Tuesday, November 25, 2008

sorry... but this blog is closed... (I'm NOT kidding)

thanks for your interest everyone! but please do not submit any more comments (this goes for *everybody*, not just David -- I have not and will not read any further comments submitted for this blog) D.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alright... enough with this topic!

DONE! am I going to think this was a staggering waste of time? who knows? If I had to guess I'd say I will cherish my personal blogs and be glad I took the time to put those things down: dblog & d's existential blog
also... looks like a jungle out there....


P.S. I was going to look over prior entries (many have been in draft form for a long time) but I'm just going to publish things they way I hav them at tis point...(did a bit of work at one point, but not much) D.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

spot.us: how to abuse the non-profit designation...

oops... I had a misplaced link (should be ok now) D.
David has deleted some comments that were on on his blog -- what can I say?... seems cowardish to me...the links are now pointing to the entry itself, although if you look at the http address, you will see the comment number at the end; I put down the entire pass including the comment number at the bottom of each of my comments... just in case it all disappears... not that big a deal, I just like to have a good record of my blogs for the future);

anyways, you got all my comments here... so you can follow it all... (my FINAL is quoting from what was his last comment on his blog before he deleted it) D.


#1 "Freelancers don't make the profits!!!!! They simply get paid for their work. I don't know how else to explain this."

straight from the spot.us webpage (and I did point this out early on in my comments):

http://spot.us/pages/about (the heading before "General FAQ" and third bullet under it)

"Advice On Working With Spot.Us. How to bolster your freelance budget"
....(...) Donate 100% of the value of an investigation and you'll get exclusive rights". --> *somebody* would have to believe those stories are profitable, otherwise they would have no interest in acquiring *exclusive rights*

#2 "This would NEVER work on eBay." -- I said ebay *or similar* (I find it very hard to believe that there is *nothing* out there that could be used -- that it would have to be developed from scratch)

#3 "It does work within the nonprofit status." (not as far as I can see...) "Stop accusing me of being a tax cheat." --> I do believe the IRS will have a problem with this set-up but it would not have been *you* that would have profited from the non-profit... you just have a set-up with big problems... (I hope you somehow get to see them and correct them)

#4 "I can't waste any more time on this conversation. I'm busy trying to make a positive change." --> as I said, best of luck!


P.S. please don't email me again and/or submit comments for my blog (you may also want to abstain from giving your phone number and asking people you don't know to call you -- I thought that was pretty odd) D.



I do believe you have huge problems. In spite of that, I wish you best of luck! (I hope you come to see them and solve them one way or another).

I'll have to respond to your last comment on my blog only (just to clarify things for those who want to see my side of this -- I had already posted my prior comment on my blog also).

I would not have put anywhere this much time into this topic if you would not have emailed me and asked for more (I had already closed my online journalism blog).




David, you already told people they can acquire exclusive rights to any of the stories by simply refunding what the spot.us community put up upfront -- no "ifs" about it.

#1 "What if it's put on the open market and we got 1/4th value of what
the public put up front?" --> then you don't put it on the market...
they must be willing to pay MORE then what the community put up
(willingness to acquire *exclusive rights* implies that the buyer
believes there is profit to be made)

#2 "how do I distribute the money"--> as far as I can see, the only
option you would have is to put all the money thus gained back in the
pool of money to be used for stories that are worth reporting but are
not profitable (I said this in one of my prior comments)

#3 "What if we get 4x what the public put out?" --> great! the community
has that much more money to spend on worthy stories

#4 "Can I, as a nonprofit, let individuals profit as though it was an
investment from their tax deductible donation?" no individuals would
take the "profit" out of the community -- it would just be *all* used
for other stories! (this was in one of my prior comments)

#5 "The news organizations that, as you say, "stand to make a profit"
most likely won't." --> they would not be interested in having
*exclusive rights* to those stories if they didn't think they would make
a profit; if they *want exclusive rights* they need to pay fair market
price (otherwise, you are favoring them at the expense of the community)

#6 "implementing the kind of legal/software code framework to do what
you just described" --> I don't see why you would need to do anything of
the kind (you should be able to use ebay or similar)

#7 "But first it has to work." -- you need to make sure it works
*correctly* within the non-profit community set-up you chose (otherwise
the whole project would be compromised)

#8 "All I want is for the public and journalists to work together." It
would never really work if you don't make sure nobody is unfairly taking
advantage (e.g. free lancers walking away with profits without fairly
compensating the community)

#9 "All I want is for the public and journalists to work together. But
it won't if all we do is fight, accuse, etc." -- you want people to tell
you what problems they see, the way they see them... the worst would be
if they just didn't tell you (the problems would still be there)




regarding NPR (or any other non-profit) hiring free-lancers (one of David's comments to this entry): I don't see anything wrong with a non-profit hiring free-lancers or whatever (you need to hire all sorts of people to get things done); when somebody does "work for hire" they do not own the intellectual property that results; the *exclusive rights* -- what gives the legal rights to make any profit that can be made off of it -- remain with the employer (non-profit) D.

TRAILING CODA: please read David's last two comments to this entry! (6th and 7th)


I really don't know you at all so all I can go by is your project and the choices you make within it. It doesn't seem to be a difficult project to understand so I would be shocked if I indeed misunderstood it.

I do apologize if I misunderstand this but please explain why would you not have any sort of profit sharing between those who would stand to make money from a particular story (you did acknowledge this) and the spot.us community that made that possible?

Here is what I would have done: at the point where somebody expresses an interest in acquiring exclusive rights, an auction would ensue and the story would go to the highest bidder. This would mean that the rights would have been bought at fair market price and the spot.us community would have shared into the profits that can be made.

Anything less than this is favoring the buyers at the expense of the community, is it not?


P.S. something about my blogs and my comments in general: they are just my thoughts... sorry if they come across as accusing or anything of the sort... (they are not meant to be -- I'm just putting down what I am seeing and I do not benefit one way or another).

P.P.S. no, I don't think it's at all funny that people like Dan Gillmor didn't see the issues with your project ... ... even if your project may not be the only one that has these problems (makes me wonder if he really meant the things that made me decide to continue reading his blog) D.


CODA: I just need to ask...


I wonder if you felt that being so "friendly" (financially) towards the establishment -- allowing free lancers to just reimburse the original donors in exchange for exclusive rights to the profitable stories -- was necessary for getting that grant.

I mean... why did you set it up this way? Did you think you would not have had much of a chance to get the grant if your project would have been friendlier (financially) towards the spot.us community, instead?

I find it hard to believe you made this choice without any such pressure... it makes no sense...


OOPS!: looks like it's not quite over:


well, David *knows* exactly what the problem is… so I must have made it pretty clear:)

re: David: “Yes. A news organization that refunds the original donors does stand to make some money.”

so why is David giving away other people’s work and free interest loans for the financial gain of some news organization? he has wrongly likened his enterprise with kiva.org but there is no comparison: David’s enterprise is out to “help out” some news organizations (or free lancers or whatever) that are just out to make a profit… (not in any sort of dire straights).

why aren’t the profits at least shared with the community if a story turns out to be profitable? –> let it go towards other worthy stories that are not profitable but are worth reporting… why do the profits need to end up *all* in the pockets of somebody else? whose interest is served here?

people are expected to do free work and give donations but if profit can be made they are not entitled to any of it! David’s going to let some news organization or whatever come along and acquire *exclusive rights*… and walk away with whatever can be made off of it… looks like a classic case of delivering the suckers!


P.S. ohh, and I believe the IRS is going to have a problem with this set-up also (as I said, the way it is set-up looks like an abuse of the non-profit designation: David’s enterprise isn’t itself profiting but is allowing the buyers — news organizations or whatever — to do that *instead*; looks like a straw man situation)

P.P.S. I’d like to think that David and his endorsers are just naive but it’s hard to believe… I mean, he *knows* what he’s doing…

P.P.P.S. anyways, I’d like to wrap this up — I said pretty much everything I had to say… (I’m also closing my “online journalism blog” — I think I’ve seen enough of this) D.


FINAL: this is nuts! there is no way none of these people see the problem... heck! the IRS is going to take a look at this if they just don't want to see it...

MORE: Jon, I have no idea what is so difficult about this: David’s enterprise is betraying the community for the benefit of free lancers that are in no position to receive charity. (please see comment on my blog re: how Kiva.org is different) D.

EVEN MORE: (the comment is in not posted at this time: Nov. 16, 9:22 PM Eastern):

Hi,Hal! I'm shocked that you (as well as others) appear to not see the problem with this project: I believe it abuses the non-profit designation. Here are some exchanges that should make it clear (the comments to the entry on Dan Gillmor's blog: http://citmedia.org/blog/2008/11/10/spotus-launches/#comment-153882 and to the entry on my own blog are most relevant): https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2411652386354465356&postID=4464240303655822960&isPopup=true


MORE: there are more comments to this entry: please read


sorry about the delay (was away yesterday)


I don’t know if you read my response to David’s comment on my blog (he posted his prior comment in three different places so I just answered on my blog). Here it is:

re: “Advice On Working With Spot.Us. How to bolster your freelance budget.

Donate 100% of the value of an investigation and you’ll get exclusive rights. You can do this at any time - all extra proceeds will be given back to community members to invest in another pitch.”


You must know that there is money to be made from a good piece of journalism well beyond the costs of production (that would be just breaking even and would never work as a business model). So why are you volunteering the work of others — and the profits that could be had on the open market — to “bolster” the “freelance budget” of who knows whom? (makes me think you are a mole and are abusing the non-profit designation)


you are welcome to show how the above is not “saving money” for some freelancers that are expected to rip the profits by selling the stuff in whatever form they would like (David’s enterprise is giving them *exclusive rights*) while the community that made it possible does not share into those profits in any way (they are just refunded their money — this is like asking people to put up investment money and the community to do all sort of work so that somebody can come along and make a profit from it and just refund *the investment money*… ; in case it can’t be sold to some freelancer … then, David’s enterprise would just call it a “donation,” and keep people’s money… (it *would* get the tax treatment as such but I believe this is an abuse of the non-profit designation because the donation is merely a default in case profits can’t be made)



EVEN MORE: please read comments to this entry
PS. the comment above was regarding spot.us (not the other projects talked about in the entry)D.

MORE: now, why am I not surprised you'd endorse this sort of thing? (it should be illegal as it is an abuse of the non-profit designation for financial gain) D.
... and get people like Dan Gillmor on board....

Dan, I can't believe you are part of this. Spot.us is really asking people for a free loan, unless they can't find a buyer for the stuff... in which case they would NOT return their money!; if they can sell the stuff, those who financed the enterprise have no financial stake in the profits -- this sort of thing should be illegal! (it is an abuse of the non-profit designation for financial gain) D.

Monday, November 10, 2008

(eve more) on anonymity

re: "It’s a perfect example of why anonymous critics should not be taken seriously"... (...)... "The anonymous comment on a blog or news article deserves less than no credibility."

you are just as wrong on this, no matter how many times you repeat it... (for some odd reason you keep forgetting that the quality of the criticism is what makes it deserving or undeserving, not the source per se -- makes me think you want to discredit critics... period! and pointing-out anonymity is just a convenient pretext...).


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

cut people some slack (you'll need the favor returned at some point...)

re: "The economists didn’t figure on prices dropping as much, from what I can see. The point remains: supply and demand still works."

so then what is the "inanity" you talk about?

"Sales of new homes recorded an unexpected increase in September [as a direct result of the fact that, surprisingly,] median home prices dropped to the lowest level in four years" --> it was a surprise that the prices dropped as much as they did and this caused an unexpected increase of the sale of new homes [when compared with the economists' expectations].

As you say yourself:"The economists didn’t figure on prices dropping as much". The fact that this drop in prices resulted in an increase in sales (supply and demand) was not surprising at all...


P.S. The phrasing *is* a bit cumbersome -- I suppose you could read it the other way also, but why do that and insult the writer when there is a perfectly logical explanation to that statement? D.

Friday, October 24, 2008

connectU: is anybody paying attention to this?

doesn't look like it... there is very little info on the internet (it's just been mostly fodder for Valleywag) --> now, this usually makes me want to start a blog about it :) but it would be tough going and I don't know... if nobody's really interested in the topic, maybe I shouldn't be, either?


P.S. so what piqued my interest ...-- the possibility that connectU might not mind becoming a non-profit and taking on Facebook and ... winning! I do think a non-profit alternative would win in the long run (just like an honest-to-goodness non-profit alternative to craigslist would...)

P.P.S. if you think you are good with language, try to tell the two brothers apart by listening to their voices (they claim to have distinct personalities and you'd expect that to reflect in speech -- not the way they pronounce isolated words but the way they put things together and the emphasis. It's not easy at all,though... so I'm skeptical as to how different their personalities really are; interestingly, one of them is agnostic and the other Protestant (that's a pretty big difference, although it may not be a permanent choice); as far as being creative and artistic versus analytical this may have been just the chosen "differentiation" (each one may have done just as well as the other if the choices would have been reversed)

P.P.P.S. alright... moving on... unless someone is volunteering some decent sources of info on the topic D.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

more on anonymity...

I agree with Nikos and strongly disagree with that statement on anonymity. Especially with the way it is constructed: it uses *an example* of a negative use of anonymity (personal attacks) to justify dismissing anonymous criticism without considering the quality of the criticism.


P.S. Valid criticism that spells out the logical steps does not need an identifiable “author” — it is just as true (and useful) if you don’t know the author as if you do. It is a mistake to ignore it just because it is anonymous.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seth & Jon: what would they want Dan to do?


sorry I’m late…

re: Dan: “I still see nothing wrong with shifting **more** responsibility onto the consumer of media. In fact, that strikes me as a healthy shift.” … “consumers will have do a little more intellectual lifting, which they should have been doing all along.”

You can’t realistically expect average people to spend a lot of time gathering and analyzing information from a large number of sources that may or may not be reliable and do a good job at it (most people don’t have the time and/or the expertise) — it is the job of the media to provide the equivalent of executive summaries that people can use (journalism is failing when it does not fulfill this function)

MORE: Jon: hope you had a good day overall... (it's getting much colder now, even down South)

List the ponies, Seth! let's hear it:)... D

Seth & Jon:

so what would you want Dan to do? let's assume he'd listen:), specifically, how would you want him to change so you would be more approving and less critical of what he says and does ... ?


Saturday, August 30, 2008

(Hurricaine Gustav) what is Craig Newmark "missing"?



Given their profits *and* lofty talk (craigslist is not just a run of the mill corporation, it is one that pretends to be something else), craigslist and Craig should be financially helping.


P.S. Do I think they would do it? not given their track record... (NEVER done it in the past as far as I'm aware, although they appear to have been racking in humongous profits... year after year after year...) D.

re: "Is something happening now I'm missing?" (comment-128475124)

yep! looks like you are "missing" the obvious, again; what were your profits this year? you should be able to help financially...


P.S. looks like this is going to be worse than Katrina so money is going to be one sure thing that will be needed D.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Craig's blog is "insightful"?


courtesy link to related comments on my blog:



I see... (it was just not obvious)

re: "contact us" page:



P.S. I'm even more baffled by your reaction to Craig now that I know your background...

P.P.S. and he *has* been on Facebook for a good while.

re: "Should you be on Facebook? I'm surprised you're not already."


Michael, what is your relationship with the site your name links to (you don't appear to be listed there at all). D.



I'm just curious, do you think Craig's speech at the Berkeley commencement was appropriate?


P.S. I tend to agree with Dave -- this is not something you do at commencement (you do have a captive audience there -- people pretty much have to be there -- and not doing this sort of thing seems to be just basic respect).

P.P.S. I think places like Facebook and Twitter are the same (people trust you not to do this sort of thing). D.

STILL MORE: (comment-126231606)

didn't people already tell you that was a no-no (aka spamming)? or was that on Tweeter? or the Berkeley commencement? or all of those...

here is a reminder if you've forgotten:

Dave:"I stopped paying attention somewhere in the middle and then for some reason my ears perked up when his speech became a political rally cry, but it was boring nonetheless."



P.S. this blog is a much more fair place for something like that (the vast majority of your readers would probably happily listen to whatever you'd like to say... political rally cry or not... and the few that *have* to read it for some reason or other don't have much choice in the matter...) D.



*Issues* raised? Again, it's a cut-and-paste-operation -- nothing original that I can see...

Looks like propaganda to me (always one-sided; devoid of analysis) and I have no doubt that some of these people/organizations would be willing to pay for this sort of thing.

I don't know that he *does* get paid, of course -- it is just my suspicion.




I'm at a loss as to what could you possibly find insightful about this blog -- it's a copy-and-paste-job when it comes to any serious issues. No analysis to speak of -- I've often wondered if Craig gets paid by some of the people/organizations he promotes on his blog.


... looks like this guy is just buttering him up...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

confidential sources


re: “One nuance, remember, is that if a reporter changes his assessment from “mostly confident in X” to “less confident in X” or “no longer confident in X” does that mean that the first statement is wrong?”

That’s the risk they take when they choose to use confidential sources (they can’t break their promise, they would have never gotten that info if they would not have agreed to confidentiality). If you are talking about regular sources, there are such things as retractions (if they believe their prior report was in error).

re: “Why doesn’t every news organization have a wiki for every fact that they know (going forward…)?

for many good reasons, I suspect… (not divulging the info to competitors is the first that comes to mind)



re: “And despite continued White House denials, four well-placed and separate sources have told ABC News that initial tests on the anthrax by the US Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland, have detected trace amounts of the chemical additives bentonite and silica.”

–> I think this is *potentially* conspiracy to deceive the public (but just… potentially…) D.

Jon, I think this was the real problem and a database that tracks errors couldn’t expose confidential sources any more than ABS can just came out and do it now (if it wants to still use confidential sources in the future).



Having an error database seems like a good idea; it could also include things like “we are working on a similar report” etc. but I’m not sure how it would work from the reader’s side: would you be searching at different times for errors in an article you read in a continuously changing database because you had a hunch an error might have been there? it seems to me that placing an update note at the top of the article from the time when an error is detected and giving the readers the option to sign up for email updates if they would like to be informed if and when any error would go into the database would be more user-friendly; I suppose you could charge a small fee for the service if *really* needed.


P.S. But this would not have prevented the major problem in the situation we are talking about, would it? D.


here is the part I find most important:

“And despite continued White House denials, four well-placed and separate sources have told ABC News that initial tests on the anthrax by the US Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland, have detected trace amounts of the chemical additives bentonite and silica.”

–> I think this is *potentially* conspiracy to deceive the public (but just… potentially…) D.


re: “If these events occurred the way Ross says they did — and if ABC has done sufficient homework to ensure that they were not part of a scheme to manipulate the network — then ABC would be justified in not revealing the the sources’ names now.”

The sources were confidential: they spoke to ABC on *this condition*. Whether or not ABC did their homework is irrelevant to whether or not ABC should break its promise (oral contract?) to those they regarded as sources.

Again, the courts could expose the identity of the sources if it was indeed conspiracy to deceive the public.



“If a journalist can not distinguish between a source, and someone who is trying to manufacture propaganda, then it must be left to the courts.” –> this appears to have been the case, ABC honestly (and not incompetently) thought those were credible corroborating sources.


P.S. The identity of “the sources” can be obtained through legal means without compromising ABC’s ability of using trustworthy confidential sources in the future. In the mean time, this would send the right message to those would be dishonest future “sources”: the courts will expose your identity if you use confidentiality for nefarious reasons. D.



re: “These questions must be answered and let the chips fall as they may.”

I think we should step back and choose the alternative that renders us better off. There is always a possibility to game the system, whether the source is confidential or not. And I think the consequences I am offering are probable, not just possible. No sources — confidential or not — can game the system *with impunity* unless they are allowed to do that. Doesn’t mean the investigation should be stopped — there should be legal means of getting the identity of the sources if this was indeed conspiracy to deceive the public.




True, but should ABC be required to forgo trustworthy confidential sources in the future in order to get to the bottom of this *one* story, even if a very important one?


P.S. you can also look at it from the public interest POV: are we all better off getting to the bottom of *this* story (and maybe a few others in the same category) and forgoing a lot more trustworthy confidential information in the future or are we better of accepting such isolated incidents of unfortunate duping as the trade off for continuing to get useful confidential info? D.


I would think quite a few trustworthy sources would decline to provide info you cannot get any other way if they saw you exposed someone else's identity, even if well deserved. D.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

is Dan going to answer?


John, I think he *is* suggesting a “solution”: stop self-serving baseless pontification.

This is what I’m getting from the following and this is what Seth has been saying for a very long time.

” I’ve noticed that the business-model of A-listers is to tell other people to change their business-model (”Everything You Know Is Wrong! It’s A New Era!”). Except the A-listers can profit whether or not their advice is good or bad, right or wrong - and hence, sometimes can be downright hostile to rigorous analysis (present company excepted, of course). But the actual numbers (when one can find them :-( ) are nowhere near as supportive as the breezy pontification.” (July 31st, 2008 at 5:47 am)


Seth is pointing out obvious fundamental flaws in the arguments. That doesn’t make him perfect, of course — just the voice of reason.


Dan: The chance to get *something* is not much of a risk.

Seth: To the contrary, you have to hire a web person, deal with server hosting and bandwidth issues, that all costs money. It’s not zero-vs-positive. There’s quite a risk of negative.

and on and on…


STILL MORE: good luck, Seth! It looks like you've got Jon backing you up, also... so I shouldn't be too badly missed:)


P.S. If you ever get Dan to really answer, it would be interesting to hear it -- otherwise, it just feels like running in circles... D.


a milder way to ask the core questions Seth is asking — not that he would *need* to ask them milder — might be:


#1. what are the “obvious ways” (that escape Seth and me, at a minimum) of breaking even? (you were implying at least breaking even is a given)

#2. what would it take for you — what facts — to conclude that there would be a significant risk of not getting the advertising revenue needed even in the long run ? (and just how long a view are you taking? it *cannot* be …. forever…)


P.S. I can see an argument that even if you loose some money by opening the archives there would be positive externalities that would at least compensate for that but Seth is correct that you (or anybody else talking authoritatively on these issues) need to” show your work” (the concrete rational steps that bring you to your conclusion) or acknowledge that it’s just not a well founded guess… it may be a hope… or something else… D.


re: ““If we take 3 gills of pixie-powder and add it to 5 drams of fairy-dust, it’ll be enough for a unicorn in a magic kingdom”. LOL

you are getting to be funny, Seth:) — haven’t noticed that side of you.


P.S. BTW, I can use some back-up on Craig Newmark’s blog (a post referring to what seems like Dan’s rosy presentation of the situation); thanks! D.

re: http://onlinejournalismblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/is-dan-going-to-answer.html


It sounds all nice and fluffy... but I wonder if you see any real issues with it.

The sort of problems Seth keeps throwing at you on your blog come to mind: is it mostly hype? it is largely smoking mirrors allowing the few to profit and the many to be exploited?

If Seth is correct, doesn't sound like much progress, does it?


P.S. In the few years I've been reading your blog I haven't seen you directly address the problems he constantly brings up... I've often wondered why...D

Saturday, July 26, 2008

strive to be a researcher (not a journalist...)

I'm not sure if this is what Jon meant, but a true researcher (not the kind that gets paid to look up things so that *others* can use them... the term seems a misnomer in such circumstances) is much more than just a journalist. There are lousy researchers and there are great journalists, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that doing serious research and doing serious journalism are just not at the same level, although these are both useful endeavors. Striving to be a true researcher, as opposed to a journalist, is a higher goal.


P.S.And I agree with Seth... dumping the whole analysis process in the lap of the readers because the journalist just can't be perfectly objective sounds like a copout to me... and the readers truly don't have the time to do your job for you :) -- (I don't mean *you*, in particular...) D.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Public journalism and citizen journalism


Some people (French) thought the two concepts were pretty much the same, that “citizen journalism” is just “public journalism” in the internet age… I suppose not particularly flatering to Jay:)


P.S. Here is a translation I did for Jay (and his readers) back in 2006:


P.P.S. his blog was pretty decent in terms of topics, just a bit much to take on the personal level (way too much pointless bickering…) D.

Monday, June 9, 2008

(Wikipedia) Jimmy Wales desirves some respect

STILL MORE: (9th comment)

I'd have to see that, Seth...


P.S. can you please email me the "early history of Wikipedia" you talk about (hopefully you have it in a relatively compact form, but anything under 100 pages I'd take a look at) D.

EVEN MORE: (7th comment)

How much time do you think he has spent on this project by now? what if he would have spent in on Bomis-the-next-generation instead and forgot about Wikipedia altogether? that would have been the expected thing to do when he figured it wasn't going to be a financial success, no?


P.S. and I still think he could have gotten *something* for it if he would have sold it; also why not switch back to for-profit once it became clear that Wikipedia was valuable? (all he would have had to do is tell people he needed to collect some fees to pay the bills and then refused to disclose the profits -- nothing stopped Craig from doing that...); as far as I can see Jimmy has handled it with much more honesty and deserves respect for it... D.

MORE: (5th comment)

He *could* have monetized it, Seth -- nothing would have stopped him from putting ads on it, for instance. Dumping it would have meant selling it, as far as I see it (selling it to the highest bidder while it was still a for profit). He didn't do that -- he made it a non-profit instead (the opposite of what Craig did with craigslist)


P.S. And you *did* say it, Seth...

re: "And remember what fuels the value of those speaking engagements. That's you-Yes-YOU! Now, don't you want to buy him a jet too?"

Seth, (3rd comment)

Jimmy is obviously no saint but I doubt he is nearly as bad as you make him out to be...

I mean, if you would have shown that the I-made-my-fortune-on-the-stock-market claim was bull, I would have definitely listened; if you would have shown that he made a fortune from Bomis and has been hiding this, I would have listened but... earning honoraria as side benefit to having spent a huge amount of his own time on helping build Wikipedia is a real problem?

He could have tried to monetize Wikipedia and milk it for all it was worth or dump it if it wouldn't have worked out -- He *didn't* do this and I think he deserves respect for it (whatever his other failings may be...)


Sunday, May 18, 2008

(benign and malign) pseudonyms

EVEN MORE: Hi Orin! Seth Finkelstein sent me your way. re: " You can imagine the basic idea, though: Since everyone who uses computers violates dozens of different TOS every day, the theory would make everyone who uses computers a felon." This doesn't make sense to me because 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2)(C) is not a stand-alone punishable offense. Delia P.S. there is more detail on this in my discussion with Dan Gillmor and Seth Finkelstein on Dan Gillmor's blog D.

MORE: I’m not out to convince anybody, Seth, but I may post a comment if they are not making it a hassle to do it (make you register and the like) Thanks! D.

MORE: P.S. for Seth: I get the impression an alarmist first caught wind of this and then a whole lot of others just adopted that view without really looking into it. D.

STILL MORE: re: Dan Solove: “if one “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization . . . , and thereby obtains . . . information from any protected computer if the conduct involved an interstate . . . communication” and “the offense was committed in furtherance of any . . . tortious act [*in this case intentional infliction of emotional distress*] in violation of the . . . laws . . . of any State.” [my emphasis]

–>that’s why this whole idea that *everybody* would be felon makes no sense… UNLESS *everybody* is doing things like intentionally inflicting emotional distress on others (possibly driving them to suicide) … pretty far fetched assumption as far as I’m concerned… D.

EVEN MORE: re: Orin: “You can imagine the basic idea, though: Since everyone who uses computers violates dozens of different TOS every day, the theory would make everyone who uses computers a felon.” –> nonsense… for the reasons I gave above — it’s NOT a stand-alone *punishable* offense…

MORE: sorry about the delay (was away for the day)

Dan, I’ve told you before I have no interest in having the last word — I *do* have an interest in clearing things up if possible… (otherwise it seems pointless to talk about them, no?)

The offense in case is the one *you* gave (I just tracked it down and gave all the relevant parts of the law):


” From the actual law:

Whoever ‘intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains … information from any protected computer if the conduct involved an interstate or foreign communication…”

The law doesn’t require a reason. Just doing it, under this incredibly sweeping interpretation, is enough to trigger an indictment.” –> these were your words(May 22nd, 2008 at 8:54 am)

if this is not a punishable offense on its own (it requires a separate conviction for a second offense) — and unless you show me that my reasoning was wrong, I see no reason to believe otherwise — who would prosecute?

realistically, the indictment you talk about would never materialize…


STILL MORE: well, it would help if you said what exactly *you* believe

re: “You are simply incorrect. That is not what it says.”

if you believe it says you *would* be punished even if ALL you did was what (a) (2) (C) says, where are you reading that? (I thought I gave all the relevant parts)

the following is incomplete — re: I said it was not a “stand-alone *punishable* offense” [my emphasis] — there is NO punishment for it UNLESS it occurs *after* “a conviction for another offense” (May 23rd, 2008 at 7:51 am)

having been convicted of an *attempt*, as I said in the preceding post (May 22nd, 2008 at 7:04 pm),” it must occur ‘after a conviction for another offense under this section *or an attempt* to commit an offense punishable under this subparagraph”; [my emphasis] would also suffice but aside from that I don’t see anything wrong with what I said…


MORE: that is the only way it makes sense to me — poorly phrased (meant just as an aggravating factor); what would be the point of it otherwise? “yep! you committed an offense… but it was so trivial that we have no penalty for you…”

EVEN MORE: I said it was not a “stand-alone *punishable* offense” [my emphasis] — there is NO punishment for it UNLESS it occurs *after* “a conviction for another offense”


P.S. I agree that is should NOT be listed as a stand-alone *offense* (even if not punishable) and I doubt it was intended as such (looks like an aggravating factor for the other offenses listed) D.

MORE: well…if AP can’t even get *the charges* right, what are they doing reporting the news?

Here are all the relevant parts from § 1030. Fraud and related activity in connection with computers, as far as I can tell:

“(a) Whoever—(2) intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access, and thereby obtains—(C) information from any protected computer if the conduct involvedan interstate or foreign communication;
shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section.
(b) Whoever attempts to commit an offense under subsection (a) of this section shall be punished as provided in subsection (c) of this section.
(c) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) or (b) of this section is—
(C) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both, in the case of an offense under subsection *(a)(2)*, (a)(3) or (a)(6) of this section *which occurs after a conviction for another offense under this section*, or an attempt to commit an offense punishable under this subparagraph” [my emphasis]

that is not a stand-alone punishable offence, is it? (it must occur “after a conviction for another offence under this section or an attempt to commit an offense punishable under this subparagraph”)


STILL MORE: "mostly about violating terms of service on a website — specifically those regarding the use of real names” –> nonsense… they would have been laughed out of court if the charge would have been “using a pseudonym while the terms of use were clearly asking for the actual name”

Again, here are the charges:

“” Drew … was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization *to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl*. [my emphasis]


P.S. revenge is not the point here (although if you drive someone to suicide you certainly deserve punishment, as far as I’m concerned); the point is using as broad an interpretation of the law as needed to discourage this kind of situation from repeating D.

EVEN MIORE: driving someone to suicide is no trivial matter… if you have no clear way to punish this, you are just inviting more of these crimes to be perpetrated — what’s the message you are sending? :” First off, there is no clear law against it! so no worries of state or federal prosecution — *no way of going to prison* –, the parents might sue for damages in civil court but it would be a very tough case… (so chances are they would not) –> isn’t this telling the victims “tough luck”?


P.S. as to “leaves almost everyone a potential criminal,” I already explained that the idea that by simply using a pseudonym for benign reasons one would be federally prosecuted has no factual support D.

MORE: Dan, just so we understand where you are coming from: let’s assume this is in fact what's happened — the girl was purposefully emotionally distressed to the point of being driven to suicide. Would the appropriate response of MySpace and everybody else that could possibly bring justice to this situation be: “tough luck!”? This is the impression I’m getting from your statements… D.
I just don’t see where AP gets the idea that by *simply* “signing up for online service using a fake name or email address [you] could be committing a federal crime”.

Here are the charges:

” Drew … was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization *to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl*. [my emphasis]

that’s a totally different story from the routine using of a pseudonym, isn’t it? I would hope that inflicting emotional distress on others (and possibly driving them to suicide) is NOT routine behavior — if it *is*, it certainly needs to be stopped!


P.S. I’ve been disappointed with AP as of late… D.

Friday, May 2, 2008


STILL MORE: but … hey! at least they are not *paying* for “the priviledge”… (like some conference goers do… ) D.

EVEN MORE: re: “if it means that the paper will do more than just highlight what the bloggers do (i.e. pay them for what they do)”

the big problem I see with this is that they have a strong financial incentive NOT to pay them as long as they can get away with it — the vast majority of enterprises trying to “save the news” (for their own financial gain) would collapse if “the suckers” that make these projects possible would just wake up and stop volunteering.


P.S. Are these people really fools, cretins, with low-intelligence or low-self esteem? Of course not… (they are just naives that don’t realize they are being exploited) D.

MORE: I do think Seth is right — a whole lot of naives are toiling away (intellectually and otherwise) for the financial benefit of few, without even realizing that they are being exploited. (I shouldn’t have given that quote, as I said, it’s pretty harsh… but it *does* go to the core of the issue… in a funny sort of way… if you can take humor when it comes to serious issues).


P.S. I didn’t mean to offend anybody, sorry if I did. D
You can beat them, Jon…:)


P.S. I’ll take a look at your stuff when you are done with it if you’d like (there wasn’t much detail on the link you gave).

P.P.S. News*Tools*? hmmm… does that refer to the participants?:) Seth would probably agree that the urban dictionary definition of the word “tool” may be giving pretty good insights into just who is financially benefiting from getting people to volunteer their ideas and insights in these sort of conferences:

” tool : One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used. A fool. A cretin. Characterized by low intelligence and/or self-steem.

That tool dosen’t even know she’s just using him.”


it’s a bit harsh… but the truth often is… D.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

does Dan Gillmor just not like the comments he's getting?


I don’t know if you are proving my point, Seth — I’d have to see Dan’s side of it also and I can’t *make* him talk… (I can only ask…)


P.S. you are welcome! D.

I’m just wondering… what would you like to get as comments? I mean, I find that Jon’s comments (and Seth’s) add a lot of value to your blog — by challenging some of the things you say, it becomes more than one person’s view on things.


P.S. Their comments may not be perfect or perfectly pleasant but they always seem to attempt to get the ball of discussion rolling (a big plus as far as I can tell). Yet most of the time… it just doesn’t seem to work. Do you just not like most of the comments you are getting? D.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

(Wikia) people powered search -- the *wrong* way...

EVEN MORE: (10th comment) re: "what is in reality a highly automated and self-contained system that depends on *repeatable, mechanized processes*" [my emphasis]

I think this is a serious limitation of search engines. Plenty of things are just not amenable to using "repeatable, mechanized processes." There is definitely a place for people as far as improving search.


MORE: (8th comment)

re: "Delia: Sort of defeats the purpose."

Seth: I would have asked Larry to post again without the credibly libelous part. I mean, it's not like all comments bring original criticism here...


P.S.not a big deal, though (I just thought I'd let you know what I thought) D.

(5th comment) Let Larry talk, Seth... Let *us* decide if the part you did not regard as credible libel was "common criticism"... (now you just made me curious...)

Milton: I don't think the idea, in general, is a bad one (using people to improve search). I just don't think it could or should be done the way Jimmy is trying to do it (Seth is right on this).


Monday, April 14, 2008

to Twitter or not to Twitter? (is the time investment worth it?)


re: "Delia: I need to do a video so you can see just how many people I do have a relationship with online and just how they add value to my life on all these services."

OK, Robert -- I'd watch that. (I just hope I'll remember to check for it...)


P.S. take care! D.


just how much time are you spending following half a thousand people around these services? do you really *know* these people at a meaningful level? (random pictures and one line twitter posts don’t seem all that conducive to knowing people — definitely not 500 of them…)


P.S. it all sounds rather silly to me… (sorry if I’m wrong) D.

Monday, April 7, 2008

to blog or not to blog? what *kind* of blogging?


Dan&Seth: I don’t think the issue can be presented in *general terms* — it’s WAY too varied… might just as well ask, “Is *reading* killing us?” — it all depends what are you reading and how you react to it, doesn’t it? it may well give heart attacks to some of the people… D.



Don’t you think it’s a legitimate concern? for *some* blogging/blogers? The issue could definitely be better framed but it is one worth talking about… I think.


MORE: God! how can I still post the wrong email address? (it posted with no problem once I got it right) D.
Dan, (2nd comment, awaiting moderation -- forgot to enter webpage , I don't know if this caused it to go in moderation, it usually posts automatically)

It seems to me that the issue is poorly defined: what *kind* of blogging?… it can be an enjoyable walk in the park or a recurrent nightmare and probably pretty much everything in between — all in a day of blogging.



another Delia?



I’m a bit confused about the “other Delia” that started to post on this blog while I was taking a break. No, I don’t have exclusive claim to my first name but I found it strange that that name is not present on her blog anywhere I could see, yet she uses it to post here.


P.S. Not necessarily ill intended, of course, just seems odd to me… D.
when I saw her post I was worried someone was impersonating me... it still seems odd that she only uses the name "Delia" on Dan Gilmor's blog... (not on hers) -- I took a cursory look at her blog... D.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

(Wikipedia) the good and... the not so good...



To leave here on a light note, here’s my favorite “quote” from Wikipedia: “Jimmy Wales was born to a Parisian whore named ‘Babette’ during the French Revolution”(this can be still found on Wikipedia — it’s part of the archived edits for the “Jimmy Wales” entry). Good reason not to take Wikipedia too seriously…:)


P.S. take care! D.
Hi, Matthew!

Yes, my comment doesn’t make it clear that Mark’s article was on wikis, in general. My bad. But he definitely talks about Wikipedia *in particular*:

“Early in this process, Wikipedia launched and began its completely unexpected rise into utility. In some ways, Wikipedia has an easy job: as an encyclopedia it must provide a basic summary of facts, not a detailed exploration of a topic, and it is generally possible for someone with a basic background in a topic to provide this much information. Yet this critique overlooks the immense breadth of Wikipedia (as of this writing, nearly 2.3 million articles in its English-language version). By casting its net wide – inviting all experts, everywhere, to contribute their specific knowledge – not only has Wikipedia covered the basics, it’s also covering everything else. No other encyclopedia could hope to be as comprehensive as Wikipedia, because no group of individuals – short of the billion internet-connected individuals who have access to Wikipedia – could be so comprehensively knowledgeable on such a wide range of subjects.

Wikipedia will ever remain a summary of human knowledge; that is its intent, and there are signs that the Wikipedians are becoming increasingly zealous in their enforcement of this goal. Summaries are significant and important (particularly for the mass of us who are casually interested in a particular topic), but summaries do not satisfy our obsessive natures. Although Wikipedia provides an outlet for expertise, it does not cross the salience gap. This left an opening for a new generation of Wikis designed to provide depth immersion in a particular obsession. (Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, realized this, and created Wikia.com as a resource where these individuals can create highly detailed Wikis.)”

Since your post deals with Wikipedia *in particular*, that was the part of Mark’s article I commented on. And you are both most welcome!


P.S. I don’t view Wikipedia as an authoritative source and I don’t think it’s intended to be used that way. I think it’s just a good starting point for learning about things with the understanding that it may not be correct… that it IS wrong and biased in places and will *always* be (these are the trade-offs, as far as I can see). D.

Your comment is definitely interesting and entertaining (like pretty much everything I’ve seen of yours). But I also find that Dave Winer’s experience with Wikipedia (and I’m sure he is not the only one who’s had such a frustration experience with it — how *could* he be?) does shed some light on the sort of trade-offs an enterprise like Wikipedia entails.


P.S. I liked your article but I didn’t find it particularly balanced. I got the feeling that you were subtly arguing *for* Wikipedia, not taking a detached look at it. Nothing wrong with that, of course… it’s just not the *whole* story, as far as I can tell… D.

I love Jon's patience...

I love your patience, Jon… I don’t know what your rate of getting a response on this site is (it’s gotta be better than mine as of late) but it may not be that much better… yet you are hitting almost every single entry…


P.S. good luck with it! I’m taking a break… D.

Monday, March 3, 2008

(Facebook) bad incentives


I think the real problem is that Facebook is for profit and, as long as it can get away with it, it's against its interest to let people easily move "their existance" elsewhere. So unless it MUST allow this (maybe some regulation? or serious competition), form the business POV, it makes no sense for them to do it...


P.S. As for the people joining these things, if they *want* to have the kind of "existence" Facebook provides, they don't have much of a choice, do they? Where are they going to go? Whatever other for profit alternatives might be around, they are going to have the same counterincentives.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lessig's cult

MORE (third comment): I see that kind of non-sense as dangerous no matter *where* it pops-up but a particularly bad fit for politics and academia.


P.S. I lost respect for people like Lessig when I saw what having someone bankroll an "academic based advocacy center" did to academic freedom at Harvard. (I don't think this sort of thing should be allowed at all -- it's completely incompatible with academic principles) Sounds ludicrous to hear *him* talk about corruption of all things... D.

Seth(third comment), I meant this for your Lessig post... (the comments box appeared to be missing there)

I think you are wrong on this one and I agree with Jon re: cult-of-personality -- gives me the creeps... (Congress is just as bad a place for something like that as academia... maybe worse...)


P.S. Lessig missed his true calling (science fiction writer) D.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

help out somebody who's *not*...going to tank


If you think it’s going to tank, why hold on to those shares? It’s not helping anybody, is it? Why not sell them and give the money away (if you really don’t care what comes of it) –> help out someone you think it’s NOT going to tank…


Friday, January 11, 2008

my advice: skip the BS!

agree with Seth…


P.S. my advice… skip the BS! if you are going to go for profit, do it straight and honest! (or find something else to do….) if you wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t money to be made, don’t insinuate you would! unless you are playing a scam artist in a movie (or you want to be regarded as one…) D.

Monday, January 7, 2008

(valleywag) Seth has arrived!

re: http://valleywag.com/341772/wikia-not-so-transparent-says-uk-hack

10th comment

You've arrived, Seth! :) (you made Valleywag) -- all your labor was not in vain...


P.S. I know, I know... it's not the New York Times. Then again, at least on one topic (craigslist) they appear to be much smarter than the NYT journalists...

P.P.S oh... and looks like Gates is talking to them (recent entry) so you are not in bad company... D.