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Vote "NO" on SOPA - An Open Letter to Congressman Thaddeus McCotter

An open letter the Thaddeus McCotter,
U.S. Rep. for Michigan's 11th District, and my congressional representative, whom I much admire.

Dear Congressman McCotter:

Please vote NO on SOPA (HR-3261)

Why is SOPA/Protect-IP such bad legislation?

First, let us agree that preventing online piracy is a noble and worthy goal. I don't fault legislators for trying to protect intellectual property. As is so often the case though, good intentions are no excuse for bad legislation. And SOPA is nothing if not "bad legislation".

SOPA is a bill that aims to thwart piracy by turning ISPs, website operators, credit card companies, and domain registrants into police. It guts the DMCA's "Safe Harbor" provision, opening the gateway for Hollywood to shut down websites it believes to be infringing upon intellectual property rights without due process. Lastly, it imposes a huge cost of regulatory compliance on entities that are some of our most economically vibrant, in a time when…

Professor Jarvis's Homework Assignment: Jobless Future?

I'm glad that Jeff Jarvis is a professor. Nobody gives great homework assignments like his. I'll welcome comments here as always, but follow the link below if you want to join in the real discussion.

Jarvis announced his intention to give the following talk at SXSW on Google+:
The SXSW proposal title is, "Honey, we shrunk the economy."
The proposal: Technology now leads to efficiency over growth. That means that we're not going to have a jobless recovery. We're going to have a jobless future. Pick any industry and see how technology, the internet, global connectedness, and transparent markets are bringing tremendous efficiency. Newspapers have shrunk by hundreds of thousands of jobs and may disappear -- while news expands at less cost. Borders, Circuit City and untold stores are gone, replaced by a new retail supply chain -- aka, Amazon. Construction has imploded and won't reinflate and recreate jobs. We will discuss the implications for business, technolo…

Jobless Recovery or Jobless Future: A Reply to Jeff Jarvis

+Jeff Jarvis suggests over on a Google+ post, that "We're not going to have a jobless recovery. We're going to have a jobless future. "
Back in 2009, he sent me and others off on this topic, so I thought it deserved a thorough response now that he's announced his intention to focus on the issue again. I wanted to reproduce my response here, but I encourage any readers to carry on the discussion over on his g+ post. 
Here's my response:
Jeff -- you sent me down this rabbit hole back in 2009, and I haven't emerged since. I'm glad to see you've circled back around to it, because I think it's terribly important, and few people could focus attention on it like you can.
I take it as given that disruptive innovation, particularly at present, yeilds efficiency more than it yields growth. (Mike Masnick would probably kick me in the shins for saying this so plainly, as he did here).
In many ways, however, I think Masnick is correct. The post he was re…

Google+: Managing Community and Audience

(First, let me apologize if this post is specific to Google+, a service most people aren't even allowed in yet. However, there's already a lot of chatter about what it is and what it is not, and I wanted to collect my thoughts.)

It was sheer luck that a conversation I had a month ago led me to pen some thoughts about the qualities that can make or break social media platforms. At the time, I had no idea that Google+ was less than 30 days from launching it's "Field Test". In that post, I cite some literature on the "150-connection gap", which shows that the limit for social circles seems to settle in at about 150 real connections to real people, and that when you start interacting with more than those 150 real connections, you're acting as an Authority does to an Audience, not participating in a community/conversation. I then posit a hypothetical new social media service, and claim that if it can't "cross the 150-connection gap", then i…

Bridging the Gap: Authority, 150 connections, and the Power Law

---150 Connections: The difference between a Community and an Audience---

I found myself in a conversation with friend and sometimes mentor, Nathan Hughes (@ndh313), about the upper bound of one's social connections. Back in the 90's Robin Dunbar proposed an upper limit of around 150 real social connections (knowing who a person is and what their relationship is to you). Scientists have recently used Twitter as a laboratory to confirm that this number holds true, even with all the recent advances in social networking technology. This number has also been confirmed by actual practice throughout the range of human experiences, from hunter-gatherer societies to corporate organizations, to the U.S. military.

In our new social media landscape, this limit seems to manifest itself in two interesting effects:

Most of you have probably already observed the first effect, and it is unlikely to surprise you: those of us who follow hundreds or thousands on Twitter or Facebook will ignore …

Scarcity, Abundance, and the Knowledge Economy. Tightened Up.

Blogger A^3 spent a little time pondering my writings on Intellectual Property and the Knowledge Economy here. I thought I'd offer my response to his post here as well, as I thought it tightened up some of my earlier writings on the subject.

Also, it's a shame to waste that much decent writing in a comment response. Thanks again A^3. My response follows:
---
A^3:

Thanks for speaking well of my blog posts. I'm very glad that more and more people are giving thought to these issues.

I think the key point when talking about that which can be meaningfully measured by economics, is that the Supply/Demand curve is based on *scarcity*, and in a world where *scarcity* is mostly artificially induced (via copyright and patent), the system is fighting a losing battle to cram 21st century ideas of production into 20th century framework of capitalism and property. The problem with the 21st century is dealing with *abundance* not *scarcity*, and traditional capitalism is a tool to alloca…

Cybersecurity and "Internet Freedom" Act: Who Are They Kidding?

Anytime Congress puts the word "Freedom" in the title of a bill, it means that it's about to curtail the freedoms of whatever other words show up in the title. For instance, the "Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act", will limit freedoms in both Cybersecurity and the Internet. Easy, see?



Considering that most Congresspersons can't be trusted to check Snopes.com before e-mailing their bank account numbers to Nigerian princes, I can't see how they think they have enough tech savvy to regulate the Internet properly. And if there's anything Egypt has shown us, it's that we should be making it as hard as possible to let Governments pull the plug on the Internet.

"But Eric! The United States isn't Egypt!! You're crazy to compare the two!!"

Tell that to the 84,000 domains (mistakenly!!) seized and shut down by ICE without so much as a notification to the site operators last month.

Olympia Snowe (Republican-ME) couldn't get this …

The Sound of Silence

Sorry about how quiet the blog has been lately. Many of the things I like to write about are starting to bleed together in my head. I busted out some mind-mapping tools (Thanks LucidChart!), and found out why it's been so tough for me to find a toe-hold on writing lately. 
I'll get to work on chopping this up into some sensible posts soon. In the meantime, please feel free to enjoy my madness.
Thanks!
-Eric

Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix is funny, smart, (and ultimately) a deeply important series of videos about the nature of creativity in a world where access to the means of media production and distribution are ubiquitous.

I'm looking forward to where Kirby Ferguson is taking this. He's done his homework.

You should watch the videos (and consider donating!).

Check out Part 1:

Everything is a Remix from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.
Part 2:

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.