The Grey Chronicles

2009.September.28

Blogging and Code v.2.0



Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0Lawrence Lessig’s Code version 2.0 (2006) is the second edition of his book originally published in 1999. He states:

“This book is about the change from a cyberspace of anarchy to a cyberspace of control. When we see the path that cyberspace is on now … we see that much of the “liberty” present at cyberspace’s founding will be removed in its future. Values originally considered fundamental will not survive. On the path we have chosen, we will remake what cyberspace was. Some of that remaking will make many of us happy. But some of that remaking, I argue, we should all regret.”

The book argues “that the invisible hand of cyberspace is building an architecture that is quite the opposite of its architecture at its birth. This invisible hand, pushed by government and by commerce, is constructing an architecture that will perfect control and make highly efficient regulation possible.” Having only read this book recently, i.e., after it was published about ten years ago, I was interested in what it says about blogging.

“The market also provides a major protection to speech in cyberspace— relative to real space, market constraints on speech in cyberspace are tiny. … The low cost of publishing means publishing is no longer a barrier to speaking. … But on top of this list of protectors of speech in cyberspace is (once again) architecture. Relative anonymity, decentralized distribution, multiple points of access, no necessary tie to geography, no simple system to identify content, tools of encryption—all these features and consequences of the Internet protocol make it difficult to control speech in cyberspace. The architecture of cyberspace is the real protector of speech there; it is the real «First Amendment in cyberspace,» and this First Amendment is no local ordinance.” (Lessig, 2006: 236)

Annotations : In the Philippines, there is much to be desired regarding speech in cyberspace. According to previous research, such things are still ruled by a criminal code. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility [CMFR] (2005) calls attention to the power of the media and the role of the free press in the development of Philippine democracy. ARTICLE 19, taking its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, champions freedom of expression and the free flow of information as fundamental human rights that underpin all others.

“At this writing, there are more than 50 million weblogs on the Internet. There’s no single way to describe what these blogs are. They differ dramatically, and probably most of what gets written there is just crap. But it is wrong to judge a dynamic by a snapshot. And the structure of authority that this dynamic is building is something very new. … At their best, blogs are instances of amateur journalism—where “amateur,” again, means not second rate or inferior, but one who does what he does for the love of the work and not the money. These journalists write about the world—some from a political perspective, some from the point of view of a particular interest. But they all triangulate across a range of other writers to produce an argument, or a report, that adds something new. The ethic of this space is linking—of pointing, and commenting. And while this linking is not “fair and balanced,” it does produce a vigorous exchange of ideas.” [Emphasis added.](Lessig, 2006: 242)

Annotations : The book was written in 1999, revised in 2006, and the number of weblogs have obviously increased since then. Zittrain (2008) also observes that “this scenario exhibits generativity along the classic Libertarian model: allow individuals the freedom to express themselves and they will as they choose. We are then free to read the results. The spirit of blogging also falls within this model.” This blog also a labor of love for writing. Yes, there are links to Amazon, but frankly I have never received any monetary gain from these posts, as others would like to believe.

“These blogs are ranked. Services such as Technorati constantly count the blog space, watching who links to whom, and which blogs produce the greatest credibility. And these rankings contribute to an economy of ideas that builds a discipline around them. Bloggers get authority from the citation others give them; that authority attracts attention. It is a new reputation system, established not by editors or CEOs of media companies, but by an extraordinarily diverse range of contributors.” (Lessig, 2006: 242—243)

Annotations : «The Grey Chronicles» started a year ago and it has garnered a small following. Although I have not personally monitored its Technorati rank, I believe citations of this blog’s posts are also considerable. I have not created this blog just to create an online reputation or improve my credibility as a writer. It exists because other venues have proved rather difficult, and my personal circumstances have been different. I do not have a journalism degree, but since secondary, I have been active in campus journalism. Lilia Efimova (2009) wrote: “Personal nature of blogging plays an important role in establishing professional connections. Weblogs are often treated as online representations of their authors, living business cards.” This also true for me.

“Blogs don’t coordinate any collaborative process to truth in the way Wikipedia does. In a sense, the votes for any particular position at any particular moment are always uncounted, while at every moment they are always tallied on Wikipedia. But even if they’re untallied, readers of blogs learn to triangulate on the truth. Just as with witnesses at an accident (though better, since these witnesses have reputations), the reader constructs what must be true from a range of views. Cass Sunstein rightly worries that the norms among bloggers have not evolved enough to include internal diversity of citation. That may well be true. But whatever the normal reading practice is for ordinary issues, the diversity of the blogosphere gives readers an extremely wide range of views to consider when any major issue emerges. When tied to the maturing reputation system that constantly tempers influence, this means that it is easier to balance extreme views with the correction that many voices can build. ” (Lessig, 2006: 244)

Annotations : Zittrain (2008) also notes: “If any of the posted material is objectionable or inaccurate, people can either ignore it, request for it to be taken down, or find a theory on which to sue over it, perhaps imploring gatekeepers like site hosting companies to remove material that individual authors refuse to revise.” «The Grey Chronicles» also believe that by linking all the references to their original sources, it is giving the readers alternative viewpoints to base any objections or refute inaccuracies.

“A credibility can thus emerge, that, while not perfect, is at least differently encumbered. NBC News must worry about its bottomline, because its reporting increasingly responds to it. Blogs don’t have a bottom line. They are—in the main—amateurs. Reputation constrains both, and the competition between the two forms of journalism has increasingly improved each. We have a richer environment for free speech today than five years ago—a commercial press tempered by blogs regulated by a technology of reputation that guides the reader as much as the writer.” (Lessig, 2006: 244)

Annotations : See for example How Responsible is the Responsible Media?. Even though, I do not worry about the bottomline, I worry about the impact of what I write. My self-imposed rules for this blog acknowledges the fact of adding value. And I hope I am doing that.


Notes:

ARTICLE 19 & CMFR (2005). Freedom of Expression and the Media in the Philippines. London: ARTICLE 19 & Makati: Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility [CMFR]. December 2005. pp. 47—68. back to text.

Efimova, Lilia (2009). PhD conclusions in a thousand words: blogging practices of knowledge workers Mathemagenic, 02 February 2009. back to text.

Lessig, Lawrence (2006). Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books, Perseus, 2006. pp. 236—244. back to text: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6.

Zittrain, Jonathan (2008). The Future of the Internet—and How to Stop. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. p. 131. Online version of this work available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Selected references cited above from Zittrian’s book. back to text: 1 | 2.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts herein do not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions. Read the full version of self-imposed rules for this blog: A New Year; New Rules. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Comments are moderated to keep the discussion relevant and civil. Readers are responsible for their own statements.

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