Virtually Public

Ars Technica discusses today the recent judge decision requiring a Bittorrent piracy site to enable server logs and turn them over to the MPAA upon request. Privacy activists are warning that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent. One quote from Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation stands out in particular:

“A court would never think to force a company to record telephone calls, transcribe employee conversations, or log other ephemeral information. There is no reason why the rules should be different simply because a company uses digital technologies.”

A court may not think so because it would be unduly burdensome on the company to make such records. As technology improves, however, this burden may be lessened until a company could reasonable honor such requests. Recording RAM data is possible today, if still expensive and intensive. The judge in this particular ruling may have determined that enabling and storing these logs was not unduly burdensome.

Technology for recording and transcribing telephone calls and other “epemeral information” has already or will soon come down in complexity and price. When that happens, then all companies may someday be required to record all activity that occurs. Imagine a world where the only walled garden is your own home, if you own your own home. All other places would be public or semi-public, with life itself recorded in increasing detail.

Is this something to fear? If you work for an employer, their place of business belongs to them, not to you. They are free to record anything that you do there. A street corner is a public location, increasingly protected by surveillance technology. Public schools and libraries, coffee shops and restaurants, public transportation; these are all locations where you have little or no privacy.

Homophobia, Piracy, and the Need for True Names

The beta of Apple OS-X Leopard provided to developers that attended WWDC has been leaked. Nicholas Deleon of CrunchGear posted about the upcoming operating system appearing on Oink, a private piracy site and, oh boy, are the darknet pirates angry. In their anger, they are throwing out every homophobic rant they can think of in their comments to Deleon’s post.

There remains implicit support in our society for intolerance, and teenagers and young adults have learned from their parents, peers, and politicians that it is okay to verbally abuse people they do not agree with by using language that is never appropriate. We have therefore found ourselves in a Web 2.0 world where the most common criticism in response to a post comes in the form of explicit homophobia. Combined with the fact that most comments are anonymous or made using silly usernames, this vitriol has gotten out of control.

What to do about people who hide behind their anonymity to continue pirating copyrighted content and perpetuate intolerance? We should start by removing anonymity on the Internet. To use the Internet, everyone should be required to provide their true name.

When gaming, usernames are appropriate. People purposely create a different identity for entertainment purposes. When people conduct business, join discussions, or other activities in cyberspace, then usernames and anonymity are not appropriate. Their use indicates the user does not take full ownership of their actions and any consequences. They are cowards who pretend to fear Big Brother and a loss of privacy, but who really just want to do whatever they want without being caught, including criminal activity aimed at harming others.

One of the reason why I now use Facebook is because this social network values real identities instead of usernames and anonymous activity. You can create fake names, but a majority of people appear to be using their true names and true identities, in the spirit of staying in touch with family and friends. Compare this to activity on MySpace, blogs, and sites like Digg, where few people take ownership of their identities and become intolerant jerks in their anonymous freedom.

If content is to be valued, then the creator must stand nakedly beside his or her content. This is cybernudism, the ability to expose your true name, your true identity while interacting on the net over great distances of space and even time. To conduct yourself otherwise is to become a closeted phantom, as ephemeral and unimportant as the ghosts from superstition and pseudoscience.

When I see a silly username or “Anonymous” respond to a post, I know the person is cowardly and I respect nothing they have to say, whether the response is positive or negative. I can no longer support content piracy when the pirates choose to complain with intolerance while hiding behind masks. May they continue to gravitate toward their Morlock existence in a lower darknet that stifles innovation in its religious pursuit of cowardice. Meanwhile, those of us in cyberspace who embrace our true names, take responsibility for our actions, and learn through the consequences, will welcome the revolutions yet to come.

Science Continues to Reduce Suffering

Promising results from first gene therapy clinical trial for Parkinson’s disease reported

While those who pray and give glory to imaginary creatures make me angry and ruin my day, the slow, tedious, but incredibly effective march of science and technology makes my day while reminding me that not all of the world is silly. Scientists work so hard over many years and decades, leading to brilliant breakthroughs that provide relief from suffering religion can only fantasize about. While some people pack churches and waste their time praying, scientists act, and through their action create results.

The person that benefits from science yet faithfully commits to an imaginary deity is not only a hypocrite but also a monster.

Praying for Return

Headline on CNN.com: “Girl, 5, stumbles from woods to delight rescuers

“Little’s husband, Brian, said parishioners have been “praying for his whole family.””Obviously, we’re giving all the glory to God on this one,” Brian Little said.”

Obviously, the glory belongs with the smart little survivor, you awful people! You might as well give the glory to a unicorn or the Loch Ness Monster as well while you are disrespecting the little girl. Instead of praying for the whole family, why not get out there and search? Raise some money for a nice and expensive toy for the girl? I wish people would actually do something instead of their useless praying, and I wish news sites would remember what it means to be objective and quit including prayer quotes in ever freaking story.

But my wishing is just as effective as their praying.

Praying For Rain

This appears right now (around 11:30 AM PST on Monday, June 18, 2007) on Weather.com:

National Forecast
Prayers answered
2:00 p.m. ET 6/18/2007
Many southern communities have had prayer vigils for rain due to the drought. Their prayers may be answered Tuesday.

Weather is a science. The storm front is not an answer to prayers. It is not the result of some mystical being subtly manipulating the universe to bring relief. It is the result of physical processes at work on our planet.

“Prayer” is appearing far too in headlines and news articles. Instead of praying, read a book about weather, move, or take some action that might actually mean something.