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Geektivism For Fun & Profit

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  • Terry L Parker
    [In the contest between armies of bureaucrats vs a few creative people, the bureaucretins seem outnumbered! -TLP] Slashdot posted a response to my geektivism
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 16, 2002
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      [In the contest between armies of bureaucrats vs a few
      creative people, the bureaucretins seem outnumbered! -TLP]

      Slashdot posted a response to my geektivism column this

      It's from Public Knowledge, a group I profiled in an earlier

      The geektivism column in question:

      The text of Public Knowledge's reply is below. It makes some
      good points,
      but includes some misstatements too. It says, "No amount of
      good code can
      overcome harmful laws and bad policy." Of course good code
      can do just
      that: Even if wiretaps are omnipresent, encryption can keep
      conversations safe. If it is illegal to publish certain
      anonymous remailers provide a way to do so anyway. True
      anonymous digital
      cash is another disruptive technology. If inventing future
      makes it more difficult for governments to levy high taxes
      and enforce laws
      banning consensual activities, well, that's a far more
      dramatic change than
      we can ever hope to accomplish through the political

      In other words, I trust the laws of mathematics more than I
      trust laws
      created by politicians.

      Obviously, as I said earlier
      (http://www.politechbot.com/p-03889.html), I
      don't recommend giving up on all forms of non-coding
      activism. But let's
      evaluate the costs and benefits, and recognize when our
      efforts could be
      better spent elsewhere.




      August 13, 2002
      Geeks in Government: A Good Idea?

      A Response to Declan McCullagh: Political Participation
      for Geeks is a

      The notion that cybergeeks should stay out of the
      political process
      and stick only to writing code is a misguided idea that
      could have
      damaging consequences. In the past, tech activists may
      not always have
      effectively organized or expressed their opinions, but
      now that our
      ability to use technology as we intended is under
      attack, there is no
      better time to change this.

      Writing code and taking political action are not logical
      when it comes to protecting freedoms. You need one to do
      the other.
      For example, take the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
      The code that
      would allow someone to play a DVD on my GNU/Linux
      operating system
      already exists - but it is illegal under that law. Any
      code that gets
      written to do the same job is going to be illegal under
      the DMCA.
      Political action to repeal or amend the DMCA is the
      *only* route for

      No amount of good code can overcome harmful laws and bad
      Public Knowledge Board Member Larry Lessig has made this
      clear. Code, law and the future health of programming
      must be
      compatible. Geeks are the best people to help lawmakers
      understand the
      impact of bad technology laws and policy.

      Declan is right in one sense - geeks sending a bunch of
      flaming emails
      to lawmakers is not going to work: that is one reason
      why Public
      Knowledge exists. We are organizing real and effective
      participation that lawmakers can understand -
      sophisticated geek
      knowledge and understanding is a critical part of this

      Public Knowledge makes it easier to participate
      politically. The ten
      minutes it takes to sign up on our mailing list, make a
      donation, or
      participate in a campaign isn't going to mean you don't
      write a piece
      of amazing freedom-producing software. You can take
      political action
      and you can write code.

      Public Knowledge is taking on the task of turning geek
      activism into
      effective policy action. Here is how we propose to do

      *Over the next few months, we are going to launch
      technology to
      organize and consolidate grassroots activity on policy
      affecting copyright and technology. The idea here is to
      build a true
      grassroots movement on these issues. When real people in
      large numbers
      organize to make their voices heard, Congress listens -
      regulating tobacco and campaign finance reform are just
      two examples
      where the American people have won over large corporate

      *Public Knowledge will continue to work with and
      organize other
      important constituencies. We are already working with
      the libraries,
      educators, scientific researchers, artists, musicians,
      writers and
      representatives from the consumer electronics, retail
      and tech
      industries to strengthen our political clout.

      *Public Knowledge has hired a new Public Policy Director
      with over
      fourteen years of substantial legal and Hill experience
      related to
      technology. He will continue, and strengthen, Public
      day-to-day policy advocacy activity in the halls of
      Congress, in
      administrative agencies and in the press.

      POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology
      mailing list
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      -Terry Liberty Parker
      AustinVoiceCall 1.512.494.9176
      Also, In Austin Every Sunday 6pm - ? I host informal
      discussion to which
      all are welcome who want to talk about ideas & issues of
      at Hickory St Grill on 8th St & Congress Ave
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