January 18th, 2006

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Flat but not featureless

Back in the 1990s, when the Cold War had been won and we were, seemingly, at the End of History, there were people who thought that nations such as the United States and Canada and Brazil and Belgium were destined to merge into a greater world government, where the best features of American capitalism and European socialism would produce la dolce vita around the world. I sometimes suspect that the irrational rage seen in many Democrats is due to the Republicans and hard libertarians' insistence on putting down the Islamofascist threat first instead of blithely getting on with the transnationalist stage of human evolution.

Tim Denton sounds like one of those people, except that he seems to agree that we need to do something about Islam first. He cites Thomas Friedman's recent book The World is Flat (dismissive review here) in support of his notion that nations as they exist now are becoming obsolete, being replaced by what Philip Bobbitt calls the "market-state".
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Denton essay via Small Dead Animals.
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Another Sign of the End Times (yawn)

Law professors talking shit about things they don't know a damn thing about. Oh, wait, that's the normal state of affairs in America these days, isn't it? Anyway, Stanford lawprof Lawrence Lessig is three months late to the party with his discovery that his fellow leeches at Wind Up Records have set our friends at AMV.org up the C&D order, which he sees as the troubling dawn of "the read-only Web", where noone will be allowed to do mashups or AMVs or fanfic or Anything Fun At All. Oh noes! Truly the dark night of fascism has come to Amerikkka!

Talk about making a mountain out of a fscking molehill. It's worth noting that while 3000 AMVs got their links severed, there's no realistic way to keep people from distributing those AMVs on CDs or DVDs, as was done before the C&D order and will no doubt be done after the C&D order. It's also worth noting that no other label has bothered following the example of Wind Up Records, probably because those labels are headed by people who recognize the value of free (if usually crappy, IAW Sturgeon's Law) publicity. I mean, if Linkin Park hasn't sued to get all the unspeakably vile, stupid, and technically inept Linkinball Z and Naruto Park AMVs taken down, isn't that pretty strong support for the notion that Lessig's whole premise is bogus and his essay amounts to crying wolf?

You hear this kind of panicky talk brought up every time somebody gets smacked for downloading a few gigs' worth of MP3s without paying for them or M$FT thinks out loud about preinstalling DRM software as part of Vista (formerly Longhorn), and nobody stops to ask if all this stuff is actually going to happen. Has everyone magically forgotten about the epic PR disaster of Sony's craptastic DRM/rootkit music CDs? Has everyone forgotten that for every magic technobullet Hollywood comes up with, 1337 h4x0rz develop better armor, bullet splitters, remote anti-bullet vaporizing systems, and other baroque countermeasures? In the political realm, the smell of Hollywood money is going to be far less sweet in the neo-Puritan ethical climate where all contributions from just about every form of lobbyist and PAC will be seen as toxic and corrupting. There's an army of Davids out there with a huge installed base of Win2K, WinXP and Mac boxes to play with, and they're paying more attention to this sort of thing than they used to. I'm pretty optimistic about the future, myself. 1984 came and went, and Big Brother is standing in line somewhere in what used to be the USSR waiting for his pension. I don't think his covetous relatives in the NYDCLA axis are going to do much better.

Burn, Hollywood, Burn. (Props to Public Enemy and especially to Chuck D, first prophet of the New Media.)

Originally provoked by Good Morning Silicon Valley.

UPDATE Tim Park of Doki Doki Productions comments in e-mail that he'd rather have Lessig on-side than not. I agree, but the guy's Chicken Little attitude drives me nuts and strikes me as being very likely to alienate people who don't have any personal investment in the issue.

Two short book reviews and a transient lump of metal

And speaking of mature storage media...
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In other news, Overstock.com finally sent me the label so that I could ship my defunct Carbon back to them in exchange for a refurbished one that'll (hopefully) work better. Cynical booger that I am, I don't expect to see the replacement back before I leave for Washington again. That's more than a month away, and they could surprise me...but I'm not expecting it.
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