Tag Archives: outrage

09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0, Swarms, Outrage, and the socialbookmarkosphere

Two front-page stories on Slashdot (Censoring a number and Digg.com attempts to suppress HD-DVD revolt), on six front-page stories on reddit (Digg exiles! Welcome to Reddit!, Digg is on a campaign of widespread user and story censorship, Digg founders took HD DVD Sponsorship — Digg fighting user revolt over HD-DVD code ban, Digg shuts down story submissions, Digg users are showing the true power of users on user run sites, Wikipedia bans HD DVD code and related discussion pages)

The swarm has worked, at least partially. Digg founder Kevin Rose wrote on the company blog:

Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0

Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.). So today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

What is the long number in the title? And why is this on tdaxp Read below the fold to find out…


The number is actually a key to allow people to use HD DVD disks they may buy. Historically, large media companies try to limit the usefulness of new technology, because technology is inherently disruptive and posses a risk to them. So, for instance, the Motion Picture Association of America thought that VHS was a terrible idea and should be criminalized. Fortunately, Congress and the Courts were on the side of the consumers on that issue. More recently, the MPAA opposed allowing people to record DVDs in the same manner that we can record TV with VHS. Again, the Courts agreed with consumers and disagreed with the studios.

Unable to criminalize consumers actually using the movies they buy, the studios resort to technical tricks which just make it hard to use the movies. Because of the computer code surrounding HD DVDs, typing in the number 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 allows users to get around the troublesome software and record their own movies.

Eventually, some stories mentioning the number made it on digg, a popular social bookmark site (thanks for the list, Jayson!).

I’m less interested in the number (not having an HD DVD player) than I am with the reaction. Blogs were “outraged” by this, just as they were by the JL Kirk, NationMaster, and Wiley Interscience affairs. However, because HD DVDs effect even more people than negative reviews of Tennessee job placement agencies, negative reviews of online databases, or critical interpretation of journal articles, the swarms’ reaction is even bigger. The reason is that while censoring of blogs outrages bloggers (a vocal but small minority of internet users), censoring online bookmark sites outrages even more people. The group of bloggers is maybe 5% of the internet population, but the group of social bookmarks is huge. Indeed, with social bookmark integration with popular webbrowsers (see Delicious for Firefox, Digg for Firefox, Reddit for Firefox, etc) it is possible within a few years a majority of internet users will also be social bookmark users.

Outrage is not a rational reaction, but whether a consequence of perceiving two things: that your own group is weak and that another group is attacking it. By successfully (for a while) forcing Digg to censor its own users, the MPAA convinced social bookmarkers that they were weak and being attaked. They became outraged. And now a number that I did not care about for quite a while — 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 — is all over the news.

JL Kirk eventually was mentioned by Instapundit, and John Wiley & Sons met The Volokh Conspiracy. Now the MPAA, and 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0, know reddit and digg.

Don Imus and JL Kirk

tdaxp, D. 2007. Why is it that if I refer to Irish as provo coal-crackers…. Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog. April 14, 2007. Available online: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/04/the_best_analysis_on_imus.html#comment-18335.

Weeks, C.G. 2007. I’ve been pondering the differences between the two approaches. tdaxp. April 16, 2007. Available online: http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/04/12/j-l-kirk-associates-not-a-better-business.html#c1539569

Weeks, C.G. 2007. I wonder if the garish offense is not JLK’s business practices in general…. tdaxp. April 16, 2007. Available online: http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/04/13/the-real-time-consequences-of-the-jl-kirk-associates-kirking.html#c1539382.

Recently, my blogging energies have been consumed by two scandals, Don Imus’s “nappy headed hos” remark and JL Kirk Associates’ threat of a lawsuit. Both cases show visceral reactions against relatively week targets (an MSNBC/radio host and a Tennessean employment agency) by groups known for political activism — blacks and bloggers. Yet Jews were silent when Don Imus called guests pointed-headed Jews, and most of the thousands of companies involved in lawsuits don’t raise a hue and cry. So what’s going on here?

The Don Imus of the Blogosphere?

Simple: outrage is a product of perceived group powerlessness and a perceived attack on the group. In the case of Don Imus, “blacks” correctly perceived their political weakness and then perceived an attack on black-ness. In the case of JL Kirk, “bloggers” correctly perceived their political weakness and then perceived an attack on blogger-ness. As Curtis says:

Not only might this describe Coble’s sense of outrage at what she perceived to be a hostile interview; but more to the point, it may explain the blogger response to the threatened lawsuit. To the degree that many bloggers may feel generally powerless in their lives — and, perhaps, also before the law of the land as adjudicated within the courts — such a lawsuit as threatened by JLK creates a backlash and outrage.

And likewise, Don Imus and JL Kirk were targets of outrage, instead of evildoers who actually mattered, because blacks and bloggers are too weak to cause substantive change. So instead, they go after symbolic targets like a cranky radio host and a litigious company:

Again, as Curtis says:

Her one post may have had more effect against JLK than a single post might have against a Microsoft or Google or Ford Motor Company that operates globally.

Both bloggers are blacks are in weak political positions. Bloggers are subject to violent, litigious assaults by corporations and do not have the resources to strike back. At best,
they can go bankrupt defending themselves from rich predators or swarm their opponents.
Likewise, widely visible black culture has transitioned from slavery to serfdom to female-farming society (arguably a lateral transmigration).

As I wrote on Tom Barnett’s blog:

Outrage is not a function of validity of argument. Outrage is a function of powerlessness, a function of Olive Treeism, a function of life in the Gap.

Because of many factors for blacks, and because of our judicial system for bloggers, too many blacks and too many bloggers experience Gap-like conditions even within the United States.

As we move into the medium a generation or two, we can expect less outrages from bloggers but probably an equiavelent number from “African-Americans.” The reason is that “African-Americans” — those blacks who are descendents from slavery in the southern United States — are considered wards of the state. So like the Lakota Indians before them, the federal government contiually makes their lot worse while trying to make it better. Bloggers, on the other hands, are ignored by the government. They exist in a state of benight neglect.