This week's blast of Digg with the HD-DVD
encryption key was interesting enough to watch. If you weren't
following, one of the keys that allows HD-DVD gear to playback discs
got out into the open, and it was posted on Digg. A lot. At first they
tried to remove the stuff and ban users that posted it, because it was
a clear violation of the DMCA. The site eventually went down and in the
long run, they decided to just let it go.
Kevin Rose, Digg's founder, not only conceded defeat, but posted the code himself.
I think the world of this guy, who started out as a nobody on TechTV,
but I can't say I entirely agree with his actions. They were doing the
right thing removing the naughty data because there was potential for
harm to the company. While I agree that the code would eventually get
out into the world well beyond the scope of Digg, he made his play way
too soon. He put his business at risk. And then to post the code
himself, well, that's just asking to be sued.
thing is that the bulk of techie nerds aren't even the type I know and
look up to, they're the hacks who work at Best Buy in the Geek Squad or
are help desk jockies. They have their high ideals about open source
software and free love, but fail to grow and mature to understand that
in a capitalist culture, someone has to make money. People need jobs to
eat. That's where the disconnect is between the crowd and Digg The
Business. Let's face it, crowds are stupid.
I 100% believe in
intellectual property rights, and at the same time, I hate DRM, dongles
and anything else that makes it harder for me to use something I paid
for. I don't live under the fantasy that if no one gets paid for music,
software, movies or whatever, that it'll just magically exist anyway.
laws are what they are. Right or wrong, they're there. Civil
disobedience is one thing when you're talking about human rights, but
it's quite another when you're talking about zeros and ones traveling
through the air and on copper wires. I'm not so jaded that I don't
believe that the democratic process can't work to make meaningful
change. Look at the recent Internet radio royalty structure. Enough
people made noise, and now there is new legislation to make it
reasonable so that Net radio doesn't die and go away. The people spoke
en masse, our representatives listened.
Unfortunately, Rose was
right in his post that the community would rather see Digg go down in
flames than do what's best for the business. They might get their wish
if Digg gets sued. If there's anything I've learned in the last nine
years hosting communities online, it's that they require some
moderation if you hope to keep them useful. People get all pissed off
when we remove things that violate our terms of service or that we
consider spam or whatever, but that's why we still have a loyal and
continuous user base. We don't censor ideas, and we never have.
whole incident pans out what I've been saying for the last couple of
years, that the "wisdom of crowds" is really that crowds are stupid. It
also proves my Jerry Springer theory. It's not that TV executives are
serving crap because they want to, it's because that's what the
audience wants. As the audience of sites like Digg grows and becomes
more mainstream, it shows that the crowd really does want that. Maybe
that's kind of sad, but I saw it coming.