Digg Takedown, Obama Takeover, Army Blog Squeeze

Digg Takedown, Obama Takeover, Army Blog Squeeze (Jerz’s LIteracy Weblog)

This is the last week of classes, and I’ve got deadlines galore (3 conference proposals, an annual report, a departmental proposal, and an article submission that I’ve been sitting on for a week).

So I won’t have much to say, but I still thought it was worth noting the story of Digg’s attempt to silence user-submitted articles about cracking HD-DVD security. Since Digg is made up of user-supported content, Digg users have responsed by submitting a flood of articles that express their unhappiness with the fact that Digg tried to suppress the HD-DVD security information (and most of those articles probably duplicate the protection information that Digg was supposed to be protecting by taking down the article in the first place).

I also note the story of how the Obama campaign was initially happy that supporter Joe Anthony volunteered to keep the Obama MySpace page. But then the Obama campaign pushed Anthony off the site, taking it over from and refusing to pay him what Anthony thought it was worth. (I don’t know whether they offered a lower figure and Anthony was holding out for more, or whether they just figured it was their right to take over the site.) At any rate, Anthony says the campaign has lost his vote.

Just think of all the money that has gone into the development of complex software with digital content protection schemes that bloat the size and blunt the usability (Vista) , and that will go into litigation that will attempt to extend the economic lifespan of the 19-th century models of cultural production. Imagine if that money had instead been spent on think-tanks that aim to work with the cultural tide, rather than against it.

And while I appreciate the desire of the US Army to crack down on the possibility of leaking military secrets, wouldn’t the blogosphere be a useful place to engage with public opinion and recruit new members? The military crackdown on soldier blogs suggests the public at large will lose a valuable avenue to interact with the men and women who make life-or-death decisions that affect global stability. If you think of what the US Army Corps of Engineers can do in an emergency, think of an online strike team that might be ready to swoop in the event of a Katrina-like crisis, or a Darfur-like morass, engaging the good will of people around the globe, drawing on their first-hand observations.

Am I naive? Probably. Regardless, today was not a very good day for social networking.