Friday, June 26, 2009

Mostly Evil? / Originally Posted to Wordpress

As I started to write on what was going to be the main page for the companion site for this blog, before I discovering that Freewebsites' FTP server had broken down ...

"As I will explain on the companion blog for this site,

ie. where you are, presently

"the title of this page has nothing to do with any depravity of my own of which you might happen to be aware. It is a reference to the Google corporate motto "don't be evil", which I read to mean "don't create any unnecessary hardships for the visitors or users" - something that should have been seen a platitude, had circumstances not made it a radical statement. Providers do make life pointlessly hard for their users with fair frequency, as I've discovered the hard way, often enough to see that a website was to be found in those many hours of pointless aggravation. Having been one of those geeks who really did wade through 50 or more pages of legalese at a sitting, only to discover that he had to start the process all over again after finding a deal breaker in the fine print, I had the thought that others might see some value in not having to go through that nonsense themselves, when looking for a blog or a website hosting service, or other online resource.

Yes, Irony happens. I was about to post those words on a server rendered inaccessible by the owner's decision to turn off the permissions needed for uploading, leaving some of us to wonder if we need to find new hosts for our websites. I hope this is just an oversight, because Spanno (the sysop at Freewebsites) has been very cool in his support of free expression, but a site I can't get into isn't going to do me much good.

"Pointlessly hard", you ask. Yes, indeed. When diskspace goes for under 1/4 cent per Meg, and a provider has hidden a clause in its TOS saying that its users sites will be deleted unless they log in once per month, forever, that's exceedingly pointless. One meg is about 66 pages worth of text. Think of how much work would go into writing 20 meg worth of text - that would be 1320 pages worth - and imagine all of that work being destroyed in order to save 5 cents worth of diskspace. Is it any wonder that interest in free webspace has been dropping off over the last few years?

That's the point I'm trying to make with the name of this blog and its companion site - the philosophical issues that arise when we talk about the policy issues at a lot of these companies aren't particularly deep. We aren't looking at anything that couldn't be worked out with a little common sense and common decency, and occasionally a little basic maintenance. The people who you will see criticised in these posts really should have known better - and I would argue, usually did know better.

Let us consider the case of a photographer, on a site to be named later, who having found that her work wasn't only being plagiarised, but resold commercially at a high profit, posted a protest of this fact on her space, was attacked in the vilest terms in the comment section of her post, and found that her provider responded to this by censoring her remarks! After a massive groundswell of anger in response to this incident, the provider posted an apology, admitting that it had fouled up. "See, they care", some said, to which my response would be "about what?". Does one really need to be screamed at en masse to know that punishing somebody for being attacked on behalf of a thief is grossly unjust? If one waits until after the screaming reaches a crescendo to back off, is one trying to be fair, or is one just trying not to be yelled at?

The question answers itself, doesn't it?

This blog will be mirrored elsewhere - probably at Livejournal and definitely in my own personal records - so if you're reading this site and have decided to engage in plug pulling because you don't like the way your company has been portrayed - however honestly - don't even try. Notice the distributed format of my current website. Experience has taught me how to deal with those who play games like that.

From this point onward, this blog - wherever it should be - is where I'll be discussing all Internet service related issues, redirecting the discussion from Monday Never Comes and the Abyss, both of which were being watered down and sidetracked by the addition of this kind of material which, while of some practical significance, is intellectually and creatively unenriching and not really what I want either blog to be about; if I start talking about personal drama in the middle of explaining a mathematical proof or discussing a political issue, you might hear the drama, but you probably won't hear much of anything else, or at least won't enjoy doing so.

I don't believe that Wordpress will censor this blog, but if they do, and you've been following it (and would like to continue doing so) just go to my homelist at Yahoo or homegroup on Google (see links to the right) and you should be able, in relatively short order, to find your way to the new location, because there will be one.

I hope that covers everything for now, but it is early summer and I'm in my usual hurry to get out the door. More later, written far better and more clearly than this probably was.