David Gerard's Techdirt Profile

David Gerard

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  • Apr 29, 2013 @ 05:32am

    Jaron Lanier: Why people should pay more attention to me and not Web 2.0

    When I noticed myself getting mean online I thought, ?Something has gone terribly wrong.? It was obvious the rest of the ARPAnet had a social problem, not just me being some sort of asshole.

    My book You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto is ruffling virtual feathers across the ARPAnet. And so it should, because I invented virtual reality. Wikipedia, which is a tissue of lies, says so. Prospect magazine?s Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll lists me. Also, my hair is much better than yours. And I?m fifty. According to Wikipedia, so I?d better change my birthday.

    Today, the web is a bland place. It?s all user-generated content ? silly clips on YouTube, spiteful anonymous comments on blogs about my books, endless photographs of people at a bar with their friends or up a mountain with an ironing board. It was much better back in the early days of the ARPAnet, before we let the commercial users on. These words will mostly be read by numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals. You know, the peasants. Virtual reality is far more ennobling, but you never hear people talking about that any more.

    The ARPAnet only creates banal mashups of old culture. Salvagers picking over a garbage dump. Only the old-world economy of books, films and newspapers creates original content like Lawnmower Man or Battlefield Earth. Everyone knows that real artists have no influences. This stuff the kids are into these days is just noise!

    The ARPAnet is also killing music, according to my good friends at the RIAA. Did you know there?s no music in Spain any more? It?s true!

    Will we ? meaning I ? be able to live off our brains in the future, or will we just have to give our creative works away for free? If we can?t live off our brains then we?ll need a form of SOCIALISM just to survive. WIKIPEDIA IS COMMUNISM! Until the Wikipedia Corporation finally builds a good interface, for goggles and power-gloves.

    Open source and open content are a cancer. The dogma I object to is composed of a set of interlocking beliefs and doesn?t have a generally accepted overarching name as yet, so I?m going to call it Digital MAOISM, which is COMMUNISM. Update, five years later: Here is a detailed retcon explanation of why I was not just trolling for headlines by calling Wikipedia COMMUNISM, but was speaking precisely and you just weren?t thinking hard enough: [snip 10,000 words]

    Also, you should get into virtual reality more.

    (You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto is published on papyrus scroll and hand-illustrated by monks. You cannot have a copy until you have fought your way up the mountain and proven yourself worthy.)


  • May 13, 2012 @ 06:46am


    "What's unfortunate is that the cycle is bound to repeat once the Pirates are the legacy players. I do hope I'm wrong."

    The Pirate Parties are not stupid, fortunately. Rick Falkvinge has noted explicitly that this is likely to happen, because everyone gets old and cranky, it's human nature:

    ?Forty years from now, those of us who are still around, I?d like to ask you for a favor?, I said. ?Odds are that when our parties are flooded with career politicians forty years from now, and we are living comfortably in our retirements, a bunch of spoiled young brats will organize out of nowhere and appear to demand everything for free in ways that are both reprehensible and incomprehensible. Help them.?

  • Apr 07, 2012 @ 02:00am

    The just-so story in the linked post fails to account for the bit where EB Inc. declared bankruptcy in 1996. Bankruptcy is not usually part of a "smooth transformation" narrative. See "The Crisis at Encyclop?dia Britannica" (pdf), which also details EB's utterly disastrous early forays into the digital realm. They fouled up hard, repeatedly.

  • Jan 15, 2012 @ 01:18pm

    Re: Nazi stuff?

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika has lots of swastikas on it, and was a front page article in German Wikipedia. While Wikipedia is hosted and legally based in the US, a lot of German citizens worked on the article.

    Tremendous amounts of detail about the Nazis in German Wikipedia in general.

    They see it as a matter of context.

  • Jan 12, 2012 @ 03:48am

    OSM = Wikipedia

    The open-sourcing of content was presaged by Wikipedia. Wikis were invented a few years before, but Wikipedia and usable free content licences (even the awful GFDL) were what really got it going.

    I've long thought OSM as something that would have fit Wikimedia's portfolio wonderfully - it's a marvellous example of a project really doing well with the Wikipedia model, without being a linked entity.

    I remember a London Dorkbot presentation in 2004 on OSM - a friend who was working for Multimap pooh-poohed the idea that OSM could ever achieve a usable-quality map. I had been involved in Wikipedia for a few months at that time and
    considered this really obviously wrong, having seen what a few people just chucking in what they knew could achieve even at that stage ...

  • Mar 24, 2011 @ 12:18pm


    The bit I was talking about in "claiming we should then pay the papers for the privilege is just a little odious" was this quote from Noam Cohen of the NYT:

    So, in essence, many Wikipedia articles are another way that the work of news publications is quickly condensed and reused without compensation.

    - i.e., Cohen was calling Wikipedia a bunch of thieves for daring to use the NYT as a reference source. o_0

    I and others directly questioned him on this at the time, but he didn't answer. I presume he stands by this opinion. See if you can get him to expand on it, I've always wanted to know how he justifies that one.

  • Aug 03, 2010 @ 01:20pm

    Re: Re: Mike's tone

    Wikimedia does not in fact have money - it's a charity funded by public donations. What it does have is Mike ;-)

  • Aug 03, 2010 @ 06:14am

    Re: Re: And IBM is hardly perfection either

    No, it's about IBM waving patent threats at TurboHercules, over functionality in the upstream Hercules project. When Jay cried foul, Groklaw said he must be a Microsoft shill.

  • Aug 03, 2010 @ 03:07am

    And IBM is hardly perfection either

    The day Groklaw accused Jay Maynard (project lead on Hercules) of being a Microsoft shill was the day it terminally, irretrievably, jumped the shark.

  • Apr 02, 2010 @ 01:26am

    The BCA can't afford to lose

    The BCA is continuing to fight because the rule in the UK is loser pays costs. They can't afford to lose - they gambled on what they thought would be a sure thing, then Dr Singh unexpectedly fought back. If they withdrew their action, then just paying his costs so far would bankrupt them.

  • Mar 08, 2010 @ 02:05pm

    Don't annoy people

    Another anecdote! I got enough positive moderations on Slashdot that they said "Thanks for your contributions, tick here not to see ads!" I actually refrained from ticking the box, because I know they live off the ads and I didn't mind them.

    Until they had an ad that pegged the CPU in Chromium and made browsing or using the machine impossible.

    I switched off ads and haven't switched them on since.

    Don't annoy people if you want them to look at your ads.

  • Mar 06, 2010 @ 03:27am

    Amazon is Not Amused


    Quote from thread:

    "Amazon replied to me with a form letter. The summary is:
    . Thanks for telling us.
    2. Anybody who lost revenue (or believes they lost revenue) due to affiliate hijacking should let us know via the Associate Program contact form. We'll fix it.
    3. We Are Not Amused.
    4. And for obvious business reasons, we can't tell you exactly what we're doing. But thanks for the tip-off, we're probably doing something. Maybe.
    hich is pretty much what I expected, although #2 was a bit of a nice surprise."

  • Feb 04, 2010 @ 12:47am

    TIN PAN VALLEY, The Matrix, Wednesday ? Film companies today expressed their disappointment that the Federal Court found that iiNet was not using orbital mind control lasers to encourage copyright infringements by its customers on its network.

    Despite findings of copyright infringement by iiNet customers, pirate flags in their front yards and downloaded cars in their driveways, iiNet did not authorise the acts of its customers, merely sitting back and watching the tens of dollars rolling in to feather their own nests at the expense of the poor beleaguered major record companies and film studios.

    Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft executive director, Neil Gane, said he was disappointed by the Court’s decision. "Today’s decision is a setback for the 50,000 Australians employed in the film industry, who work hard to send money to America as fast as possible. But we believe there's something not quoite roight about this ruling ? it was based on a mere technical loophole centred on the court's interpretation of what the law technically says in actual words and original intention, rather than what it should say. That the judge told us several separate ways in which our case failed utterly to make any sense at all is clear evidence of radical judicial activism and dangerous legislating from the bench.

    "We are confident that the government does not intend a policy outcome where zombie hordes of drooling open source copyright terrorists led by the evil genius Michael Malone are allowed to continue feasting upon the flesh of the living via the iiNet network.

    "We will now take the time to review the decision before seeing if we can bribe enough federal politicians to get a law more to our liking."

    - just posted by me at http://is.gd/7EtMY

  • Jan 01, 2010 @ 04:23am

    erm, yes.

    PUBLIC ENEMA, The Hit Parade, Thursday ? James Blunt's Back To Bedlam was the UK's biggest-selling album of the 2000s, objectively establishing the final death of pop music after fifty years.

    The 2000s were the decade of falling record sales, plummeting profits for the six five four major labels, a number one single requiring only a few thousand downloads as opposed to a hundred thousand physical records twenty-five years earlier and a race to the bottom by the music industry to come up with something, anything, so horrifyingly insipid and stupid as to destroy instantly the mind of anyone exposed to it, like a saccharine Cthulhu, in the quest to find a sufficiently common lowest denominator.

    Pop has been replaced in popular youth affection with DVDs, games, Internet pornography, White Lightning, stabbing each other and filling in applications to join al-Qaeda after accidental exposure to James Blunt.

    The record industry blames the downfall of pop on the Internet, MP3s, USB hard disks, fanzines, cassettes, radio and player pianos rather than, e.g., James Blunt. The fragmentation of tastes, where people could easily learn of and obtain music they actually liked rather than whatever bilge the record companies deigned to serve up, is considered a serious problem in need of firm resolution.

    Peter Mandelson reassured the record industry that the Digital Britain bill would keep the future firmly reined in and reinstate the culture industries' tap in the wallets of the young for the benefit of the entire country, or a small portion thereof. "Remember, home taping is killing music! But not James Blunt. You cannot kill that which does not live."

    (originally posted by me at http://is.gd/5HYMI)

  • Dec 16, 2009 @ 10:39am

    They tried it on Wikipedia

    They emailed a price list to the Wikimedia UK press email claiming they should get a fee for links on the encyclopedia! Price list and all!

    Maurice Jarre was unavailable for comment ...

    (I told 'em that WMUK is just a local chapter and the servers are run by Wikimedia Foundation in the US, and to try their luck there. *cough*)

  • Nov 20, 2009 @ 03:32am


    Indeed. The kids these days don't realise how much search *sucked* before Google. They were the FIRST ONES to crack the problem of text search. Google NEVER ADVERTISED, it was ALL WORD OF MOUTH.

    This is, by the way, why Bing image search gets users - even Google hasn't cracked the problem of image search.

  • Nov 20, 2009 @ 03:26am

    Please don't feed the troll

    Jason Calacanis' product is Jason Calacanis. He seems to have given up his idiot pontification regarding Wikipedia when he realised we were actively laughing at him and moved onto other ways of attracting attention. He is a freelance ad-banner troll and best put in the Dvorak box.

  • Nov 20, 2009 @ 03:14am

    "Of course the Evening Standard may come to dominate the Tube's litter and hence may be forced to address that."

    This has already happened - the London Lite and The London Paper were 25% of all the rubbish in the streets of the City of Westminster (the western half of the inner city) at one time. The councils told the papers to fix this or else. The papers put newspaper recycling bins at most Tube stations.

    The bins are still there - presumably the Evening Standard will now use them.

    The Evening Standard is basically horrible. I pick it up to do the Sudoku and properly dispose of the rest without reading it.

  • Nov 16, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Apple declares: "Fuck it, we're evil"

    Oh, good Lord. Dudes, if S-M-R-T quotes work in preview, they should work in live - that's what "preview" means ...

  • Nov 16, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Apple declares: "Fuck it, we're evil"

    After bricking unlocked iPhones, kicking applications off the iPhone store that might even slightly compete with iTunes in the far future and filing a wave of patents on basic well-known computer science, Apple Inc. today filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission declaring that it was openly adopting Evil™ as a corporate policy.

    "Fuck it," said Steve Jobs to an audience of soul-mortgaged thralls, "we're evil. But our stuff is sooo good. You'll keep taking our abuse. You love it, you worm. Because our stuff is great. It's shiny and it's pretty and it's cool and it works. It's not like you'll go back to a Windows Mobile phone. Ha! Ha!"

    Steve Ballmer of Microsoft was incensed at the news. "Our evil is better than anyone's evil! No-one sweats the details of evil like Microsoft! Where's your antitrust trial, you polo-necked bozo? We've worked hard on our evil! Our Zune's as evil as an iPod any day! I won't let my kids use a lesser evil! We're going to do an ad about that! I'll be in it! With Jerry Seinfeld! Beat that! Asshole."

    "Of course, we're still not evil," said Sergey Brin of Google. "You can trust us on this. Every bit of data about you, your life and the house you live in is strictly a secret between you and our marketing department. But, hypothetically, if we were evil, it's not like you're going to use Windows Live Search. Ha! Ha! I'm sorry, that's my 'spreading good cheer' laugh. Really."

    Blog rant: http://is.gd/4WwLA

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