Websites

The Anonymous collective on online hacktivists has started an online petition to the White House asking that denial of service attacks (DoS) be protected as free speech and thereby receive the protection of the First Amendment. They argue that denial of service is not hacking, but a form of protest. In their petition, Anonymous suggests that a denial of service attack is no different than gathering outside a business or public office in protest. You are, in effect, occupying a Website in the same way that you might occupy the street outside a business or government office.

The biggest problem I have with this argument is that while there are some valid points on the surface, it doesn't make a lot of sense when you dig even a little deeper. That's because a Website isn't a business.

When you disrupt a business by standing outside its offices and protesting, you don't stop the people inside from expressing their points of view or countering yours. Sure, you're a nuisance to the people you are protesting, and very likely their customers, but each side is still able to make their voices heard. You make your demands while the press reports on the activities and the people you are protesting get to make their points. Freedom of speech is more or less guaranteed to all parties, unless there are issues of illegal confinement, hostage taking, kidnapping, or some other forcible denial of any individual's right to express themselves.

The trouble with Anonymous' argument is encompassed in my last point. They are forcibly denying a site owner of the ability to express themselves. In that effort to express themselves, they are denying the site owner of their freedom of speech. The site being taken down is left with no way to express itself. At no point in this discussion am I suggesting that anyone is using illlegal botnets or zombie systems to do the work. I'm basing this on the idea that everything else in play is perfectly legal, with members using their own computers to hit the refresh button over and over again. Besides, how they do it is irrelevant to the First Amendment question.

To make matters worse, many Websites are on shared hosting systems. One Apache server handles many different companies. If you perform a denial of service against a company, you could be taking any number of additional businesses offline, limiting their ability to do business, and to express themselves. Their only crime is being on the same server. 

It's a bitch, but if you want to walk the high road of free speech, you can't deny another person doing the same. Freedom of speech is a two way street, otherwise it's just those with means and the power ensuring that others are kept silent.

09
Aug

Too Many Sites?

Too many notes? How about too many sites?

I've always had trouble focusing, at least for long periods of time. Focusing long enough to get this job done or writing an article, is well within my capabilities. Perhaps it's more a question of too  many interests. When I fill out a questionnaire that asks for my 'Interests', I don't know where to start. You see, I'm interested in everything!

  • science fiction and fantasy
  • religion
  • Linux and open source software, including Android
  • space exploration
  • genetics and epigenetics
  • politics
  • sex
  • psychology and the theory of mind
  • ethics and morality
  • superstition and mythology (which could go under religion)
  • libraries, data storage, and archiving content
  • history
  • movies
  • physics . . . oh might as well add science as a general category
  • books
  • music, which includes rock, opera, classical, baroque, big band, blues, and pretty much everything else
  • silliness and various ephemera

I could go on and on and on . . . but as you can see, I really am interested in everything. I'm an information addict. Worse, my passions are equally widespread. How is a guy supposed to function under these crazy conditions? How are you, dear reader, supposed to follow my work if you happen to be interested in Linux and free software when only every tenth post is on that subject. Or religion, or politics, or science fiction.

To be honest, I find it hard to keep up with me and this does pose problems when it comes to organizing my thoughts, whatever that might mean. Since I run a company that does Website hosting, among other things, I tend to create new Websites. I have a general Website under the marcelgagne.com (you are likely here) banner and various others depending on where I think I should be concentrating certain types of content, like Linux and Open Source. Heck, I even have a Website for those things that interested me only briefly (Look! A Shiny Object!) before I move on to the next distraction.

And yes, all this means that I have a dozen or more domains registered that are basically all for my own writing.

What about you? Am I the only one who has decided to create Websites as he sees fit? Is this just plain crazy or a normal part of blogger/journalist evolution?

If you are part of the eternally distracted set with countless interests, tell me how you handle all this. I'm genuinely curious.

17
Jul

When News Isn't

I thought of calling this entry, "Website annoyance number 3147 . . . or thereabouts." as opposed to the title that actually made it.

I hate, hate, hate 'News' sites that don't put a date on their stories; the result is less than worthless. How in tarnation is anyone supposed to know if it's news or something from three years ago? Sure, you've got today's date at the top of your fracking Website, but I can figure that one out for myself (there's a little clock and calendar at the bottom of my screen and it's synchronized to an atomic clock) and it still doesn't tell me anything as to the age of your purported 'news'. 

It's particularly annoying when I start reading the story and it says, "Yesterday, we heard about the most incredibly momentous event in the history of our species, and possibly all intelligent life in the cosmos, when Dr. Fitzwalllabingbang found that ripples in the sub . . . " and so on. 

When the heck was yesterday?!

While looking through my newsfeeds, I saw a story teaser about the birth of the world's first GM babies, something that certainly sounds interesting. So I decided to follow the link. It was to the Mail Online, a UK newspaper. Here's a screenshot from the site.

It says the news was revealed last night, but there's no way to tell when last night was. And why is this story in the Sports section? 

To be fair, I'm using the Mail Online as an example, but they aren't the only guilty party by any stretch of the imagination. I see this all the time. They just happen to be the one I visited last, the one that broke the proverbial camel's back. The last strawn in a long line of straw bales stacked along the information superhighway.

Care to share any other annoying examples? Leave a comment.

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