The internet seems to ignore legislation until somebody tries to take something away from us... then we carefully defend that one thing and never counter-attack. Then the other side says, "OK, compromise," and gets half of what they want. That's not the way to win... that's the way to see a steady and continuous erosion of rights online.
The solution is to start lobbying for our own laws. It's time to go on the offensive if we want to preserve what we've got. Let's force the RIAA and MPAA to use up all their political clout just protecting what they have. Here are some ideas we should be pushing for:
* Elimination of software patents
* Legal fees paid by the loser in patent cases; non-practicing entities must post bond before they can file fishing expedition lawsuits
* Roll back length of copyright protection to the minimum necessary "to promote the useful arts." Maybe 10 years?
* Create a legal doctrine that merely linking is protected free speech
* And ponies. We want ponies. We don't have to get all this stuff. We merely have to tie them up fighting it, and re-center the "compromise" position.
The dismal corruption of congress has gotten it to the point where lobbying for legislation is out of control. As Larry Lessig has taught us, the core rottenness originates from the high cost of running political campaigns, which mostly just goes to TV stations.
A solution is for the Internet industry to start giving free advertising to political campaigns on our own new media assets... assets like YouTube that are rapidly displacing television. Imagine if every political candidate had free access (under some kind of "equal time" rule) to enough advertising inventory on the Internet to run a respectable campaign. Sure, candidates can still pay to advertise on television, but the cost of campaigning would be a lot lower if every candidate could run geo-targeted pre-roll ads on YouTube, geo-targeted links at the top of Reddit.com, even targeted campaigns on Facebook. If the Internet can donate enough inventory (and I suspect we can), we can make it possible for a candidate to get elected without raising huge war chests from donors who are going to want something in return, and we may finally get to a point where every member of congress isn't in permanent outstretched-hand mode.
I'm not sure what the details of this PRISM program are, but I can tell you that the only way in which Google reveals information about users are when we receive lawful, specific orders about individuals -- things like search warrants. And we continue to stand firm against any attempts to do so broadly or without genuine, individualized suspicion, and publicize the results as much as possible in our Transparency Report. Having seen much of the internals of how we do this, I can tell you that it is a point of pride, both for the company and for many of us, personally, that we stand up to governments that demand people's information.
I can also tell you that the suggestion that PRISM involved anything happening directly inside our datacenters surprised me a great deal; owing to the nature of my work at Google over the past decade, it would have been challenging -- not impossible, but definitely a major surprise -- if something like this could have been done without my ever hearing of it. And I can categorically state that nothing resembling the mass surveillance of individuals by governments within our systems has ever crossed my plate.
If it had, even if I couldn't talk about it, in all likelihood I would no longer be working at Google: the fact that we do stand up for individual users' privacy and protection, for their right to have a personal life which is not ever shared with other people without their consent, even when governments come knocking at our door with guns, is one of the two most important reasons that I am at this company: the other being a chance to build systems which fundamentally change and improve the lives of billions of people by turning the abstract power of computing into something which amplifies and expands their individual, mental life.
Whatever the NSA was doing involving the mass harvesting of information, it did not involve being on the inside of Google. And I, personally, am by now disgusted with their conduct: the national security apparatus has convinced itself and the rest of the government that the only way it can do its job is to know everything about everyone. That's not how you protect a country. We didn't fight the Cold War just so we could rebuild the Stasi ourselves.
When I first took over engineering at Site5 I started work on one of his biggest projects, Synco & Backstage. You can read about the projects here http://www.eng5.com/projects.html. Over the years there have been many contributers but I'm not here to talk about them. Synco development has been an amazing adventure for me, one full of twists and turns that kept things exciting and new everyday. When questions would arise I would shoot Matt an email or try to hit him up on chat. He was excited to help me with anything I needed. What's more is he was excited about what I was doing with the app; that meant a lot to me. Unfortunately I never had the pleasure of meeting Matt in person, and yet I feel like I knew him pretty well. I know this may sound really corny, but I feel like I got to know him pretty well reading his code. Sometimes a surprise commit message like,
"Gor tickets almost working perfectly in Backstage. Going on 40 hours straight programming... can hardly type or see. Can't sleep--clown will eat me!"
would just totally make my day. Other times I would read over an implementation of something that didn't make it's way into the Ruby community until YEARS later. One great example of that was the task processing system we still use today. It's basically delayed_job but with a little more functionality.
Over the years of reading through his code, sweat, and tears I would be lying if I said I didn't learn a lot. That's one of my favorite parts of software development; you leave your mark and it can stay for many years to come. Right now we're in the process of rewriting Synco & Backstage and that makes me both sad and excited. One thing that puts my mind at ease is knowing that some parts of his work will be reborn in the second version. The code still continues to inspire me to build ontop of what he had done and make it my own.
I wish Matt's family the best and want to thank you for the support you gave him growing up. Without Matt, Site5 wouldn't have been started and I wouldn't have had the pleasure of working for what I consider a great company.
- WebPub.comCo-Founder, 2010 - present
- World Wide Web Hosting LLC.CEO, 2008 - present
- Bweeb Inc.President, 1999 - present
Who Is this Ben character? Even I am not sure sometimes, but I love coming up with new business ideas, thinking them out, building them, and in general I love everything about business. Its fascinating to figure out how everyone makes money in the system, from Subway franchises, to the latest tech startup.
Personal / Corporate Ethos:
We love the Internet. We love the freedom It gives us to create, design and invent. We also love the opportunities it gives; it helps people use their creative efforts to improve life for themselves, their families, and their communities. So, our mission is simple: to help everyone in the world create something online.
We want to build online communities that teach web development, design, and internet marketing. We want to provide dependable, easy-to-use web hosting: We want to make it as easy as possible to create and maintain a website. We want to create online jobs that are independent of physical location. We want to make the world more connected
In my free time I love to read, travel, run, and play ultimate frissbee. I own Bweeb INC along with my business partner and friend, and we work on a variety of new apps, ideas, startups, investments, and so on. Currently our largest investment is in Site5 Web Hosting and we just launched WebPub! Hopefully that is a good enough bio, if you need more you can find my LinkedIn bio here.
- University of ArkansasInternational Relations, Political Science, History, Etc.