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Revolt of the Lab Rats? Or Voyeur Caught Watching?
May 18, 2008 6:28 AM   Subscribe

When your research subjects notice you watching.... The fine folks over at Little Green Footballs discovered "a pile of results and code" from an observation of their on-line discourse on a server at Carnegie Mellon. That led to a heated thread of sometimes paranoid speculation that eventually calmed down (somewhat) when the researcher's academic advisors posted a good-natured mea-culpa (wea-culpa?) and explanation.
posted by mmahaffie (92 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder what the IRB has to say about this...
posted by proj at 6:49 AM on May 18, 2008


~insert "if you aren't doing anything wrong..." comment here~
posted by Thorzdad at 7:12 AM on May 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


I wonder what the IRB has to say about this...

Shouldn't matter - this isn't a social experiment its a data mining effort and prediction effort.
posted by bitdamaged at 7:22 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hahah. Those LGFers are so damn paranoid.

It's pretty funny how paranoid and irrational and crazy those people are. The 'mainstream' right-wing bloggers are about as crazy and delusional as, say people who think 9/11 was an inside job on the left.

What's not funny is that the government was stoking this lunacy in the general public, and that's why those nut bars became so popular. They happened to align with the zeitgeist. But now that the political winds have changed, it's becoming clear how crazy they really are.
posted by delmoi at 7:22 AM on May 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is there any reason to think this is some sort of evil machination? Are they really working to invent an "army of robo-bloggers?" Because, if not, it looks to me like what usually happens when it suddenly dawns on people posting to public websites that what they write is, in fact, public.
posted by Miko at 7:24 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


delmoi writes "Hahah. Those LGFers are so damn paranoid."

I don't think I blame them for that, given the climate of the times.
posted by orthogonality at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's pretty interesting to follow this through to the research data. I liked the tag clouds here. Those liberals sure have potty mouths.
posted by nowonmai at 7:50 AM on May 18, 2008


They were pretty dumb not to make any effort to protect any of their data or their code.

Seems that "forgetting to set permissions" so that outside addresses can't read what's going on shouldn't be a problem -- that should be the default, and you should have to OPEN your directories on purpose.
posted by chimaera at 8:17 AM on May 18, 2008


Remember when LGF was a web dev blog?

I guess html is pre-9/11 thinking in a post-9/11 world.
posted by Mick at 8:18 AM on May 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Though LGF is far to the right of center, perhaps worth noting that they too are now overly sensitive to exactly the sort of thing they supported from those they voted to put into power...the Nike now on other foot?
posted by Postroad at 8:23 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


nowonmai writes "I liked the tag clouds here."

Keeping always in mind that, intentionally or not, the same terms may mean very different things to a "liberal" and a "conservative". Those scare-quoted terms in particular, not to mention the intentional double-meanings of things like "Plessey", with very different meanings to a Pro-Life audience than to an African-American audience.

Since "9-11" I suspect there's been quite a divergence in the meanings of "safety", "terrorist" and "tyranny", for example.
posted by orthogonality at 8:23 AM on May 18, 2008


LGFs' fear is real and legitimate.

You have to take into account the level of sheltering these people require from LGF and other websites like Free Republic. These sites work in part because they allow a level of anonymity for their members but there is more to it than that...

Structurally these sites are designed (like almost all blogs and message boards) to expire topics and discussion threads. Oh, these threads are still there in most cases, but you really have to go digging for them. The fact that things "fall off" the front page creates the impression that these sites have no history. This is reassuring in that members can rant, express their views, and generally be as bad as they want to, and they don't have to worry about their opinions coming back to haunt them. An extreme example of this is a site like 4Chan where there really is no "previous posts" section.

The idea that some ivory tower academics may be not only "making a recording" of what goes on at LGF, but are also analyzing this data, and possibly presenting it in some new fashion is legitimate grounds for panic among these people. Imagine if all their threads, and topics, and posts were structured in a searchable, indexed fashion. Imagine if the analysis confirms the overriding trend of fear and hate which our cursory glances only gives us a sense of.

Some of the people at LGF truly don't care, for others it is a fantasy landscape where they can post their noxious views, be cheered for doing so, and then walk away without ever having to really think about what they are saying. The idea that now some group of researchers somewhere maybe looking at every keystroke, every opinion, and *gasp* judging these people as whole is cause for alarm. An outside observer has the potential to be a real buzz kill.

The same thing has happened in that other preferred and ephemeral medium of the hard right: talk radio. Now that sites like the Soros backed Media Matters have people working around the clock transcribing right wing radio you've seen the edge disappear somewhat. Limbaugh himself has largely curtailed his more vitriolic rants knowing that his statements are being recorded for posterity and relentlessly fact checked. In a world where Don Imus is tarred and feathered not precisely for what he said, but for the fact that his words were instantly available to people who don't even listen to his show, the writing is plainly on the wall for Limbaugh and others.

On a lighter note, consider the differences with Metafilter: Personally I'm always struck by how forthcoming members here are with personal information. Many profiles list people's personal websites, real names, where they live, etc. And I think this is reflected in the quality of the posts here. Most people posting here are expressing views that they would express just as freely in person. This isn't the case with hard-right websites.

And although things do "fall off" from the front page, the profiles are structured in a way that allows one to effortlessly browse previous posts. I believe that this helps greatly with self-policing.
posted by wfrgms at 8:26 AM on May 18, 2008 [75 favorites]


Heh heh heh. I see the freedom-lovers have fallen for our little "explanation." The Overlords shall be pleased. I'll notify Hilary and Barbra immediately.
posted by PlusDistance at 8:34 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most people posting here are expressing views that they would express just as freely in person. This isn't the case with hard-right websites.

Eh, I don't know if I buy that. People are much more open about politics on the web, both left and right. In real life, it's hard to find someone to argue/debate with... mostly you just run into apathy or people who don't want to talk about politics because it's too much bad blood.
posted by smackfu at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


wfrgms writes "ivory tower academics"

I really can't tell you how much I despise that phrase. You ever been up in that "ivory tower"? I've been there, man. It isn't ivory. If academics could just ask for money and have it handed over, yeah, it would be ivory. In real life, the money has to be begged for, justified in multiple ways, run through approval committees, fact-checked, audited, and then if it actually makes it past the triage panel and gets funded, all of the facts, justification, claims, plans, and results have to be publicly posted so that people can see where their tax dollars have gone. The days of detached scientists randomly trying something on a whim just to see what happens pretty much died with Bell Labs. The money for that just doesn't exist any more.

More on topic, I think myself (and maybe more than a few others) have had an online presence for much longer than we've had a consciousness that everything we did was going to leave a record. At this point, I figure what the hell. Sure, in old posts there's lots of evidence that I probably said stuff I would rather not have written out in full, but I'm not going to try and hide it now by pretending I never said it. Cat's pretty much out of the bag by now. Only difference between that and offline rantings is that nobody remembers the stupid shit I said in person in high school or earlier, because that isn't transcribed on some message board somewhere.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:47 AM on May 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


I wonder what the IRB has to say about this...

Shouldn't matter - this isn't a social experiment its a data mining effort and prediction effort.
posted by bitdamaged at 7:22 AM on May 18 [+] [!]


You had to receive IRB approval to use ANY kind of data that is somehow connected to a person (including census data, records of dead people, etc.) until this very year at my university. Only this year did they finally admit that the General Social Survey doesn't really constitute a legitimate danger to "human subjects."
posted by proj at 9:04 AM on May 18, 2008


Feel free to ignore the subject-changer.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:10 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


one only has to mention "peak oil," "climate change," or "credit crunch" around here to draw out a whole gaggle of lunatics explaining how the end of the world is just around the corner, but governmental and corporate powers have conspired to keep the whole thing a secret.

In fairness, that "whole gaggle of lunatics" is really just the same 3 or 4 people every time.
posted by dersins at 9:11 AM on May 18, 2008


I think CJ (Chief Lizard, LGF Towers, Lalaland) regularly visitsMefi. How else could he be this quick:
Metafilter Doesn't Heart LGF

Sun, May 18, 2008 at 9:09:51 am PST

They like us, they really like us: Revolt of the Lab Rats? Or Voyeur Caught Watching? | MetaFilter.

OK, I’m being sarcastic. Truth is, they really hate us. A lot.

But it’s funny to read their clueless comments, completely misconstruing the direction and purpose of Little Green Footballs, and spewing hatred in all directions like psychotic manbabies with insomnia. Which is pretty much what all the purblind leftist drones do.
Link NSFM: do not quote comments there back here, it just ain't worth it.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait till Charles finds this [and he will].

Yep, already happened.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:22 AM on May 18, 2008


Please, ignore the troll.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:25 AM on May 18, 2008


Do I have to ignore the troll? 'cause he made me laugh out loud, and that really doesn't happen very often on MeFi for me. Can I at least give him a cookie? Wanna cookie, trollie? Have a cookie!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, does anyone have a quick summary of what goes on in the nearly 600-comments-long LGF thread? I don't have the patience to wade through that crap.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 AM on May 18, 2008


We really shouldn't give these people any sort of attention ever, it's blatantly obvious they've popped a gigantic e-boner over it.
posted by smackwich at 9:37 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


spewing hatred in all directions

mefi spewing hatred? that kid's thong is sitting waaaay too tight.
posted by krautland at 9:39 AM on May 18, 2008


And the snake eats its own tail... Like Ouroboros, we link to them, they link to us, an endless loop of interreference. Fascinating.

I don't think I'd ever taken a look at Little Green Footballs before. One thing I noticed right away was the fact that the structure of the postings echoes the way things are done at Dailykos, which seems like the kind of thing that this research is interested in.

Example:

Both Dailykos and LGF use the convention of the "Open Thread", which, frankly, I hadn't seen used in other places. Maybe other political blogs use it, but I had only seen it at Dailykos.

I actually find the structural similarities really provocative. I wonder if there is something inherent in creating a specifically political blog which encourages using similar structural elements. An "open thread" on MeFi, for instance, would be an oxymoron.
posted by MythMaker at 9:54 AM on May 18, 2008


Internet anonymity and personal privacy are going to become impossible as search engines and NLP become better. Just remember that your grandchildren are going to be able to ask Google3000 for the dumbest, most embarrassing things you've ever said, and it'll be able to offer them up with no problem (along with some fake photo-real renders of you naked slipping on a banana peel, because Google3000 will be sentient and have a malicious sense of humor).
posted by painquale at 10:03 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, does anyone have a quick summary of what goes on in the nearly 600-comments-long LGF thread? I don't have the patience to wade through that crap.

Some people made some pretty reasonable guesses as to what the research project was about.

Some people made some pretty ridiculous guesses.

There was some anti-academic venting, calling the project either useless or sinister or both. Some of it was based on the reasonable guesses and some of it based on the ridiculous guesses, so the relevance and quality really varied.

There was some anti-CIA/NSA/DARPA/spambot venting, ditto.

Some people veered off onto tangents about security standards, politics or copyright.

Some people got all gleeful about the prospect of screwing up this grad student's data. Other people said that was a bad idea and she probably didn't need that sort of crap. Still others looked up pictures of her and argued about whether they'd fuck her.

All in all pretty normal for an OMG CALL IN THE INTERNET DETECTIVES! thread. We'd do about the same thing if she'd made a spammy enough post here.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:05 AM on May 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


jesus christ why are they always so angry

novartis should suggest a deal where they just plaster the site with lopressor ads
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:43 AM on May 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


this is getting funnier by the minute. their labrat-in-chief is trying very hard to make this into a them vs. us kind of conflict.

there seems to be a correlation between a pundit/blogger who isn't as controversial/hated as he would like to be and a teenage girl who doesn't get as many admiring looks as she'd like to...
posted by krautland at 10:45 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've long suspected MPDSEA of being a spy from LGF (it's not easy to put up a convincing front when you're of the usual mental level of one of CJ's toadies), but this pretty much proves it.

Of course, Johnson is upset over anybody collecting personal information about his site's members. Re-selling that information to spam/scammers looking for gullible idiots has been his main source of income since '02. (He tried selling it to radical Muslim groups but they weren't interested.)

Special note to LGF-ers: The above are what's called "snarky humor". Not intended as a statement of fact. Unless, of course, I stumbled over some hidden truth. And they do NOT represent any 'official' opinion of MetaFilter, which is a diverse community made up of individually-thinking nutjobs and asshats, not the goose-stepping followers of a single nutjob/asshat.
posted by wendell at 10:51 AM on May 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Is 'Little Green Footballs' meant to be a reference to boogers, or not?
posted by jamjam at 10:55 AM on May 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not on the linguistics/computer science side that actually works on and develops NLP methods, but I am a researcher in a field that's going to be using this stuff more and more in the next few years. So I check in on the NLP literature every so often.

Nobody gives a shit about your blog, fellas. Blogs are convenient for testing because they're easy to scrape off the web into a database, and there are a lot of them. Political blogs also allow for testing of techniques that do ideological scoring. Right now we can figure out that Daily Kos is liberal and LGF is conservative. Hooray science! The work is on trying to make this a little less of a blunt instrument.

Also, for those who are concerned that this stuff can be used to figure out their identities: it can. It can't do so with enough certainty to be used in a court of law, but if there's a known corpus of text written under your real name, NLP can provide a pretty good guess as to authorship of unknown text. It does so by examining usage of "stopwords," the short, structural bits of language that don't allow for discrimination of content (and, the, by, it, and the like). It's possible to pick up on individual styles pretty easily with enough text.
posted by shadow vector at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


jamjam: "Is 'Little Green Footballs' meant to be a reference to boogers, or not?"

yup. he seems a little reluctant to talk about it these days tho.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2008


It's possible to pick up on individual styles pretty easily with enough text.

Is there any quantitative difference between the way normal people write and, say, a Nabokov novel?
posted by geoff. at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2008


MythMaker: "One thing I noticed right away was the fact that the structure of the postings echoes the way things are done at Dailykos, which seems like the kind of thing that this research is interested in.

Example:

Both Dailykos and LGF use the convention of the "Open Thread", which, frankly, I hadn't seen used in other places. Maybe other political blogs use it, but I had only seen it at Dailykos.

I actually find the structural similarities really provocative. I wonder if there is something inherent in creating a specifically political blog which encourages using similar structural elements. An "open thread" on MeFi, for instance, would be an oxymoron.
"

Mefi open threads would be a disaster. as you rightly state, but for LGF, where only one person has thread posting rights - CJ - and members may comment, open threads allow him to direct the tone and stay in touch with the base. Daily Kos has OTs too, but also many 'diaries' and many others with thread posting rights.

So, which blog is the most authoritarian?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2008


I've long suspected MPDSEA of being a spy from LGF (it's not easy to put up a convincing front when you're of the usual mental level of one of CJ's toadies), but this pretty much proves it.

Like I said earlier, paranoid. It's quite funny, though, how blogs on opposite ends of the political spectrum vilify each other's userbases for the exact same behavior.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:23 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is there any quantitative difference between the way normal people write and, say, a Nabokov novel?

Unquestionably. I'm sure you could discriminate between the two just by counting stopwords. Although Nabokov is an interesting case since he so self-consciously played with style. His individual works might have less in common than a typical author's.
posted by shadow vector at 11:31 AM on May 18, 2008


Unquestionably. I'm sure you could discriminate between the two just by counting stopwords.

Well I'm sure they can tell that the two sets of text came from separate authors, but are there statistical differences in text considered "good" and text considered "bad," it would be interesting to see if the aesthetics of a work could be determined mathematically.
posted by geoff. at 11:38 AM on May 18, 2008


...if there's a known corpus of text written under your real name, NLP can provide a pretty good guess as to authorship of unknown text

This is why dog gave us sockpuppets.

That and my mother is on the 'net.

On preview: wasn't NLP used to uncover the "anonymous" author of "Primary Colors"?

Google says "Yup."
posted by lysdexic at 11:38 AM on May 18, 2008


Hey, does anyone have a quick summary of what goes on in the nearly 600-comments-long LGF thread? I don't have the patience to wade through that crap.

You know, I run into this problem all the time. What we should do is create some software that analyzes thread comments...
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:48 AM on May 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


Making Light also uses the "open thread" convention. I don't read Kos or LGF (or ML, any more), but in the case of ML it's at least partly a workaround for the fact that only a few people can make FPPs (it's not a community blog, but people there want to form a community). Plus, of course, the piss-poor organizational mechanisms blogs offer, but that's in common to most blogs.
posted by hattifattener at 11:54 AM on May 18, 2008


Maybe not so much with the random LGF snarkery, hey?

The experiment-loops-back-on-itself angle is one that I find interesting pretty much whenever I see it come up. It can be hard not to taint your data, doubly so if you're dealing with a participatory and reactive process like a community/multiuser site.
posted by cortex at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2008


Okay, I regret reading the comments in their thread about metafilter. This is a lefty site? Didn't know. All we do is hate on conservatives? Yeah, I remember how my thread on actor John Phillip Law deteriorated into a discussion about the Bush administration.

I can't imagine living in a world in which everyone is either hard right or hard left, and both sides are expected to show relentless, merciless contempt for each other, and, even when it doesn't happen, they will imagine it as happening anyway, and respond with rage.

Paranoia really is the right word for this behavior, and, based in the number of comments they get, it's either a lot of really fucked up people, or just a few who can't shut their bile-filled traps for two freakin' seconds.

Oh, wait, I must be misinterpreting because I have my lefty hate glasses on, and if I wasn't reading their comments high off hippie Kool Ade I would see the site for what it really is: A reasoned and moderate discussion, free of partisanship and dedicated to the finest principles of a free and open democracy. That's my bad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:06 PM on May 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


The experiment-loops-back-on-itself angle is one that I find interesting pretty much whenever I see it come up. It can be hard not to taint your data, doubly so if you're dealing with a participatory and reactive process like a community/multiuser site.

My guess is that LGF won't really change their behavior knowing that they're being watched. But one other thing that makes blogs really an interesting source is the responsiveness element. Classifying texts that directly engage each other is extremely hard. Document classification methods try to identify individual words that discriminate well. "Chimperor" and "islamofascism" might be very reliable indicators of blog ideology. Then all the liberal blogs have some fun at the expense of Islamofascism Awareness Week for a few days, and it screws the whole thing up.

This problem might be what the researchers are working on, given that they're trying to combine text information with the network of links.
posted by shadow vector at 12:24 PM on May 18, 2008


My guess is that LGF won't really change their behavior knowing that they're being watched.

Not fundamentally, no; nor would any other site with a big population, because it'd be like herding cats. But in a statistically significant way? If twenty motivated, high-volume users on that site or on mefi or any other good-sized-but-not-megalithic site decided to pursue some kind of gaming act, it could generate a false spike or ten in an analysis.

And even without the idea of an organized cadre of gamers, knowledge of the experiment could subtly shift behavior regardless. After someone metatalked my Hurf Durf analysis a few weeks back, there was a big jump in hurfdurfery as a reaction to that; if I do a followup, I'll have to control for that or be stuck with a big hole in my analysis, say.
posted by cortex at 12:29 PM on May 18, 2008


...if I wasn't reading their comments high off hippie Kool Ade...

Aha! Any left-wing commie pink fag-loving radical would know it's 'Kool-Aid'!!! Methinks you're nothing more than an LGF plant here on MeFi.
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on May 18, 2008


I just got a job as a cat herder. They promised me it would be easy!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I'll have to control for that or be stuck with a big hole in my anal."
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cat herders.
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I paid for a membership here, even though I may never post here again, to offer an "insider's perspective" on Little Green Footballs. I discovered that site several years ago through Internet Infidels, which is a BBS primarily frequented by atheists and agnostics. I visited the first time because it was referred to as a "right wing hate site" and I wanted to see if this accusation was true.

What I discovered was that the accusation was and is a lie. LGF is not a "right wing" blog, nor is it a "hate site." Racism in particular is not tolerated at all there. Charles also doesn't hesitate to express opinions that might alienate many of his more religiously conservative supporters...for instance, he recently criticized Ben Stein's "Expelled," an attack on evolution from the "intelligent design" movement.

Certainly many religious/social conservatives post on LGF, but there are many moderates as well, and several regular posters are atheists and agnostics. What unites "lizards" is a general agreement that Western Enlightnment civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, capitalism, etc., for all their flaws, are better than the alternatives currently being pushed. There is also a general agreement that Western civilization is under siege from Islam and from the Left. Does this sound "paranoid?" Maybe at first glance, but if you actually take time to read Charles' posts, follow the links, etc., you might find yourself agreeing that the threat is more severe than you thought. Reading LGF certainly opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn't know about. At the time I started reading the blog I was pretty liberal in my politics, I'd voted against Bush, I was opposed to the Iraq war, etc. I still hold some "liberal" views (for example I support gay marriage), but other things I've changed my mind about. Not through brainwashing, but through reading articles, studying evidence, thinking things through.

As for the seeming "paranoia" over the Carnegie Mellon experiment, you have to realize that LGFers almost every day read about almost unbelievable anti-conservative, anti-Jewish, and blatantly anti-American stuff going on on our college campuses. That someone on a college campus would study LGF with the intention of trying to discredit it in some way sometimes doesn't seem like that big a stretch. Now, they couldn't discredit LGF as a "right wing hate site through a fair and unbiased study, but studies aren't necessarily fair and unbiased, and results can easily be misrepresented in any case.

I'm sorry to see so many people just dismiss LGF as a "right wing hate site" without actually reading it over a period of time and seeking to understand where Charles and the commenters, including myself, are coming from. We are basically decent and good-natured people from across the political spectrum who perceive, for good reasons, that Western civilization (which we love) is facing an existential threat. We advocate firm, effective, sustained--but not extreme--measures to deal with the threat (of course, some people seem to think ANY measure taken to deal with a threat is extreme).

Take time to read the site. It's open, it's searchable. We have nothing to hide.

You might be surprised.
posted by GreggLD at 12:59 PM on May 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


So what is Metafilter, exactly? What's it's purpose? It seems like it's all over the place.

Ha! Exactly.

Comment from the LGF Mefi thread.
posted by jokeefe at 12:59 PM on May 18, 2008


My guess is that LGF won't really change their behavior knowing that they're being watched.

I disagree. I bet the site has already been dropped by quite a few lurkers and casual users.

I suppose that if I was going to add anything I'd touch on the psychology involved here. I think there is a level of self hate present at places like LGF and Free Republic that doesn't like being exposed or examined to closely. And I think this is why these sites and others like them attract the people that they do - because the one thing you don't get at these places is anything overly analytical, critical, or self-aware.

Indeed, it's when you take comments from these sorts of communities (and I'd add certain militant arms of DU and Kos to this list) and expose them to a wider audience, or rather broad scrutiny, that you really see these folks melt down. Therein lays the fear of this study. What if the study reveals just how unhinged, out of touch, hateful, and small minded these people really are? I don't think that it's a fear that is really being put to words by anyone over there, but at least subconsciously for some of them I think it's very real. It's tantamount to a spouse or significant other discovering an obsessively cataloged folder documenting some dark perversion on the family computer...

Someone up-thread touched on the authoritarian aspects of these sites, in that they have a rigid thought system in place which squelches anyone who dissents to much from the groupthink. I suppose that is another corollary these sites have with talk radio. Recall that for a long time Limbaugh listeners self-applied the term "ditto-head" to themselves along with the mantra "Rush is Right." I'm not a fan of Al Franken, but his Rush book went a long way in exploring the shallowness of these statements. "Ditto-head" literally being someone who has nothing to say other than "ditto" - or rather - someone who doesn't have a voice of their own, so they go along with whatever outrage of the day Rush has latched on to.

Mega-dittos!
posted by wfrgms at 1:02 PM on May 18, 2008


@GreggLD

a website is no better than its worst moments.
posted by localhuman at 1:06 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting, GreggLD.

I'm afraid my exploratory excursions into LGF haven't ended quite so happily.

You'll find that racism and anti-semitism aren't tolerated here, either. And I suppose it depends on what you mean by "anti-American" as to whether or not that's a recognizable feature of this site. However, there are many people who visit and post here who are not Americans (such as myself), or who have other concerns than a primary, binary, civilization vs. Islam mindset, so the discussion tends to be more wide ranging, so to speak.

There are conversatives here, too, as well as those who are deeply religious. It's a mixture. A bunch of individuals. I hope you stick around, actually.
posted by jokeefe at 1:08 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


@GreggLD

a website is no better than its worst moments.


We've had quite a few bad moments here, too.
posted by jokeefe at 1:09 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Anti-American"

I would argue that using a phrase so fraught in a bullying and aggressively anti-democratic propaganda, and in an environment that is politically relatively neutral, makes a case opposite of what you ended when you claimed that the site is not paranoid. The site, like many political sites, seems to exist only for the purpose of affirmation bias. And, in this instance, the bias is distinctively paranoid. It doesn't seem that way to an insider, because it is their paranoid bias that is being confirmed and reinforced with regular posts and commentary. But, from the outside?

Wow.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:14 PM on May 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


What unites "lizards" is a general agreement that Western Enlightnment civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, capitalism, etc., for all their flaws, are better than the alternatives currently being pushed.

You might be surprised, GreggLD, to find that many MeFites, myself included, also believe that (generally) Western Civ is the bee's knees. I think that Saudi Arabia is a dreadful place, that Islamic fanaticism is way scarier than the Christian version, and that sometimes you just have to drop big-ass bombs on motherfuckers.

Where we disagree - and where your friends scare the shit out of me - is how you advocate the defense of Western Civ. I believe that education is a faster, safer, cheaper way of spreading democracy than dropping a bunch of 22 year-old Marines in the middle of the place and asking them to shift the inertia of decades of oppression and brainwashing. I believe that dropping big-ass bombs on Afghanistan was probably necessary but that shifting the battlefield to Iraq was crazy and illogical - none of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi, Hussein had no links to it, and he and bin Laden frankly fuckin' hated each other.

We both want - or at least I do - the twenty-first century to be another "American century." I'd be surprised if we had different goals in that respect. But I think that Bush and his supporters are throwing away money and goodwill in support of that goal by rejecting education, diplomacy, understanding and just going in guns-ablaze. And I think that when President Obama (sorry, you know it's coming) takes over the Oval Office you'll all be a little sorry you were so gung-ho about expanding executive power like you were playing Calvinball.

You should stick around a while. We're not as bad as you think.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:24 PM on May 18, 2008 [23 favorites]


Both Dailykos and LGF use the convention of the "Open Thread", which, frankly, I hadn't seen used in other places.

They're a plague all over; Atrios and lots of the bigger political blogs use them regularly. They always struck me as a complete waste - a perfunctory attempt at community-building at best - and blogs that rely on them tend to be more dull than blogs that don't.
posted by mediareport at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2008


I've been interested to see that Charles has cleaned up his act somewhat in the past several years - possibly because of FBI investigation, possibly because of greater visibility through the Pyjamas Media alignment. He certainly seems to be deleting more comments. I understand that "Nuke Mecca" is no longer allowed as a post response, for instance, but that insistent users use some form of emoticon shorthand.

GreggLD, does Charles still do his "Palestinian Car Swarm Watch", in which the photographed results of IDF missile attacks are posted on the front page, to much celebration, online high-fiving and jocularity? Is anyone who questions the reality of "Muslim threat" still referred to as a "dhimmi"? How about the popular suggestion of the appropriate punishment for Islamic terrorists: wrapping them up in a pig's corpse and beating them to death like a pinata - does that get much play still?

I have no problem in pointing out the virulent and hateful anti-Semitism that exists throughout much of the Middle East. I have no problem with finding better ways to co-exist with different cultures. But when you have a front-page post, today, by Charles defending the sniper who used to Quran as target practice by saying "It's just a book!", you might want to take a second look at the group you're associating with.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:29 PM on May 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


i am curious to see more about the research itself. in particular, the ways different sorts of conversations evolve.

and in an all-about-mefi way, can it be used to better detect people who post three or four "me too!" comments and then start spamming?
posted by rmd1023 at 1:36 PM on May 18, 2008


GreggLD: "What unites "lizards" is a general agreement that Western Enlightnment civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, capitalism, etc., for all their flaws, are better than the alternatives currently being pushed. There is also a general agreement that Western civilization is under siege from Islam and from the Left. Does this sound "paranoid?" Maybe at first glance, but if you actually take time to read Charles' posts, follow the links, etc., you might find yourself agreeing that the threat is more severe than you thought."

Yes, precisely, thank you. I can't tell you the number of times I've been inspired by LGF's relentless pursuit of truth and justice in rooting out this anti-American conspiracy.

For instance, did you know that Google is a commune of despicable Leftists worthy of boycott? It's true. You may disagree, but Charles Johnson knows the facts:

Google's Odd Logo Choices
Thu, Sep 13, 2007 at 10:22:26 am PST

Google doesn’t change their logo in any way to mark Memorial Day, or September 11.

But today, they’ve got a special logo in celebration of Roald Dahl’s birthday.

Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was also a virulent Jew-hater.



Yes! Call out those rabidly anti-semitic doodles, Charles! Speak truth to power!

And Google barely had time to recover from this knockout blow when:


Google Hearts USSR
Thu, Oct 4, 2007 at 8:34:04 am PST

Google ignored Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but today they have a special logo up to commemorate an event that must be near to their hearts—the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik satellite.



By God! All this time I had no idea that my preferred search engine was a hotbed of loathsome Communist bastards!

Some may call Charles Johnson a right-wing paranoiac. I call him... hero.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:36 PM on May 18, 2008 [15 favorites]


GreggLD, if you aren't a full brainwashing victim, you are one of the better acts of performance art I've seen on MetaFilter.

LGF self-defines itself by its strident opposition to the cartoonish caricatures on its site banner, a tie-died hippie and an all-black-clad muslim warrior, both cringing in fear of an incoming football-shaped booger. To say that it wildly exaggerates the threat from both is painfully obvious. When looking to see where genuine threats exist, look at the people already in positions of real power and influence, and remember, most of the University graduates who are most successful come from the Business schools, where the ideological orthodoxy is the opposite of the LGF-promoted stereotype.
posted by wendell at 1:37 PM on May 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


We're not paranoid; we just believe that Democrats and Muslims are united in a vast global conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization as we know it.
posted by EarBucket at 1:39 PM on May 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


(In the interest of full disclosure, I am a graduate of the department at CMU in question. I know Noah, but I worked in a different research area with different faculty members.)

First of all, to NLP researchers the internet is a giant, rich birthday present that you get to open every day. It is literally the history's biggest pile of natural language data, and its existence has enabled the creation of thousands of new NLP tools that never would have been possible otherwise. For example, better than ever language models for major languages (useful for the decoding step in Machine Translation), detection and translation of proper names in Chinese, automatic & open-domain question answering. It's a really exciting time to be a computational linguist.

Secondly, no one is storing or analyzing private information. Everything in the study in question was put in a public place where it could be freely read. No one would need a human subject experimentation release to study newspaper clippings or TV programs. In this situation, the wrong move wasn't to study the openly posted threads, but to accidentally leave the analysis out in the open where people could project what they liked on it.

It's scary for some to think that someone is documenting and analyzing every word, but this same information is spidered and archived everyday. Welcome to the internet. We now have the blessing/curse that the things we say will never go away.

As someone who makes her living off of this stuff, I'm incredibly thankful that it exists and that I get to play with it. Thank you all for contributing to the data pile. I hope we can pay you back with some more useful things in the future.
posted by Alison at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


Like I said earlier, paranoid.

from the third paragraph of the comment you're commenting on:
The above are what's called "snarky humor". Not intended as a statement of fact. Unless, of course, I stumbled over some hidden truth.

Which makes your comment either

(a) willful disinformation

(b) your own paranoia

(c) snarky humor

I'm really hoping it's number three, although (d) all of the above is a solid possibility...
posted by wendell at 1:48 PM on May 18, 2008


[this is being discussed in MetaTalk, please take turf war talk over there, thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2008


GreggLD, I'd never read LGF before today, so I checked it out per your recommendation, starting with the gay marriage thread that so many in the Metafilter Doesn't Heart Us thread were saying was measured and polite and an example of what a good community you-all have got going there, and I was surprised, because even though there were comments like, "cover your butt," and, "Man and beast are next," and, "at least they won't be able to procreate," and even, "If only James Bond hadn't thwarted Christopher Walken's plans in "View to a Kill" to detonate dynamite all along the San Andreas Fault Line and plunge California into the ocean"... there were also a lot of comments that boiled down to, "I fail to see how this affects my marriage or freedom in any way" and nobody dropped the f-bomb. So, yay LGF! You're not freerepublic! I'll have to take a closer look at the site when I have some more time.

Welcome to Metafilter. I hope you'll stick around.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:25 PM on May 18, 2008


Metafilter: Popping a Gigantic E-Boner Over It
posted by jonp72 at 3:55 PM on May 18, 2008


dear GreggLD,

You might be surprised.

I was surprised. the way mefi was described, hate seen where I see none, the blatant attempt to make this into a conflict that doesn't really exist, I will give to you that I was surprised.
posted by krautland at 4:53 PM on May 18, 2008


Baaaaaaaack to the original point at hand, doesn't this sort of research tread over the line of human subjects research controls? You're collecting data on personae that are attached to people, and it's not exactly clear how they're storing or protecting the data.
posted by dw at 6:26 PM on May 18, 2008


Charles also doesn't hesitate to express opinions that might alienate many of his more religiously conservative supporters...for instance, he recently criticized Ben Stein's "Expelled," an attack on evolution from the "intelligent design" movement.

Ever heard the phrase "damned by faint praise"? It seldom gets more faint than that. Surely you are doing Chas a disservice.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2008


dw writes "You're collecting data on personae that are attached to people"

So is Google. So is Akamai. So is your local web browser cache.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:36 PM on May 18, 2008


What unites "lizards" is a general agreement that Western Enlightenment civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, capitalism, etc., for all their flaws, are better than the alternatives currently being pushed.

AFAIK, we're all about the civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, and capitalism over here on MeFi. Indeed, if there's anything MeFiers generally want, it's more civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, and capitalism.

Or maybe that's just me. More civilized behaviour between our citizens: we've way too many killings, thuggings, and homeless. We gotta solve these problems, or we're going to end up with a failed society. And by god, do we need real democracy: the process has been largely hi-jacked in the USA, from voting machines that can't be trusted, to wrongfully remapped electoral districts, to corrupt politicians and a thriving bribery industry.

And we need more freedoms, and not just of speech. We need freedom of religion and freedom from religion. We need more personal freedom: fewer morality laws and real equality for all functional adults. We need to be able to speak up against our government's mistakes and wrong actions. We need to be allowed to live our own lives in the way that's most right for our own selves. More freedom, damn, yes!

More capitalism would be good, too. As a citizen, I should have part ownership of all the natural resources and public infrastructure. I don't think I'm being fairly compensated for allowing others to extract and use my resources and infrastructure. I want capitalism improved, so that I can better benefit from this. There are companies that are simply not paying fairly for their use of what I co-own.

And yet somehow, despite how utterly agreed we are on how civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, and capitalism, LGF thinks we're ideological enemies. Weird, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:04 PM on May 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


Amateurs. I worry about future archaeologists systematically exhuming landfills and data mining all the personally identifying information that ends up in the trash and writing articles about all my bad habits and poorly eradicated secrets, centuries after my death.
posted by nanojath at 7:22 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


So is Google. So is Akamai. So is your local web browser cache.

Yes, but they're doing original research in an higher ed setting, where I'm just some schmuck with some stuff in my cache. If they're doing research, they need to make sure they're following human subjects rules. And I'm not completely sure they are.
posted by dw at 7:53 PM on May 18, 2008


dw writes "If they're doing research, they need to make sure they're following human subjects rules. And I'm not completely sure they are."

Is text published voluntarily on the web and made freely available considered to be a subject? Is there any attempt by the researchers to tie the online avatars to actual identities? I don't think that applies here.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:02 PM on May 18, 2008


There is also a general agreement that Western civilization is under siege from Islam and from the Left. Does this sound "paranoid?"

Yes. Next question.

I mean really, I'm part of Western Civilization. No seriously, I am, despite not being American, which is something LGFs sometimes confuse with Western Civilization.

How has the "seize from Islam" affected me? I'm struggling to think. There's quite a few shops selling falafel and things around the place. I used to drive past a mosque on the way to work - once a month, they held an international food fair there, with Indonesian, Malaysian, Persian, Moroccon food. Trying hard to think of how Islam has put my life under sieze, exactly.

And as for the "Left", I'm struggling to see how they've messed things up. NO WAR bumper stickers don't really ruin my day, you know? Since The Left were pretty much responsible for, you know, ending child labor, ending segregation and blatantly racist laws, working to give women equal rights in the workplace and society, supporting the establishment of public education and health systems, working towards vital environmental protections, reforming and improving the legal system, working for free speech, working for an open media.... well, when you oppose "The Left", we're all left wondering if you oppose all these things as well.
posted by Jimbob at 9:07 PM on May 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


I visited the first time because it was referred to as a "right wing hate site"
And now you're at Metafilter, because it was referred to as a "left wing hate site".
posted by finite at 11:16 PM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


LOLCMU
posted by ludwig_van at 12:28 AM on May 19, 2008


GreggLD: Certainly many religious/social liberals post on MetaFilter, but there are many moderates as well, and several regular posters are Christians. What unites "MeFites" is... well, nothing at all. Most MeFites prefer it that way; it allows for livelier debate. Although perhaps there is a general agreement that Western civilization is under siege from neoconservatives. Does this sound "paranoid?" Maybe at first glance, but if you actually take time to read the posts, follow the links, etc., you might find yourself agreeing that the threat is more severe than you thought. Reading MeFi certainly opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn't know about. At the time I started reading the blog I was pretty conservative in my politics, I'd voted for George H. W. Bush, I was in favor of the Afghanistan war, etc. I still hold some "conservative" views (for example I oppose "abortion rights"), but other things I've changed my mind about. Not through brainwashing, but through reading articles, studying evidence, thinking things through.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:48 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're not paranoid; we just believe that Democrats and Muslims are united in a vast global conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization as we know it.

"I don't feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:37 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


For dw and anyone else who has raised the IRB/human subjects point...

The Department of Health and Human Services defines human subjects (for the purposes of research) thusly:

"Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information." --- 45 CFR 46.102(f)(1),(2)

Also stated in the guidelines: "Identifiable private information includes information about behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonable expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record)." --- 45 CFR 46.102(f)(2)

There is no interaction with the people posting on these blogs, and the information is not *private* information, so there are no human subjects being studied, per federal guidelines.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:38 AM on May 19, 2008


What unites "MeFites" is... well, nothing at all.

Not true! What unites MeFites is we all paid $5.
posted by grubi at 9:51 AM on May 19, 2008


To continue...

And yet somehow, despite how utterly agreed we are on how civilization, democracy, freedom of speech, and capitalism, LGF thinks we're ideological enemies. Weird, that.

Now, of course, the real difference between MeFi and LGF is not at all what you proposed. It obviously isn't about civilization, democracy, FoS, and capitalism. We all agree that we really, really like those things. We want those things for ourselves.

I suspect where we really differ is in how much we want others to have those same things.

To wit, I want everyone to have freedom of religion. I want Muslims to have their churches. Do LGFers? I doubt it.

I want everyone to have access to the vote, including the homeless and those who've served time in jail. Do LGFers? I doubt it.

I want everyone to have the opportunity to marry the person (or even people) they love, to get full benefit of that union, and to have children, or to not have children. Do LGFers? Again, I very much doubt it.

Ultimately the biggest difference between the LGF mindset and the my mindset is that the former are all about their own self interests to the near exclusion of everyone elses, while mine is inclusive.

The only limiting factor in my willingness to let others do whatever the hell they want is very simple: so long as they aren't limiting my freedoms, I honestly don't care what they're doing.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 AM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]



I suspect where we really differ is in how much we want others to have those same things.



It's like how I believe in the absolute right to own handguns... for me and nobody else.

The very real and serious problems of this world, specifically of this country, are only going to get worse if we continue with such spiteful divisive thinking. No one person has all the answers. No one ideology holds all the solutions.

Every major policy decision this past administration and many of the administration before it has exacerbated most of our major problems.

This nation has no hope of survival when 40% of it's population actively hates each other and can't put the past behind them and work on real problems.

Is our culture so fragile that it can't adapt to something as inconsequential as gay marriage over say our impending banking system collapse or the impact of climate change? The more we bicker over these concocted emotional "social values" issues and ignore our other much bigger looming problems the worse things will be for everybody.
posted by tkchrist at 10:29 AM on May 19, 2008


behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation is taking place

The Internet is not that context.
posted by Miko at 12:47 PM on May 19, 2008


There is also a general agreement that Western civilization is under siege from Islam and from the Left. Does this sound "paranoid?"
Does it not strike you as odd that you now think that the "Left" aren't part of Western Civilization? At all? What is your Western Civilization for if it can't accomodate anything past right-of-centre?
posted by bonaldi at 1:28 PM on May 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


> behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no
> observation is taking place
>
> The Internet is not that context.
> posted by Miko at 3:47 PM on May 19 [+] [!]


So, Miko, sometime between 2005 and now you've adopted or at least learned to tolerate the Bill Joy "You have no privacy, get over it" school? I would have expected to find you on the other side of this one.
posted by jfuller at 2:40 PM on May 19, 2008


Well, there's a difference between believing in the principle of privacy and believing that that principle applies in practice to every context.
posted by cortex at 2:44 PM on May 19, 2008


So, Miko, sometime between 2005 and now you've adopted or at least learned to tolerate the Bill Joy "You have no privacy, get over it" school?

Well, the comment you selected was about civil liberties, not the more general idea of 'privacy' exactly. The whole quote:
You know, I've been appalled at how readily Americans have seemed to hand over their civil liberties at the slightest request from the government. But I wonder how much of that can be attributed to our reduced sensitivity about privacy -- a reduction that comes directly from changes in communications technology.

I can remember when my parents kept an unlisted number and didn't like to give out our address, except to people we knew. Now, we've come to accept a world in which someone can view a satellite image of your house online, we customarily offer personal data in order to get access to content on websites, we know that our cell-phone conversations could be overheard on our neighbor's radio, and we are (sometimes) willing to give our zip codes or phone numbers when making purchases in some stores.

[We] no longer regard our personal information as private. So when the government asks to read our mail and listen to our phone conversations, it doesn't feel as weird as it should.
I already felt skeptical of a defensible idea of 'privacy' by 2005, which is why I made the comment. For a while, it has seemed to me that our idea that people are entitled to complete personal privacy is really a historical aberration - something that came about built upon a particular set of technological, legal and social conditions that prevailed throughout most of the industrial age into the late 20th century, but won't survive the Information Age. For one thing, people simply don't want the privacy they had in the 60s or 70s - they are eager, as I said above, to trade their personal information for consumer goods or access to information or social opportunities, so they value it more cheaply than they once did, perhaps. But even when personal privacy was highly valued, it was anomolous and short-lived. Someone living in my city in the nineteenth century, for instance, had almost no reasonable expectation of privacy. People knew one another's family situations, wages, home inventories, toilet habits, food preferences, shopping habits, you name it - only because it was nearly impossible to do anything clandestinely. Business and social activities were all conducted in a small sphere with many of the same people. Your biography followed you almost inescapably, even if you moved a thousand miles away. I think 20th-century privacy was an idea influenced and reinforced by the nefarious uses personal information was put to in the various strifes of those times - pogroms, raids, genocides, spying, secret societies, revolutionary activities, Jim Crow, Cold War, McCarthyism. It was wise to hold your cards close to the vest when someone who knew the wrong thing about your family could easily cause your death. I see personal privacy as an expectation evolving from the need to feel somewhat anonymous and protected against forces of power in the absence of solid, human-rights based legal protection. I believe the interests we try to protect when we talk about privacy are better served by talking about equal human rights and freedoms.

That's not to say I'm not in favor of limits on the uses of personal information to protect human rights. I am in staunch support of the restrictions on the use of private information in journalism and in libraries and in health care, and in favor of full disclosure when personal information is to be sold or shared. I am in favor of strongly defending constitutional personal liberties, though I'm not convinved that 'privacy' is something implied in the Bill of Rights (I think it's more like free choice or independent decision - which is one reason I think 'right to privacy' is a lousy justification for law). But yeah, I think it's all in the BIll of Rights and subsequent amendments. But I think there were excess expectations of privacy in the 20th century which are rightfully eroding. I am becoming more aware that another thing we need to defend is the public space, the public domain. I don't think there's a reasonable expectation of privacy for information people post on the web of their own volition. It's public; just as public as if you stood in the city park and proclaimed it, and just as usable for whatever purposes a passerby might want to use it for.

Where I come down on the current discussions of privacy is that it's a social concept and that it's continuing to evolve. I've said many times that I think in future, we will need to handle it differently. Once we can know a whole lot about someone, and in cases where there is no body of constitutional/professional law governing whether we use it or not, we'll have to resort to social norms and understandings. I often make this comparison: when I was learning to drive, one of my teachers quizzed me on the right of way: "who has the right of way?" I kept answering wrong, until she said "no one has the right of way. It has to be yielded." I think we're approaching a time when no one has privacy as a blanket, default condition. It will have to be yielded. We'll need to change socially to a point where digging in someone's personal history only to embarrass or one-up them will be seen as just gauche and hostile. Where we can know more about one another, but say less. Where we expect to be able to answer our questions about one another, but understand that there may be lines beyond which it's really cruel to pry.Where we're all conscious of our roles within our communities and understand that our actions will often be part of the public and historical record and able to be viewed, judged, and recorded by people we might not know well - amusingly enough, much like people in the nineteenth century were. I think we'll all be public persons with protections on certain classes of information and activity according to the Bill of Rights.

But I think about this all the time; I wouldn't say my point of view is entirely settled. It's just undeniable that 'privacy' is changing.
posted by Miko at 3:24 PM on May 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oops, and in case it isn't clear, I think that the government reading sealed mail and listening to phone conversations is illegal search and seizure. What I was saying in the old quote is that because people's idea of privacy is becoming less valuable to them, so are their ideas about what DOES need to be protected, and I see need for a distinction among kinds of information and what sorts of searches and search technologies should be legally allowed and admissible in court.
posted by Miko at 3:27 PM on May 19, 2008


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