Related link: http://www.macminute.com/2004/08/17/petition
I just read Dan Gilmore’s We the Media. I was mostly disappointed in it because it was too rosy, as if RSS and blogs and all these fancy new things are great things without downsides.
I got home today and found out (through RSS and blogs), that RealNetworks tried to shame Apple into opening the iPod for other content providers. They posted a petition to their site, but got a virtual group of hooligans shouting them down by flooding their petition with pro-Apple sentiment.
I really like Apple, and I’ve said before that I think they are being stupid in this dispute with Real, but that’s not what bothers me.
Blogs and online things have the same problem as any other media: a small and dedicated group of vocal people can shut down the discussion, just like people show up at Bush or Kerry rallies to chant their messages so the speaker can’t speak. Freedom of speech or information means not only do we get to say what we want, but we have to let other people say what they want.
Other problems, like comment spam and astro-turfing, are other big problems. Any medium that makes it easy to get out good information makes it easy to get out bad information, too.
Can we educate the people about the downside too? I find too often that advocates or new technology, and even those of open source, ignore the problems. If we really cared about free information, we would acknowledge them.