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Interview: Ask the Internet Political Activists 232

Jonah Seiger and Shabbir Safdar own Mindshare Internet Campaigns, a Washington DC consulting firm that specializes in online political campaigning. Jonah and Shabbir are geeks who originally got into political activism by working to defeat political attempts to muzzle free expression on the Internet. Now they've turned pro -- very successfully -- but they're still avid Slashdot readers, and they're happy to answer questions about how the Internet is gaining acceptance as a political tool, and how you can use it to further your favorite cause or candidate. Please post your questions as comments below. Slashdot moderators and assorted dancing hamsters will pick 10 or 12 of them to forward. Answers will be posted Friday.
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Interview: Ask the Internet Political Activists

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can yours or some other organisation make the internet more suited for furthering democracy? For example, I would like a web site to keep track of the past decisions of our representatives for elections. Is this legal? How can such a thing be protected from political interest? What can be used to stop our representatives from deleting or adding information about themselves or others from such a site?

    Are online political debates feasable?

    Is there any way of choosing political candidates for elections using the internet? How?

    In a medium such as the internet, where there is two-way communication, politicians become more equal. I could imagine a great many politicains would be opposed to the internet becoming a forum for comercials, opinion, and debate. How can this be protected? How can this be tooken away?

    Kevin Holmes
  • 1. How many gallons of cum do you ejaculate each year? 2. Is your jizz scalding hot, like my father's?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's clear that the net provides a vast, new forum for the dissemination and debate of political ideas. It's also clear that netizens are aware and vocal regarding political issues.

    However, it also seems that the net opinions are routinely ignored by politicians. There are some success stories, such as the defeat of CDA and the spy-on-your-customers proposals. But more typically, we hear that email to politicians is considered chaff and earns form replies. Or that netizens' demands are unheard as corporations dictate policy.

    So for all we hear about net activism and democracy, what _is_ the connection between Internet politics and the political system? What are the mechanisms by which we make ourselves heard? Which ones work now, and what should we be doing to create effective channels in the future?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 1999 @07:24AM (#1756727)
    I want politicians to realize once and for all that the internet is a global construct; especially when it comes to making laws about what to try and regulate or what is and is not "illegal" to do over the net.

    Strong crypto? Internet casinos? Child pornagraphy? Sale of perscription drugs over the net? Gun sales over the 'net? Piracy (software, movies, music, pictures, etc.)? All of these items are LEGAL somewhere on the planet. The 'net, though, brings totally counter and conflicting laws and idealogoes together in the same place in a way that's never been done before. And isolationism and treating the whole 'net as within your borders in making up laws to deal with these issues is not acceptable. Tolerance and a hands-off approach to the 'net in the EXTREME is called for and a realization that no-one has a monopoly of definitions for the terms "right" and "wrong" across the planet.

  • Slashdot Moderators are thousands of (logged in) readers, not a closed editorial cabal. A Slashdot member named Matt Wilkie suggested that we let the Moderators select the questions instead of doing it behind closed editorial doors. Matt's idea was Good, so it has been adopted.

    Since Slashdot Moderators are both numerous and anonymous, the question selection process is essentially open source, but by limiting it to registered Slashdot members, it is protected from the "Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf" abuses you see in so many online polls.

    This is not a big deal when we're interviewing Slashdot-hip people like Shabbir and Jonah, Illiad, Bruce Perens or Mandrake. But imagine how perverted things could get if we let someone like, say, Al Gore, pick his own questions or "pack the house" with Anonymous Cowards who would choose nothing but softball questions.

    And yes, I've invited Gore. I've talked to Ben Green, his Webmaster, campaign manager Tony Coelho, and interview scheduler Roger Salazar, but none of them seem able to give out a decisive "yes" or "no" answer. Sad. We gave Vice President Gore a chance to be the first big-time politician ever interviewed on Slashdot, and his campaign staff is apparently in such disarray that it looks like he's going to blow the opportunity because of what I am told are "scheduling problems." Like it's that big a deal to spend 20 or 30 minutes responding to some e-mail.

    If anyone has suggestions about other possible Slashdot interview candidates, I'd love to hear them.

    Hmmm. Jesse Ventura'd probably be up for something like this. I think I'll e-mail his people now. (Just thinking out loud...)

  • Right now Bill Bradley winning the Democratic nomination is the only hope I can see of getting an at least somewhat sane/competent candidate elected.
  • I'm not so sure about that. If I understand correctly, canada gets most of its internet connectivity through American backbone providers (mainly MCI and AT&T). Most (all?) of the North AmericaEurope backbones are also run by American companies. If these all died, the rest of the world would have some big problems. Europe could still communicate within itself, and possibly to Australia and Asia, but that's about it.
  • Sure, this isn't true now, but it could have worked out that way. The Internet was entirely 100% US-only at one point, so when the first Europeans hooked up (basically, getting their bandwidth from the Americans who ran the backbones), the US could have forced them to abide by the Terms of Service in order to get that feed. Fortunately, they agreed on a peer-to-peer network hierarchy instead.
  • I went to college with someone from New England (some town he never named) who explained who it works in their town which is a demoracy:

    for the large majority of town meetings 10 old men (women are allowed, but appearently don't attend) show up and decide how to run the town. These people are responsiable to nobody, are not elected, but they have power to set taxes.

    The some students decided they wanted a new track. They printed up flyers, raised interest about their parents and friends parents. On a set night most of the town decended on the meeting, with one issue: voting for a new track. They had no interest in any other issues up for vote. They had no interest in how to get the money to pay for this track. They simply went along with everyone else to vote for a new track, and went home.

    The next meeting the 10-15 old men who ran the town sat alone in that room, went overthe budget and decided that since there wasn't money to pay for it (of course the most expensive track was approved) they would have to raise taxes.

    Then all the towns folks started complaining about how taxes went up, not realising they were the problem. It only takes a few issues like this before the irresposibility of the people overwhelms the ability of a demoracy to work. Remember, not everyone cares as much as you or I might. MN had the highest voter turnout of any state in the US last year, and 40% of the voters didn't bother to vote! (probably more then 40%.) If I recall correctly, in one state 70% of the voters didn't vote.

    Until a large majority of the population keeps themselves informed and bothers to vote on all issues there is not point. At least with representatives there is some control, more then there is over those self selected 10 old men.

  • I think we've already hit the point of diminishing returns for our exchanges of freedom for security. Actually we've sailed on past it. Now we're limiting people's rights to even link to other information on the web. That's not helping anyone and it is going to hurt those who want information. There are lots of other examples of stupid laws that don't do much to help but do quite a bit to harm. I'm out of time though so maybe someone else can pick this one up.

  • Why should the rest of the world have to abide by the standards of our idiotic politicians? Especially when many of them are hypocrites anyway? Do you think we should just have one internet for America and not let anyone else in? You'd probably be in the minority... err.. well no.. you'd be with the majority of mindless tv drones that think the internet is just a cool way to find out what the weather will be like and download porn. The point is that you would be isolating the US and drastically limiting the usefulness of the net.

  • I don't know that I go along with any particular political way of thinking. What I'm sick of is the fact that Congress keeps passing these laws that will be selectively enforced (i.e. "we'll only prosecute the bad people for breaking this law"). That's complete BS and these sorts of laws should not be allowed to exist. Either the law applies to everyone or the law is nothing but a tyrannical tool of those in power.

  • I might not like all of their ideas, but I like enough of them that I might vote for them if the other choice is Bush or Gore(I don't know much about Bradley).

    The problem is how the hell this party will get on the ballot. I doubt they'll be able to. If not, I'll probably wind up voting for some other 3rd party, since I am sick to death almost everyone in the big two.
  • The problem is getting people to want to run for office who are't phsychopaths, sex maniacs or KKK members.
  • I think that muslim control of the USDA would suck.

    I don't eat pork often, but I'm sure proud of my right to eat it occasionally.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • If we had a direct democracy, Ricky Martin would be elected president.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • The education issue has been and always will be an issue of who controls the information.

    Senators act and vote on information presented to them by the lobbyists. So of course their interests are conflicted, and the result of garbage in is garbage out.

    Now, if everybody got to vote on laws, the mass media would control all the information. Sure, maybe the "real" stuff would be on PBS, or CSPAN. But most people are watching CNN and ABC. Now, how do you suppose we got involved in Kosovo over the deaths of a few hundred oppressed ethnic Albanians, when we completely ignored the situation in Rwanda, where over half a million people were murdered by machetes in the space of a few weeks? Could it have been due to CNN coverage?

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • Not if I have to download the latest version of MSIE to do it!

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
    -jafac's law
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Forget all the crypto arguments, for a moment. With Echelon, they're all rendered moot, anyway.

    IMHO, some very big questions are "how do we detect further abuses of this kind", and "what should be done, once they are detected."

    We can't just leave it to the European Union's techs and politicians in Australia to blow the whistle. And once the whistle IS blown, it's criminal to simply allow the abuse to continue. However, with a program of this kind, how can anyone know if anything changes? We're not likely to be told, and I don't see public accounts being set up on their ultra-secret machines.

    Whilst it remains possible for Governments to run programs such as Echelon, cryptography is useless. You can regard the message as being essentially open. Privacy is a joke, with anything you send being readable and loggable.

    IMHO, if political activists cannot convince politicians to set up an effective watchdog, with teeth, to prevent intelligence services from indulging in industrial espionage and unlawfully spying on private citizens, nothing else you can ever hope to gain will have any value or meaning.

  • How hard would it be to launch a worldwide campaing against the Beijing dictated "One China" policy that disregards Taiwan's obvious sovereignty?

    Why don't I see more about low-$$ candidates on the internet? All we get are the high budget media favorites. Do their campaign people not know of the voting and fundraising potential online?

  • I've set up a web page unfavorable to my Congressional Representative, Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA51). It's only one of two web pages I know of that's against an incumbent (and not sponsored by the opponent). It's at http://www.cunningham.carlsbad.ca.us/ [carlsbad.ca.us].

    How can I make this page more effective in reaching out to the voters of my district?

  • Is there a site where I can read about the corporate funding of U.S. Senators and Representatives? How about state officials? I know this information is supposed to be public, but I don't know how accessible it's been made. A nice, dynamic site, preferrably with links to voting records, could go a long way toward making politicians' true loyalties known and maybe, in the long run, building support for campaign-finance reform.

    It's a tall order, I know, but I really think it's a worthwhile project. If there isn't such a resource out there already, I'd be very much willing to build one. (Hello, mod_perl!)
    Beer recipe: free! #SourceCold pints: $2 #Product

  • What is security, but freedom from fear?
  • The problem with this is that even if the US took such a policy, and cut off the connections to states who didn't implement US policies, there's nothing preventing them from networking without the US. The US could threaten to cut off anyone who gave them service, but that would lead to trade wars and such. Also, do we really want the US government imposing its standards (puritanical sexual morality, bans on drug-related content, and various FBI/NSA surveillance proposals, to name a few) on the whole wired world? Especially since there's enough of a consensus on things such as child pornography. Besides, how do you think Cuba, Iran, &c., are connected to the Net?
  • Fortunately, back then the Net was run by hackers, not politicians; in fact, most politicians were unaware of its existence. And the hackers who ran it didn't see any reason to bring it under the heel of politics.
  • I would imagine the problems we have with the conflicting and silly laws we have is the low voter turnout and research on a bill's viability is based on polls. Statistics, not for love of the country.

    So, my question is, if better than 95% of eligible voters had their voice punched on the ballot, would it be the end all of obscure laws, mudslinging, and corruption? Eligible voters should be based on age only (18) and nothing else. Having a disagreement with the law and getting a felony, etc, should be no excuse for silence. I feel it is everyone's duty to participate. Is this unreasonable?
  • With the proliferation of the Internet, and the increasing powers of corporate interests to sway the opinions of those elected, haven't electoral politics become obsolete?

    What would possibly keep us involved in a failed, antiquated system? What caveats do you see that would keep us from moving towards a
    completely direct democracy?


    Michael Chisari
  • As much as I hate being a US-centric troll, we did invent the Internet itself here (though plenty of Europeans, working here, contributed - and the Web was invented overseas). It was originally built under a US government contract, by our rules and standards. Fortunately, we were smart enough to open up connectivity, but still we control the DNS standard, we control address assignments, and most of the major backbones and access points are on our soil.

    Leading me to my point here: this AC has a valid point, though not terribly practical. If the US government decided to take their ball and go home, that would be stupid, but we built it - we make the rules. I have no problem at all with us running the show. That said, the nature of the Internet is to open up information and culture. Politicians need to know that, while we may run the Internet here in the US, it represents something bigger than all of us. We may run it, but we can't control it.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • In your opinion, what are the relative lobbying effectivenesses of the following:
    • an online petition based at a Web site;
    • an email sent to a lawmaker with 1000 signatures;
    • 1000 different emails sent to a lawmaker, from different people;
    • those email petitions that say "sign at the bottom, forward to everyone you know, and forward to us if you're 50th, 100th, etc.";
    • Email sent to a lawmaker vs. a phone call vs. a paper letter (and typed vs. handwritten)?
  • Americans sure are nuts about guns.

    Make an effort sometime and compare US crime rates and amounts of shooting sprees in public places to those in countries where people are fortunate enough to lack the right to carry lethal weapons around.

    If I went crazy and wanted to kill a bunch of people, I wouldn't know where to get a gun, let alone some sort of automatic rifle. If Atlanta was like Amsterdam, a lot of people would not be dead today.
  • Sorry if this isn't exactly appropriate, but I'm currently seeking feedback on forming a global union of web workers. A short introduction and a questionnaire seeking ideas and volunteers is at w4u.dhs.org [dhs.org]


  • Question: How does one organize a group of people entirely online? I have seen several attempts at getting a movement off the ground - setting up a listserv, website, discussing the issues.. but that's usually all the farther it goes, and then the whole thing sinks.

    What's the best way to get in touch with people and get something off the ground?

  • Jesse Ventura's campaign is supposed to be the model.

    I live in minnesota, and I can safely say the majority of us regret participating in this practical joke against conventional politics. Nobody here, and I mean nobody thought he'd win - they voted for him in good humor. Now that we've realized we've hired Jesse the Body with No Mind, we're eagerly awaiting the next election to undo that mistake.

    Basically, I don't think a web based party has any hope whatsoever of suceeding.

    I have to disagree. You just need to find a focal point. We only need to wait for the right opportunity. I have a feeling the Republicans won't let us down.

  • The problems with being politically active in an internetworked culture today are twofold: the economics of attention, and accelerated fragmentation.

    Some wag said that the most important commodity is people's attention - getting them to consider your product or service, getting them to be aware of what you're offering. Strategies for colonizing attention have become *very* sophisticated and *very* effective - to the point that we don't have a lot of attention left for things that don't immediately deal with entertainment or work.

    Civic and public issues can't compete with that *unless they also take the form of entertainment.* Monica Lewinsky, bombing faraway countries, and psychotic gun-sprees are good entertainment. The constant, grinding, slow erosion of our civil liberties (or, more pointedly, the civil liberties of that unfortunate minority that disagrees with the norm) is not good theatre, and the technologies and strategies of attention-getting won't work for them. In fact, it's good theater that's responsible for their erosion: "save our children from drugs!" plays a lot better than "we may not like what people say, but they have a right to say it."

    The other problem is fragmentation accelerated by the technologies of anonymous/faceless communication. I'm not an economic libertarian - I *am* a civil libertarian. I could work with a libertarian on civil issues, but the fact is that the animosity pumped up between liberals and libertarians over issues such as environmental and business regulation, public assistance, and labor law is such that we are each unlikely to want to work with each other - and we're essentially drunk on the differences of opinion when our fora for discussion is online groups like this one.
  • On his page he claims that his page is Open Source. If that's true, then I should be able to take his entire page, modify it slightly so that it says "Al Gore Sucks" and put it on my own web site.

    http://www.algore2000.com/getinvolved/index.html says "In the spirit of the Open Source movement, we have established the Gore 2000 Volunteer Source Code Project. www.algore2000.com is an "open site". "

    Then he goes on to say on http://www.algore2000.com/getinvolved/legal_notice .html that "Only individuals acting as volunteers may participate in source code volunteer efforts. No individual may be paid for their efforts. When submitting your source code, please provide your name, address (mailing address and e-mail address), occupation and the name of your employer.

    By submitting this source code you warrant that the code is your original product and you have not reproduced, counterfeited, copied or colorably imitated any, copyright trademark, or service mark or violated any federal or state law.

    Further, this source code is not being submitted by a company, business, labor union or other organization, or any federal, state or municipal agency and has not been produced using the facilities of any such groups."

    Al Gore is mocking the Open Source concept by calling his page Open Source. It clearly is not.
    He should fear the power of the Penguin!

  • Al Gore offends Open Source fans by mocking the concept on his campaign web page. He offends internet users by claiming that he invented the internet.

    On the other hand, G.W. Bush offends free thinkers by announcing that he wants religous organizations to take a larger part in government programs, and might directly tax dollars to those programs.

    What is the best way to let these candidates know that their current positions are counter-productive? I want someone to say clearly that they will increase NASA's budget over the next 4 years.
  • What do they say? "He who gives up a little freedom to gain a little security deserves and gets neither" -- indeed. Oh, yes indeed. See above. On the other hand, all of life is a matter of trading freedom for security. "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch": It's just a question of what kind of a bargain you drive. I'm not free to sleep in until noon on weekdays and then drink my breakfast; in return for giving up that freedom, I get a regular paycheck. It's called adulthood. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

    You don't understand the quote. When you voluntarily give up your ability to sleep in until noon, you haven't lost any freedom because you can voluntarily quit your job. It's a tradeoff, and as you said, we make tradeoffs every day.

    Giving up your freemdom, on the other hand, means you don't have any choice in the matter any more. You've truly given up the right to decide for yourself.

    Libertarians understand the value of choice. That's why we don't want the bureaucrats making personal decisions for us, no matter how benevolent and well-intentioned they claim to be. We understand that even if they were each a hundred times smarter than the rest of us, they couldn't solve our problems for us. We, more than anyone, know there's no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Regarding sewage: Corporations already do GIANT tasks, requiring thousands of workers and complex organization. They do it for money (among other things), and they do it efficiently because they build on self-interest instead of trying to oppose it. You can't say the same about government organizations; they are inefficent and degenerative by design.

    You say that "not many people would work in the sewers for the good of their fellow man, they would only do it to get paid." If I follow you, then they should be forced to work in the sewers by the government? That's your answer?? Is getting paid to do a job just too immoral for you??
  • The "War on Drugs" is a good example, too. But IMHO the fact that you've swerved into the ditch (the CDA) doesn't necessarily mean that you must henceforth drive in the oncoming lane (libertarianism). There's always a middle way, and it's usually worth following. Extremism in the defense of anything is a vice, and moderation in the pursuit of anything is usually a virtue. I'm a fanatical moderate! Hear me roar! :)

    "Extremism in the defense of anything is a vice" is a self-contradicting statement. You've taken the extreme against extremism.

    Not all extremes are bad, just as not all absolutes are false. The trick is choosing the correct ones. If you think you don't have to choose, them read the previous paragraph again. If you think you can get by with self-contradictions, then you have some very deep philosophizing to do.
  • Unless you're self-destructive, you don't choose to die fighting. You choose to fight for something while risking death. Another tradeoff of life.

    There's really no need to throw away freedom for security. You can have large amounts of both, just as you can have very little of both (the communist proletariat had little security and almost no freedom). In fact, I believe freedom and security are positively related, not negatively. The consequences of throwing away freedom are not as simple as most people think.

    I might as well give an example. As gun control increases, it takes away an increasing amount of a person's choice for personal defense. He/she is faced with an increasingly large tradeoff that didn't exist before: (1) defend him/herself more effectively (with a gun) and risk becoming a criminal, or (2) defend him/herself less effectively (without a gun) and increase the risk of becoming prey to a REAL criminal. This new tradeoff creates a new fear, which is small at first, but it becomes larger as gun control escalates (as it naturally does, since the bureaucrats don't recognize that it's self-defeating). Then, multiply that amount of fear by 260 million (the US population), and you have a real problem. But the problem is "hidden" because it is dispersed over so many people.

    Whether you agree with everything I've said or not, I hope you will at least consider that there may be some hidden consequences that you may not have considered.
  • You're right, I didn't follow his statement. I thought he was making a different statement, one that I've heard before, many times. His wording was vague, and I misunderstood. And notice my use of "if I follow you." I hereby retract my remarks.

    Nevertheless, his statement DOES imply the use of force. Only it's not against the guy working in the sewer; it's against the people who pay for the guy working in the sewer. The money has to come from somewhere, and it's better to let the sewer company develop a direct, self-correcting relationship with its customers than to use taxation as a means to fund an organization that naturally becomes inefficient and loathed by its customers.
  • More fallacies:

    He also implies that "working for the good of their fellow man" is a good thing. It's the communist ideal, and it didn't work. For reasons within the grasp of philosophy, if you're willing look hard enough.

    He also said "Money requires government to be of any value at all." This is false as well. Just because it LOOKS LIKE it's the only way it works doesn't make it so. I emphasized "looks like" because there are many different kinds of monies in the world, not just the government-sponsored kind. The establishment of money is a brilliant idea that solves the barter problem, and it simply requires an agreement among those involved. (And if you want to call that government, then you'll also have to call ANY organization government.)

    Basically, there are so many false premises in his argument that I wasn't too surprised that he might be the type of person who thinks getting paid to do a job is immoral, as opposed to doing it for altruistic purposes.
  • It was meant to be an Irishism, played for laughs, as well as a play on something Joe McCarthy (IIRC) said. Whatever serious intent I had (which probably wasn't all that apparent in what I wrote, for which I apologize) had to do with my personal conviction that extremism is mostly a matter of reducing morality to a simple algorithm, and then applying it robotically. Most extremism, in my humble opinion, is reductionism on crack. Of course, as the man said, "All those reductionists are the same". :)

    I'll agree with that. There are plenty of oversimplified philosophies floating around. I'm definitely a reductionist, but not a "greedy reductionist", as Daniel C. Dennett puts it.

    How can you say that being 100% consistent isn't extreme? It's extreme consistency.

    If you think you can get by without them, I think you may have spent too much time programming and not enough meeting girls and/or raising cats. This theory of mine is based on personal experience of both options, by the way :) Anyhow, I'm not willing to concede that consistently rejecting extremism is necessarily an extreme position. Extremists may tend to be consistent, but that doesn't mean that anybody who's consistent must be an extremist.

    I'm doing quite well avoiding contradictions. Without contradiction avoidance (a.k.a, logic), there's nothing to guide a mind in an orderly universe. The universe itself wouldn't be orderly without it. If there ARE bits of the universe that are illogical, then how are we to discover them? There's no way, so we might as well not waste our time.

    I grew up with several cats, and I have a very successful relationship that is built on reason (it's so refreshing, I wouldn't have it any other way). As for programming, the software industry is so young and chaotic -- I don't know that many programmers who are logical. :-)

    Rejecting logic brings up lots of questions that you might want to think about. If you can reject logic in one particular situation, what keeps you from rejecting it in other/all situations? (You certainly can't use logic to decide to reject logic.) You could "justify" anything on these grounds. Now that's scary. Fortunately, most people who do so only do it when things get complicated. Complexity does not equal illogic.
  • If you want to be treated like a child by others, you're free to do so. But please limit it to yourself. Giving someone else the power to control you is a tenuous position. The situation degrades until you're confined to a little box, wishing you were free again.

    As long as we're citing statistics from other countries, how about Switzerland, where gun ownership is relatively high and the crime rate is low? My point is that there are many relevant factors in determining the crime rate, so be carefule not to oversimplify it.

    Society can't be made safe through legislation -- there are just too many people to control. It's like herding cats. The only way to achieve safety is through the slow process of becoming a reasonable society. People ARE capable of it. You just have to be careful not to treat them like children, else they will start acting as unreasonable as children.
  • Huh? Talk about a false premise! Jeez. "There was this communist who disagreed with me, and now this guy disagrees with me too -- therefore he's a communist!"

    That's not what I meant.

    I think he's got a very good point, actually. Find me a pure anarchy with a cash economy. The thing is, whenever you get more than two families in the same valley, they create a government of some kind. People seem to be like that. It may well be sheer idiocy (though I don't personally think so), but short of brain surgery, it looks to me like we're stuck with it.

    I can't show you an anarchy with a cash economy, but what does that prove? The fact is that money arises independently of government. It requires organization, but not government per se (gov't being defined as the only legal initiator of force).

    It works fine in Lancaster Co., PA, just as it worked when we were settling the plains. In a cash-poor agrarian economy, people either help each other out they all starve. In those conditions it's just not possible to store enough surplus value to replace your barn by yourself when it burns down -- especially since a big chunk of your wealth just drifted away on the breeze. Hence barn-raisings. In small, economically strapped communities, "share and share alike" has been a necessity for survival throughout history. On that scale, it works.

    That's not communism. Communism doesn't work at ANY scale. It's just easier to avoid it at a small scale.

    Communism involves the establishment of a commons, where income isn't tied to production. (It fails because: Why be productive when your income rises only infinitesimally as a result?) In a small group, it may look like communism, but in fact the people are constantly exchanging valuables with each other. Fair trades are still happening. If someone becomes parasitical, he'd likely be thrown out, or at least reprimanded.

    Furthermore, the notion that "'working for the good of their fellow man' is a good thing" may or may not be the communist ideal (it certainly isn't the whole of the communist ideal), but it's the Christian ideal as well. It also turns up elsewhere. Just because Hitler liked dogs and children doesn't mean that everybody who likes dogs and children is a maniac. You can't judge ideas by the people who latch onto them. You can't judge them by pure theorizing, either; the fact is, I live in the US and pay taxes not only to the federal government, but also to the state of Massachussetts, where state taxes are pretty high. I am, in part, working for the good of my fellow man right now. And you know what? We're doing okay.

    I'm target "working for the good of their fellow man" quite intentionally because I believe it IS the root of bad (theoretically AND practically) ethical systems, not because someone like Hitler may have believed it. Collectivism is the downfall of probably all civilizations that were once great. The short reason is that it destroys wealth instead of creating it. Individualism (self-interest) is the only way to create wealth, and therefore the only means to achieve a sustainable civilization. And unlike most people, I see no reason to mix the two. I prefer not to mix ANY poison with my food.

  • He's stated that if elected, he would issue and Executive Order to prevent Wiccans from performing their celebrations in the military.

    Do you have a reference for this? I've mentioned it to a few friends and they want to see where he actually said this. I'm curious, too.


  • "obvious sovereignty?" If it is so obvious then why are there so many disagreements about it?
  • What do you need strong crypto for??
  • There is ONE group in the population who consistantly turn out in large numbers. The Senior Citizens are ALWAYS the group with the highest turn out.

    It's because of their vote that the President and the Congressional Republicans are posturing over Social Security and Medicare. It's because of apathetic baby boomers and "Gen-X"ers that the old people get anything that they want from politicians.

    The internet is not going to have any significant influence over these people because they get all of their information at night from Dan Rather. The up-to-the-second nature of the internet is not interesting to the most powerful voters that we have. In 30 years when those people are no longer around and the Internet is a part of the daily lives of more voters, it may be too late. By then they can demonize and regulate the hell out of the internet so that it'll be a toothless tiger. We have a "supposedly" free press in the US, but whenever someone prints something that is unpopular, or politically incorrect there is such a cry to shut them down that nobody with two brain cells to rub together would even think of it.

  • In the not-too-distant future, I see a time when I can log onto my computer on election day, type in my social security number and password, and vote for the candidate of my choice. Such a system would massively increase voter participation and would result in a government truly elected by the people. Do you think that such a system will truly come to pass, and if so, when?

    And if so, why would we want it?

    If someone's too friggin' lazy to get their butt to a polling place, do we want them to vote? (Not counting those folks for whom getting to a polling place is very difficult or impossible due to physical impairment, of course.)

  • If someone's too friggin' lazy to get their
    butt to a polling place, do we want them to vote?

    I think the high percentage of people who don't
    vote has more to do with apathy and a sense of
    helplessness than laziness.

    I've skipped a couple of municipal elections
    because I simply did not like or trust any of the
    candidates. In regional elections when there is
    nobody worth voting for, I spoil the ballot.

    But what is a spoiled ballot really worth? It only
    ommunicates dissatisfaction . It doesn't give
    those in power any idea what you do want them
    to do. (subtext= so why bother?)

  • That sounds a little Microsoftish. Not the ignore you part, the we control everything and well kill you if you don't like it part.

    --Hunter Pankey
  • Where does your organization stand on the usage of technologies to block websites in schools and libraries? What opposition have you run into (and from whom) trying to advocate your solution?

  • What good is it to organize online when there are still elected officials who don't feel they NEED an email address? For example: I used to live in North Florida, and my representative was Tillie Fowler (R) [house.gov]. At the time (1996-1997), I called her office several times. First she didn't have a web site, yet voted FOR the CDA. The response I got when I asked how she could vote on an Internet law when she didn't even UNDERSTAND what she was voting on? The response "Rep. Fowler feels her peers give her the information she needs to make a decision that's best for her constituants." As for the web page? "She doesn't feel she needs one."

    Second time: she now HAD a web page (and a very bad one at that), but no email address. The response? "Rep. Fowler feels she doesn't needs an email address: she has no way to know if mail is really from her constituants or not, and doesn't want to offend one by not replying."

    So I guess my overall question is what use is it to organize online when many politicians either don't notice or don't take the net seriously?

  • What caveats do you see that would keep us from moving towards a completely direct democracy?

    We can't all be bothered to make educated decisions on every issue that the government has to deal with, while we can and should take the time to make informed decisions about who should represent us. Having elected representatives puts a layer of abstraction between us an the daily business of governing. Removing this layer would, I think, lead to a tyranny of special interests--mass voices with one overriding concern, incapable of compromise or reason.
  • Things I'm interested in seeing come to pass:

    * Fair-minded Intellectual Property Laws and fair minded administration of those laws.

    * Freer Radio and communications -- citizen access to a broader spectrum of media (though the net already has improved the situation...)

    * Microcredit -- no, not Micropayment, though that'd be nice. But Microcredit loans, like the Grameen Bank does. I'd like to see that idea wider spread; I guess it already exists.

    * Better traffic flow!

  • Indeed, any such law promotes disrespect for all laws in general. This happens because those selectively applied laws force citizens to re-examine their trust in the institutions which are supposed to promote fairness through the rule of law. Once the belief in the (police, judicial, and legislative) institutions has been broken, then those who have a tendency to exploit society for their own benefit (regardless of the common good) will be quick to exploit any inequalities, further breaking down the public trust.

    In theory, purges occur when trust in the system is eroded too far (Watergate, Iran-Contra, shakeups of various police departments). However, the legislative institutions (i.e. political parties) seem to have a harder time cleaning up their act, often using the other legal branches (judicial or enforcement) as sacrificial lambs.
    Moderate political parties are easily co-opted by the special interests which pushed for the "selectively enforced" laws in the first place, because moderates generally accept compromise as part of the political process.

    The end result seems to be the cyclic resurgence of extremist movements (i.e. the Canadian Reform Party, the French Front National, the Russian Nationalist Party, or various 1970's Communist parties) because their claimed higher focus/purity of ideals is believed to make them less subject to special interests. In reality, their tight focus usually is tied to at least one special interest, providing a path for a new cycle of corruption.

    But how can you stop human nature? You can't yet, and hopefully we'll be smart enough not to tinker with it when we gain the ability. So our best bet may be to evolve the structures in which these processes occur so that the extremes are less extreme and damaging.

    I would like to believe that the current limited support for extremist parties in developed countries indicate that we are moving in this direction. However, perhaps the special interests have gotten so much better at co-opting and dampening extremist swings that we are just setting up for an even nastier corrective swing 15-20 years down the road, when fewer people are around to remember WWII and the Cold War as examples of how bad extremist swings can get.
  • On the other hand, as I seem to remember hearing the majority of handgun wounds in the US are caused by the accidental misuse of a firearm or by use on family members, that "increased safety" may be quite illusory.

    One of Robert Heinlein's most often repeated quotes is that "an armed society is a polite society", however it depends on a rational citizenry. As far as I can tell, the real fear of the average US citizen is that the other guy might carry a weapon, leading to a policy of "shoot first and ask questions later" with police and citizenry alike. This attitude has not been mitigated by the availability of either low metal content Glocks or fully-automatic assault rifles. Apart for the Darwin Awards honourable mention to the gentleman who got shot while trying to hold up a gun shop when a police officer was present, where are all the guns when lunatics go postal in McDonalds', stock trading offices, etc?

    Currently, the prevalence of weapons mainly seems to mean that they are more easily available when somebody stops being rational. "A polite society" indeed.

    On the other hand, as my friend John pointed out to me recently, the power for destruction available to individuals is steadily increasing. The ability to de-novo engineer deadly virus epidemics will probably be available to individuals (let alone terrorists) with 30 years. So perhaps what we really need to do is to make everybody in high school take stress management courses as part of a life skills course, more carefully weed out the psychos for treatment, and make sure that teachers control/lead the reintegration of outcasts into society, instead of tacitly encouraging peer pressure and cruelty to crush their spirits. What is an unthinkable invasion of privacy now, may be quite acceptable when the threat of a maladjusted Columbine student or an Eric Robert Rudolph is not a few isolated bombs, but a 50% death toll in LA or New York.

    On the bright side, if the backlash of such an event results in a dictatorship or a "return to good Christian values" in a theocracy, then the backlash will be short-lived. Repression will definitely NOT solve this problem once the genie is out of the bottle.
  • The average voter is older than the average geek. Are there any statistics on geek voter turnout? What about turnout for people who use the Internet?

    I was told by a Pol Sci professor that the highest turnout group are all eligible for the AARP (Am. Assoc. of Retired Persons) and the lowest turnout is 18-25 year olds.

    So, how much do politicians really care about the Internet?
  • During TBWP hype, there was some fall out regarding fan sites which turned out to really be run by the studio.

    Will mindshare agree to never use this type of trick in its campaigns ? Will mindshare agree to always tell the readers of it's sites that 1) what they are reading is paid advertising, and 2) who is paying for the advertising ?

    Personally, I like to know when people are doing something because they are getting paid for, and when they are really doing something because they believe in what they're saying.

  • Well, to start with I'd expect slashes... :-)
  • My Question: Can we use the internet to build a Free Global Nation of People (F-GNP) interested in the advancement (Education, Health, Quality of life, ...) of all humanity?

    I pledged (about 30 years ago) to protect and defend the US Constitution, I will until the day I die. I could also pledge to defend and protect such a Global Nation with the primary interest of promoting and building institutions dedicated to human advancement and community.

    My Life, the US Constitution and a Global Nation providing Freedom for all humanity are of equal value to me. Somethings that are concepts are as real as me.

    To some of the comments already made.

    Reality is a self-induced hallucination!

    For me liberty is a concept that has varying value for US all. Security can only be secured by the efforts of the community (US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Sudan, Burma, ... Global). Any individual is doomed to fail and/or harm others when as an individual they attempt to determine the mental and emotional development of others.

    Only the living individual can defend freedom until death, only the union of all communities can provide security with freedom.

    In the end, may God bless the Peace-Maker, and forgive my soul for decisions I made long ago.
  • Uh, that should be "it". Fight it, not them. Join them, the efforts, in fighting the act. Oh damn. :)

    The only reason I keep my ms-dos partition is so I can mount it like the b*tch it is.

  • UCITA is a pretty big issue among /.ers, I'd think. Are there any major efforts to fight this act? If so, how or where can I (we) find them? I personally think it would be a crime to allow this to pass.

    The only reason I keep my ms-dos partition is so I can mount it like the b*tch it is.

  • How much of a role do you think the net will have on an election?
    Considering the last stat's I saw most people were not on the net it might not be much. But how many of those vote? Most net users tend to over state its importance. Most non-net users tend to understate it importance.
    Can a candidate win today without a net presence of some sort?
    Can a condidate win today based mainly on a net presence?
  • Two quick questions...

    How effective are online campaign contribution appeals? Are they worth the effort?

    What are the best methods for organizing outreach online? If it's through e-mail, how do you avoid the SPAM label?

  • it may have started in the united states, but that doesn't mean we controll it. might as well say that us companies have the right to tax electric corporations in other countries, as this is where electricity origonated. get a clue, you fool. it is a global network, no one owns it all, and no one ever will.


    "Generation Tripple-X, we're all about the weed smoke and the kinky sex.."
    -Ice Cube and Korn .. "Children of the Korn"
  • or even worse, some of us do tech support for them and the "American" internet.

    try leading those arrogant morons through all of their computer. THAT is frustration.
  • I'm guessing you were once out-argued by a Libertarian, and now you hold a grudge against all of them. To suggest they are all gun-nuts is just plain ignorant. I am sure the vast majority of them hold their entire ideal to be true.

  • Remember when major news organizations had something called an "investigative journalist"? These people listened to what was said by the politicos, then actually researched the documents and bills that where refered to and blew the whistle on the liars. Now they just have "pundits" who tell us who can and who can't win an election, so we won't "waste our vote". (I can't imagine Ross Perot as president, but it pisses me off that a majority of voters who wanted him where literally talked out of voting for him by being convinced he "couldn't win".)

    Bill Moyers recently did a PBS documentary on "The Media". Take a serious look at who owns TV, radio, and newspapers in this country, and you will no longer wonder why truth in reporting doesn't matter. Ratings matter. The American citizen does not have a chance of getting the truth on any issue.

    Simple example....What should we do with the "budget surplus"? How many trillions of dollars of dollars in debt are we? If I owe Visa more than my weekly paycheck, I do NOT call that a surplus! I recently heard some statistics on a radio talk show (grab your grain of salt). Approximately 50% of the American citizenry believe the U.S Government has it's own money, and that's what it is spending for all these programs. Also, there are currently more people receiving federal funds, than are currently paying taxes. Sorry folks, it's MY money and I'm tired of giving it away.

    While I'm on wasting my money, why does congress keep wasting time and resources on bills and laws that are clearly in violation of the constitution? The CDA, CDAII, Crypto controls...? If cryptography is a munition, don't citizens have a right to bear arms?

    So, what can we do? Keep links to real information available. Keep links to email Representatives and Senators prominently available. Use those links often.

    If Mindshare can simply get the politicians to recognize email as a legitimate and sincere form of voter communication, I'm sure that the /. effect will pale in comparison to the /tax, /bull, /waste effect.


    Reply to self:

    from an article linked to by Mindshare [nytimes.com]

    As it stands, conventional methods of contacting Congress still carry the most weight, even in offices where staff members read e-mail daily.

    "A well-written letter is always the best way to go about it," said Scott Harshman, a legislative assistant who routes e-mail for Representative John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania. Still, from seeing so much e-mail, he recognizes the importance of Congressional offices' offering online communication. "People ask, 'How come this representative doesn't have e-mail?'" Harshman said. "It sends a message to your constituency."

    Even so, in Congressional offices that offer constituents no electronic avenue for communication, aides say the decision holds no visible repercussions.

    "Once in a while, somebody will write us a letter that says, 'When will you get it?' But it has not been a big issue," said Vince Morelli, legislative director to Representative Elton Gallegly, Republican of California. "Nobody seems to be complaining. People prefer to do it the old-fashioned way."

    SO COMPLAIN! Let them know that if they don't use the internet, especially to communicate with their constituents, they have no business trying to dictate how others use it.

    I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore! -- Peter Finch's character, Network

  • it says heroine - not heroin. Two different words with different meanings, I think. ;-)

  • How would you describe the type/amount of support you get from the hacker/tech community, e.g. the reactions of the average hacker/tech to the very notion of political action, or specifically the causes you work for?

    I ask because I find that the idea of any sort of "political action" is offensive to many in this community.


  • There was a flap some time ago when it was learned that most of our elected officials admitted that they wouldn't vote in favor of the first 10 amendments (the Bill of Rights) if it were placed in front of them as new legislation.

    How would you vote in that situation? Are there any you would NOT vote for? If so, which ones -or what specific provisions would you strike (if given the chance)?

    I personally think every candidate for office should be handed this question - the answers are usually most enlightening.
  • I find it amazing that Echelon has not upset people to the point where they are marching on Washington. It is inexcusable that our government could listen to our private communications in this fashion.

    To obtain telephone wiretap authority to listen in on a single individual, law enforcement must prove that it has a compelling reason to believe this person is doing something illegal - and yet to listen to ALL of us the government needs no such proof whatsoever. Shameful, just shameful.

    It strikes me that such monitoring is probably a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution:

    Article the sixth [Amendment IV]:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Now, it's clear that the Founders were trying to protect people from having their houses ransacked by the government with this Amendment, but it would seem to me that one could make a compelling argument for a digital-age interpretation of these words that would guarantee electronic communications (telephone, fax, electronic mail) protection from "unreasonable searches and seizures", i.e. broad-based wiretapping without a warrant, by including them in "papers, and effects". I think that if the Founders were around today they'd find this consistent with the spirit of the Amendment.

    Maybe this is something for the ACLU? (Shouldn't have let my membership lapse...)

    -- Jason Lefkowitz
  • If the US government decided to take their ball and go home, that would be stupid, but we built it - we make the rules.

    Umm, and what would that prove, exactly?

    There would be a big, gaping, hole in the internet that the other backbone providers would simply route around (it might create some chaos for a few weeks, until everything settled.)

    Likewise, DNS is not a (persistant) issue, my TLD is ca. It's pretty simple to point to different root servers.

    "address assignment" is a joke - sounds like you're implying that my IP address would become invalid.

    The genie is out of the bottle; there's nothing now that can be done about it. "Taking your ball and going home" would do nothing except piss off the few americans who actually have a brain.
  • Just as the Internet allows for a new level of free communication, it also allows a new level of disinformation to be spread. Can you remark on what safeguards we might have or expect to have to filter the purposefully misleading information out of Internet campaigns?
  • ..it will happen as soon as you're ready to pay for "free" Internet access for every loser who's too lazy to earn the money to buy it on his own. ... Are you going to ask the government to steal even more money... [to "pay" for net access]

    lets brack this up into two points.

    would i be ready to pay for "free" Internet.

    i think you mean, pay for those people that can't adford internet. well, IMHO "paymant" of "money" for something not produced, seems werd. that is i would like to see that if the net becomes more inportent in everyday life that it becomes a public sysvice that tax dollares "pay" for. ie everyone gets a cable in the house that the tv / computer / phone connects to. now you could pay for better / faster connection.

    ... Are you going to ask the government to steal even more money... [to "pay" for net access]

    well, the government already steal's (takes money from me by force) from me to "pay" for all kinds of things i dont like. ie war's, anti-drug ad's, bio-weapons. so i dont see the diff.

    if only we the people had more say there would be less horseshit in the world.... and no voting for the ether / or parties seems not to help change things.

    #include "standard_disclaimer.h"
  • anarchists anger me. they think in slogans and don't look at things logically.

    dear, goddess look at the mess that the sentence is. you are generalizing. dont. not all anarchist are the same. just like not all jews are the same.

    here's just one arguement for having people in charge: sewage

    so a machine couldnt do this job better? and yes we could make machines that take care of other machines. so NO people would have to do anything... other then creative work. not the crated work.

    #include "standard_disclaimer.h"
  • Are the free Web hosting and the relative anonymity really that important for propaganda?

    I'd believe that anyone wanting to spread propaganda on a national scale will invest at least in a good webdesign and a domain-name. Or can you imagine a candidate running for presidency with a website at
    http:\\homebase.freespam.net\DonaldDuck4Presiden t2000 ?
  • Where do you see the internet going, in respect to political activism and the electoral process in the years ahead?

    Do you, yourselves, see your organization on the grass root's level, where some believe the heart of political change must reside?

    *Carlos: Exit Stage Right*

    "Geeks, Where would you be without them?"

  • Hi Seth. :^) [at least, it sounds like you...]

    For the rest of you, you might want to try taking the quiz at http://www.self-gov.org
    There are no "right" or "wrong" answers, and it's not perfect, though it's a damn
    sight better than the braindead left-right line most of the media would spoonfeed
    us WRT describing people politically. The rest of you should try to avoid convincing
    Seth, he's more fun as he is, anyway.

  • I have been reliably informed (by Seth) that the author in question was NOT Seth (but the two would probably get along well). I don't know whether Seth has taken the quiz, or how he scored.

  • 1. NASA does NOT need a budget increase that large.

    2. there is nothing wrong, or even unconstitutional, with private religious organizations helping out government in the ways GWB recommends. this "wall between church and state" is a highly specious line of argument, one totally out of touch with what the framers intended (freedom from state-sponsored religion).

    i do agree that we are only being given these candidates by the media, but at the same please keep in mind what you are advocating.
  • no, i'm a baptist, but even handing over control to muslim organizations wouldn't bother me.

    it's silly to assume that religious organizations automatically won't be even-handed in how they hand out assistance, and more than it's silly to assume that non-religious organizations will do the same thing.

    there is much more room for people of faith (and the organizations they run) in government. "secular" organizations need all the help they can get, and true christians don't want to convert the world forcefully, as you seem to assume they will.
  • Many companies have found that one of the Net's biggest benefits is its ability to give them high bendwidth customer feedback (eg auto makers with model selector pages, which tell them what features people want far better than post-hoc sales analyses.) As usual, the political sector is lagging by a good bit, with most pols acting like the Net is another one-way pipe like television.

    Examples: most Congressional offices either have no e-mail address at all or /dev/null it; wide experience tells us that your chance of having your mail read by a human is zero. Perhaps more frightening are the suggestions that the Y2K elections will be massively spamvertised.

    After a trial spam or two from the RNC in 1996, several pols tried spamming in 1998 and ran into the (predictable) consequence: spam alienates several nines of the people it reaches. Which might be an acceptable consequence to the spammer if the worst that happens is that they don't send ten dollars to the top five names on the list, but doesn't look so good if the recipients vote.

    So, with Bush and Gore setting up massmail pyramids, the RNC hiring spammers, McCain sneaking prospam legislation through at midnight before floor votes, and Congress extending the franking priveledge to spam accounts, the question is:

    How do we get a clue-by-four to our Lords and Masters that the Net is much better for information gathering than propaganda pushing?
  • Perhaps the biggest political change in recent years has nothing to do with the internet. The fact is, third party candidates are starting to get elected in local elections in record numbers. Recently Arcata, CA elected a Green Party majority to their city council. Needless to say, all kinds of interesting progressive legislation got passed!

    I think it's important not to get side-tracked by thinking the Internet is a political tool that will somehow empower voters. Mostly it empowers politicians by facilitating the kinds of manipulation and distortion that go on in the other mass mediums. Does TV empower voters?

    What /really/ empowers voters is ultimately very simple: the voting booth. The voting booth is the only true form of power we have as citizens, because there is no other institution in this country in which we have a direct say. But if we use government effectively, we don't need anything more.
  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Monday August 09, 1999 @07:41AM (#1756812)
    I would like to know if they, while up there rubbing elbows with the powerful and incompetent, have gotten some sort of feeling for where the rabid Crypto-phobia of Washington is stemming from?

    Certainly, most free thinkers of the world recognize the importance of free and strong crypto in the information society, yet in Washington, which as I understand and hope is still a collection of moderately intelligent and educated people, it seems no one supports the issue. Even our friends (SAFE etc) are just less destructive enemies.

    Is it, as many like to believe, the NSA and the rest of the Intelligence community still running the show like puppet masters with absolutely no resistance, or is there in Washington a deep, pessimistic belief that freedom must truly be fought with all means possible because we the lesser people of the earth cannot handle it?
  • I wonder if anyone else understood The Onion refernece? I showed that one to a friend once and he almost pissed himself laughing. Too bad they don't archive those...


  • I emailed my legislators (and some from other districts that I know personally) about this. Two had not heard word one about it (I sent the full articles and URLs).

    Next I'm siccing the Statewide offices - Insurance Commissioner, Atty General, Governor - on them.

    But, I have an unusual name and they know me, so this is not as easy for others.

  • OK, from my perspective the usefulness of communicating TO legislators is, in order:

    1. If you personally know them and they know you - signed email (with full name and address and phone) is most effective.
    2. Hand-written letter.
    3. Hand-written postcard.
    4. Typed letter.
    5. Typed postcard.
    6. Fax (unless like 1)
    7. Email with full name, address, and phone
    8. Any other email (since they don't know you're in their district)

    Is this true?

    Also, for election strategy purposes, I presume web sites and ftp sites are most useful for campaign lit and talking points. Are email lists (Bcc: or full blown lists) useful? For what? By state, for press releases, for coordination, for keeping volunteers involved, for responding to dirty tricks, what?

  • Why not disorganized?

    It's more fun - just ask Bob Dole.

  • unlike shrub, who thinks it's a secret handshake used in The Ruins of Seattle.

  • While not everyone on the net shares a common political philosophy, there are some very common tendencies, such a strong libertarian undercurrent. Do you guys think the net could be used as an important tool in bringing together freedom-loving people to form a third party to represent the interests of liberty that so often get stepped on by the two major political parties in the USA? And could such a party have a chance of winning a significant number of elections, unlike (apparently) other third parties such as the lamented Libertarian Party?
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tmsNO@SPAMinfamous.net> on Monday August 09, 1999 @08:23AM (#1756827) Homepage
    Citizens who find themselves in the minority on many political issues have found the Internet a very valuable tool to organize, share information, and make their views known to the mainstream.

    Now it seems that the federal government is trying to censor such discussion. For example, we have the "Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999" [wired.com], which would criminalize many discussions of drug policy.

    I believe that you can't have a meaningful discussion on, for instance, the sentancing guidelines for possession of crack vs. powder cocaine without an understanding of how crack is made. Thus, my drug policy site [infamous.net] has such information.

    Trying to censor "dirty" bits is bad enough, but to censor political discussion is utterly abhorant. Political censorship is a life-and-death issue - people will fight, kill, and die for free speech. What, short of bullets, is it going to take to stop the cybercensors? (Or should I just go buy more bullets while I still can?)

  • by xmedar ( 55856 ) on Monday August 09, 1999 @07:28AM (#1756837)
    1. New models of politics
    What do they think about using the Net to spawn new types of democratic politics, e.g. the ability to vote on individual issues bypassing traditional representatives. Maybe only allowing people to vote if they have already contributed something to the debate on the topic?

    2. Advocacy
    There is strong advocacy within the geek population as epitomised by the Linux Advocacy
    How To, ways of increasing debate, and providing good quality information rather than FUD, therefore increasing everyones understanding of the situation rather than polarising arguements and ending up in irrational finger pointing. Do you think this ethos can be translated to the world of politics, and what effect do you think it might have?
  • What is your organization doing about various congressional legislation that is attempting to legislate away our pricacy. Specifically regarding the plan to make all encryption software makers include a backdoor key that the FBI would hold in escrow to monitor criminals and the plan to "standardize" network communications so that the FBI/CIA/NSA can monitor "traffic patterns" that could suggest a "cyber-attack"? These are, in my opinion, the biggest threat to personal privacy ever.
  • Arguably, the Internet can be used as a tool for the dissemination of propaganda -- including outright lies. This is at least partly due to

    * The availability of free Web hosting.
    * The difficulty of confirming the identity and credentials of 'net publishers/speakers.
    * The occasional strange credulity of people...

    An organized effort by any reasonably large group, be it a fringe, partisan group of people out to "get" somebody; or an activist group that does not bother with checking its "facts" can rapidly evangelize a cause with nonsense -- such as blatantly questionable statistics, out-of-context quotes, and so forth.

    Is there any reason that the people *should* view the 'Net as a medium for information and activism, given all this? That is, why -- and how -- should people write or listen?
  • by GuySmiley ( 71599 ) on Monday August 09, 1999 @07:14AM (#1756861) Homepage
    For over a year, we have been told to either vote for Bush or Gore in 2000. The mainstream media does not let anyone else get air time.

    How can you bypass the networks and use the internet to publicize a candidate that actually has a brain and a flying chance in hell of getting elected?

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10