January 1st, 2007

Semiformalishmaybe

Attackers of Sharing

If I were the sort that ever used filesharing programs, I might notice some interesting things about how some of the networks work (and are abused) -- it's not possible to assume goodwill on the networks (goodwill in this case defined as people who are trying to honestly share things with others) - there are a number of people who will put up pr0n adverts up with the title of unrelated videos people look for, and a number of automated tools that listen to the search requests and "create a file", on-the-fly, designed to interest the seeker into downloading it. These might similarly be advertisements, or they may be designed to make it visible that a certain IP was interested in said file so the RIAA can send lawyers in. In either case, they're harmful to the filesharing community, although all the dancing around to avoid detection makes it harder to root them out. Intelligent folk will thus typically permute the words in their search and filter out files that arrive with wrong permutations, or search for only most of the words that will always be in the title, doing a client-side filter for the rest. These methods work reasonably well - it's just a pain that no proper solution can be found on such a decentralised network. Like with prohibition, having a community with different ideas about morality than those currently implemented in law leads to interesting situations. I imagine alcohol quality suffered during Prohibition.

I've been thinking a bit about two instances of something I don't like happening, both of them (coincidentally) being mostly women's issues - rape prevention and WikiChix. I saw advice on someone's journal (a counselor of some sort) suggesting what women should do to avoid rape, and some of it was very negative and antisocial (although likely to be quite effective in its goals). Similarly, WikiChix, a recent effort by some female Wikipedians to provide a female-oriented meeting place for females to discuss sexism on Wikipedia, bothers me because it splits the community (as WikiChristians or WikiDemocrats or whatever) in an us-versus-them fashion. With both of these, I have to be both irritated at the remedy suggested and the situation that made some people feel it to be necessary. Whether it *is* necessary is a matter of judgement that I haven't made yet - in the first case rape is essentially an antisocial act that very few people advocate tolerance of (in western cultures), so more social efforts to eliminate it are unlikely to be helpful ("Take Back the Night" is more about symbolism and catharsis than actually persuading people). Sexism on Wikipedia is.. an interesting topic. On the fringes of the project (e.g. the IRC channel, an official unofficial forum, and sometimes on the mailing list) there are some guys who talk about pr0n and otherwise say things that make people uncomfortable, and that's led to complaints - I think by-and-large guys in this culture are more comfortable with being seen partly as sex objects than gals are, so the occasional stuff going the other way is generally not seen as a problem. It is a problem though that these IRC communities are, theoretically, more then for just geek culture (always itself a hybrid of local and theoretical "universal" geek culture) - they draw non-geeks as well and might reflect quite badly on Wikipedia when they're at their worst. Is there much on the projects that might be seen as sexism beyond that? I haven't seen it, although that doesn't mean it's not real. It bothers me to see anyone suggest paranoia or seperatism of this sort though, although it's a case of safety/psyche versus the community and few people would (or should) bend indefinitely on the first. I also worry that I see some phrasing indicative of anti-intellectualism in the parts of their site that I can see (it's a partly-closed Wiki) that remind me of some of the not-quite-all-there fringe liberals at OSU. One of the larger complaints I have against WikiTruth is that it does not take care to have a coherent criticism of Wikipedia - it just rants. Some of these rants are appropriate (Jimbo on Sanger), but by and large the site is not helpful because it would lay criticism no matter what happened. If WikiChix goes strongly in the direction of brain-damage it will similarly be mostly-useless and harmful and inexcusable, even in the face of actual discimination. Umm... perhaps a bit like Unions, really - in the right form and aimed in the right direction, they may be a good temporary measure, but only as a stopgap pending a real fix (presumably unification of owners and producers).

Semiformalishmaybe

Accidental Union

Philosopher as trailblazer versus adventurer. Is it more important to have the adventure of philosophy - of finding new values and comprimises, or to have them? Do we seek to inspire others to their own spot in the woods, or to build new clearings? One focuses on and draws inspiration from our values, using them as the actual goal in writing and improving ourself by and in their light. The other seeks simply to inspire others. One can be, and often aims to be, made into a global system for society. The other may lead to its ultimate romantic destruction. Either could be very pretty and worthwhile. Nietzsche dances on this.. "The Creator seeks companions, not followers or believers. Fellow harvesters.." but we may choose another dance.