Pre-class Discussion for Jan 9

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Lessig: Code 2.0

  • In the last paragraph of the "Telephones" section on the bottom of page 64, Lessig states that failing to follow the laws of the US government is as bad an idea for General Motors as Ebay. Does this hold true for not-for-profit sites such as Wikipedia? Do not-for-profits pose less danger because they are not motivated by money or arguably more danger to Lessig's use of market controls simply because they won't be as beholden to the market? Ttassin 22:27, 8 January 2008 (EST)
    • I think that it depends on the non-profit. Those that depend on donations would probably be in the same position as commercial enterprises because they would lose donations due to the bad publicity from not following the law. Those non-profits that would actually gain donations from taking a principled stance on this issue, like the EFF or the ACLU, would be less susceptible. They would still be subject to any laws and regulations that were passed, but they would be less susceptible to other forms of enforcement like fines or the ensuing bad publicity. Anna 23:28, 8 January 2008 (EST)
    • It's an interesting point to raise. Anna is right that it depends on the monetary sources. I think it also depends on the character of the individuals comprising each not-for-profit. Wikipedia is staffed by fierce volunteers who care not only about the primary work that they do (editing) but also participate to a far greater degree in its organizational leadership than in traditional nonprofits. It's possible that when such organizations that are filled with unusually fierce intrinsic motivation, they may be likely to provide a countervailing force to Government control. Nevkam 10:08, 9 January 2008 (EST)
  • Enjoyed Lessig's brief discussion of Z-theory. I wonder what type of catastrophic attack would have to take place to make our government (or ourselves) demand more regulation. It doesn't seem like ID theft is a big concern for most people (every week it sounds like a new million or two IDs are lost). Do you think it will be a commercial event where major sites are taken down, and they lead the movement? An attack on public infrastructure? Or a more generalized event - perhaps a laughing visage of Ahmadinejad appears on every desktop? Nevkam 10:18, 9 January 2008 (EST)

Zittrain: The Future of the Internet

  • Privacy rights tend to evolve over time and be determined based both on the reasonable expectation of privacy held by the individual and whether society is willing to recognize that this expectation is reasonable. So where does OnStar recording its consumers’ conversations without their knowledge fit into this analysis? It seems like this would be a violation of privacy as we think of it now, both as consumers of the technology and as a society. However, if tetherized appliances gain market dominance and continue to have and implement such surveillance features, then both our subjective expectations of privacy and society’s willingness to recognize these expectations as reasonable will probably change to allow for such surveillance. This means that the legal checks and balances that Lessig relies upon in his article will be less of a deterrent to law enforcement eager to employ such technologies, and we may be a approaching a model of “perfect enforcement” as described in Zittrain’s article. Anna 10:23, 9 January 2008 (EST)
  • Something about the "Libertarian Gotcha" (page 114) kind of bothered me. Doesn't it suppose that domestic industries can't reverse engineer our best technologies? Internet search, for example, is a product that has a lot of decent substitutes. Suppose Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all demanded that China accept liberal values to benefit from the economic benefits gained by search. I would see it more likely for a Chinese entrepreneur to step in to fill that void than the Chinese Government caving to US companies. Nevkam 10:25, 9 January 2008 (EST)
    • I think that there are two circumstances in which we might be able to coerce China into accepting our technologies rather than developing comparable products. The first is if the cost of the reverse-engineering would be prohibitively expensive or too time-consuming to be worthwhile and the second is if there is an intellectual property issue, as might be the case with a tethered appliance under a broad patent. Anna 13:23, 9 January 2008 (EST)

von Hippel: Democratizing Innovation

Spar: Ruling the Waves

  • Lessig and Zittrain's articles would suggest that we seem to be currently residing in the "Creative Anarchy" timeframe of Spar's analysis immediately preceding the implementation of more comprehensive rules regimes. Is the rapid rate of software and technological generation that is attributed to the internet truly unique to this wave of innovation? Regardless of the answer, does the diffuse nature of internet generativity expand the playing field enough such that we could find ourselves in the Innovation, Commercialization, and Creative Anarchy period simultaneously so that sectors of internet technology will fall into the Rules timeframe separately? Is this kind of thinking justified or solely an example of the "this time is different" mentality that Spar suggests happens during virtually every period of technological innovation? Ttassin 22:43, 8 January 2008 (EST)
  • What happens in Spar’s fourth phase when there are international disputes over the proper regimes? It seems highly unlikely that the internet will lead to total political anarchy and the dissolution of national borders. Assuming then that nations will remain as they are, that we are in the “creative anarchy” phase, and that we will eventually reach the next phase, then which nations will be imposing regulations on the internet and how will these different sets of rules be resolved when they inevitably conflict? Anna 04:14, 9 January 2008 (EST)