Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
September 12, 2002

Winer to Declare 2.0 Spec Complete Tomorrow There is a furor in the RSS community as Dave Winer announces that the syndication language RSS 2.0 - introduced by Winer in mid-August - is now a specification. RSS 2.0 began life as an irony, embracing the use of namespaces after Winer's long campaign (in support of RSS 0.0x and against RSS 1.0) against them. But more to the point, from my point of view, is that RSS 2.0 seems to be his attempt to own the standard for himself. Certainly that seems to be the reaction of the RSS developer community, as evidenced in this weblog. One commentator writes, "But the problem I have here is this: I simply do not trust Dave Winer. For all sorts of reasons I regard him as a really bad choice of person to steward an important specification." Ouch. The RSS specification is here, and no, I won't be converting my RSS feeds to 2.0 anytime soon. By Ben Hammersley, Content Syndication with XML and RSS, September 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blind Vigilantes This article explains as clearly as anything why it is wrong to allow private corporation to actively enforce things like copyright law. "The group based in Denmark had pretended to be me, forged an email as though it had come from an address that only I am authorized to use, passed it through the mail server in my house, and then placed me on a list of people who should be blocked from sending mail." The author was innocent, but there was no appeal, there was no recourse... and the author found that spammers were using the list as targets for mail relaying. Moreover, "It's easy to imagine blacklists used for less noble purposes. For example, imagine that the RIAA compiled a list of IP addresses which, it contended, had at some time used peer-to-peer file sharing programs... isn't difficult to imagine that the RIAA could pressure a sufficient number of ISPs into subscribing to this copyright blackhole list and blocking access to their users." No appeal. No recourse. By Bret A. Fausett, New Architect, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Yahoo, ISPs Enter Net Privacy Fray The tide may be turning against the Recording Industry Association of America as yahoo! and a number of ISPs have joined in the fight to oppose laws that would have service providers probe their users' computers for illegal files. "What the RIAA is really seeking, at the end of the day, is to shift the burden of copyright enforcement from its own members--who apparently would prefer not to alienate potential customers by suing them outright--to an ISP that does nothing more than provide an Internet connection to the customer," the brief says. By Declan McCullagh, CNet, September 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IBM: Set Java Free I've had a lot of discussion about Java and especially J2EE over the last few days, so this article is appropriate. The essence is a call from IBM to Sun to "set Java free". Java should be an open standard governed by an independent and objective organization, according to IBM director of e-business standards strategy Bob Sutor. I agree. Otherwise "write once, run slowly" will morph into "write once, die slowly." By Various Authors, ZD Net, September 11, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Phones Join File-sharing Revolution Not being much of a telephone person, I'm not sure what to make of this one: you can now exchange files over a peer-to-peer network accessible through your mobile phone. Once I find my cell phone, I'll see if I can't try it... By Unknown, BBC News, September 12, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Schools Cut Costs With 4-day Weeks Could it be that, after a lifetime of waiting, the four day week has finally arrived? By Unknown, CNN, September 11, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Rights Outlook: Squishy The interesting tidbit in this article about digital rights management (DRM) in multimedia files is a proposal from Thomson called "super MP3". The idea is that instead of slapping all sorts of copy protection mechanisms into the file, you simply stamp the file with the identity of the computer that made it. I think there's a lot of merit to this approach. It won't prevent you from sharing a file with a friend (it won't prevent you from doing anything), but if you get into the business of copying massive quantities of files for fun and profit, the evidence will be all over the internet. The problem, of course, is that your PC's individual signature will be stamped on all the files you create, which has a significant potential for violations of personal security and privacy. By Brad King, Wired News, September 12, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blizzard of Cheaters Banned It's a record of some sort. Blizzard Entertainment, the developers of the online multi-user game Warcraft III, suspended 14,000 players for cheating in what is reported to be "the largest mass banning in the history of computer gaming." It's certainly the largest - by far - that I've ever seen. "Cheating in online games threatens the shared basis of the world," Kurt Squire, senior editor of Joystick101, a gaming site, wrote in an e-mail. "If cheating becomes too rampant, accomplishment loses meaning. Communities like (Blizzard's) run on a shared faith in the system, and threats to it should be taken seriously." By Noah Shachtman, Wired News, September 12, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes