The Libera Manifesto
July 4, 2001 12:48 PM   Subscribe

The Libera Manifesto is something to mull today. How many of us build sites (like Metafilter) for the pure enjoyment and fun of it. Thanks Mattowie for some great work and thanks to all those of you out there who are building free sites just because you think that giving back is important.
posted by TNLNYC (10 comments total)
It's amazing how a single "Thanks - I like the site" email can brighten your day and make you think it's worth all the BS
posted by revbrian at 1:30 PM on July 4, 2001

quite right!
posted by mcsweetie at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2001

hey thanks tnlnyc.

even if you haven't seen crash space, and you probably haven't, you were still able to figure why i did it. :D

like i said before, thanks.
posted by jcterminal at 5:21 PM on July 4, 2001

Ooh. This got long. It's not an... It's not.. well I don't know what this is. It's not even a rambling thing, like my normal wastes of space, here in MeFi or anywhere else. Maybe it's somewhere between a cry to humanity and an early morning purge of too many wine coolers. You be the judge.

Some of the more notable Libera Manifesto 'concepts' of which I'm guilty of 'breaking' include the following. I sometimes forget to tip my waiter (rule 2), and when I do I can't recall what's a fair and safe percentage. 20%? 25%? I dunno. If I don't like something (7), I complain. I have complained first and thought later (17). I'm guilty of treating negative feedback as equal to constructive criticism (28) and though feedback may keep some going (4) I doubt a digital 'pat on the back' (29) from me brightens anyone's day: I suck at it. Without thinking, I have in the past been surprised when a content provider asks for something in return (8) although I don't do that anymore. I'm aware that cheating the honor system hurts the giver more than helps the reciever (22) but just like I put off donations to NPR, there's always that extra bill to pay which rationalizes postponing putting in my fair share. Besides, PayPal hates my credit card. Don't ask me why.

I'm definitely guilty in the past of seeing disrespect and inaction as incorrectly synonymous (44) I make assumptions and jump to conclusions (45). I confuse personality with ego (73). I think I'm offering suggestions when it is interpreted as my telling them how to do their job (57 and echoes 7). I used to question content providers as if a mere consumer is somehow a sufficient critic (58). I have called people sellouts before, but were I given a similar opportunity I'd jump at it so I don't call anyone sellouts anymore for fear of someday being called a hypocrite (59). Which I am. I have been known to take content providers for granted, and when one day I'd go to a familar URL only to find them gone, I would be interested in hearing the "why" story, but more interested in seeking an alternative (60). I think when I started seeing everyone vacating Napster like a bunch of rats on a sinking ship, that's about when I started losing the stomach for this behavior, but I used to not give it a second thought.

Perhaps most imporantly, I'm well aware I've made a reputation for myself, and it's a none too good one. I don't have to be told They remember those who do NOT help them. (63) This should be reworded: "We remember those who were NOT helpful" regardless of the intent.

Well. That was fun. It has now been properly mulled over.

The recent CBS Pay for live feed thing is indicative of this. A lot of people right now are insisting the live feed should be free. It was free last year. We who consume information on the Internet without providing anything of value in return already pay in order to access the Internet. On top of that, now content providers want to be paid as well, and advertising is not achieving that end. So one way or the other it's going to eventually come out of the pockets of the consumer.

Had people actually stood behind Napster, had there actually been a community in those chatrooms before the RIAA's oligarchal attacks, things might have been remarkably different. But no. We fled like wild hyenas being chased by lions. When the time came to stand up and be counted, we hid behind our monitors and cranked up the speakers to drown out the rhetoric. We fled to Gnutella and Audio Galaxy, and we comfort ourselves into believing that if Hillary Rosen finds a way to go after them, we'll just keep moving; two steps ahead of her, like we're dalmatians and she's Cruella DeVille.

I am quite frankly surprised that Matt hasn't gone pay with MetaFilter, but he believes, either in whole or in part, in the ideals and concepts that the Libera Manifesto represents. He may not use the same exact words. I'm also thankful he hasn't gone pay, but when he had to move his server across country in order to stay up, was I the only one to see that as a danger sign? I'm thankful much of the Internet's content hasn't gone pay yet. However many sites that I used to take for granted are either gone, or discovering that the gravy train is rapidly running out of steam. Had they been able to convince bastards like me that they are worthy of a tenth of my paycheck every month, would they still be alive, or would my money have been to a fruitless cause?

If I were to give, would he walk again by 2004? Does it matter? Or is it more important that he never stop trying, because there will always be people supporting him? And if I don't stand up and be counted, and be one of those people, how can I guarantee there will always be someone behind him, supporting him, praying for him, hoping that he will indeed walk again?

And to put my more comfortable Scrooge spectacles on again real quick, what if he does? What if he doesn't? I can't claim responsibility for every single little charity that comes along. I can't carry the weight of the world on my own shoulders. Even Atlas has been known to shrug. But like Amish during a barn raising, were everyone to hold up their end of the effort, the overall workload would be that much easier. At least that's the theory. It works for them, but the Amish still think Henry Ford was Satan, so what do they know?

The intent from the beginning with the internet was to build a communication bridge. A gathering place on a virtual level that would supercede geographic limitations and physical space. To build something where there once was nothing. To build a place where people mentally go. If you look at the history of this planet, that's how everything from the Roman Coliseum to Mall of America got built. There needed to be a bridge. There needed to be a viaduct. There needed to be park benches and swing sets. There needed to be churches and post offices and banks and parking garages. We built the Internet for the same reasons our ancestors built ...well, everything.

The Internet is virtual, but it's still gotta think as if it were real. Even though I wanted to embrace the ideas of John Perry Barlow and see cyberspace as a universe free of borders and social constraints, we must admit that fleshspace does creep in and affect cyberspace. AND vice versa. The two are irrevocably linked to one another. I used to think none of this mattered to me. That I couldn't do anything about it. In most ways I still can't, but if we as the consumers of Internet content can somehow support even just a few of the individuals who make the Internet great. If we can somehow each tow the line and hold up our end..

Which would be more successful?
1) If everybody in MeFi were to participate in a massive publicity campaign, doing their part to bring Matt Haughey to the attention of the media, OR
2) if each individual in MeFi were to try to publicize themselves before the media?

Who is Katie Couric more likely to listen to? People chaotically thumping on their own chests versus people raising one friend up on their shoulders and parading him around - which of those goals would be more successful? Which is perhaps even more noble? Which of those destinations would actually go somewhere? But I have been repeatedly guilty of needlessly insisting on fame for someone, when all they wanted was recognition (56). *smirk*

I still don't understand CrashSpace, but maybe that's just me.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:54 PM on July 4, 2001

Well, maybe it's me (or the project I've been working on - see my site for details) but a lot of this stems from people's seeming irrational fear/hatred of advertising. I mean, when confronted with the option of seeing an ad vs. paying $3.95/$4.95 a month to see a site - I'm gonna go for the ad. So it takes up a couple seconds of my time, oh well. It works with TV and radio and magazines, why not the web. Sure there's some class of sites that are suited to donation (like Mefi) but like public tv and NPR, they're few and far between. I mean, isn't it a bit unseemly for a for-profit enterprise to be begging for money?

Maybe I'm one of the few who doesn't feel a capitalist mindwipe attached to advertising. So what if I see a message from Coke/Pepsi/Microsoft? I'd prefer to see their money supporting a website I like than yet another Geena Davis sitcom...
posted by owillis at 12:16 AM on July 5, 2001

Thank you God.
I thought that ZachsMind's post would never end.
posted by kchristidis at 6:35 AM on July 5, 2001

Zach, I have no doubt you are an intelligent person with a lot to say, I have checked out your home page etc. However I have never once read a post of yours on this forum. The 5,000 word approach simply does not work here. Perhaps others have the patience, but I do not.

I hope that doesn't sound too harsh, but I just thought you should know. I wonder if you couldn't get your thoughts and feelings across better if you try to compress some of those ideas!!
posted by FPN at 7:19 AM on July 5, 2001

owillis: It's not that I'm anti advertising (far from it, my own site actually carries banners (sorry for breaking one of the cardinal rules on metafilter by linking to my site) but I think that sometimes people have to realize that a lot of us build sites out of love and not for the money. Let's face it, we all post to metafilter because we enjoy the discussion, not because we're getting paid for it.

Ultimately, it comes down to choice. The little money I get from web ads on my site allows me to upgrade the server and develop more stuff. The same is true of a lot of weblogs. In a way, I think we're all doing it because we want to share something. In some case it can become lucrative (I actually do OK as a consultant, pushing a lot of the same concepts in corporate america) but ultimately, it's about experimenting with the medium and trying to break new ground.

I think the net crowd has broken down across two sides: on one side are the people who do it because they believe in the medium and its potential and on the other are people who were in it just as a way to make a buck. The downturn has shaken out a lot of the members of the latter group, which is leaving more room for those of us who do it because we enjoy it.

In the early days, we all pulled together and shared source (at one point, I even had a copy of all the backend yahoo code given to me by Dave). As it became big business, a lot of that disappeared but a lot of people ended up building their own sites. I don't know what the percentage is but I think it would be interesting to find a stat on how many sites out there are done out of love instead of out of money. I think most weblogs would fall into the love category...
posted by TNLNYC at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2001

I've seen the manifesto before but number 12 always gives me the chills: "Five years ago, the Internet was a different place." It's astounding just how much things have changed since the day I bought the Mosaic book(!) about cool sites. *sigh*
posted by haqspan at 8:52 AM on July 5, 2001

TNLNYC: But I think there's a third class of people out there (like myself), who love the web, but would like to make some money off of it... Trust me, I hate the carpetbaggers as much as you do...
posted by owillis at 9:52 AM on July 5, 2001

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