U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is fighting to hold on to her job, and to avoid professional disciplinary proceedings. FUCKING LOL.

(Here are the Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann petitions, if you’re a US citizen and haven’t signed them already.)

Congress spent the last year wondering every day “is this the next SOPA?” Now they’ve found out what is, and it’s the dude who started that one too. No wonder they’re panicking.

(When Aaron Swartz met the US senator. This is why they killed him. You don’t understand just how much they loathe and despise the Internet.)

It sucks so much Aaron isn’t here to see all this, and laugh and laugh. Guess we’ll all have to make up the difference. It’s incumbent upon every one of us to FUCK SHIT THE FUCK UP. In an orderly, creative and productive manner. So, what’s a good project? I’ve spent the last week depressed and pissed off; it’s time to get moving.

17 thoughts on “ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.”

  1. What I’d like is to work out what the next thing no-one was expecting will be. Even in outline. What stupendous strike for the free culture is waiting for someone to realise is possible?

  2. I think an important thing to recognize is that from SOPA to Aaron’s death to the change in tenor in the coverage of Wikipedia, the public is more and more on our side. I think an appropriate (but not sexy) shift would be from bold, in-your-face, media-grabbing acts, to calm, deliberate acts of a movement confident it has popular support.

    This movement has taken a pretty unusual path to political clout, but it has arrived. I’d say a bit of internal learning and efforts to figure out how to speak with a unified voice (not necessarily a loud voice) is of utmost importance.

  3. I guess I should be more direct — the more the public can discern a difference between (a) the movement that produced Wikipedia, stopped SOPA, and valued Aaron Swartz from (b) the cowardly tactics typical of Wikileaks, Anonymous, and 4chan, the more we will be able to grow the movement and effect change through democratic processes.

  4. Well, that’s pretty much my approach as a public face of Wikipedia. I can come on quite the boring encyclopedist. Open source has won, and Wikipedia has won ridiculously. This is the new normal, deal.

    I find your claim of “cowardly” on the part of Wikileaks ridiculous and completely lacking in evidence, however, speaking as someone deeply familiar with the topic.

  5. You’re probably right, I shouldn’t paint with such a broad brush. The tactic of using anonymity to shield oneself from the consequences of one’s actions, while simultaneously broadly calling for the free sharing of information, is something I regard as generally self-serving and hypocritical. There are many different flavors of it, and definitely room for arguing nuance. But I do think there is a thread of that thinking running through the way Wikileaks has presented itself to the world.

  6. That’s not evidence. Wikileaks is journalism. Its crime was being successful.

    If you have a more specific objection, I would certainly be interested in hearing and (if I sensibly can) addressing it.

  7. I’m not sure what kind of evidence you’re seeking, I’m expressing an opinion. You don’t have to agree.

    I disagree about the term “journalists” though, and am happy to have an evidence-based discussion around that. Certainly Wikileaks has aspired to something like journalism, but I think a system built around widely accepted notions of journalistic ethics is key. Anonymous sources should not be the norm in anything properly called journalism, they should be used in special circumstances after careful deliberation, and in deference to clearly articulated principles. Building a publishing project on a core of anonymity is, in my view, antithetical to the concept of journalism.

    And then, there’s tweets like this one: If you DO use anonymous sources, you’re supposed to protect their identity.

  8. Well, David, I’m sorry we see things so differently. What do you think are the central principles around using anonymous sources in journalism? Do you feel that the way the journalism profession has approached that prior to the 21st century has just been wrong? Or maybe that a new climate brought about by the way information is processed now calls for different principles? I’d like to hear more about how you see it.

  9. In regards to “what’s the best way to fuck shit up people aren’t expecting?” – have people tried stripping out-of-copyright google books-scanned stuff and shoving it up on the IA and Wikisource? Seems like a damn good fight if it hasn’t bindun.

  10. I’m going to step away from the bit, but I’d like to assure you my question is sincere. Having worked for a number of newspapers, I have an appreciation for the kind of ethical code that I understand to be common among pre-Internet era journalists. It’s unfortunately not documented very clearly or concisely anywhere that I have been able to find, but it exists.

    If I’m going to take Wikileaks seriously, there’s basically two ways that could happen: either its approach is convincingly justified in terms of the longstanding code of journalism ethics, or a clearly laid out alternative is presented in a convincing way.

    What I understand of Wikileaks as of now relies pretty heavily on trusting the individual judgment of people whose audience has no means of holding them accountable. If my understanding is inaccurate, I’d like to know. If not, I’d like to know what principles guide their judgment, and how they may be held accountable if they stray from their principles.

  11. Pete, please see the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics which states, “… Identify sources whenever feasible.” The whole point of Wikileaks is that it only engages in journalism where the sources are necessarily confidential. The SPJ Code of Ethics continues, “The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.” As far as I can tell, all Wikileaks’ publications go into great detail about why they are publishing the information and why the source must not be revealed. Very little of this context is preserved whenever any mass media use Wikileaks’ releases, as they very often do, more and more these days. The Code continues, “Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity.” This is why the vast majority of submissions to Wikileaks are never published. They don’t join in character assassination or anything that has a whiff of for-profit or conflicted motives. If there are other ethical issues I haven’t addressed, I’d like to know about them.

    As for a suitable memorial activity, I have become disgusted with various economic libertarians who have been trying to exploit Aaron’s death. I have my own plans to honor his memory.

    “I think we annoyed everyone else with our repeated insistence that reducing economic inequality was somehow always the appropriate solution to each of the many social ills the group identified.”

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