Failure of Internet Censorship

HydraI wasn’t going to jump on the bandwagon, but watching this explode has been an interesting example of what happens when an organization thinks they can control what happens on the Internet. The Motion Picture Association of America has been sending DMCA take-down notices to sites that have been reposting a 16 byte code that unlocks the content on HD-DVD discs. Yes, you read right, they’re demanding that websites stop repeating what amounts to 16 consecutive numbers.

One of my favorite sites, Digg, complied with these notices, removing submitted stories containing the key, and as a result has had to deal with the fury of their users. As of this moment, every single story on the front page of Digg contains the key. These stories are being “Dugg” faster than anything I have ever seen before and are remaining prominent. This is not to mention the hundreds, maybe thousands of comments also containing the key.

Google counts the pages containing this code at 9,670 and climbing fast.

Like the prior attempt to censor the DVD decryption algorithm DeCSS, there are many artistic and humorous translations of the naughty code. Some of my favorites: A PNG image made from the color values of the code, T-Shirts in eBay auctions, the inevitable YTMND version, poetry and haiku.

Now I don’t condone theft of artistic works. Creators should be paid for their work. What I find amusing about this episode is that once again, someone somewhere believes you can pass a law and then everyone on the Internet will automatically fall in line. Not only is it foolish, it is doomed to fail spectacularly every time a heavy hand tries to enforce it.

“Never refused a debate”

Lincoln / DouglasThis morning I fell through the looking-glass when I heard Senator Hatch being interviewed on KCPW. It is a strange world, where you can accuse the other side of partisanship and obstructionism while claiming you have never done it yourself.

Lara Jones, the interviewer, asked Senator Hatch if he was going to debate his opponent. I was looking forward to his answer because in spite of requesting a debate via registered letter, I’ve heard nothing in response. The closest thing to an answer is Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen fumbling the ball in response to Ethan Millard at SLCSpin. Even though Senator Hatch has most of August off, campaign season apparently hasn’t started yet.

Senator Hatch’s answer? “I’ve never refused a debate in my life.” I suppose that is accurate. He didn’t refuse my request for debate, he ignored it. I gave him opportunity to debate anywhere, anytime, and this is written off in the same breath as, “We’re not going to do it to the ridiculous extreme.”

The seven Lincoln/Douglas debates started in August and were held all over the state of Illinois. I ask Senator Hatch to merely match this effort. Instead of waiting until the last week of October to have one or two, let us allow the public to ask us questions in several open debate forums. Note that Democrat Jim Matheson has already agreed to six debates with his Republican challenger. The Utah State Fair falls in Dave Hansen’s “campaign season”, I see little reason not to have the first debate then.

In any case, Senator Hatch and myself are not the only candidates in this race. The other candidates have graciously agreed to debate this Saturday, August 12th, at 10:30 AM in the Salt Lake City Public Library. I hope to see you there.

I need YOUR vote now!

BB PACAccording to insiders at Mark Warner’s “Map Changers” PAC, we lost out of getting to the second round by a few votes. Those votes could have been yours if you didn’t participate.

Right now my campaign is at a financial crossroads between taking money from Political Action Committees with clear agendas and staying with individual contributions. Ideally, I would like to stay with individual contributions, but there are financial obligations which will not be met if I keep that rule. Many of you have already contributed, some of you have donated multiple times and I thank you for your belief in me and winning this race.

Another candidate contest has come forward and it presents an even higher potential than Mark Warner’s. This time it is sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer and has the potential to raise $30,000 – $80,000 in individual contributions for the winner. This would help me stay on track without approaching Political Action Committees for more money.

Please vote here and continue to track my progress over the next two weeks. I need you to encourage your friends who support this campaign to do the same thing:

Vote Here

I continue to need volunteers for events around the state. Please check the campaign calendar and email or if you can help march, organize, or canvas.

Recent media:
Salt Lake Tribune
Seattle Times

Campaigns Wikia

WikiaBoingBoing tipped me off to a great development that happened today. Jimbo Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has established a space for campaign and policy discussion inside their new Wikia project.

My use of a wiki in my campaign has solicited some great ideas that I have taken on the campaign trail as solutions to the problems in America. I understand fully that many candidates do not have the technical ability or the resources to put towards doing wikis of their own. What Wikia is offering is space for that to happen. I applaud their efforts. If you’re a candidate, there is now no excuse for not having a wiki of your own.

The only wish I have in multiple wikis on policy and campaigns is some way to connect them all so there is no duplication of effort. Blogging software has the same problem in my opinion. Instead of writing on my blog then duplicating it by hand on my DailyKos diary, Myspace bulletins, and elsewhere, it would be nice if there was a distributed connect and sharing of commentary. This is what I still like about Usenet. Post it once and it gets distributed to any site carrying the group worldwide. Blogs and wikis need a way to do the same kind of distribution if so desired.


My deepest gratitutude to all the effort and kind words from bloggers around Utah (and New York and Ohio) with their efforts yesterday to boost the campaign. A woman in Kane County told me that the Internet is the earth in the grassroots of democracy. Yesterday’s “blogswarm” is a good example of how that works. I’ve added all participants to my blogroll on the right as a second round of thanks, if you want yours added, or I missed anyone, just let me know.

Wired Interview

Wired NewsThe campaign is on fire today due to a Wired News Interview by Eliot Van Buskirk and a subsequent Digg followup.

Many people from all over the country (and one American in Dublin) have been sending in their support, both financial and verbal. Thanks to all!

I returned yesterday from hitting my 16th Democratic county convention. The Deseret News covered my stop in Washington County. People are fighting mad over Divine Strake, as am I.

One thousand signs went out the door in April and another thousand are well on the way. This campaign is getting good traction everywhere!

Whole New World

I spent most of this morning combing microfiche at the Salt Lake City library, more on that later. Aside from my realization that there is real business opportunity in converting newspaper archives to digital combined with even a rough OCR index, I found my activities of pillaging old newspapers a marked contradiction from today’s news.

Thirty years ago, a politician could say something outlandish and off the cuff to a private audience in a rural Utah town and expect it to not be national news the next day. However, the democratization of reporting through the Internet turns that assumption on its head. Soon one person picks up on the story, then it starts to spread. Suddenly its everywhere and you’re winning awards. Finally, you have to back pedal. It would have worked if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids and their Interwebs!

My worthy opposition should not feel bad about being burned by the Internet (again). He is in good company underestimating the power of the Internet. Fellow members of congress have attempted to edit biographies on Wikipedia. Having used the Internet since 1987, I realize there is more about me out there than I wish. I haven’t been grooming myself for a career in politics since an early age. Yet I fully realize that attempting to censor and retract my history looks worse than just being honest about it. What must scare traditional politicians to death is that now their words do not disappear. Campaign promises are not buried inside microfiche. Any constituent with a good grip on Google can do their own research and find the contradictions, the votes, the rhetoric and ascertain the character of the candidate outside the marketed image.

This shift is good for America, but bad for the status quo of Washington. It is encouraging to me is that this change is unstoppable. No matter how much money is spent on traditional marketing and media, the power of communication and technology will always overwhelm those who attempt to control it.


Over the years of running XMission, I witnessed several instances of what became known as “Slashdotting”. A popular tech news site, Slashdot has such a large audience that they can bring powerful computer servers to their knees with an onrush of visitors. Thus the verb, “Slashdotting“.

At the beginning of the campaign it was not only a priority with me to get an article on Slashdot, but it was repeatedly suggested and attempted by interested people. These attempts were made to publish stories about local press coverage here, but they were all rejected by Slashdot editors. Yesterday, in response to a Linux Insider article published on Tuesday, Slashdot greenlit an article.

What is a Slashdot article worth politically? By the raw numbers, 3074 visitors came to the campaign website via the article. In comparison, a notable mention on Daily Kos garnered 2232 visitors in December. Now someone with a marketing background might be thinking, 3000+ visitors at $10 each, that’s $30,000! If only it were that easy. The raw contributed dollar effect of Slashdot has been $290 broken up over four donations.

The residual effect of Slashdot was remarkable. At first a flood of vandals hit the wiki and left their messes about. Almost instantly, a larger group of new volunteers came in and cleaned it up. Within 24 hours, these same volunteers went about reorganizing and contributing to wiki in ways that were utterly amazing to watch. The wiki is now stronger and better than ever.

A few bloggers picked up on the Slashdot reference, including someone in Japan. I enjoyed the Babelfish poetry that I was presented after translation.

This experience emphasizes what was clearly stated by Liza Sabater on Monday, “The #1 mistake advertisers, marketers, political strategists and fundraisers make when hitting the blogosphere is to think of bloggers and readers as just consumers.” So many candidates have and continue to look to Howard Dean raising a million in a day off the Internet as potential for their own campaign. Yet Dean donors weren’t driven by the Internet, they were driven to the Internet by other sources. The fact he was a presidential candidate was one, the other was the traditional media attention he received. The Internet is not a cash machine that can be turned on by simply activating a website. It can be a cash saver because of its open nature. The feedback I have received via the wiki and my first photo poll would have cost tens of thousands of dollars in “focus groups,” and I believe it is of a significantly higher quality.

Make no mistake, this campaign still relies on traditional techniques for reaching the electorate. As a result, it still has traditional needs best met by cash contributions. However, I am invigorated by seeing the ideas of open campaigning and the basis of “Democracy 2.0” flourish.

As my friend in Japan states, “Yesterday slashdot it was done, but it is being crowded calmly and that appearance, without either the circumstances which receive vandalism for the present, ã‚‹ pattern.”