Remember us warning you about Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis. Remember us specifically pointing to his interview last July on Beet.TV and his announcement "we're the bosses now!" Remember his 6 million person pitchfork-and-torch-bearing mob, "ready to storm castle Dell"? Remember Jeff saying that companies will be forced to "hand over control... in ways they'd never have dared before"? Remember us calling it the infamous "Greenmail Interview," and him a demagogue.
Well, here we are. Hate to be an I-told-you-so but apparently, Jeff's world is coming true. Hold that thought.
Beware the Mob - Digg could happen to you
By Ephraim Schwartz
In what can only be described as a lynching of an Internet site, Digg, the online site for and by the people, was taken over this week by a mob, albeit it appears to be a completely self-organizing mob, that kept posting stories that included the key to break a digital rights copy protection code built into HD-DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
According to our IDG News Service Digg Bends to Users Will on AACS Encryption Key, "the company began removing the posts after it received a cease-and-desist letter from another company claiming these posts violated its intellectual property rights."
As far as can be determined, those who posted were not part of some officially organized effort but rather fed off one another as the posting momentum grew. No sooner would Digg take down one post than someone else would put up another post that included the key.
Attempts to game automated Internet mechanisms are nothing new. Companies that wanted to raise their Google search profiles, for instance, are constantly stuffing keywords into their opening paragraphs or metadata in order to move up the rankings.
Howard Stern tried to aid and abet a Web site that exhorted American Idol fans to vote for Sanjaya, even though his singing skills are well below par.
Now we have the even scarier phenomenon that took place on Digg. Citizen journalism, as I wrote about it last week (Beware Mob Media) is one thing. But now we see this idea taken to its illogical conclusion.
While some may hail the idea of "the people" forcing Digg to surrender and say it would not take down the posts even if it potentially means its own demise, the specter of the owner -- who in a sense is just like the owner of a brick-and-mortar store -- having to acquiesce to an unruly mob that doesn't like what the store is selling or not selling, bodes ill for the future and the value of the World Wide Web.
I don't see this as a victory for the people. In my previous blog post on the subject, I cited examples of the dangers of a mob mentality. Here is yet another.
Let's look beyond the issue of digital rights management. Instead of praising this as a victory of the people over the giants of Hollywood and the recording industry, we should consider the bigger issue of what keeps a democracy intact.
A large part of that is, I believe, the willingness of all of us to accept and follow the rules. The old cliché that says your freedom stops where my nose begins, was never more important than today.
END NOTE: How disconcerting it was yesterday to see so many PRs with their pitchforks and torches raised high. In the name of free speech? Forget it... proud looters the lot of 'em. I hope all their corporate clients keep that in mind.
Are you in PR? Well, this could be you. You could be Prisoner #31236-112.
The following is a letter from John Stodder, former SVP in the L.A. office of Fleishman-Hillard. As you know, almost exactly a year ago he and former general manager Doug Dowie were convicted of multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud in a scheme to overbill the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
That said, we at Strumpette strongly believe they're innocent. Well, let’s put it this way: if they’re guilty… so is all of the PR Industry. Bottom line: What they are going to jail for, all of us have done; Ninety-eight percent of us will do today.
That aside, we’ve gotten to know John personally this last year. We know him only as a total gentleman, one that exudes character and principle. Excuse me, he wouldn’t steal a dime from Bill Gates to buy his last stick of gum.
Let me put that in perspective: We know legions of PRs. Like the makeup of any group, you’ve got people with principle and character; you’ve got people too confused and regrettably stupid to know principle if it hit them in the head; and you’ve got total parasites that live on loopholes and the weaknesses of others. Considering the makeup of the PR industry, John Stodder is quite rare.
Without further ado, here's his letter. Read it. Most of all, put yourself in his shoes. Imagine going to jail for what you've done as a matter of standard practice just today.
From: John Stodder [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 7:41 PM
Subject: Hey there: An Update
I am not in prison! At least not yet, not for a few more weeks and hopefully never.
I thought it might be a good idea to update my friends and former colleagues on my situation. As you might know, I was sentenced in January to serve 15 months at a minimum security federal prison camp. Subsequently, the camp to which I’m supposed to surrender was identified: CI Taft. It is located about 40 miles southeast of Bakersfield. It is a privately-run facility that has 1500 low security inmates, and 500 minimum security “campers.” (I’d be among the latter.) If I go there, my mailing address will be:
John Stodder, #31236-112
P.O. BOX 7001
TAFT, CA 93268
At issue now is whether I should be granted bail during my appeal. In the District Court, Judge Feess denied me bail, which means he believes I should serve my sentence while my appeal works its way through the Ninth District appellate court. Effectively, this means I would serve most or all of my sentence before getting a result on my appeal. The federal prosecutors and the judge have taken the position that because they see no merit to my appeal, there is no reason to delay my incarceration. I believe there is considerable merit to my appeal, and that it would be unfair to force me to serve a sentence that is likely to be overturned. However, as I’ve done more homework on the way the federal system works, it is not unusual for this to happen, even if there is no flight risk. Some defendants in my position get bail, some do not. There is no easily discernable pattern. I believe it has to do with the merits of each case.
If my request for bail is successful, I will be able to continue with my life and my job until the appeal is decided, which is one or two years down the road. At that point, there are myriad possible outcomes, ranging from total exoneration to affirmation of my conviction – which would mean I serve my sentence.
In preparation for the possibility of serving this sentence, I have found the following site of great help: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/ It is full of very specific information about the Taft facility. But it also is a huge lesson in understanding my own situation, putting it into context of what is happening to a lot of our fellow Americans in an era when both parties seem to be in a competition over whether the Democrats or Republicans can throw more of us in prison. (I think the Republicans have an edge, but not by much.) It doesn’t take a knee-jerk liberal to see injustice when it stares you in the face. Browse around this site and you’ll find plenty of it.
Sure, we need prisons to separate us from violent people, predators, victimizers of children, habitual criminals and egregious violators of the public trust. But we need to take down the scoreboards that encourage prosecution for the sake of prosecution – to make the prosecutors look good by how many they indict, how many they convict, how many pounds are seized, etc. etc. There’s a scene in Martin Scorcese’s Gangs of New York that perfectly encapsulates what I’m trying to say:
Boss Tweed: Bill, I can't get a days work done for all the good citizens coming in here to harass me about crime in the Points. Some even go so far as to accuse Tammany of connivance in this so-called rampant criminality. What am I to do? I can't have this. Something has to be done.
Bill: What do you have in mind?
Boss Tweed: I don't know. I think maybe we should hang someone.
Boss Tweed: No one important, necessarily. Average men will do. Back alley amusers with no affiliations.
Bill: How many?
Boss Tweed: Three or four.
Boss Tweed: Four.
Thanks for all your support during these difficult years. My family and I are so grateful for the many expressions of support. I’m sorry I haven’t been out and about as much recently – this imprisonment hanging over my head has me mostly focused on my family and my work. When I know whether I have more time, I hope to be calling folks for lunch and coffee, and resuming our years of collegial friendship. Please write back if you have a moment – I would love to know what you’re doing.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]