College Student Blogger Arrested, Suspect in Death Threats Investigation
In an article dated December 9, 2007, the Associated Press is reporting that a student blogger was arrested for investigation of making criminal threats. The student is suspected of posting a message that he would shoot and kill as many people as possible on the campus of Loyola Marymount University before being killed himself. The anonymous threat appeared on a blog called Juicycampus.com, used primarily by college students.
Hat tip to Mitchell H. Rubinstein, Adjunct Law Prof Blog. [JH]
Internet Privacy and Web 2.0
The recent kerfluffle about Facebook’s beacon has gotten Karen A. Coombs, Head of Web Services at the University of Houston Libraries, thinking about Web 2.0 and privacy issues. Read her interesting post on Library Web Chic. [JH]
Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship
Interesting guide from Citizen Lab: "This guide is meant to introduce non-technical users to Internet censorship circumvention technologies, and help them choose which of them best suits their circumstances and needs." [RJ]
Kindle DRM Hacked To Allow Protected Mobipocket ebooks
According to endgadge, Igor Skochinsky has discovered the algorithm the Kindle uses to turn regular Mobipocket books into Amazon's proprietary .azw format. File under "that didn't take very long." [JH]
Social Networking in Plain English
Created by the great folks at Common Craft, Lee and Sachi LeFeve are producing a series of short explanatory videos covering social media. Their goal is to "fight complexity with simple tools and language." They succeed at achieving this goal. Their videos are great introductions for educating Internet-reluctant and Internet-semi-literate audiences.
Lee and Sachi LeFeve publish a new video about once a month and you can subscribe to their YouTube Channel, The Common Craft Show, here. [JH]
Access to Digital Media as a First Amendment Right
Of Blogs, eBooks, and Broadband: Access to Digital Media as a First Amendment Right by FIU law prof Hannibal Travis has been published by Hofstra Law Review. The work is also available from SSRN. Here's the abstract for this very interesting article.
In an information society, wealth and power are increasingly linked to access to knowledge and control over telecommunications media. Struggles over access to digital media in particular are presenting uniquely contentious First Amendment problems. The creation of about 200 million blogs worldwide has triggered legal action and legislative reform aimed at alleged trademark infringement by bloggers and cybersquatters. Authors and publishers seek expanded rights to curtail unauthorized digital uses for which they are not being compensated, and have sued Google for digitizing and indexing tens of millions of the world's books and periodicals. Finally, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and other Internet and e-commerce firms are trying to beat back plans by the nation's cable and telephone companies to finance upgrades to their networks by levying discriminatory fees on search engines, as well as on Internet content providers and aggregators. Internet users have often been on the losing side of these controversies, as the economic model increasingly adopted by the Supreme Court is that in order to reward corporations for collecting or disseminating information, its free flow in print and electronic form must often be impeded, and its cost to the user increased. This model threatens to empower broadband companies, copyright holders, and trademark owners to restrict the right of the public to utilize digital media for purposes of free speech.
This Article argues that digital media such as the broadband Internet, the World Wide Web, and the blogosphere should be at least as free as the press was at the time that the First Amendment was ratified in 1791. In other words, bloggers could not be enjoined or fined for tarnishing the trademarks or goodwill of their employers or other corporations, for trademark law did not prohibit trademark dilution or other non-competitive uses in 1791. Similarly, Web sites and search engines such as Google could not be restrained from digitizing, indexing, and providing short previews of books and periodicals, for copyright law in 1791 permitted abridgements, adaptations, reviews, and other value-added uses of copyrighted work. Finally, the cable and telephone companies would not be at liberty to levy discriminatory access fees upon digital media outlets, for their ability to monopolize local telecommunications networks is a legacy of anticompetitive state and federal exclusion of new entrants over the past century in violation of the First Amendment. The framers of the First Amendment would no more have countenanced an attempt by Congress and the federal courts to allow private entities enjoying the fruits of past official monopolies to restrain the freedom of speech over an essential facility such as the Internet than they would have endorsed the creation of a series of local book publishing or newspaper monopolies. The framers presumed that information would flow freely and cheaply to citizens and consumers, enabling them to ascertain their true interests without difficulty, and to make decisions accordingly. As Congress considered ratifying the First Amendment, Madison declared that by it the liberty of the press is expressly declared to be beyond the reach of this Government. The Supreme Court has construed most of the other amendments in the Bill of Rights to provide at least as much protection against infringement as existed under the common law in 1791.
Opponents of net neutrality requirements have opined that the First Amendment rights of corporate owners of telecommunications infrastructure should trump the First Amendment rights of individual speakers and users of telecommunications media. Under this view, the foremost free speech interests on the Internet are those of broadband infrastructure owners, rather than the senders and recipients of Internet speech such as Web content, blogs, eBooks, or online videos. This line of argument misconceives both the distinctive character of the Internet and the purposes for which the First Amendment was enacted. The Internet and its principal applications such as the World Wide Web grew as rapidly as they did because they were designed to be open, flexible, and uninhibited by gatekeeper control. The high degree of concentration in the broadband market, the inability of many consumers to switch broadband carriers, and plans by broadband providers to discriminate among different sources of Internet content combine to threaten the Internet as an open, decentralized, low-cost communications platform. The First Amendment is not offended by regulations designed to ensure that firms awarded local telecommunications monopolies by the government exercise their power to restrict mass communication in a manner consistent with the public interest. The overriding purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that readers, listeners, and viewers of public debates obtain access to a wide variety of facts and opinions so as to be able to discern the truth as best they can. Even privileging the speaker's perspective, surely the First Amendment interests of the creators, editors, and aggregators of Web sites, blogs, and online videos - rather than the supposed speech interests of the owners of the wires along which content travels - should prevail in the event of a conflict.
Hat tip to Media Law Prof Blog. [JH]
The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0
Professor David C. Wyld's The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0 (pdf) examines public sector implementation of blogging in "the context of the larger revolutionary forces at play" in the development of Web 2.0. Wyld observes that "blogging is growing as a tool for promoting not only online engagement of citizens and public servants, but also offline engagement."
Blogging at U.S. Strategic Command. Wyld describes how blogging is used within agencies to improve internal communications and speed the flow of information. Of special interest, his report includes a case study of the experience of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which has led the way in using blogging to transform the culture and flow of information, prompted by the need for speed in fighting today’s challenges. [JH]
Be More Than a Blip in the Blogosphere
For a rookie blogger, there's nothing more disheartening than seeing "0 COMMENTS" at the end of a six-day-old post. Or checking your traffic stats on SiteMeter and finding you've gotten only three page views that day: two from your mother and one from someone who was looking for nude photos of Jennifer Lopez and Googled his way to your post about knitting booties for your infant niece.
"No one cares about your blog." It's a mantra that's been around almost as long as the blogosphere. But it doesn't have to be true. Washington has a thriving, tightly knit blogging community (as evidenced by the 1,000-plus blogs that zip through the feed on the site DC Blogs), so the chance is good that at least some people will care. There are several things you have to do to help make this a reality. Below are 10 tips from local bloggers who started small and steadily found an audience:
1. TELL STORIES RATHER THAN STICKING SOLELY TO LINKS OR PHOTOS.
2. CREATE A VOICE FOR YOURSELF.
3. MAKE EVERYTHING EASY TO READ AND ACCESS.
4. SIFT THROUGH BLOGROLLS AND CREATE YOUR OWN.
5. WIDGET YOUR PAGE.
6. COMMENT EARLY AND OFTEN.
7. PRAY FOR A LINK FROM THE BIG BOYS.
8. NOMINATE YOURSELF FOR AWARDS.
9. POST WITH VERVE AND CONSISTENCY
10. JOIN THE CROWD.