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[flagged] Insurrection as a Service (piratewires.com)
24 points by Reedx 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments





> The American Bill of Rights was written at the time of the printing press, a machine that anyone could buy, the street corner, on which anyone could sell a paper, a system of public roads and walks for distribution, and thousands of small businesses that comprised the “market,” any one of which, absolutely, could refuse to sell a paper, but no one or two (or five in obvious collusion) were capable of censoring a single voice out of public existence. Today, the internet is the gateway through which almost our entire democracy is conducted.

I can't figure out if I missed a /s somewhere in this section. Is the author seriously arguing that it was easier to distribute information in the late 1700s and early 1800s than it is now if you're off of the internet?

Is he also arguing that FB/Twitter/Apple/Google/Amazon have a monopoly on the ability to communicate on the internet? HN isn't hosted on any of these and I'm writing this just fine.

> the printing press, a machine that anyone could buy

I can't find the number, but I'm honestly curious. How much did a printing press cost in 1796? How much was the paper for it?


> Is the author seriously arguing that it was easier to distribute information in the late 1700s and early 1800s than it is now if you're off of the internet

No. He is arguing that 200 years ago distribution was about equally hard for everyone, but today it's very easy for those approved by the IT moguls, and still hard for everyone else.

> Is he also arguing that FB/Twitter/Apple/Google/Amazon have a monopoly on the ability to communicate on the internet

Google and Apple have absolute 100% lock on app distribution. FB & Twitter together have pretty much 100% lock on "like and share" media, which accounts for, say, 90% of all news discovery. Of course you can still stand on the corner and hand out printed pamphlets, but there is significant difference in reach that is affected by having favors with the IT moguls and not by the appeal of the message itself.

I wonder whether you really didn't understand this or simply expressed your disagreement as a question?


> I wonder whether you really didn't understand this or simply expressed your disagreement as a question?

No, it was an honest question, because I'm having this conversation with you without any of those services impacting me.

My opinion as a whole is simple, the internet is an additional medium of information sharing. We have more means of communicating our ideas (even without the internet) for cheaper than we have in the entire history of humanity.

Never in history have the mediums of communication of the day been required to communicate what you ask them to. Sure, you could print a pamphlet, but I guarantee you'd rather have it in the Boston Gazette.


I feel like you're ignoring the competition aspect of it.

If one party finds it 100 times easier to spread their message than the other the latter would not be heard even if their message is twice as appealing. If both parties found it hard to spread their message the ideas would be competing on their merits, but the higher the cost discrepancy the less impact the merit has on the outcome.


I think I understand the competition aspect - I still think freedom of speech doesn't guarantee you equal competition or equal opportunity to reach an audience. You have to convince the broadcasters to carry your message and always have, the only difference now is the broadcasters have to opt-out of your message instead of opt-in.

Thanks for replying. Your perspective looks entirely alien to me, but I respect it and appreciate the opportunity to understand.

If I may use an analogy. Suppose four major airlines refused to carry one political group. Your logic then would suggest they are no worse off since they can as well drive or take a bus to get places, so there is nothing to worry about. Is that right?


> If I may use an analogy. Suppose four major airlines refused to carry one political group. Your logic then would suggest they are no worse off since they can as well drive or take a bus to get places, so there is nothing to worry about. Is that right?

I mean this just happened. Many of the airlines wouldn't allow those involved in the attack on the Capitol on their flights back to wherever they came from. And no, I don't have a problem with this. Either the other airlines will fly those people or no one will and they will have to travel via alternative means. I would have a problem if the government told airlines that passengers, as a result of only their political group, were not allowed to fly.

I would also say that I am more hesitant to agree in the case of this analogy about being "deplatformed" by all of the airlines than I am by social media or hosting providers (cloud or not) since airlines are a heavily regulated industry with a very deep, government-backed moat.

> they are no worse off

I'd like to clarify that I don't think they're no worse off, but I also don't believe we have a fundamental right to be served by a company unless they are a utility that has a government backed monopoly or quasi-monopoly (or you are not being served as a result of your membership in a protected class). That's why I feel confident in being pro-net neutrality for ISPs, anti-forced hosting for hosting providers, and lean towards treating DNS like an ISP.

I'm also pro-federated services for these reasons, because I believe platforms should have control over their platforms, and I believe we the people should have more diverse platforms and more control over the ones we use.

A lot of my beliefs about this probably stem from being a moderator on a decently large online community about 15 years ago as well as working in the hosting industry for a short stint.


Stop pretending that the current censorship is targeted at one party.

The censorship is rightly targeted at abusive, threatening and violent content.

Of one party is spewing more of that toxicity, then they'll get censored more.


We have freedom of speech, not freedom of reach.

> I can't find the number, but I'm honestly curious. How much did a printing press cost in 1796?

From what I can find about £16 (the price I found was 15 guineas) in England, so, via inflation calculators and currency conversion, around $2,000 (yes, the conversion had more details, but more than one sig fig here is definitely false precision.)

Operating costs would probably take more digging.


Hmm. That's not that far from the price of a server...

A server is just a useless chunk of plastic, metal, and silicon if you don't have an ISP willing to give you an IP and route traffic to you. And without a domain name, you're only accessible to technical users. Also DDoS protection is increasingly becoming a necessity.

Interestingly, ISPs are the only part of this equation I think should be regulated to require any content to travel over them. They are utilities that have government granted proto-monopolies and in exchange they should not be able to dictate the content they deliver.

DNS I have mixed feelings about, but I’m inclined to say it should be the same.


> A server is just a useless chunk of plastic, metal, and silicon if you don’t have an ISP willing to give you an IP and route traffic to you.

Hence, the argument for net neutrality.

> And without a domain name, you’re only accessible to technical users

Hence, why DNS service, like ISPs under net neutrality, should have utility-like neutrality regulations.


You still need people to discover your page which means Google, social media, or advertising.

Realistically, you can serve pages from a RasPi

Thanks for digging that up - as mentioned, that is certainly more than the cost of a server, or a laser printer.

No, they're arguing that it much harder for a private entity (or even a group) to block distribution of information in the late 1700s.

And, I think he's arguing that FB/Twitter/Apple/Google/Amazon have a (near) monopoly on truly mass communication on the internet. Sure, we're on HN, and anyone can read it. Not many will, though. If you want 10 million people to read it without going through FB, Google, et al, I'd like to know how you're going to do it.


> No, they're arguing that it much harder for a private entity (or even a group) to block distribution of information in the late 1700s.

I think this is a argument is incorrect. You can still print flyers and hand them out (or even mass mail them!) and none of that cabal can get close to stopping you, this argument assumes/pretends that the internet eliminated all other forms of communication, it didn't. Those methods still exist and have a larger reach than they had then. Communication is more resilient than it was in the 1700s, not less.

> I'd like to know how you're going to do it.

I'd make it look like an email chain and forward it to my grandma.


I’d say the internet has obsoleted earlier forms of communication. Twitter and the use of the phone keyboard as many people’s main input device has mainstreamed a discourse of extremely short communications, “snackable content” has diminished appetite for longer writing (which is often referred to as a daunting “Long Read” even if it is merely the length of an ordinary magazine article from a few decades ago).

If you examine some of the late-18th-century pamphlets created by social agitators and revolutionaries, they were often extremely dense text with elaborate argumentation. That kind of writing would not have the same impact on the public today; most of the people given such a pamphlet would bristle at having to read all that.


> I’d say the internet has obsoleted earlier forms of communication.

Well, given that I've seen Devin Nunes on Fox News arguing about how it is now impossible for Republicans to communicate, you aren't alone.

On the other hand, it clearly is possible to get messages out other than via venues controlled by the tech firms at issue.


While I understand what you are saying, there was never a guarantee people would want to read what you wrote, just that you could write it.

For an 18th-century pamphlet writer, there was something of a guarantee that at least the people sympathetic to his cause would read the pamphlet. Today, even few among the target audience would read such writing, simply because internet communications have made it seem “too long”.

In the 1700's, people would actually read your flyers. It was relatively hot tech at the time, basically the equivalent of posting on Facebook or Twitter. You can still print flyers, but essentially no one is going to read them when there are dozens of more engaging mediums readily available.

The scale of communication has changed. There are simply too many people in major cities for handing out fliers to have an impact.

Yes, word-of-mouth still exists and is more robust than ever.

Blocked by Twitter? The link to to your diatribe can still be shared there. If that link gets blocked? That’s more unlikely, but you can add another step of indirection and you’re effectively unblockable, especially if any news site links to the original.


As technologists we have always had a responsibility beyond just doing the job. We don’t all see it that way I know, but for example we choose to use encryption for reasons that should not even be up for discussion. We have platforms and services that can be used to provide some direction to society, when we as fellow human beings see it going awry. Sure there are those who will overstep the mark, but you cannot hide anymore and this is the reality that any would be fascist has to face.



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