Space Ramblings

ABC News Gets the Digg Story Wrong

There’s good solid proof sometimes that you don’t need to read Sherman Skolnick to discover that all the crowned heads of Europe are living in a bunker underneath Michigan Lake and dining on human flesh– sometimes you can get stuff equally inappropriate and weird from the mainstream media.

Take ABC’s Michael Malone article, “World’s First Cyber Riot.” Where do we even begin? For starters this is hardly the first time users have rebelled against a site owner. It’s not even the first time it’s happened on Digg. And calling it a cyber riot is ridiculously over the top. Riots actually do damage and are illegal. Granting posting something that the site owner has deemed off limits breaks your TOS but it’s silly to call it a riot.

But it gets better. Much better.

It’s what you might call “Digg-ing their own grave.”

Heh. As Glenn Reynolds would say. Did it take you a long time to come up with that one? Did you chuckle for hours afterward?

And like real riots in the real world, Tuesday’s explosion on Digg.com over the release of copyright protection codes for HD-DVDs had all of the usual elements of irrationality, illegality, false bravado and cowardice.

Don’t forget the looting and the fires and the injured and the dead– oh wait those are in real riots.

In case you don’t know, Digg.com is a hugely popular Web site, mostly for young people, in which users post news stories from a vast array of sources

I’m guessing by young people he means anyone under 35. Gosh darn those youngsters with their TV and late night sitcoms and steady middle management jobs.

Worse, users have learned to use the “bury” feature… to crush stories with political perspectives (usually conservative) that don’t match their own. The most notable victim of this kind of burying is one of the blogosphere’s most popular sites, Little Green Footballs.

Note the first of many Pajamas Media references in an article that’s supposed to be about Digg.

Digg has put itself in the hands of an army of postadolescents with too much education and too much free time, the age cohort that gets its news from “The Colbert Report” and holds the anarchistic view that all information should be, in fact, “wants to be,” free.

Cue Off Topic Rant #1. What does the Colbert Report– lame as it may be, have to do with HD-DVD encryption keys or Digg. Some of Digg’s users are post-adolescents. The majority of those I know are in their twenties. Post-adolescents aren’t likely to bother with the Colbert Report. It doesn’t have enough fart jokes.

And is the idea that information should be free– really that anarchistic? Hasn’t that kind of anarchy served science in the West quite well– as opposed to the Soviet bloc?

Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, been there, done that. But now, in my gray-haired middle-age I’ve come to realize that if you are going to create a venue for children to play, someone has to be the grown-up.

Thank you ABC for giving us this condescending article by a jackass who slanders a large user community as “children”, all the while inappropriately promoting his own connections to Pajamas Media.

As Pajamas Media noted, “To the movie industry it is a number worth untold millions of dollars if people don’t know it, and one that could cost the industry untold millions of dollars if people do know it.”

Cue inappropriate Pajamas Media promotion #2. I tend to think there’s more informed sources on this topic perhaps than a website named after underwear? Seriously– there’s like you know technical experts with degrees. Then there’s a site you happen to be affiliated with. If you’re a professional journalist– which one do you quote? Bueller… Ferris Bueller?

In any case though– Pajamas Media’s expertise notwithstanding, the code was hardly secret anymore by that point. And any code that’s exposed is by definition worthless anyway. Those phantom millions had nothing to do with Digg by this point.

At Digg, the hard-core Diggers howled in betrayal. Some even had the nerve — especially in light of their consistent censorship of political viewpoints different from their own — to wrap themselves in the mantle of the First Amendment.

Sigh, Mikey let it go. So some Diggers buried your Pajamas Media LGF stories. Grow up and when you do a piece on Digg, don’t constantly bring it up. It’s childish. It’s like writing an article about Wallmart and constantly bringing up the time they shortchanged you by a quarter.

In other words, Digg was willing to block porn and hate sites, but was perfectly willing to violate trade secrets if its users said so.

Heavens no! Not the trade secrets! They’re so innocent and virginal. What fiendish villain would dare violate their innocence!

It was a breathtaking abrogation of responsibility by a person in a position of authority. If you sign up to be sheriff, and are rewarded handsomely for doing so, then your job when the howling mob shows up outside the jail is defend the prisoner under attack, even if you despise him.

What? What prisoner? What jail? What in the hell is Michael Malone talking about here? It’s like one of those Grandpa Simpson moments when he begins remembering the time he fought the Kaiser.

In this crazed metaphor, Malone imagines that the purpose of Digg.com is to somehow impose order on the evil Colbert watching adolescents who populate Digg.com and protect the HD-DVD codes they’re trying to lynch– because apparently Michael Malone is out of his everloving mind.

At the very least, you run away and accept the shame of your cowardice. But the one thing you don’t ever do is join the mob knocking down the jailhouse door.

And then he gets crazier and crazier. Why do conservatives default to cowboy movies for everything? Seriously Michael– John Wayne has nothing to do with this. Neither does WWJWD. There is no jail here. There’s a user community where people express their opinions. There is no sheriff, nor does there need to be. It’s called freedom. Scary concept I know.

Right now, the fate of Digg is in the hands of the HD-DVD consortium — the very people the Diggers tried to destroy.

Destroy? Get real. HD-DVD hasn’t been destroyed and the code was leaked even before and without Digg’s involvement.

I see big civil suits in Digg’s future (and likely its demise) as well as in Rose’s, who was actually dumb enough to post that note with his name on it.

In my own crystal ball I see a lobster pinching Michael Malone’s butt. Also ABC being taken over by Vampires who create a projector to travel through time.

As for Diggers, like self-obsessed post-adolescents everywhere, they are justifying their deed as an act of liberation, arguing that copy protection is evil, and — applying the same defense corporate crooks used 20 years ago with gullible juries — that they really weren’t stealing anything more than a bunch of numbers.

Seriously ABC what happened? Carrot Top wasn’t available to write this article? Crooks actually steal money. Posting information about a security flaw is not a form of theft. It’s a form of information and it’s one that’s commonly done by security researchers.

The great Web satirist Iowahawk has already punctured that argument by posting Kevin Rose’s home address (after all, it’s only numbers)

And yet another promotion for Pajamas Media. I read Iowahawk’s parody. Correction. I tried to read Iowahawk’s parody. Like most of his parodies it’s a guaranteed cure for insomnia. Reading through them is like listening to Ben Stein tell a joke.

“Now… if you… will listen…and pay… close attention…. the man…. he is a particularly short man… very short… he goes into a bar… this bar is a rather large bar… now as he walks into the bar…”

and suggesting that every Digg user head over to his house for a giant party. So I’ll make the more sober argument.

Seriously Michael Malone– are you really comparing your article favorably to a web parody? I’m not sure your article works even by that low standard. But way to aim low.

It is this: all information is not equal in value. Some of it was created with considerable investment in time and money that needs to be paid back. Other information is the product of creative minds that deserve to be rewarded for their contributions to humanity.

Like HD-DVD copy protection– that vital contribution to humanity by creative minds– which proved to be easily crackable and now the 50 people with HD-DVD players will be able to remove the copy protection on their HD-DVD’s.

And still more is vitally important to the ongoing employment of thousands of people and the families they support.

Don’t forget their dogs and cats. They need to eat too.

How appropriate that this scandal occurred on May Day, because only a utopian fantasist would argue that all information should be free.

I fail to see the connection. May Day has nothing to do with utopia. Nor does it have anything to do with Digg. Nor does the Colbert Report. Serious Michael, get with it.

those morons who want to destroy private property (and that includes trade secrets) put at risk the very future of innovation itself — not to mention that great creator of human freedom, entrepreneurship.

Now everybody salute the corporate logo. Bill Gates Bless America– Land that I own. From the patents to the DRM to the DMCA takedown notices. RIAA sue America. From sea to shining sea.

Seriously though, massive corporate monopolies don’t create freedom and have nothing to do with entrepreneurship. They crush and suppress entrepreneurship. Corporate monopolies don’t protect private property. In fact DRM is geared toward denying private property to the people who have bought and paid for it. That’s what this is about.

The music you buy and the movies you own are your private property. Not the companies. You can’t sell something and still retain control over it. Yet that’s exactly what these companies are doing in defiance of private property and human freedom.

But what we can expect is that individuals in positions of responsibility — especially founders/CEOs — get it.

Yes sure they get it. The falling sales of music is proof that they get it. The fact that instead of selling music online, they tried to sue everyone who downloaded it until Apple had them over a barrel– is proof that they get it.

The line of companies still rolling out their own YouTube killers is proof that they get it. Time Warner merging with AOL is proof that they got it. The HD-DVD vs BluRay format war is yet more proof that they get it.

This is what blind faith in CEO’s gets you, Michael. If you’ve got to pick a god to worship, make sure he isn’t a greedy retarded moron.

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