Yes We Scan
August 29, 2010 7:59 PM   Subscribe

10 Rules for Radicals Video link. (Transcript in a variety of sources) Carl Malamud, public domain advocate extraordinaire, describes lessons learned from his years of bringing government documents into the true public domain. (via Boingboing)
posted by zabuni (6 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Compare and contrast:

Rule 1 : Call everything an experiment.

Rule 2: When the starting gun goes off, run really fast. As a small player, the elephant can step on you, but you can outrun the elephant.

Rule 3: Eyeballs rule. If a million people use your service, and on the Internet you can do that, you've got a lot more credibility than if you're just issuing position papers and flaming the man.

Rule 4: When the time comes, be nice.

Rule 5: Keep asking until they say yes. Gordon Bell, the inventor of the VAX, once said that you should keep your vision, but modify your plan.

Rule 6: When you get the microphone, get to the point. Be clear about what you want.

Rule 7: Get standing. Have some skin in the game, some reason you're at the table.

Rule 8: Get them to threaten you.

Rule 9: Look for overreaching, things that are just blatantly, obviously wrong or silly.

And finally, rule 10, which is don't be afraid to fail. It took Thomas Edison 10,000 times before he got the lightbulb right, and when he was asked about those
failures, he said "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000
ways that won't work."

Fail. Fail often. And don't forget, you can question


Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.

Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.

Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”

Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.

Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”

Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself. When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.

Rule 10: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”

Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

I know who the radical is.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:49 PM on August 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Had to read the transcript, with my crappy internet, so thank you for linking to it.

This is brilliant.
posted by lauranesson at 2:00 AM on August 30, 2010

This is really, really good and I think it's awesome that there are people out there who are so passionate about the basic nuts and bolts of the government - free access to the law isn't going to make any headlines but it's essential to have less we forget that the real role of the government is to serve the people.
posted by Dmenet at 7:48 AM on August 30, 2010

I watched the whole thing. Thank you Carl Malamud and the cadre of people whose attention you've got to keep public documents public. I was pretty much multitasking as Malamud talked on, nodding in agreement that our government selling OUR materials to us through Amazon or through Thomson Reuters was, yes, onerous, and yes a barrier to access, but when he got to PACER, my ears honed in, b/c I am one of those people who has had to sign up with a credit card to access court records at $.08/page. I don't have a lot I can upload--I was looking for a couple of specific cases that I knew were there dealing with fair housing issues--but by god, that access should be free to the public should be far more obvious than it seems to be.

I do not want to see what would happen under a Norquistian "small government" where people would be bamboozled into thinking that monetizing the people's right to access is the proper way to run a government.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:33 AM on August 30, 2010

Go Malamud!
posted by mdoar at 12:31 PM on August 30, 2010

This is great stuff. Read it not for the rules, but for some entertaining stories of info-liberation from the early days of Net. (And the newer legal-access issues).

e.g. In 1991 Malamud cajoled/scammed/tricked the ITU into putting its massive 19,000 page communications standard, the Blue Book onto the Net. "The next day, the NSF called complaining that the Blue Book release was using up all the bandwidth on the international backbones. The cross-Atlantic line was still just an E1, running at 2 megabits per second and costing the NSF $60,000 per month, and we were using all the bits."(p.13 of transcript)

e.g. freeing the EDGAR database from the SEC. ..."We put some Sun boxes in the back of a station wagon, drove down to the SEC headquarters and helped them configure their Cisco router and T1 line."

e.g. marketing the idea of digitizing public domain US govt educational videotapes and releasing them on Youtube. Malamud set up an online store to raise money. People were asked to buy a single copy and Malamud would use the money to order the tape from the US government, digitize it and upload them. Slogan: "Be the last person to buy this video". And the most popular videos? "Principles of Refrigeration" and "Stay Calm and in the Cab!", a bulldozer safety vid.
posted by storybored at 1:42 PM on August 30, 2010

« Older Dave Pike Set   |   It Couldn't Happen Here Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments