January 18, 2012

"Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge."

Wikipedia blacks out.

55 comments:

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Watch some drooling legislators use Google's black patch as an excuse to demand seizure and government control of such 'public utilities'. The fun is just beginning. Google yesterday promised some SOPA-related explanation of the blackout, but has apparently chickened out. This renders them vulnerable to demagogic attacks, and the SOPA constituency won't wait long to furnish them.

Joe Schmoe said...

No Wiccaperpia!?

Google pussied out. They have a little insignificant link saying "Don't censor the web!" Some day Google will see the light about being bitten by the rotting mouth that they shove campaign money into. These new-rich tech guys don't understand patronage yet.

dbp said...

It doesn't matter how "right" they are; Wikepedia is damaging itself by taking sides in a political dispute.

Scott M said...

Google indeed pussed out.

bagoh20 said...

Now just chill peeps, I got the answers to all your questions. One a at a time, get in line. I got the encyclopedia dusted off, and I'm ready to go.

Almost Ali said...

We've gone too far down the road of perdition to turn back now.

Moose said...

I love Wikipedia as a quick goto site, but I survived without before it became popular. I'll survive should they choose to suicide.

Lem said...

I've emailed my songressmen and senators thus.

Dear Sir.
I'm contacting you to tell you I OPPOSE SOPA and PIPA.

SOPA and PIPA would put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. SOPA and PIPA would build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.

Please Vote AGAINST SOPA and PIPA and any legislation like it, should they arise in the future.

Your constituent.

Lem A.


I cut and pasted.. S(u)OPA me.

Joe Schmoe said...

Political dispute? Or protesting an unfair regulatory imposition just like any business would? Last I checked there were both D and R folks sponsoring SOPA, although a lot of the R's are pulling out faster than Obama from the Middle East.

al said...

Twitter to the rescue. Facts are being posted at an incredible rate -

https://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23FactsWithoutWikipedia

Bruce Hayden said...

This is a big thing.

The committee I chair spent a lot of 2011 unsuccessfully lobbying against the Leahy-Smith America (Dis)Invents Act, aka Patent Reform. Turns out that we were outspent by more than $100 million, and, indeed, last year there appear to have been more lobbyists lobbying for that legislation than there were members of Congress. It is very hard to fight against that level of rent seeking.

The same two judiciary chairs (Pat Leahy in the Senate, and Lamar Smith in the House), and their two judiciary committees, were trying to do the same with this legislation. They thought that they had gotten their ducks in a line, had stacked committee hearings, etc., and were trying to fast track this legislation. And, it may indeed make it through the Senate, since they seem further along, and only 1/3 of its members are up for reelection this year. Plus, they threw in the specter of granny getting her meds from a backstreet pharmacy in Haiti to up the sob factor - something that they were unable to do with the A(D)IA.

But, this time they threatened the basic fabric of the Internet, the ability to translate (soon securely) between well known domain names and numerical IP addresses. All so that the movie and recording companies could push their obsolete business models a bit longer. And, it is possible that if the blackout and the online protests are successful, the legislation can be stopped. This would be the first time that I know of where mass activism on this scale was able to overcome tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars of rent seeking lobbying.

If you want to see what happened in the past, and why this is so unique, look no further than the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and the Sony Bono term extension (aka Micky Mouse) Act. In both cases, the recording and movie rights owners were able to push through legislation that was in their own interest, at the expense of the American public, primarily because their opposition was so diffuse.

edutcher said...

Considering how often they're wrong, this is not a bad thing.

Joe Schmoe said...

bagoh, can you thumb through your Brittanicas and tell me why the sky is blue? My son asked me why the ocean is blue, and I told him it was reflective of the sky. When he asked me why the sky was blue, I said "Squirrel!"

Bruce Hayden said...

You may call this a political squabble. I call it standing up to egregious rent seeking on the part of the copyright content owners, such as the movie and recording studios. They are trying to perpetuate obsolete business models as long as they can, in order to maximize their profits over the short term - with no apparent regard to the damage they do to the country in the long run.

Michael Haz said...

Wikipedia blacks out.

I've blacked out a few times as well, early in my adult life. Wikipedia will be okay, but should expect a killer bad headache for a few hours.

Scott M said...

One a at a time, get in line. I got the encyclopedia dusted off, and I'm ready to go.

Quick, Bagoh. I have a desperate need to know the average rainfall in the Samarkand Desert. STAT!

Also, I need some references on fictional literature. Can you please pull up your entry on the Warren Commission report?

Bruce Hayden said...

Why did Google "wus out"? My guess is because they have real competition in many of their markets, and, esp. with search engines, and Wikipedia does not, and some of that competition is unlikely to black out their sites, esp. if Google did, so that they could pick up as much of Google's business as they could. (And, search engine providers coordinating a black out would likely be an anti-trust violation).

Scott M said...

My son asked me why the ocean is blue, and I told him it was reflective of the sky. When he asked me why the sky was blue, I said "Squirrel!"

/hotbutton on

In yet another in a long line, and presumably never-ending, of anti-dad/husband advertising, there was a radio commercial in which a very young daughter asks her father why the sky is blue. He says it's blue to match her beautiful eyes. She says, like he's an idiot, "Daddy!" and goes into a long diatribe about how oxygen refracts the blue end of the spectrum up to ten times more than the rest of it and that's why the sky is blue. There's a pause as he absorbs this and then he asks, "where did you hear that?" to which the girl responds, "Mommy".

So...not only is the father an idiot compared to the mother, but less intelligent than the very young daughter.

/hotbutton off

Joe Schmoe said...

Why did Google "wus out"?

Bruce, first thanks for your great post earlier. Very informative.

I think Google wussed out because a blackout would cut into their ad revenue, which is the real bread-and-butter of their search engine. I'm not saying they could not have lived without a day's revenue, as they could've, but I don't think they wanted to piss off their advertisers. Wikipedia is not in the same league when it comes to ad revenue. No one is.

wv: watio-a Barney Frank fraction

George Grady said...

Joe Schmoe,

I'll try to help you out. It's because blue light is preferentially scattered by the air molecules. This has to do with the relative sizes of the diameter of the air molecules (think especially oxygen and nitrogen) versus the size of the wavelength of various colors of light.

Have you ever been out on the end of a dock at the beach? If you look at the pilings the dock is standing on, you will see that long, slow ocean swells just pretty much ignore the pilings, moving right past and up to the beach. This is like red light ignoring the atmosphere and moving through. On the other hand, when some little speed boat comes by and throws up a wake, its waves have a much smaller wavelength. They end up reflecting off the pilings and getting bounced around. This is like the blue light in the atmosphere.

Hope that helps!

Triangle Man said...

Meanwhile Bing is glorifying some heathen idol, and business as usual at Yahoo.

bagoh20 said...

"bagoh, can you thumb through your Brittanicas and tell me why the sky is blue? My son asked me why the ocean is blue,"

The blue lobbyist out spent the fushia lobby. 10:1.

"average rainfall in the Samarkand Desert?"

It's right there in the name.

"Warren Commission report?"

I think the secret to successful infoing is telling em what they want to hear, so try this:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102138/

Scott M said...

Wikipedia is not in the same league [as Google] when it comes to ad revenue. No one is.

I recently got someone to give me his contact info after seemingly having to pull teeth to get it. He gave me his gmail address. Given this guy's tendency to never respond to email, I ended the text with, "Please respond to this email before Google goes out of business".

Joe Schmoe said...

Bagohpedia must be down now, too. Damn.

Thanks George Grady for the info. Scott M too in a roundabout way, although his explanation was couched in social commentary.

Scott M said...

It's right there in the name.

Is Samarkand some metric measurement I'm not aware of?

Joe Schmoe said...

Bagohpedia back up! Nice!

bagoh20 said...

Bagohpedia is blacking out because...well we just black out, and right now the room is starting to spin. Here it comes, whoooa..............

Christopher said...

I'd be curious about how many of the companies/activists/personalities supporting the blackout and other such actions opposed the ruling in Citizens United.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think Google wussed out because a blackout would cut into their ad revenue, which is the real bread-and-butter of their search engine. I'm not saying they could not have lived without a day's revenue, as they could've, but I don't think they wanted to piss off their advertisers.

I think that it more involves a fear of permanent loss of market share. A lot of people stick with Google through inertia. They know how it works, and are happy with it (and, I can get free copies of patents and patent applications). And, their browsers are set to Google as their default browser. I know mine are. But, if a lot of people have to switch search engines for even one day, some of them may not come back, and that is likely a much bigger concern than one days' lost ad revenues.

Bruce Hayden said...

I'd be curious about how many of the companies/activists/personalities supporting the blackout and other such actions opposed the ruling in Citizens United.

I, for one, support the blackout, but thought that Citizens United was just fine. I just don't think that the only companies that should be allowed to express political opinions are the ones that own or control "media" outlets, like GE with NBC, etc. And, I think that companies and the unions working for them should be on an even playing field when it comes to expressing opinions in public.

Revenant said...

It doesn't matter how "right" they are; Wikepedia is damaging itself by taking sides in a political dispute.

Are they? I suppose they probably have users who think SOPA is a good idea; dumb people read encyclopedias, too.

Joe Schmoe said...

Bruce, I agree with you to a point, but the money's the main thing rather than people's search habits. Wikipedia takes donations and is a private company; therefore they can take principled stands if they feel like it.

Google is publically-traded and has many masters who are only interested in stock price since Google doesn't pay dividends. If Google goes down for even a day they could lose several percentage points on their stock price.

I'm not arguing with you about this; we're kinda talking about the same thing. But Google is not shutting down because of financial pressures from advertisers and stockholders, in my opinion. When you're a public company, it's harder to make principled stands that cost you money.

Simon said...

dbp said...
"It doesn't matter how 'right' they are; Wikepedia is damaging itself by taking sides in a political dispute."

I don't think it makes any difference to anyone. Today people will simply use alternative sources or Google's cached version of the wikipedia entry they wanted; tomorrow, it will be available again. No one will care in the slightest. One of the internet's most attractive features is that it's very zen: Almost everything is fungible. If m-w.com is down, there are a hundred dictionary sites that are basically as good. Throw a rock in the river and the river simply flows around the rock; the river doesn't care about the agenda of the rock or the person who put it there.

Triangle Man said...

It doesn't matter how "right" they are; Wikepedia is damaging itself by taking sides in a political dispute.

This doesn't seem like a very touchy political question. Is there any grassroots support for this? Is there any political party that is staking its election results on this?

Joe Schmoe said...

From Wikipedia's perspective, is this just taking a stand in a political dispute? Or does SOPA threaten Wikipedia a lot? If a copyright owner alleges copyright infringement on any material linked on the allegedly offending website, Wikipedia has to remove the link and all material or face litigation. That could be a lot more work than Wikipedia can handle. Plus the hoary prospect of an untold-amount of litigation is enough to make anyone cringe. (This is a lawyer's dream bill. Unceasing litigation.)

If this bill goes through, Wikipedia will be getting the proverbial SOPA-on-the-ROPA. But not to worry; Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein are fine-tuning it as we speak. Nothing to see here.

Bruce Hayden said...

Throw a rock in the river and the river simply flows around the rock; the river doesn't care about the agenda of the rock or the person who put it there.

Which gets to one of the proposed solutions - domain blocking - and why it is very unlikely to be effective. One of our committee members pointed out that many of the big copyright pirate sites have hundreds, if not thousands, of IP addresses and domain names in reserve, and can switch to them much more quickly than our government can shut them down. Thus, the true pirates would likely not be overly inconvenienced by the legislation, while legitimate companies, like Google, could get hurt badly. Accidentally linking to one infringing work could potentially get an entire multi-billion dollar company's web presence shut down. And note that even though the legislation is supposed to be limited to foreign web sites, many of the biggest content providers, again such as Google, have servers around the world, and would potentially be vulnerable.

The attempt to redirect, instead of just block, DNS queries, was even more pernicious in this regard. One of the mechanisms to allow this redirection into another channel is DNS (Domain Name Service), which dynamically translates domain names into IP addresses. There are known problems with DNS security, and the fix that is being rolled out now is DNSSEC. DNSSEC makes sure that DNS entries match the domain names that they are supposed to. But, the proposed DNS redirection would intentionally violate this by redirecting requests for one site to another one. Luckily, it appears that this, at least, has been (very recently) removed from at least the House version of the legislation.

Allen Edwards said...

About Google "wussing out": Might there not also be legal issues involved if their ads are NOT displayed because search was down?

Andrea said...

Scott M, re your diatribe on that commercial with the idiot dad and smart mom & daughter: not to mention it's really creepy that they have the dad saying something about his daughter's "pretty blue eyes." I've been seeing this a lot in pop culture memes -- dads talking about how cute and pretty their daughters are, and coming out with vomit-inducing sentimentality like that awful "Butterfly Kisses" song. I guess I'm old-fashioned, but in my mind the only time a father is supposed to compliment his daughter on her looks is when he's about to walk her down the aisle, and it's supposed to be like a sudden revelation, and he's also allowed a few sentimental tears then. Up until that time his only contribution to her looks (after her infancy, when it's okay for him to coo all over her), is for him to say things like "You're not leaving the house wearing that!" Anything else is creepy and borderline pedo.

I blame the so-called "female self-esteem" industry. For some reason people have decided that playing up to female vanity will make girls feel better about themselves. Oddly enough, this rise in giving girls compliments seems to have coincided with the increase in female body problems. In any case, I don't think it's healthy to encourage fathers to tell girls they look good. It gives the girl a distorted view of how important her looks are to men. At least, men should be careful how and when they compliment their daughters on their looks: save it for important events like weddings, graduation ceremonies, etc.

Bruce Hayden said...

If this bill goes through, Wikipedia will be getting the proverbial SOPA-on-the-ROPA. But not to worry; Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein are fine-tuning it as we speak. Nothing to see here.

Should be interesting where Feinstein sits on this one. She was one of our only allies in the Senate against Patent Reform, probably because she represents so many high tech employees. But, she also represents many of the big content providers down in the LA area.

Reid, of course, isn't up for reelection for another 4 3/4 years, and seems to be seeing where the money is. Not surprisingly, he was a strong supporter of Patent Reform, allowing it to proceed rapidly through his chamber, despite his office telling me, at the time, that he was very aware of the importance of a strong patent system. The small town boy from Searchlight Nevada didn't make himself and his family wealthy by sitting on the sidelines when a lot of money was flooding through Congress.

Besides, more and more artists are moving, at least officially, into his state to protect themselves against the rapacious tax appetite of the state just to the west.

Browndog said...

Imagine a world with free knowledge.

Imagine a world that didn't require searching, and searching...

Trying to weed out the lies (false/inaccurate information-for the politically correct)...

Imagine a world where something written, something said...was the truth.

End search.

Imagine.....

Scott M said...

Anything else is creepy and borderline pedo.

It may be a generational thing, indeed, as I give my young daughters compliments all the time. While I'm not at all pedo, I will admit some degree of creepy.

We don't play the self-esteem game in my household, but I see no reason not to show genuine affection to my daughters and to compliment them when they ask.

MadisonMan said...

She says, like he's an idiot, "Daddy!" and goes into a long diatribe about how oxygen refracts the blue end of the spectrum up to ten times more than the rest of it and that's why the sky is blue. .....Mommy.

See, this is when the Dad should say that refraction requires media with two different densities, which you don't have in the atmosphere. The sky is blue because the small molecules (doesn't really matter that they're oxygen) scatter blue light preferentially. (They actually scatter violet light even better, but your eye doesn't see violet light very well).

Then you add that Momma doesn't know everything.

Bruce Hayden said...

Imagine a world that didn't require searching, and searching...

Trying to weed out the lies (false/inaccurate information-for the politically correct)...

Imagine a world where something written, something said...was the truth
.

My father is an avid crossword puzzler. When we are around, he constantly asks us what is a word for something. And, despite nearing 90, he knows far more of those things than we do.

My response is that he should just look it up with Google. He thinks that would be cheating. And, he is probably right.

I was looking through an old World Book Encyclopedia at my parents' house recently, and was struck by how limited the entries were, and how obsolete. I have a hard time imagining doing my job as a patent attorney without Google in particular, but also Wikipedia. Of course, I didn't have them when I started that profession, but now I am spoiled. Spoiled rotten.

So, last night, working late, I needed the cite to a recent Supreme Court case. What do I do? I used Google, for about the 20th time that day. Unfortunately, the best reference, Wikipedia, was blacked out, so I ran with the original cite (that had volume, but not page number). Still, I had my answer in minutes, not hours. And, even though my committee had filed an amicus brief in the case, I had forgotten that its main proposition was just what I was looking for. Again, thanks to Google, I got the case when I typed in the legal proposition (and there isn't much better precedent than a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court case right on point).

Bruce Hayden said...

We don't play the self-esteem game in my household, but I see no reason not to show genuine affection to my daughters and to compliment them when they ask.

I wasn't going to comment here, but since this seems to be an evolving thread, I am jumping in.

I don't think that it is good to over compliment one's children, what has to be remembered is that until a woman finds a husband, most often the most important male in her life is her father. What is most important is showing unconditional love, so that daughters don't have to look elsewhere for it, and ultimately don't have to trade sex for it. And, part of that love is esteem building.

But merely complimenting looks probably is creepy. Other things should be just as important, such as being smart, compassionate, humorous, etc. I think that you should be optimistically honest about the compliments. Shading things a bit in a positive direction, but not overdoing it. Telling a girl that she is the most beautiful thing every day is probably not good, but telling her how great she looks before going to prom is probably good.

Browndog said...

@Bruce-

Understood.

I was not trying to understate the value of Google.

My point is this:

Knowledge is not, nor has it ever been, free.

First it must be sought, then it must be found.

Case in point (a cut and dried court case not withstanding)

How many "results" did Google display when you searched the case?\

Did they all say the same exact thing?

On a side note, access to Google isn't free...at least I know I have to pay for it

Scott M said...

But merely complimenting looks probably is creepy.

My Four Year Old: Daddy! Look! I did my own hair! Do you like it?
Me: (very proudly) It looks Beautiful. Did you pick out the clips?
My Seven Year Old: Yep!

I know...creepy. There is zero wrong with telling your daughter she looks beautiful. There is plenty wrong with telling your daughter she looks hot. Learn the difference.

Joe Schmoe said...

They can have Wikipedia but if they touch one hair on the head of craigslist I'm going postal...

Joe Schmoe said...

Scott M, vis a vis female superiority, I've been struck over the last few years by how Disney really championed this in their movies, even those dating back to the original Cinderella, which must've premiered in the 40s or 50s. Many Disney movies featured heroines (even non-human ones), usually without a strong father figure or one who had died tragically, and most perpetuated some sort of Mother Gaia worship. I wonder if that was considered countercultural at the time, or if the women's movement had picked up enough steam that it was considered more zeitgeist, more with the times than ahead.

Scott M said...

@Joe

As far as advertising goes, it nothing so high-minded. The ad companies are run by boomers still convinced that while the men make most of the money, the women make most of the purchasing decisions. While that may apply to boomer households, it certainly doesn't apply to Gen X and I seriously doubt it will apply to the Millennials.

Jay said...

On a side note, access to Google isn't free...at least I know I have to pay for it


Access to the Internet isn't free.

Afterall, you have to pay for a device to access it, and/or Internet service.

I suppose if you walked to the library to surf the Web you could argue access to Wikipedia is "free" though that leaves out taxes you pay for the library and the opportunity cost of your time.

Andrea said...

Scott M: I suppose I should modify my comment -- genuine affection and compliments (like when she asks) are good. It's the fobbing off of a serious question with "you're pretty!" (like the idiot dad in the commercial) that is wrong. And yeah, no father should tell his daughter she looks "hot," ever.

Andrea said...

And yes to not giving kids too many compliments. The problem is parents nowadays don't seem to know how to balance this. They either go to one extreme ("everything you do it great!" ten "my kid is an honor student" bumper stickers on the family SUV) or another ("you'll never amount to anything!" "you're not going to be a writer you're going to medical school and that's that!" "You're stupid, ugly, fat" etc.) Both approaches create a monster in place of a child.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Here's part of a comment from 9:35 this morning:

This renders them (Google) vulnerable to demagogic attacks, and the SOPA constituency won't wait long to furnish them.

And now here's demagogue Chris Dodd, a Hollywood shill, weighing in on schedule:

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

Funny, when he was a Fannie/Freddie shill, he furthered their corporate interests to his utmost. And abused his own Senatorial power with preferential loan rates and a sweetheart deal on an Irish mansion from Countrywide Mortgage.

Gues a demagogic shill remains true to his principles no matter who he works for.

Browndog said...

Further-

"knowledge" is hardly restricted to an internet search.

A father, a friend, the person behind you at the grocery store...

A book, a pamphlet..

A quiet walk in the woods..

just sayin'

jimspice said...

The mobile site is fully functional.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samarkand#Climate