Compare & Contrast

Here’s one way the Web is being used by a group of young artists in collaboration with one of the “evil”  big media companies:

backstory 1

 MTVu created a challenge campaign called “Against Our Will,” asking students to submit creative concepts to highlight the problems of modern-day slavery.  The winning entry came from students at James Madison university and grew into an online, multi-media project called The Backstory, combining music, interpretive dance, story-telling, and an RPG-style interface to help viewers understand various human trafficking scenarios that could be happening in their communities. Collaborators on the project include rapper Talib Kweli and dancers from Ailey II, with choreography by Troy Powell and music by Kenna.

Backstory DanceI watched several of the pieces on The Backstory, and there really is something extraordinary that takes place when a concept or message is synthesized through artistic media.  I already pay attention to trafficking stories on a regular basis and have read or watched plenty of documentary video or news segments that convey real and horrific anecdotes about the victims of modern slavery; but seeing the familiar themes transformed into a shadowplay expressed by these exceptional dancers creates a tension between beauty and horror that leaves a unique and lasting impression. It’s not that we should turn away from the cold facts of the documentary forms, but I do think our psyches have natural defenses against staring too long into the real face of depravity; and one thing that art does so well is to build new routes past these defenses to reach our empathic instinct for response.

So, this is what artists do when they decide to lend their talents to fight for freedom — not a perceived, complacent, or academic idea of freedom, but real freedom from real bondage, real abuse, and real murder.  By contrast, it seems to me that too many self-appointed “defenders of the Web” presume to bestow upon every hacker and content exploiter the honorific titles freedom fighter, innovator, or cultural game changer.  The hypocrisy would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

Presently, people like David Lowery, Ellen Seidler, and Chris Castle are focused on mainstream advertisers whose banner ads appear on torrent and other infringing sites, and this is certainly an important issue.  But in the contextual question at to whether or not these sites are about freedom and culture, or using the Web to its best purposes, let’s take a look at what appears to be the majority of advertising on some top torrents.

Kickass KingsHere’s Kickass Torrents, which is listed in the #3 spot by TorrentFreak among the 10 Most Popular of 2012.  Of course, #2 Torrentz is actually a meta-search site, making Kickass the functional #2 behind The Pirate Bay, which supposedly has over two billion page views per month. I purposely chose a page for downloading Oscar winner The King’s Speech, picking a film a little more high-brow than the most popular stuff just to see if it has any effect on ad service; but the reality is that most of what appears on any page on Kickass will be a banner that looks like this:

KA BANNER

It’s one variation or another on themes designed to titillate the 18-24 year-old male, which is the majority demographic using torrents.  The link in the middle reads:  10 Disgraceful Intimate Acts 87% of Girls Regularly Do!

So, just to review before we go any further, The Backstory is just one example of how artists will use the Web to fight the exploitation of women, whereas I’m about ten seconds into my browsing Kickass Torrents before being invited to think of women as 87% sluts.  But where does this ad lead?

If you click on the link, you won’t actually find any research on women who regularly do something “disgraceful and intimate,” but you will be about two clicks away in almost any direction from landing within the reach of a snake-oil business called The Tao of Badass.  This is a kind of self-help program comprised of books, DVDs, a blog, etc. that claim to teach any man how to get women — not how to have a better relationship or find love, just how to get lots and lots of really hot women in the sack using the “techniques” you can only learn from The Tao of Badass.

tao of badass

Now, it’s a given that the majority of torrent users won’t click on any of these banners, but out of let’s say a very conservative three billion page views per quarter, that one half of one percent are men desperate enough to believe they can learn techniques to become real ladykillers.  That’s 15 million potential customers for Tao of Badass.  And let’s say only one percent of these suckers buy the 10 DVD set for the “discount” rate of $47.  That would be over $7 million in sales for Badass Ventures, Inc. based in San Carlos, CA.

What’s interesting about the mechanics here is that Tao of Badass is not an overt advertiser on the pages of Kickass Torrents.  It just happens to be the default recipient of the lion’s share of generically produced house-ad traffic.  And guess whose books and videos are not available for free download on the Kickass sites? Smell funny in here yet?

But let’s move on to an even more relevant contrast to The Backstory

MLP Asian

Welcome to The Pirate Bay, where a large portion of the ads are like this one:  We Got Asian Schoolgirls, in this case appearing next to a list of episodes of My Little Pony. Now, I understand that particular show isn’t just for little girls, but we’ll leave the phenomenon of the Brony for another conversation. Suffice to say that these ads generally lead to one version or another of a page promoting a “dating service,” which is generally not about dating so much as international matchmaking.  These services connect western men with women in Asia, Russia, Ukraine, etc. So, far, the reviews on these services seem mixed.  I haven’t seen any reports connecting these legal (if a little sleazy) matchmaking services with sex tourism, which is a different enterprise known to involve trafficked sex workers.

At worst, it seems that these sites and services are generally designed to string men along while extracting as much money as possible from them. It doesn’t appear that many happy marriages come about in this way.  And here’s a fun example that you have to love:  the top service and the one most likely to be linked to The Pirate Bay, Anastasia Date, supposedly charges up to $8 per email between the user and the apparently interested woman on the other side of the world.

So, let’s review again. . .

The Pirate Bay provides stolen, free media that users are too cheap to pay for, but  the site is littered with ads designed to entice some of those users to cough up eight bucks an email to correspond with Olga in Odessa, who might actually be Brad in Bangor, Maine (Bangor is where Anastasia International, Inc. is located).  Is it getting creepy in here, or is it just me?

There is no question the Web is very often used as a tool to exercise free expression in unprecedented ways and from nearly any voice.  But when the leaders of that industry presume to claim that our criticism of sites like Kickass Torrents or The Pirate Bay is tantamount to chilling the same right of speech being exercised by the artists behind a project like The Backstory, how does all reason not veer into the abyss of ordinary ignorance?

© 2013 – 2014, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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20 comments

  • I didn’t realize you were a Bronie David. 🙂

    But in all seriousness, you can criticize these websites all you want. Nor I’m are saying they aren’t illegal, at least to some countries laws (maybe not the country they are based from). But when it comes to declaring them illegal, you need have clear legal standards on what makes them illegal.

    Secondly, these websites are the world’s largest repositories of human knowledge and culture. And disseminate it to anyone who is interested in a very efficient manner. What your local library was decades ago, is the torrent site of today, it’s simply an evolution of the concept. It’s a shame that some in the supposedly “creative” community can’t figure out how to make a genuinely good thing legitimate, make it into a business model instead of an enemy.

    • Give me a break. Nobody is going to TPB for Shakespeare.

      As for “business model,” it’s easy to make a lot of money when you don’t pay your suppliers.

      And David and others have made it clear just how they’re illegal.

    • Well, M, we’ve gone round on this a few times, but what the hell:

      1) The legal definitions in the US have been made very clear. Again, I’ve given you my layman’s answers in previous comments, but the legal language is freely available if you choose to read the decision in Napster, etc. As I’ve said, that case created legal precedent, which is why none of these sites operate in the U.S.

      2) These sites are not repositories of culture, and they are certainly not libraries. On the culture side, Monkey is right. If this were about access to great art or culture, these sites wouldn’t exist because they wouldn’t make any money. You can take positions on anything you want, but you can’t really argue with the data. The top ten films torrented, for example, are big Hollywood action movies (mostly junk food), and the majority of the ad/retail support is targeting the bottom feeders of the consumer world. It’s all typical, late-night, direct response snake-oil crap — diet plans, be your own boss, self-help, exercise equipment, mail-order-brides, and how to get hot chicks in bed. It’s the same stuff that has been on TV for years turning sleep deprivation, desperation, good intentions, or loneliness into cash in some huckster’s pocket. That ain’t about culture, and it wouldn’t be the structure if it weren’t making money. As for libraries, it will be a sad commentary the day we confuse a trained librarian, who is a curator, editor, and research expert, with a torrent site owner, who is a pimp.

      3) As for the business model, this is just smoke everyone keeps blowing in order to justify large-scale theft. There is no business model. We have iTunes, and it works. Has it been great for music? Yes and no. Does 99 cents a song stop piracy? Hell no. We have Netflix. Will it stop piracy? Hell no. Individual consumers will have to make the choice not to support these “businesses.” One need not be an economist to conclude that there is no model that competes with free. And all the possible business models that embrace free, as I think I’ve said many times, amount to patronage, which is more restrictive than the direct sale for profit model we’ve cultivated throughout our history. Nothing is freer, in the libertarian sense, than a creator who can profit directly from his own work. And the more you value the individual over the corporation, the more you should recognize that these sites are a bigger threat to the entrepreneurial creator than they are to big corporations.

      • I’ve been thinking more and more about it, and if TPB is the “evolution of the library'” we’re in big trouble. Libraries are curated and organized with great care; torrent sites are simply shit thrown together. If you ask a librarian to find you War And Peace you’ll get War And Peace, most likely with a choice of translation and edition. If you go to TPB, you have no guarantee what you’ll get.

        This is at the heart of what’s wrong with techno Utopianism: there’s an anti human quality to it.

      • Exactly. The confusion is either one of convenience or a lack of understanding as to what libraries actually provide. Beyond the library, though, you’re right that this is about the human curator or editor. By asserting the value of mass response, which is what the Web is designed to favor, we devalue expertise and context. Hence, all professionals are recast as greedy “gatekeepers” instead of journalists, lawyers, politicians, etc. It’s always been true that every joker with a TV thinks he knows more about tough subjects like international diplomacy than a professional who’s made it his life’s work. But the Internet takes this illusion a step further by connecting this false perception to information and then to a vast water cooler where people can get together and agree with one another. This is how we end up with a few thousand or a few million jokers with computers who, because they are large in number, drown out the voices of the minority who just might know something. Foreign policy makes a good example because it’s complex, and diplomacy could never function by popular referendum. Out of 180 million adult Americans, how many really know anything about, say, Syria compared to maybe a few hundred people in various government agencies and news organizations? Yet, all that expertise ends up being summarily distrusted because it is perceived as exclusive, clandestine, and archaic.

      • It is true that popular content tends to be popular. Although that’s a bit a tautology, don’t you think?

        As with many Web 2.0 sites, content is curated by users. Comment sections, rating systems, and word-of-mouth all assist in this and help weed out malicious or bad quality content relatively quickly.

        Interesting rant you have going there. The Internet is not a good broadcast medium like TV or newspapers. In fact, technologically speaking it’s quite bad at it, difficult to do efficiently. There are entire multi-billion dollar companies (eg: Akamai) who make their money assisting with this sort of thing.

        Regardless, I’m sorry you are disturbed by the idea that ordinary people, err I mean “jokers” have a voice now thanks to the Internet. I’m glad you feel that you aren’t in the 47% of Americans who shouldn’t be talking about things that over their heads.

      • Ordinary people had a voice long before Twitter, and Monkey is right that you’re really chasing your tail if you think I have anything in common with Mitt Romney. Have you noticed the title of this blog? I use the word illusion for a reason. The Internet creates an illusion of populist involvement, of better information, of transparency; but look at the mechanics compared to the days of three TV news networks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that we couldn’t have this conversation without the Internet, and the tools themselves can be fantastic; but to again echo Mr. Lanier, the design of Web 2.0 has some serious flaws. Look at the way information is shared, aggregated, and copied. There’s more volume but not necessarily more quality. News aggregators and bloggers copy and paste from one another and from a limited number of real journalists, which creates an illusion of consensus on a given topic out of what is in fact, pretty sloppy journalism. Too many players are all competing for eyeballs, which means the motivation to create controversy, to sensationalize, infects nearly all aspects of reporting now. Users react and click and share headlines, but that isn’t necessarily better quality involvement. The three networks were limited in scope but did better quality work overall in the days before CNN.

        By “jokers,” I refer to plenty of my friends and neighbors who think they’ve got a handle on things when they really don’t. To the contrary, I don’t think I’m better than they are because I know so much more. I accept that I can’t possibly know enough about certain subjects without spending all my time learning about them and, therefore, have to put trust in certain experts and their best intentions. That is the simplest version of why we have a representative government and why this agenda of transparency is the biggest illusion of all. First, you just can’t consume everything. Next, an over-ardent faith in hacking and data dumps will force the worst actors who have something to hide to become much better at hiding it. Third, the Web is so much more easily manipulated than traditional, pre-Internet news reporting. With a little bit of money and a decent programmer or two, you can totally control the agenda on a given subject, exactly like the Web industry did with SOPA. I don’t want to get into that bill, but if you don’t recognize how coordinated and manipulative that effort was, you’re drinking the Kool Aid. Read just some of the details in Ruen’s book and think about how absolutely easy it is for just about anyone to manipulate any story. You think because killing SOPA was a good outcome that the process was also good, but if you don’t realize how dangerous it is to have one industry able to manipulate the tools so effectively to serve it’s agenda, then you’re not nearly concerned enough about power and corruption. Try looking up something obvious like “Jimmy Wales net worth” and look at the search results. They’re a little odd, if you think about it.

        I think I’ve made this reference before, but these issues remind me of the difference between Presidents Carter and Reagan. Carter was unpopular partly because he is off-the-charts intelligent and he too often told people what they did not want to hear. Reagan didn’t personally know much, but he excelled at telling people exactly what they wanted to hear and was charming as hell doing it. In short, my distrust of myopic populism hardly begins with the dawn of the digital age.

        Implicit in what I just said is at least a question, if not a criticism, of the agenda of Aaron Swartz; but are you really surprised nobody wants to talk about him in this context? You really think the Mike Masnicks of the world can have a dispassionate conversation about the pros and cons of the motives and actions of Swartz, when it is so much easier to use the poor guy’s suicide to manipulate emotions? Not a chance. TechDirt’s headline would read something sensational like: Copyright Community Has No Respect for Fallen Freedom Fighter. And you know why that will be the tone and nature of what he and everyone like him will write? Because it’s what the readers want to hear. And THAT is the majority of what the Web provides — access to what people want to hear, which is an illusion of being informed. Worse yet, if someone wrote a piece criticizing Swartz, they’d be hacked, SPAMMED, threatened, etc. by all these noble netizens, who claim to believe in free expression. Do you see the hypocrisy there? Equally bad is the fact that, if some public figure they didn’t agree with committed suicide, many of these same fine citizens would feel justified in writing the nastiest comments they could think of. Am I wrong? Am I reading a different Internet?

      • User ratings, which are essentially self-selecting, are nowhere near the same as a group of people who curate libraries as part of their job. They are paid to find material that isnt necessarily popular but is nonetheless important.

        (This is why people’s comments about professional movie critics are so asinine; critics see every movie, so they have much more expertise than most people who only see the movies they want to see)

        And the Internet is frankly terrible at weeding out malicious or just plain inaccurate material. A trivial example: if you were to believe YouTube, “Red Red Wine,” “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and the theme from Cops were all sung by Bob Marley. Much less trivial is googling any subject for which there is any semblance of debate and attempting to find an unbiased opinion.

        Nice attempt to link people who value expertise with Romney. The fact is that people who are paid to dedicate themselves to certain areas will always be more knowledgable than the general (an unpaid) public.

        Why do you favor technology over people?

      • SOPA was unpopular because it was unpopular (another tautology).
        The secret cabal that controls discourse on the Internet doesn’t have the ability to get the unwashed netizens to fight for a cause, UNLESS that cause has to do with Internet censorship (or if you prefer “regulating illegal content on the Internet”), which is one issue that there is almost universal opposition to. A general distrust for government is a much larger thread in my opinion on the Internet than it is on CNN and Fox News (Wonder why that is? :)), people who cater to this tend to do better in social media.

        The idea of hearing what “you want to hear” or an “echo chamber” is more often known as a “circlejerk” in Internet lingo. And I would say most of the Internet contains contains of a wide variety of competing circlejerks, perhaps even, it mostly consists of circlejerks. Even entirely unmoderated communities can be circlejerks, based entirely on the type of people who post there and the overall tone of the community. It’s probably some innate human tribal qualities that cause the formation of circlejerks, a desire to conform and unite with others sharing the same interests. I would say it predates the Internet.

        One aspect of a circlejerk is denial of its existence, because no one likes to be viewed as having a “bias”, because we’ve decided that bias reduces creditability. But as far as I can see, this pro-copyright thing is a massive circlejerk. With you guys linking to each others blogs and largely demonizing entities that have contrary opinions (eg. Techdirt or TorrentFreak).

        I must say though, you are one of the very few bloggers in the circlejerk that doesn’t actively delete comments that don’t follow the party line, so that is worth a pat on the back. Cheers! 🙂

      • Ha! Well, there’s nothing like the praise of being told you’re the best of a bad lot. As for the word, circlejerk, I’m going to stick to the pre-Internet denotation and continue to use terms like echo chamber. I obviously have a radically different point of view as to why distrust in government is more prevalent on the Web than it is on CNN, and I assert that it has more to do with narcissism than anything else. I’m betting you like WikiLeaks, but I think Assange is a self-aggrandizing hack who made a name for himself by creating demons he then claims to be battling on our behalf (this is where despots come from). The first podcast I did on this blog was with veteran journalist Christopher Dickey. Two minutes talking to Chris, who is one of the world’s experts on the Middle East and terrorism, would teach you more than all the data you could ever hope to hack. I don’t watch CNN because it’s mostly show business, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t real journalists with real integrity reporting on news and providing relevant context and analysis. The thing is too many people don’t want that; they want to believe that they’ve got something unique, some secret data that the some entity doesn’t want them to have. That’s not being informed, that’s just adolescent egotism posing as populism. (And never forget that the first mission of any enterprise, foundation, business is to remain relevant. So, if your goal is to fight for more skateboards, you’d better keep finding new threats to skateboards, or you won’t have a job. When it comes to more conceptual goals like transparency, free speech, etc. it gets a little tricker.)

        Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole damn country has gone over the side on paranoia to the point that people seem to have completely forgotten that government still is the people. If government is dysfunctional, it’s because the representatives we’ve sent really do reflect a dysfunction in the electorate. Understand that while I’m criticizing (not demonizing) the absolute bullshit I read on TechDirt, I’m also assailing an old college friend for quaking in his boots over the NDAA & surveillance drones; or a conservative friend for calling Obama a socialist; or a gun-rights friend for believing his arsenal is the key to his freedom from tyranny. This hysteria has grown beyond the capacity for people to do basic math. Some of my own well-educated friends think “the government” (as though it’s one unified body) has unlimited resources to spy on every citizen. And just for humor value, they say this while making their lives public on social media! As my son rightly points out, “The government doesn’t need to spy on you. Google and Facebook get you to spy on yourself for them.”

        Everyone has a bias (e.g. copyright is good or not), but what happens most of the time on the Web is not debate at all, especially in comment threads. Usually, it takes about two comments to go off topic and dissolve into ad hominem attacks. And of course, spelling and syntax have gone to hell. Like I said yesterday, if I were to, say, write an analytical piece asking the question as to whether or not Aaron Swartz is really a hero for a cause, do you honestly think the response would be balanced and cogent? Not a chance. I wrote a piece comparing two First Amendment arguments — that copyright is anti-speech and that same-sex marriage is anti-freedom of religion. TechDirt’s headline criticizing it was purposely inflammatory and designed to imply that I was calling anyone who questions copyright a gay basher. Not even close. I was comparing two arguments of a similar nature, but that’s way too subtle a distinction, and the TechDirt crowd (half of which probably didn’t even read my piece), went SOP apeshit on the comment thread. That is highly representative of “debate” on the Web, and it’s worse than being completely uniformed on an issue. By the way, I’m Facebook friends with the guy who wrote that piece, and I believe he’s a good guy even though I think what he wrote was ridiculous. So, yeah, I’m not afraid of contrary points of view, but I am still eager to hear one that isn’t just some diluted version of the self-serving politics of the internet and electronics industries.

      • User ratings, which are essentially self-selecting, are nowhere near the same as a group of people who curate libraries as part of their job. They are paid to find material that isnt necessarily popular but is nonetheless important.

        I’m personally highly distrustful of content gatekeepers. Anyone who has the innate power to control the selection and publishing of content is a prime target for corruption. I’m not saying Web 2.0 is impossible to game, but it’s a lot harder. You’d have to use your innate eloquence, not merely your position to make something important.

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  • For someone so clearly dismissive of Aaron Swartz and his supporters, you certainly seem reluctant to mention the young man’s name.

    Whether you agree with Swartz’s politics or not, he was an activist who put his money and personal freedom where his mouth was. He didn’t merely dance, or make a video to “raise awareness”, he acted, and acted with the courage of his convictions.

    In the light of the USA’s slide toward paranoid securocracy, the MTVu challenge campaign has picked a pretty safe political subject. Not drone strikes? The “disposition matrix”? Detention without trial? Permanent war on and political interference in the Middle East? The war on whistleblowers? Economy-wrecking financiers? Paramilitarized police? Mass surveillance of citizens? Nope, instead the kind of safe subject we can all get behind, but that offends no one in power and risks nothing. Oh, and looks great on a resume.

    Some of Aaron’s fellow information activists are harassed each time they pass through US customs. They have their possessions searched and sometimes confiscated. They are illegally detained but charged with no crime. This Soviet-style, political harassment happens not because they support The Pirate Bay or fail to condemn big nasty Google (your primary concerns, clearly), but because they strive to increase the accountability and transparency of those who govern us, something that the current administration regards as one of the most serious crimes. You might consider what the real concerns and motivations are of the people you are attacking before you next write such a mealy-mouthed piece.

    • Roger, I’m approving your comment, but it’s a pretty good example of the kind of dialog in which I have no interest in engaging. I didn’t mention Aaron Swartz for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that the post has nothing to do with him. It also has nothing to do with any of your overblown paranoia in which you reflect a common practice of not quite thinking through your conspiracy theories. Those aside, however, even if you could support the generalization that the US Government (which is what you mean) is slipping into “paranoid securocracy,” that would in no way justify the enterprises of torrent sites. That you see a link between The Pirate Bay and standing up for justice makes you far more paranoid than the forces you fear and likewise more susceptible to being used by forces you don’t seem to understand.

      • “Freedom fighter”, “innovator” and “cultural game-changer” were all phrases and ideas frequently used in the many column inches written about Aaron Swartz after his death. If you wish to avoid giving the impression that you had Swartz in particular in mind when you wrote your sentence beginning “By contrast…”, then I respectfully suggest you reconsider your use of those particular adjectives.

        You described my list as being “overblown paranoia” and accuse me of engaging in conspiracy theorising. Most of the items on that list are simple matters of public record, verifiable by anyone in possession of rudimentary research abilities. “Permawar” may sound conspiratorial to some, but here’s the WaPo worrying about it only yesterday (see 8th paragraph):

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/the-moral-hazards-of-us-drone-policy/2013/02/07/485402f4-7144-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_blog.html

        Perhaps many economists would blame regulators before bankers for the financial crash, but it’s hardly conspiracy theorising to state that the behaviour of the banks helped bring down the economy. There are witnesses to arbitrary detainment and general harassment at border controls, and so I can’t be accused of tin-foil hat-ism there. I grant you that my “paranoid securocracy” was a tad hyperbolic, but then how should one describe a government that permits or engages in the behaviours that I list? If you think the likes of blanket surveillance of the citizenry, arbitrary and indefinite detention, extra-judicial killing, and the rest, are just the cut and thrust of a healthy democracy, it would make it very easy for me to turn around 180 degrees your thinly-veiled “useful idiot” comment.

        I don’t know why you think I link the notion of “standing up for justice” to the operation of the The Pirate Bay. I think you must be projecting there. I neither think that nor did I make any such link in my comment (nor, in case you’re wondering, do I use such sites or engage in piracy). My main concern is with the third paragraph of your post in which you appear to be suggesting that the activism of someone like Swartz is trivial or unworthy when compared with projects such as the one you highlight. It is that to which I was reacting.

      • For starters, all of those adjectives are used on a regular basis to describe the likes of Kim Dotcom and frankly just about anybody who presumes to be a “defender of the Web” in the name of their own interests. I didn’t offer an opinion of Aaron Swartz, and I won’t other than to say that his story his tragic and I agree that he believed in important issues that deserved attention.

        It’s not that your concerns about the issues you list make you inherently a conspiracy theorist, but to just rattle off a bunch of really complex topics like that in response to a post on an unrelated subject has the ring of hysteria to it. You want to talk about drones? I can, but there’s no way the subject has anything to do with torrent sites. You may not be overly paranoid in reality, but you came out swinging, defending someone I never attacked, and listed the same six memes I see go by all day long on social media. This takes on the appearance of associative politics (i.e. that you just kind of lump everything together), and you stated explicitly that the US is sliding into a condition akin to a Soviet police state. That’s not a matter of record just because you believe it is — even if I might agree that there are certain policies and conditions of grave concern. All the gun rights folks around me seem to say the same thing you do about a police state, but I wonder if their image is the same as yours. If not, that’s just one reason why it’s entirely possible everyone needs to calm down a bit a accept that policy is hard, complex, and can’t always be indicative of a slide toward an Orwellian nightmare. To the contrary, I’m far more afraid of powerful corporations than I am of the government.

        I wrote a post about torrent sites and the presumptuous way in which these enterprises are touted as icons of freedom and culture. This has nothing to do with Aaron Swartz, drones, the NDAA, or bad regulatory policy in the financial markets. Does it?

    • I too find this incredibly interesting. Generally speaking, pro-copyright blogs have been totally mute on the issue of Aaron Swartz’s death. It was one of the hugest things in the tech news for over a week (and even hit mainstream news somewhat significantly) and his views on copyright were largely front and center in these articles. Yet, not a word anywhere. I’ve looked.

      Even more unusual. Some of these pro-copyright blogs post weekly “readings” that dig the Internet for any obscure argument about copyright. But you will not find a single mention of Aaron Swartz anywhere in their “selected readings”. It’s just not in their agendas to mention it.

      But gladly, that doesn’t matter. Imagine if the only way to get news was from three news stations with various agendas. One reason a free and open Internet is so important.

  • Somewhat unrelated (but not totally):

    TPB AFK just came out yesterday(ish):

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