It's not every day that one of the famous founders and thinkers of the Internet tells you that he'd like to "kick you in your tiny nuts," so I thought I'd reply to John Perry Barlow (!) in a post here rather than in the comments below. Read my critique of the double standards of the Electronic FRONTIER Foundation (getting the name right) and his shocking response here, and now here's my answer:
Hi, JP, I'll be sure to fix the name. I do respect IP -- unlike you guys.
My "dancing bear" -- i.e. let's call that an iconic symbol of everything I create online -- isn't "given me" by my Linden lords.
Goddamn, it's my creation. It's my intellectual property. It's *mine*. It's mine! Just like the all the other content/scenery that your EFF goofuses there writing about this so ignorantly and are so willing to turn over for machinima monetarization to whatever corporation you're finding groovy this month
That you would instantly cede my IP to the Linden Lords in ways that even they do not is an outrage, and lets me know how severely fucked you guys are -- even worse than I knew. And I guess the fact that Mitch Kapor founded both EFF *and* LL lets me know why you wish to grant such "freedoms" on the electronic frontier -- it's all about your friends and comrades, not what is genuinely in the public interest.
It's important to note that this isn't a flippant drive-by anonymous tweet post -- this is my thinking for years, as a person who is not anonymous, and who has written before of your deep iniquities at EFF.
I've written about how awful and condescending Mitch Kapor's characterization of us is as lame masochists in SL with "psychic ownership" (so much for JPB's "reality of cyberspace" theory lol) and his curious assumption that people who pay the bills for servers, who "own land," can't expect to chose the CEO in a world spawned by a company that couldn't exist without all those tier-payers. (Boy, the board chair is good for business, eh?) I've written how casually brutal this overlord of our lives is deciding what is value or not value in our land decides the business model for the maintenance of the entire world, according to his narrow interests.
I've blogged about how the EFF lawyer's analysis was used to promote a climate undermining copyright and intellectual property rights in SL, and incited a JIRA (bug tracking) mob rush to try to pressure LL to change the way the system automatically inserts a DRM of sorts with defaulting to permissions for copy/modify/transfer so that mistakes aren't made and that the default MOST people want -- which isn't the lefty Creative Commons bullshit -- is respected. In fact, without harming the default rez of the prims, creators have ways of making convenient bulk permissions in the viewer, and this default permless state apparently has still not been delivered -- thank God. But if EFF had its way, it would be.
I've also written about the odious little nerd Cory Doctorow, rejected his awful sectarian analysis on forums, as his love of free speech is so fabulous that he called for me to be banned from Twitter (!) merely because I criticized his views vigorously. Fortunately, the Twitter devs aren't thrown by EFF old-boy networks like other systems than ban people like me criticizing the overlords of the Internet like yourself.
For all your love of "free speech" at EFF and blogger's rights and an end to the "chilling effect," John Perry Barlow, you've never, ever taken a position on the problems of the suppression of free speech in MMORPGs, virtual worlds, and on social media where there are corporations making people sign an TOS. That is unacceptable. That is why you are being challenged with as much force as I can muster. You cannot remain complacent about this. Corporations have taken over the public commons and there is no more public commons in real life -- even there, your ideological brethren tell people who disgree with the president that they are too rude and shout too much at a town hall -- a concept that they were able to draw from the deep well of TOS culture on line, where Constitutional norms don't hold sway, but corporate exigencies.
Corporations that you support and your founders invest in.
They don't own my IP; I do, as to thousands of other people who are creators, amateur and professional. Facebook was forced to concede this, as you surely must know. I can see how your cavalier attitude towards people's IP and content copyright in general, which your EFF is CONSTANTLY undermining, comes from your belief that code is law, and that coders own content that is coded -- not people who *use* code merely the way they might use...water or electricity. That is, you believe the IP of code, or the opensource license of code trumps EVERYTHING, apparently. Gosh, fuck that shit.
I can also see how patronizing -- like colonial overlords -- you guys are, who think you designed the architecture and policy of the Internet 20 years ago, and everyone else must now for everymore genuflect and bow down to your wonderfulness for eternity, never reforming it or changing it to serve real people, who have been harmed by it. Scary.
I guess you don't read my blog at all, or you'd find here a very long article this week analyzing the new TOS in detail -- line by line -- unlike your stupid-ass lawer and your stupid-ass blogger chic who did NOT read it. I *do* read TOS, although many don't who are casual users. I'd expect your content-liberating lawyer to at least do *that* much and he didn't.
Again, to spell it out: This is a post following another post noting that EFF CANNOT READ because the lawyer and columnist gushed about new policies that *seemed* to provide freedom for "fair use" in filming in SL, but in fact took it away in the fine print requiring written authorization -- something we are now protesting, and which you'd think the EFF would be joining us now in protesting, instead of pretending, just because of what must be a BLATANT conflict of interest, to celebrate it for its own agenda -- and neither moving the frontier of freedom for machinima, nor protecting the civil right of privacy the way you do in real life.
If you read, you're realize that this new TOS you're gushing about in fact has fine print in an attached policy that undoes everything you're raving about like hippie fucking LOONS.
For all your smug nastiness about me being a chump and signing a corporate TOS, I don't see YOU launching any kind of class-action suit about the unconscionable TOS of games and worlds and social media. MILLIONS of people sign this sort of crap and you guys don't do a thing about it and never have. Why, it took Bragg, a guy who used an exploit to filch a sim to flip off the Linden auction, and then get shirty and file a lawsuit on the Lindens, to get a judge to establish that the LL TOS is "unconscionable" -- but this suit was settled out of court so we have no real judicial decision.
For all your *cough* visionary status, you are unable to grasp with Second Life and other social media that what today is a dancing bear gifted me by our software overlords to be scraped and exploited by your software overlords IS OUR LIVES. Our lives online ARE are lives and will be increasingly so.
You're shockingly and cruelly uninterested in the millions of your fellow citizens labouring under TOS restrictions with their privacy, content, and freedoms bound up in corporations merely because you apparently find something "progressive" about those corporations and because your fellow founder Mitch Kapor invests in some of them. Shame on you! Shame!
As for your nasty crack implying that I care more about my little SL avatar adventures (as if they are "unreal" and "silly" in a world that your friend Mitch Kapor is now trying to pitch primarily for business and education!) than I care about serious violation of our civil rights in real life as the government taps our phones.
Apparently you are unable like so many geeks to reason by analogy, and you also believe that if someone demands some parallel structures in virtual life like we have in real life, or if someone wants the same principles to work in virtual life as they do in real life, they are frivolous. Virtual worlds, social media, the Internet -- these aren't just a little game world but increasingly controlling every aspect of human existence, from socializing to education to banking to shopping to health to criminal records to national security. If you can't grasp this, John Perry Barlow, and you think you have a hook to ridicule me for minimizing the seriousness of RL issues I've highlighted here with my rightful exposure of your double standards, then you've confirmed what we always suspected about you guys. You aren't *really* in this for freedom. You're in it for yourself. You've fashioned an ideology that looks altruistic, but is actually rapacious, as it has fueled the entire "California Business Model" of "steal and display and make ad revenue until told to stop" racket.
Nothing in my post says there is something *wrong* with suing the NSA. Likely, this is a good thing to protect our freedoms and to enforce the Constitution. I don't take *quite* the cavalier and disinterested stance you take about Islamic charities that in fact *have* been found to be funding jihad, but hey, I'm very much a believer in the rule of law and the necessity of having evidence, using due process, and trying cases in real courts. You aren't -- you believe in an extra-judicial, extra-national, extra-real realm of "cyberspace" where you will make your own code-as-law and do whatever you feel like. That's been the thrust of your ideas for years. That would be great if what you were overthrowing really was the abusive and restrictive regime you claim.
But the reality is that the new cyberspace you've helped engender is run by the corporations and walled gardens you hate because a) you haven't bothered to figure out how to democratize their TOS b) you haven't figured out how to monetarize online without corporations c) corporations are what took your hippie shit and turned it at least into a monetarizer for companies and some people, unlike the Free Culture fallacy. That's the bitter truth. Your "Declaration of Independence in Cyberspace" from governments rings hollow in a world where you've destroyed value not only in Cyberspace but in the real world!
The idea that if I "elect to create my avatar in a walled garden" that I give up my Constitutional rights and my intellectual property is one of the many reasons why you have a bankrupt and discredited ideology.
Er, no, I don't have any gratitude for you *fucktards* who created a destructive, Bolshevik, *communist* and *collectist* way on the Internet, cobbled out of your 1960s "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh NLF is Going to Win" ideology. HELL no. I *won't* go.
I fail to see why I have to have gratitude for an ideology that destroyed the newspaper business; that destroyed the music business; that destroyed many small businesses of content on the Internet; that destroyed privacy; that ruined lives; that facilitated even unaccountable banking practices. At least Jaron Lanier gets all that. You are casually and criminally indifferent to your handiwork.
Personally painful? *Good*. You and Mitch Kapor and Cory Doctorow haven't rethought a single one of your shallow and shrill and facile ideologies of 20 years ago for one second. You've never had any dark nights of the soul at how much you've destroyed and the appalling damage you have done. You go on preaching Free and preaching liberation and maintaining the double and triple standards for which no one *should* be grateful.
The idea that you "fight for my freedoms" and I "bite the hand the feeds me" is ludicruous. You aren't fighting for my freedoms you hippie faker! You're fighting for the liberation of content against copyright to serve huge cynical corporations like Google -- and fighting for it out of an outdated and destructive hippie techocommunist belief system that has never brought any of the peace, harmony, and understanding that it was supposed to deliver, given how so much of what happens in cyberspace is evil, and harms people's hearts and minds -- and even their real lives.
As for kicking me in my tiny nuts, and betraying the violence that always lurks behind your phony hippie facade of "peace," I can only chuckle. They're actually so tiny they are invisible because they are totally virtual.
Just like yours, when faced with legitimate and much-needed criticism.
Let me revise the infamous "Declaration" of John Perry Barlow, to fashion it for the next stage of the Internet so that it might really serve real people, and not hippie ideologues in California who have made billions exploiting the willingness of people to work as serfs on their collective farms.
Ideological Overlords of Cyberspace, you weary giants of pixels and bytes, I come from a virtual world, the new home of the Individual.
On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather. Your scripted machinima bots, your automatic data scrapers, your coded copybots have no place here: we ban them.
We *have* elected real-life governments, we will *go on having them*, and we will increasingly *turn to them* to fashion liberal, democratic and viable policies to regulate the space where we all have our being, so that it is not the exploitative and destructive space you have made it.
I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us with both the formed collectivism of Creative Communism, the Free Culture of oppressive socialist social media, and the lawless corporate TOS regime that you tacitly aid and abet by never challenging it.
You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. Your calls to use code as a gun and ban critics from Twitter, or your chilling and violent speech on blogs, or the power of the venture capitalist to throw the media his way do not scare us, because when you wield those weapons, you discredit yourself.
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Real-life governments don't disappear at the "electronic frontier" -- they are an integral part of it now in Gov 2.0 and other projects. You have neither solicited nor received our public input in policies of the Internet, whether open standards of IETF run by unaccountable geeks or other deliberately-obscured bodies of "Internet governance" that do not report transparently and openly to the public in a way that is clear. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our individual actions and collaboration.
You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation in virtual worlds and social media, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces in walled gardens and through APIs. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the existing real-life codes that already provide our society that moved online as a natural continuation of organic socities to a cyberspace that we do not view as a transhuman and transnational space but a continuation of all human earthbound orders -- more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions -- even as we can witness the destruction of your lawless anarchy.
You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve like "lack of open standards" or "lack of hooks for APIs" or "lack of fair use". You use these false claims as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of the real world, not your fake world of hippie cyberspace.
Our world is different.
Cyberspace consists of communications, transactions, interactivity, and expressed thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, and is a natural and organic extension of where our bodies live and our handheld devices like mobile phones, i-pads, laptops and other devices.
We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth, and most importantly, as full-fledged rights-bearing beings whether or not they are coders, and whether or not they possess the code used to interact in this space.
We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.
Your unlawful concepts of liberation of property, suppression of expression in the name of political correctness and your corporativist agenda, anonymity, interoperability, and corporate-owned context do not apply to us. They are all based on antequated hiearchical structures rooted in coerced collectives, and there is no collective here.
Our identities have bodies, so that crimes of cyberspace coercion like cyberbulling, content theft and invasion of privacy will be investigated and prosecuted by courts of law. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge, rooted in the best liberal democratic traditions of our real planet. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions, but our citizenship in this case in the United States of America means that Cyberspace ultimately cannot trump our First Amendment, our property laws, and every other law of the land which has been fashioned and adjudicated by a free people with free elections. The law that all our constituent cultures generally recognize is the Golden Rule, which means that we do not fashion a double standard of collectivist coercion benefiting cyberlords such as Google and Twitter and Facebook and harming individual people and associations. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.
We question your claims that the Telecommunications Reform Act in fact repudiates the Constitution or that new FCC polices on "net neutrality" could spell freedom and prosperity, and call for a broad and deep and free democratic discussion in every venue by every constituency and interested person in what real law should govern the domains where we now nearly exclusively live and move and have our being. The dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis did not include silencing critics on Twitter and kicking people in their virtual nuts on Typepad. These dreams must now be born anew in us.
You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. We live here. You don't. Because you fear us, you entrust your bureaucracies -- Google, Facebook, Twitter, Linden Lab and all the social media and virtual world corporations with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits emerging from organic life on our real planet, and integrated with life on that planet without artificial separation and abusive utopian beliefs of the lawless "electronic frontier". We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.
In China, Russia, Iran -- not in the United States (because telecom policy and the need to cover costs of scarce bandwidth is not a freedom, but a consumption problem) or Australia (because filtering out simulated child rape isn't suppression of free expression, but due diligence in avoiding the incitement of crime), governments are trying to silence citizens using social media. And you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting data scraper bots and proxy servers and anonymizers throughout Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media wielded by people in the real world truly empowered by them, and not diminished by them and doomed to live in a deracineated and oppressively transhuman Cyberspace.
Your increasingly obsolete Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 industries would perpetuate themselves by opposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to control speech itself throughout the Metaverse via unconscionable TOS. These laws would declare code and coders to be a special product and class of people higher than others, although they are no more noble than pig iron. In our world, what the human mind creates and reproduced and distributed should be compensated if he wishes it, despite the misleading belief that there is "no cost" to distribute that in fact rests on costly servers and bandwidth. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your forced collective farms to control it.
These increasingly hostile and collectivist measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to reaffirm your lack of rule over our bodies in Cyberspace. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
We will create a continuation of our planetary civilization of the human being in Cyberspace which is not artificially separate from it. May it be more humane and fair than the world your utopian pixel governments have made in the last 20 years that has destroyed civilization, destroyed the print and broadcast business and the public interest it serves, destroyed the music business and harmed millions of people through invasion of privacy, theft of identity, oppression of free speech, theft of content, and cyberbullying.