Jon Bonne writes about a morning in high school, the Nobelist Joseph Brodsky, and unfiltered cigarettes. (Do you believe in the serial comma? I’ve never made up my mind).
Tim Bray is a very smart man. If I accomplish nearly so much as he has in my career, I’ll be proud of what I’ve done.
Yet I find myself in a disagreement with him. The gist of it is whether personalities are the story in the “Great RSS War of 2003.” I have no interest in prolonging said war, or in picking a fight with big, important figures doing good works for the people of the Net. But my message on this matter has been mischaracterized. (I think I’ve been called a Marxist? Hrm.) So, by way of reply:
* Of course people matter. Of course it is people who get things done. Big personalities have force and give life to great initiatives. It’s what leadership is about. It’s what management is about. It’s how the world works.
* Things aren’t pre-ordained — most particularly in the context of the Net. It’s one of several core teachings, as I read it, in Lawrence Lessig‘s first book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace: the outcome of struggles for the future of the Net are not pre-determined by the architecture (the whole is-ism meme). And we better fight for it, starting now (well, yesterday), if we care about the outcome. Care, and fight, we must. There are loads of great, worthy causes out there: just ask the EFF, Creative Commons, CDT, Public Knowledge, many others on the front lines.
* Here’s what I mean, if I haven’t been clear: let’s not get hung up on who said what to whom or who’s annoyed at whom in the Great RSS War of 2003. Everyone knows how much effort goes into flame wars like that. That’s useful energy. There’s so much to be done. Let’s get on with the work of building out cyberspace according to a design that’s in the public interest.
In picking up a thread from my Oxford Internet Institute experience recently and Seth Finkelstein’s blog, here’s a reply from Ed Felten to OII resident fellow Peter Davies. It’s searing, and heartfelt. Davies and I disagreed at a session last week about the Felten v. RIAA case and the propriety of the DMCA’s provision against anti-circumvention measures. Seth did my blog post one better by coming up with a Davies presentation on the topic. Thanks to Seth for making the connection.