Like the rest of the world, the Internet is getting scarier and
scarier. In fact, it’s becoming a three-ring circus where the
elephants commandeer the trapeze and the acrobats poison the peanuts.
And recently those responsible for the Internet’s creeping anarchy,
even in their greed and vindictiveness, have been showing incredibly
Sending out a virus that instructs Windows systems to launch a
denial-of-service against the Windows update site, which obviously
very few people use in the first place.
Bringing down the sales site of SCO, a company that makes its money
off of legal maneuvers rather than sales.
Sending out a virus that “phones home” to the instigator’s web site,
even after the RIAA has shown how easy it is to trace Internet users
with nothing more than a dynamic IP address and a timestamp.
Citing privacy as a reason to deny giving the identities of
individuals to the RIAA–individuals who have put themselves in
public view by offering up hundreds of files for sharing.
I should say a bit more about file-sharing to minimize the chance of
misunderstanding. Is the RIAA going stark raving mad in suing 275
music fans every week? Yes. Is file-sharing the cusp of a
revolutionary movement opening up the media? Possibly. Does the chance to get free pop songs rank as a legitimate reason for breaking laws, comparable to promoting rights for African-Americans or even offering marijuana to relieve AIDS sufferers? Not in my opinion.
On a related note, a friend of mine denies that flash mobs (such as
stunts where a hundred people show up at one downtown intersection and
do a five-minute dance) are an expression of direct democracy and a
disregard for hierarchy. “They’re the ultimate in subordination and
hierarchy,” she says. “A bunch of people mindlessly giving themselves
over to the whims of one person.” That’s a persuasive argument.
History teaches us not to expect much smart behavior from large
groups–but we aren’t getting it from self-appointed vigilantes
Are we seeing evolution or entropy at work?