worth the drawbacks.

    In other words, the current calculus is:

    Policing Copyright Infringement Badly: Worth the inconvenience to users
    Policing Harassment Badly: Not worth the inconvenience to users.

    Complicating things is the fact that automated harassment detection would likely be even worse than ContentID, which probably changes the cost-benefit analysis.

    But at the end of the day, all of these platforms could create a lumbering, semi-effective censor that eliminates lots of non-harassing speech and lets lots of harassment through. They've already done a bad job solving one problem, so there's no reason they couldn't do a worse job solving a similar problem.

    The fact that she just takes it for granted that that would be a good idea is slightly alarming, though.

  • Dec 10th, 2014 @ 1:59pm

    (untitled comment)

    The incompetence is the infuriating cherry on this shit Sunday.

    The excuse for using torture is that the stakes in the war on terror are so high that we can't afford to give up any tools.

    If you actually believed this, you would be furious at the way the program was designed by two sociopaths who had almost no experience, and at a bunch of other incompetence in the execution of the program (For example, it wasn't clear to the people drafting the report how many detainees the CIA actually had. If basic information like that is missing, what kinds of key intelligence revelations did the people running this program miss?).

    If you're still defending the torture program after reading this, it's because you're either a dishonest partisan or a budding serial killer.

    Speaking of, I'm convinced that it's the stupider crazy people who become serial killers or who kidnap people and hold them hostage in basements. Because terrible things will happen to you if you get caught doing that.

    Crazies like Mitchell and Jessen were smart enough to play out their sick desires at the behest of the government. They had all the fun of torturing helpless people with none of the risk.

    This is yet another good argument for not allowing the government to torture people; we don't want our defense in the hands of pain-obsessed sickos.

  • Oct 15th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    Shame on the NAACP

    Shame, shame, shame.

    Full disclosure: I think the lifeworks article is trite and stupid, but if this is a trademark violation, then any use of a trademark in criticism is a violation.

    This is one of the clearest, most obvious examples of protected free speech I have ever seen, the judge is out to lunch, and the NAACP should be ashamed of itself.

  • Oct 11th, 2014 @ 5:57pm

    (untitled comment)

    None of what happened here makes any sense at all if the purpose of classification is to protect information that might damage national security if it were disclosed.

    It makes perfect sense and is entirely consistent if the purpose of classification is to allow the government to more easily control its own PR campaigns.

  • Oct 8th, 2014 @ 4:29pm

    The lesson we learn from this is...

    Don't say anything, don't consent to anything, ask if you are free to go, and if you are, go.

    If the police teach people that there is no upside to cooperating with them, then people are going to stop cooperating with them, and you'd think that would make the Police's job harder.

    But, on the other hand, they have guns and courts on their side, so its not like they need us civilians to cooperate.

  • Oct 8th, 2014 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Things which are reasonable

    Because if the police stop you, it is reasonable to assume that the money is drug money.


    If we grant you that, I think you also have to grant that it's also reasonable for the police to give you back your money when they find out that it definitely isn't drug money.

  • Oct 1st, 2014 @ 4:37pm

    Hey, just a random question, but...

    The “near certainty” standard was intended to apply “only when we take direct action ‘outside areas of active hostilities,’ as we noted at the time,”

    So, uh, if an area isn't actively hostile towards us, why do we need to drop bombs on it?

  • Sep 23rd, 2014 @ 1:31pm



    What I found deeply fascinating about those articles about the school district giving the students iPads is that none of them actually identified the goal of the program.

    An iPad is a fairly niche tool; it's outright bad for writing papers, it seems ok for doing creative work like art projects and as an e-reader, and it's best at allowing students to browse the internet in search of research materials.

    So why wouldn't the district let students do that? If students are only supposed to use approved textbooks and sites, did the district just spend a half billion dollars to give students lighter text-books?

    I mean, isn't giving out iPads with these restrictions a bit like giving students bicycles, and then telling them they can only ride them on school property?

    What was the ipad handout supposed to accomplish, and was that program really the best use for that half-billion dollars? Last I checked, I couldn't find anything resembling an answer to these questions.

  • Sep 23rd, 2014 @ 1:23pm

    Re: It is not just high schools

    Believe it or not I'm with the professors on this one; first off, sitting behind the guy who is playing games on his laptop is distracting; if you can see his screen, you keep catching weird lights and movement out of the corner of your eye.

    Also, honestly, for the most part paper note-taking is nearly as efficient. Recording the lecture would probably be a more efficient use of technology in the classroom.

  • Sep 23rd, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: riigghtt

    First year of college I bought the text-book for my film history class. It was some service where the professor could have somebody who presumably owns the material take a bunch of disparate essays and put them together in one book.

    It cost $75, and when I got it I realized that it was literally just stuff photocopied out of books and spiral-bound together.

    I vowed never to buy a textbook again, and luckily I could just get what I needed from the school library.

  • Sep 5th, 2014 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You seem to be arguing against an imaginary Timothy Geigner, which is fine.

    No, I'm arguing with ChrisB; that's why I replied to his comment. If his premise is correct, yours is wrong, and vice versa.

    What I was trying to do is point out that my original post made the assumption that youtube is a major resource for speech not because I want more gatekeepers, or because I don't know how the internet works, but because that assumption is baked into your article.

    I was saying that if ChrisB wants to argue that the internet has eliminated the necessity of gatekeepers, he's also pretty much rejecting the premise of your article.

    And, on the other hand, my accepting the premise of your article doesn't mean that I want more private restrictions on speech.

  • Sep 5th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not asking for more gatekeepers; my point is that we have too many already.

    If the internet has made people "free to share information without asking gatekeepers permission" then you have to admit that the premise of this article is completely wrong.

    If the internet has eliminated gatekeepers, it doesn't matter in the slightest what Google does or doesn't allow on youtube, because we no longer need to ask gatekeepers like google for permission to publish; the offensive speech that Geigner supports will simply be published elsewhere on the internet.