September 14th, 2009

pedant, law and order

a political/technical roundup

This morning my tweet-roll or whatever-you-call-it is full of interesting stuff around politics, tech, and copyright. Some of them overlap.

My uncle Dan has Eleven Things I'd Do If I Ran a News Organization, to which I just say "this." Number 7 includes

Piracy is what people carrying guns on the high seas do: capturing ships, stealing cargo and turning crews and passengers into hostages, sometimes murdering them. Piracy does not describe what people do when they post digital music on file-sharing networks.
Number 9 is:
9. Our archives would be freely available, with permalinks on every single thing we’ve published as far back as possible, with APIs to help other people use our journalism in ways we haven’t considered ourselves.

On that note, Cory Doctorow reviews William Patry's new Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, in which he says:

Patry places the copyright wars amid other moral panics -- think of witch-hunts (both the "Communist" and the old-fashioned "witch") -- and he devotes much of the book to the sociology of moral panic... and the weaponizing of language (and the especial use which the terms "theft" and "piracy" have in this regard).

So, what to do about the growing moral panic and corresponding attempts to control personal and public media? well, two other links popped up, dealing with the notion of Google applications as "The Cloud", also through Dan's twitter. These are addressing the tension between the virtue of centralization and server-side computing and sharing (on the one hand) and the questions of data ownership and (well-founded?) fear of the privacy and 'lock-in' concerns over centralization that Google documents and Google data provide:

  • DocumentCloud seems to be an attempt to have the advantages of google docs -- without requiring that google be the host. They might be vaporware, but they did just release a first parallel processing layer CloudCrowd, which is a key component. (Also, possibly a useful tool for other cluster-based computing. hmm.)
  • Data Liberation Front (what an awesome name, by the way) directly specializes in how to move your data in and out of Google.