On cute cats and activists
February 28, 2009 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Sufficiently usable read/write platforms will attract porn and activists. If there's no porn, the tool doesn't work. If there's no activists, it doesn't work well.
Some interesting commentary from an early employee of Tripod. Systems designed for the sharing of cute cats and other banal user-generated content will inevitably attract political activists, provided they work well enough.
posted by CrunchyFrog (18 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The link is dead, which must mean the tool does not work.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:37 PM on February 28, 2009


Ethan's a sharp guy.

Damn good cook, too.
posted by ook at 8:38 PM on February 28, 2009


Ack! Google Cache.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:41 PM on February 28, 2009


I had a friend in high school who loaded porn on his Newton, even insufficiently usable read/write platforms will attract porn.
posted by Science! at 8:52 PM on February 28, 2009


Also, Coral Cache.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:02 PM on February 28, 2009


It's a good article but the title is misleading, in a sense: it's 95% about activists. Which is a good thing.
posted by GuyZero at 9:06 PM on February 28, 2009


The article was better then I expected, in that what I expected was a bunch of web2.0 wankery, but this is a pretty interesting overview of the ways activists are using web2.0 stuff around the world. I found this part funny:

Some Chinese bloggers began posting images of river crabs on their blogs. The joke is that the term for “river crab” sounds very similar to the word “harmonize”, a term that had become slang for “censored” - “My blog just got harmonized.” The term “harmonized” became so popular that it became blocked. So Chinese bloggers began to refer to their blogs as having been “river crabbed”. The watches are a pun on “the three represents“, a political philosophy put forward by Jiang Zemin. This is also a commonly blocked term, so has been rewritten as “wears three watches”… which explains the oddly dressed river crab.
posted by delmoi at 9:39 PM on February 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I had a friend in high school who loaded porn on his Newton, even insufficiently usable read/write platforms will attract porn.

Little known, but true fact: The term "pr0n" was accidently invented on the Newton handheld during a horrible sex accident. OED will back me up on this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 PM on February 28, 2009


This reminds me of the time I was in smoky room (incense) with Richard Gere and a bunch of student activists, talking about the use of mobile phones and the web in the effort to shift public perception of Tibet in China. This was long before Twitter, and seemed pretty far out at the time. But reading the examples in the article, I'll be damned--that pale, spaced-out kid from Antioch knew what he was talking about after all.

I can attest to the goodness of Ethan's stews.
posted by flotson at 11:11 PM on February 28, 2009


From banal to anal, amirite?!
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 5:22 AM on March 1, 2009


Fascinating article. Apparently we need more lolcats on every web tool in order to defeat censorship. That's a goal I can support :)
posted by harriet vane at 6:22 AM on March 1, 2009


I CAN HAZ REVOLUSHUN?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:48 AM on March 1, 2009


Thanks for posting this. Detailed and insightful article.
posted by artifarce at 7:56 AM on March 1, 2009


Thanks for linking the piece, Crunchy Frog. I was trying to figure out why my blog kept going down this weekend - Metafilter helps explain things. Apologies for the downtime, and thanks for the comments. (Especially those about stew. Cooking a new one tonight, for anyone local to western MA and hungry.)
posted by obruni at 5:09 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But that’s not the sinister part. [...] the most relevant Chinese censorship takes place within Chinese Web 2.0 companies - including US companies operating servers in China. There’s an incredible wealth of Web 2.0 startups in China. These companies allow Chinese users to share video, post photos and write blogs. They’re much more useful to the average Chinese user as the tools and content are in Chinese, not English. And, unlike most popular web 2.0 tools, they’re not blocked in China.

And they’ve got censorship baked in. The above image is from research conducted by my colleage Rebecca MacKinnon. She discovered that MSN Spaces, Microsoft’s Chinese-localized and Chinese-hosted service prevented her from putting the terms “democracy” or “human rights” in the title of her blog. According to a report published by RSF, the heads of web companies meet weekly with censors who instruct them on what keywords to block, allowing the system to be extremely flexible and adaptable.


Google's (rightfully) taken a lot of heat over this, and here's Microsoft doing it too. This is INFURIATING. What would these companies have done in Germany around the time of WWII?
posted by JHarris at 1:53 PM on March 2, 2009


Probably the same thing IBM did - work with the government in power. But really, who knows? The choice is to play ball or let someone else play ball and get all the revenue, market share, etc. Shareholders, in their quest for profits, don't care.
posted by GuyZero at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2009


Shareholders don't care about working with repressive regimes, that is.
posted by GuyZero at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2009


What would these companies have done in Germany around the time of WWII?

Exactly what IBM, Ford, and General Motors did.

And what's really funny is that if you're BMW, a many Americans will refuse to buy your cars because of your involvement with the Nazis, but if you're Ford, you'll roll out the "buy American" slogans and the suckers won't blink about your founder sending Hitler birthday presents.
posted by rodgerd at 11:18 PM on March 2, 2009


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