Copyright and hope

The Eldred decision is disappointing, but the game isn’t over.
A Salon article by Siva Vaidhyanathan analyzes the Supreme court ruling, and gives cause for hope.
The Court supported Congress’ right to extend copyright terms, but also re-iterated key principles of copyright law: the right to fair use of copyrighted content; and the right to build on ideas contained in copyright works.
Congress is still free to change its mind if enough of us speak up.
In 1998 when the DMCA and the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension bills were passed, the loudest voices in the political process were the media and entertainment businesses. Most individuals had never heard of the issue. The major media didn’t cover it. Geeks were likely to take the technolibertarian position that government actions weren’t worth bothering about.
It’s different now. The mainstream media is telling the story. More people understand the rights we’re losing when copyright control is extended far beyond the balance defined by the founding fathers. More people who understand the technology are starting to speak up and participate in the political process.
It’s in our hands now.

Austin Blog Update

The alpha-demo-AustinBlog now has sample posts from Adam Rice, Jon Lebkowsky, and Prentiss Riddle in addition to me.
One small bug – the posts show up in the order the trackback pings were sent, rather than the post dates. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if we are sending pings when the posts are written.
Next steps:
* aggregate the content into weblog software, for improved formatting, comments, etc.
* add GeoUrls to posts 🙂
Stay tuned for updates.

BlogConversations #3 – BookGroupFormingNetworks

A stupendously wonderful application for RidiculouslyEasyGroupFormingNetworks would be an All Consuming companion site that would enable an aggregate blog of book-related posts.
So, one blog that would aggregate the posts on Smart Mobs and Lessig’s Code and whatever other books the BlogMob is reading.
P.S. Some implementation thoughts:
Use a bookmarklet to catch the ISBN number (as in LibraryLookup) and then use the mt.setPostCategories command in the MetaWeblog API to create a post categorized by “BookClub” and by ISBN.
Then syndicate and aggregate by category.

Privacy, syndication, signage, and more…

Good stuff from David Nunez’ write-up on the Austin Blog meet-up. (I described one of the conversations and he caught most of the conversational meander).
Given David’s penchant for Robotics, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Meet-up sign keeps evolving. It has already evolved from a simple table tent, to a printed sign anchored by a water bottle and held high by a piece of tubing punched into the water bottle lid. David talks about adding an LCD screen, but why stop there? Add some Lego Mindstorms processing and some wheels, and we’d have a sign that could meet us at the door and get us drinks!

18th century letters

Mitch Ratcliffe writes that weblogs are like 18th century letters, a social form in which the literate class wrote to each other expecting to be circulated and published.
Mitch’s perspective on this feels right to me. Some people use weblogs as diaries. I use the weblog to publish letters. Most blog entries here, including the book reviews and news commentary, were things that I was already writing and sending to one or two friends by email. The blog lets me share those thoughts with more people without committing spam.


The Supernova conference organized by Kevin Werbach, is getting started this morning in California.
The shindig is about decentralization — open spectrum, weblogs, WiFi, web services — new forms of decentralized communications, emergent social organization, and grass-roots content that will take down the dinosaurs of industrial bureaucracy and the behemoths of mass media and telecom. I have friends and colleagues at the conference; it sounds like the discussions are going be interesting and clever and fun.
The innovation up for discussion is real.
And the optimistic technological determinism is giving me the willies.
Because, while we’re developing and promoting all of this cool decentralized software and communications, there are:

  • people using centralized money to maintain and increase oligopolies on content and communications
  • people using centralized power trying to turn our country into a totalitarian state, with secret trials and searches without warrants and digital surveillance departments headed by convicted felons
  • people using decentralized power trying to kill people who look like us, trying to destabilize our society, and succeeding

Meanwhile, we’re feeling smart, and socially connected, and politically pretty powerless.
We need organization, with all of the decentralized and centralized tools and methods available to us, online and on the ground, and we need it now.