2015-02-14 Lack of Internet Culture

Remember former Mozilla CEO Eich? I recently read How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life and started reconsidering. Where do I stand on this issue? The thoughts turned from society and how we react as mob down to the individual and questions of guilt and ethics. Where’s Internet Ethics when we need it. :)

On Google+, Marcel Schnau said that he thinks it basically comes down to a lack of moderation. I left a comment saying that I’m not sure. My experience on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ has been very positive. Personally, USENET was where I learned how to wear Asbestos Underwear. I still think we’ll need a lot more reflection on these topics in order to get a grip on this Internet thing, as a society. We lack Internet culture.

I'm using culture in the sense of shared practices, common assumptions, etc. In the days of Netiquette, for example, I don’t remember people talking about “forgive and forget”. I still remember how surprised I was when I first stumbled upon it.

At the same time, people are rightly concerned about the EU law concerning the Right to be forgotten. So clearly, as a society, we have not yet learned to know how to deal with past shame.

To give you another example: We all know how to deal more or less with thorny issues. Some people have problems concerning their looks and still we want to treat them like everybody else, for example. We know that it’s not OK to have our decisions influenced by the acne on somebody’s face. Do we know that it’s not OK to have our decisions influenced by the pictures of a party on Facebook? How long ago does it have to be? This doesn’t come naturally to use, because our parents taught us about acne but not about Facebook. Dealing with social media, perfect records, searchability, big data – it’s not part of our shared practices, it’s not part of our culture. Yet.

Did you know that RFC 1855 is about Netiquette? :)


Comments on 2015-02-14 Lack of Internet Culture

Radomir Dopieralski
I think that if we ever find a solution to this, it will be related to using several, strictly separated personas, with additional provisions for making connecting them costly (possibly through social means, that is, for example, considered extremely rude).

A different account for your family to share your birthday photos with, a different one for your coworkers, other for professional contacts, and one for every hobby you indulge in. With very few shared contacts.

An anonymous user account automatically gives you the right to be forgotten – you just jettison it, together with all (most) of its connections and history. This lets you learn on your own mistakes and come back with a clean slate. Of course, it’s costly, as you lose all the social capital that you might have earned. On the other hand, this can be problematic for communities that give a large credit of trust to new members – those newbie-friendly ones, as they can be flooded by a single person who refuses to learn. Some kind of rate limiting or cool-down mechanism would require defeating the anonymity, so I don’t know a good solution here.

USENET actually worked pretty well, with everyone being semi-anonymous by default (you could be traced to an account you used to connect to the server, but it was possible, although somewhat costly, to change those).

Radomir Dopieralski 2015-02-15 00:46 UTC

Anonymity is obviously the way to go. It blows my mind that people use their real names on the internet.

Social networks have made a business out of selling our info to advertisers. They made a play for our info and people bought into it. Now people are screwing themselves over by over sharing online and everyone suffers because of it. Like chimps with guns, joe average just don’t know how to handle it.

tl;dr Just say no to social networks. Problem solved.

anonymous and proud 2015-02-15 01:03 UTC

Alex Schroeder
I disagree. Kris Köhntopp wrote a great article on why we publish data online and what we gain thereby: Wieso wir uns veröffentlichen. It’s exactly about the social capital we gain.

If Joe average can’t handle it, well that’s a problem society has had whenever we were introduced to new phenomena requiring a change in behaviour: printing press, photography, AIDS, …

To me, anonymity is like wearing a veil in order to handle the problem of ugly and beautiful faces. It’s a possibility, but I much prefer another solution.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-15 12:01 UTC

Stupidity is the problem. Indeed, think about all of the examples! Stupidity was involved in all of them.

Lets just focus on making our kids, our friends, our society, but most importantly ourselves smarter. Things will become so much better in a long run.

AlexDaniel 2015-02-16 23:32 UTC

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2014-04-03 Eich and Mozilla

I use Firefox on my desktop both at work and at home. I don’t want Safari, Chrome or Internet Exploder. These days, the Mozilla foundation hired a dude called Eich who donated “$1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort to ban gay marriage in California.” See Exclusive: Mozilla CEO Eich says gay-marriage firestorm could hurt Firefox (Q&A) for details.

I had a conversation ranting monologue on IRC which revolved around two questions: How homophobic is Eich? Does “boycotting” a free product hurts him or the product?

My point was that I would like to tell Mozilla that having a homophobic boss is despicable. Writing a private email to let them know is not enough! Thus we enter the realm of politics where the actual boycott is not as important as news outlets writing about it. Let the scandal get some publicity.

In the interview, “Eich refuses to discuss his own beliefs explicitly or say whether they’ve changed…” I’m assuming they did not change much.

The article also says “Eich is the inventor of JavaScript…” A lesser sort of evil, I’d say! ;)

I think his argument is full of #fail. “If Mozilla cannot continue to operate according to its principles of inclusiveness…” and mentioning anti-gay marriage coders in Indonesia. How is that an argument? Does Mozilla also work with Hitler? (Just to cut that line of argument short.)

Karl Popper argued that you cannot be tolerant towards the intolerant. Actually, according to WikiQuote he said: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

I think that’s why it’s not important for me to hurt Eich personally. After all, he’s free to say what he wants and to sponsor what he wants. I have limited tolerance. It’s important for me to tell Mozilla that it’s not OK to hire such a person! I don’t have unlimited tolerance.

Anyway, here’s to not boycotting Firefox and still helping the scandal get some publicity.

Update: Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich Resigns After Protests from Gay Marriage Supporters.


Comments on 2014-04-03 Eich and Mozilla

Similar thoughts by Jörgen Schäfer on Google+.

A different perspective is offered on this blog: according to the community participation guidelines “Mozillians should treat this as a private matter, not a Mozilla issue.” I don’t feel that I need to be bound by these guidelines. I think it was the ethical thing to do. If you sell youself based on your values, as Jörgen Schäfer writes, then you had better make sure that the public faces of your company reflect these values.

AlexSchroeder 2014-04-05

Also, Jürgen Hubert links to this piece, on Google+: This Is What Can Happen When Your New Boss Is Homophobic.

AlexSchroeder 2014-04-22 05:08 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Perhaps related? How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. There’s a difference between a Tweet, and donating $1000, but here’s what I wrote in response to this NYT article by Jon Ronson, in a comment on this Google+ post:

I understand people pointing to a tweet and saying “this sucks” – but to then go and demand these people be fired, hammering their employers sites with DDoS attacks, that’s madness. This also leads to other topics such as somebody donating $1000 to a despicable cause ten years ago. Is that a problem, now? Why, why not? I think we’ll need a lot more reflection on these topics in order to get a grip on this Internet thing, as a society. We lack Internet culture.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-14 18:28 UTC

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2013-07-30 Politics

Looking back at how things have gone in the last year I’d say that all my RPG conversation has moved to Google+ and this wiki-blog has turned into a repository of things I don’t want to loose when Google+ is shut down. All my political thoughts are on Twitter: @kensanata and I’m almost exclusively expressing myself via retweets. I’m also more than happy to talk about it on Twitter.

I post my pictures on Flickr at kensanata for myself and cross-post them to Facebook and a protected Twitter channel for the various family members out there.


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2010-08-24 Wiki-cong

We are Internet We are Teledandys We are Jellyfish We are isomorphic We are the wiki-cong We are in your computer networks, leaking bits and bytes of your government secrets! – from Do not let the Pentagon turn internets into Wikistan!

Don’t forget to tune into The Juice Media which does the YouTube thing. :)

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2006-07-07 Inappropriate For All Ages, a short video

Via GreyWulf [1], via BoingBoing [2]: A cool little 1.1M video about the real pirates stealing our future – You wouldn't!



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