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Comments from Frankston, Reed, and Friends

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

BobF at 6:02 PM [url]:

United States v. American Library Association

This letter was posted on Dave Farber's site. That posting also contains a copy of the WSJ article. This is version is slightly edited to correct typos and grammar.

How can one help on this? I'm worried that the concept that bits have no intrinsic meaning and that words only make sense in context is simply not accessible to these people. I wonder if Mein Kampf is allowed? Is it illegal to tell children that there is no Santa Claus? What is a dirty picture anyway?

My problem is that I don't know how to explain these concepts to people who believe they can identify good and bad electrons. How do you explain that a DNS name is just a character string? This is part of the medieval assumption that words have intrinsic and invariant meaning and represents a huge generation gap, many generations.

But I guess it's part of the shift from the attitude that you should risk allowing a thousand guilty people to go free in order to avoid convicting
the innocent to the view that better to convict a thousand innocents than to allow one guilty person to escape. Or one innocent web site.

The Supreme Court may surprise me but Breyer's comment about being able to ask for permission to explore is worrisome. I hope it was just a question to the lawyers and not representative of his views.

I cannot help but wonder what the censors are worried about. Is looking at such picture so terrible that we would rather have ignorance? Is this a result of the failure to educate those who set the rules?

I'm glad that many librarians see their role as providing access to information and have a duty to oppose such prior restraint.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

BobF at 4:59 PM [url]:

Some good news

I just returned from the Spectrum Policy conference. You should read the blogs and other commentary. I may add my own but I wanted to write about something else that's important. OK, maybe not as important as these policy issues but closer to home. Literally.

Despite the gloom in the airline industry there is some good news. Earlier this year the Mass Pike (AKA I-90) extension to Logan Airport opened. It is a great QoL (Quality of Life, not to be confused with Quality of Service) improvement over the old route wending its way through huge traffic jams.

The other surprise is that the intra-airport train service at SFO is running. I found only one sign indicating that it was available but the barriers have been removed and I could actually take the train instead of the shuttle buses to and from the car rental building. I presume that there will soon be an official opening ceremony. It's been long wait since the time I was rushing to return my car and discovered that the return area had been moved and I barely made my flight.

So there is some good news. Now back to the gloom already in progress. Actually, I am somewhat optimistic after the Spectrum Policy conference in that the idea of the spectrum commons is starting to take hold. It's just the start of the process but the focus is more on how and when rather than whether. Maybe I'm wrong but naive optimism does have its value.

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