Rob Hyndman's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week
from the open-mind,-open-heart dept
What a pleasure to write about my favorite Techdirt posts of the week. If you're reading this, chances are you're also a long time fan of Techdirt and its unique voice. Well, my favorite Techdirt posts are almost always about how the Internet inevitably lays the (once?) mighty low, or stories about the Great Levelling that the net is bringing about, or about arrogance in the face of inevitable technological change, or about the adaptation that the net is forcing upon legacy social systems. The common theme here, and a powerful part of the Techdirt culture, is the difficulty many people and institutions have coming to technological change with an open mind, and an open heart. And this week, like most, Techdirt found much in that vein to write about.
First up is a detailed dissection Mike wrote about a journalist's profound misunderstanding of the various intersections between the internet, copyright, Twitter and journalism. It's one of many object lessons available on Techdirt on the apparently still widely misconceived relationships between these things, and also just a marvelously solid piece of argument. No one does this better than Techdirt. (Teri Buhl Responds To Our Story; Still Confused About The Internet And The Law)
Next up is a subject that (unfortunately, but we're all lumberjacks up here—we can live with it) strikes close to home (Canada)—YASALIAW—Yet Another Story About Loony Ideas About Wifi. That's right, this week it was Tinfoil Hat Time on Techdirt, with another piece by Mike on some Canadian elementary and middle schools with wacky ideas about wireless. We see a lot of this Canada I am embarrassed to say, including at the university level. But on the bright side, if you really are afraid of wifi in Canada, our megastore Canadian Tire, which does not actually sell Canadian tires, probably has a tinfoil hat in your size ready and waiting. (Canadian Schools Ban WiFi Based On Bad Science)
Third, yet another internet collision with the publisher of Harper's, a magazine I actually admire very much. Ahhh—these moments of transcendent internet misunderstanding that plague John MacArthur hurt my soul and grind away at my will to live. But they can also be hugely entertaining. In this episode, the object of Mr. MacArthur's misunderstanding is Google, and by the end of Tim Cushing's post you'll be wanting to take it under your arms and tell it that everything is going to be just fine—it's just another publisher who doesn't get it. Now, to be fair, I do get the resistance to adaptation that comes from rapid change. I'm a lawyer, and it's happening in my field too. I'm very sympathetic to the work that rapid change requires of the people it affects most, and I think I understand the subtle but profound effect that can haz on one's ability to look at the world with an objective eye. But as Tim notes, Harper's has been here before. And doesn't seem to be learning. This does not bode well. (Harper's Magazine Publisher Shakes Verbal Fist At Google; Romanticizes Own Profession; Quotes Teletubbies)
Finally, perhaps my favorite in a bumper crop, and a post that shows Techdirt at its best: a detailed and very thorough, technical but highly approachable piece on yet another unintended consequence of the DMCA: censoring journalism that reports on retractions of scientific research (often, because of scientific fraud). We've read lots on Techdirt about people who game the takedown notice regime of the DMCA, and how little there is to prevent them from doing it. To my mind (as an observer—we don't have the DMCA in Canada), this is one of its worst qualities. So it's a genuine pleasure to read about takedowns that may well be fraudulent, and that may well result in blowback for the takedown-er. This is a post that you should savor. Uncork it at least an hour before you intend to read it, put on your favorite smoking jacket and loafers, and cozy up next to the fire—it will be time well-spent. Not least because I think we may well be hearing more about the subjects of this post—first, a researcher by the name of Anil Potti who resigned from Duke because of questions about the integrity of scientific research and who is now at The University of North Dakota and apparently working with a reputation management firm to deal with the internet blowback from his earlier unpleasantness—and second, that firm. The story is about questionable DMCA takedown notices sent to RetractionWatch about their work reporting on Mr. Potti, and as Mike notes, one can't help but wonder when reading this story whether Mr. Potti, or persons hired by him, are engaging in questionable behavior in order to conceal information online about that earlier unpleasantness. As Mike says, "Somehow, I get the feeling this story isn't over yet". Stay tuned—this could get messy. (DMCA As Censorship/ Site Reposts Articles About Disgraced Researcher, Claims Copyright, Has Originals Removed)
All marvelous stuff, all of it classic Techdirt, and all of it a reminder that it doesn't make a lot of sense to bang your head against the future—it isn't going anywhere.