[linux-elitists] Image blocking coverup?

kmself@ix.netcom.com kmself@ix.netcom.com
Tue May 9 16:14:29 PDT 2000

On Tue, May 09, 2000 at 03:15:44PM -0700, Ben Woodard wrote:
> So guys do you buy the current story from AOL/Netscape that the
> removal/obfuscation of the feature was not ordered by mgmt?

I'm operating under the doctrine of plausible deniability.  I haven't
seen anything to confirm one way or the other what's going on.  We don't
know where in the organization (and whether it was Netscape, Mozilla, or
AOL) the decision was made.  Inquiring minds definitely want to know,
and I suspect they'll keep digging until things pan out or the story
gets twisted.

The thing is, the story is twisted.  In particular, there are two posts
from Steve Morse which appear to indicate rather clearly that management
blocked the feature.  This was followed by attempts by same to have
himself dissociated from the story, and descriptions of his own quoted
bug reports as "hearsay".  

There's a suggestion [1] that Steve Morse may in fact be a some sort of
collective intelligence which hasn't kept up to speed on what parts of the
collective are saying.  I'm all for starting a "Steve Morse Collective"
conspiracy, or maybe a band:  "Friday, 9pm - 1am, it's the incessantly
wavering sounds of the Steve Morse Collective..."

> I personally think that we did the most important thing and that was
> to send a signal to the Mozilla community within netscape that this
> feature is important to us. BTW it was my plan to implement the
> feature before I discovered that it already existed.

Absolutely.  This was why I posted it to Kuro5hin (still hasn't hit /.,
BTW, despite suggestions that it might), and other sites.

> BTW The discussion on the advogato misses the point in my opinion. It
> is not about content theft. Does anyone know how to post a comment to
> their discussion? There are three things I'd like to bring up:

It is and isn't.  IMO it's about alignment incentives (for developers),
and the model for the Web, which we still really haven't settled on.
Banners are reasonably accepted, and do work, to an extent, but they've
been abused both in quantity and application (particularly as
information harvesting tools).  The pushback's already started, with
Junkbuster, DNS DoS (Don's doubleclick blackhole), etc.  With source
comes a certain amount of power, and users can apply it.

One issue that came up in an off-list discussion was the matter of just
how scriptable/configurable Mozilla is.  How much work would it take to
assemble the essential components of Mozilla (rendering engine, basic
application chrome) and add in privacy-control features?

Note also that there are advantages and disadvantages to exercising
privacy rights at various points along the way:

 - Browser -- users have fine-grained control over what they do/don't
   see and/or share over the 'Net.

 - Workstation -- multiple applications on a single host can be
   configured simultaneously.

 - Proxy/Server -- multiple applications, hosts, and users can be
   configured in common.  Less administrative overhead, but less
   fine-grained control.
 - DNS -- absolute lockdown/blackout of specified servers, domains, or
   even TLDs.

> 1) In the TV world, is channel surfing during commercials considered
> content theft? What about going to the bathroom during the commercial break?

As individual actions, no.  However, the ability to bypass ads, while
technically possible, is purposefully omitted from several products.
Marc Merlin was talking about Tivo and his VCR configuration recently,
distinction being that Tivo apparently doesn't offer ad filtering
capacity, but his VCR does (records show, then returns and marks ads for

The whole concept of broadcast, transmission, and other "free" content
(no charge for receipt/use) has been a tangled one.  The name itself
(broadcasting) comes from agriculture (sowing seed).  We've now got a
whole mess of business models:

  - mixed -- ads + subscriptions -- many print publications, esp mags
    and newspapers
  - straight ads -- "free" newspapers/magazines
  - straight subscription
  - membership -- member/organizational media
  - subscription based broadcast -- with both exclusive (cable TV/audio) 
    and non-exclusive (public broadcasting) variants
  - government sponsored -- typically European or other nationalized
    broadcast networks, VoA, and shortwave.
  - corporate "organs" -- sponsored, usually PR, publications
  - pirate broadcasts -- usually radio
  - hobbyists -- usually shortwave, also Internet

The one which appeals in many ways to me though, particularly for the
Web, is the Infomercial.  A website is a high-bandwidth, asyncronious,
selective pathway (through links and "personalization"), and often
bi-directional communications channel.  Why not utilize it to present
lots of very specific, detailed information to customers and
"community"?  Not my idea, Hal Varian and Carl Shapiro voiced it in
_Information Rules_ (http://www.inforules.com), but I like it a lot.

VA, incidentally, has a clue in this regard.  Netscape almost managed to
get one.  They're trying to hard to chain-in the customer though.
Community sites such as Slashdot, LinuxToday, Kuro5hin, Advogato,
IWETHEY (EZBoard) and even a few commercial sites which facilitate
off-site links such as the Register, NY Times, and the Economist, also
seem to grasp the fundamental truth.  Open is good.

...ok, have I wandered off-track enough already?

> 2) I really don't have a lot of problems with advertisements however,
> I do get really upset with cross site tracking and web bugs.

Define "web bugs".

> 3) I think that the important thing about this dialog is that it
> brings the capability to do half decent filtering to the masses.

Da!  Power to the people!

> -ben
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Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>         http:/www.netcom.com/~kmself
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
GPG fingerprint: F932 8B25 5FDD 2528 D595  DC61 3847 889F 55F2 B9B0

[1] Tounge-in-cheek, for the humor impaired.
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