Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Archive for August, 2007

Regulating the Net: A Bad Idea

Posted by hyperpat on August 31, 2007

The busybodies are at it again. Once more the clarion call to regulate the net is heard across the planet. Now they want YouTube to take down any videos showing extreme or callously violent actions. Now this idea has a little bit of merit: portrayals of violence may be more destructive and influential on young minds than all the pornographic material that’s just as readily accessible on the net. But, once again, the whole concept of censorship of the net is not only impossible in a technical sense (without emasculating the net to where it no longer qualifies for the name), it flies in the face of what the net is all about: the free interchange of thoughts, ideas, and images, whether they be good, bad, indifferent, or offensive to many. The net is perhaps the ultimate form of free speech, as anyone with access to a computer can post just about anything they want.

As soon as one group of people obtain the power to decide what can be printed, published, or posted, on that day the road to dictatorship is paved. When you can limit what information people can see or hear, you have the ability to control their minds. The Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984 is a fine example of just how controlling the information flow is tantamount to controlling the actions of the populace.

Rating and warning labels about the content of something are all well and good, as they can provide the prospective reader/viewer with advance information so he/she can better determine if he really wants to look at that particular item. And they provide parents with the ability to selectively control what their children can access – this is one form of dictatorship that is required for proper nurturing of young minds. But this level of control must remain at the family level, not something mandated or restricted by government, and government should never be in the business of telling a company that they must restrict what can be published on their site, other than those items that actually violate established laws, such as copyright violations.

But it seems that some people just can’t get away from trying to mandate things  for others, for ‘their own good’.

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Posted in Books, Politics | 1 Comment »

The Grapevine in Action

Posted by hyperpat on August 15, 2007

Apparently, some book, game, and CD publishers are finally getting hip to the fact that the online community of reviewers are a valuable resource, and that the reviews such people post are often  as good or even perhaps better than those written by ‘professional’ reviewers (though not always – there are quite a few pretty atrocious ones out there too). Evidence for this is a new program from Amazon, which they are calling ‘Vine Voices’, where those who are members of the program can get free advanced review copies of some works in return for writing honest, unbiased reviews of same – which is basically the same deal that professional reviewers have gotten for many years, and this program is obviously being supported by the publishers. I’ve signed up for this program, and ordered up as my first choice under this program a new book by Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road.

There have been at least a few instances of the book publishers using quotes from some of these ‘amateur’ reviews as back-0f-book blurbs, and there is now a fair amount of evidence that decent reviews on places like Amazon can have quite an influence on book sales. With many newspapers and magazines cutting down on the space they allocate for reviews, for many books online reviews may be the only recognition a book gets.

For a long time, many of the ‘professional’ reviewing set have denigrated these ‘amateur’ reviews as poorly written and/or ineffective. It looks like at least a few are waking up to fact that this is not true.

Posted in Book Reviews, Writing | 5 Comments »