I’m just gonna try out this OPML Editor thing. And now I have.
After reading Jason Calacanis, Michael Arrington, and Mark Cuban’s so-called rules for startups, I figured we’d had just about enough out of the big boys. Here follows the Sufferable Ass’s rules for startups from the user perspective. Heed them or perish.
- Dude, if you’ve got a product, don’t make me pay for it. I mean, Google gives away free email. You think I’m going to pay for whatever lame ass thing you’ve got? Please. Make it free or move on.
- Definitely lose a vowel or two in your domain name. It makes typing your URL quicker, and I really just want to get in, try your service, and get away as fast as possible.
- Oh, and lose the invitation beta thing. I just want to use your damn website. I know it’s all built out in there, and all you’re doing is stalling until you can line your pockets with VC money, so quit playing coy. Just open up the damn site.
- I know more about what you’re trying to do and what kinds of challenges you’re dealing with than you do. When you screw up, and you certainly will because you’re not effing Bill Jobs or Steve Gates, make sure you’ve got a forum or an email address or something where I can give you shit for it. It’s the only way you’ll learn.
- Oh, and don’t ask me to Digg your company blog post about your stupid startup. So far I haven’t seen shit from you, so why should I give you free publicity?
- Oh, and speaking of your blog: lose it. You’re not as interesting as you think you are. The only thing I care less about than your stupid startup idea is you writing about your stupid startup idea. And if you’re “enhancing” your blog with a podcast, I will puke. Stop it, and get back to coding, monkey boy. If you want to be a writer, call fucking Random House.
- NEVER EVER EVER let your website go down, or have “scheduled maintenance.” You are providing a service. Irregardless of whether I’m paying for it or not—or even whether I’m using it at the time—what right do you have to suddenly withdraw the use of the service from me? Fuck you. If you can’t build the proper infrastructure to support an unlimited number of users of your site, maybe you’d be better off programming my order into the register at Burgerz World. Fucking amateurs.
According to the Financial Times, David Walker, tha Comptroller General of the United States, is warning that if certain steps aren’t taken soon, America’s on a collision course with history.
Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were â€œstriking similaritiesâ€ between Americaâ€™s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including â€œdeclining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central governmentâ€.
â€œSound familiar?â€ Mr Walker said.
Ya know, I know that nothing lasts forever, but JC on a popsicle stick, the precursors to our demise aren’t that hard to understand or predict. They’re also not that hard to correct for… unless we wait too long.
There is an argument popping up like a noxious weed, espoused on the net on this page and elsewhere (here, and here, and here and plenty of other places, besides), that boils down to this: Don Imus’s right to free speech has been trampled, and that’s an outrageous assault to our American values.
With all due respect to the meth-addled nimrods espousing this point of view, this is an absolutely clueless, idiotic, and devastatingly stupid thing to say. Allow me to explain why:
The First Amendment to the Constitution states, in part, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
What does that mean? It means that the United States Government may not tell you what you can or cannot say. Neither municipalities, states, nor Congress can make a law that restricts your freedom to express your opinion. Nor can any mayor, governor, or president dictate the subjects or particulars of your public or private speech. Nor can any court rule that you should be thrown in jail, as long as your words don’t incite others to violently overthrow the government or as long as you don’t lie about someone in public in a way that could damage their good name.
The Constitution regulates the behavior of the government. What it doesn’t do is regulate the behavior of its citizens. Therefore, if Don Imus says something completely stupid and offensive, it’s not a violation of his free speech rights if the rest of us him call him on it, raise hell with his advertisers, and petition his network to give him his walking papers. On the contrary, that’s the way communities work. That’s the way we come to consensus on what kind of behavior we tolerate.
(In the past—for instance, in the Janet Jackson boob scandal—American citizens have often turned to the government to regulate issues of decency and speech. However, I actually think the Imus instance has been handled in a much more appropriate manner—by citizens taking action themselves. The reaction was swift, the response was swift, and no one had to go to jail or spend money on lawyers. It’s much easier and more efficient to handle these kinds of public outrages on a case-by-case basis by applying pressure in the appropriate places: on the offender, the employer, and the advertisers.)
The difference is between community standards and government interference. The government didn’t get involved in the Imus case. The community did. And the community reinforced a standard that has existed since the beginning of time: Nobody gets a free pass to say whatever they like regardless of consequences.
Did you get that last phrase there? That’s the important part. Let me repeat it again, separately, and in big, bold letters:
REGARDLESS OF CONSEQUENCES
The right of free speech means I’m able to call my neighbor a clueless train-wreck of a human being and his wife a rutting whore. However, if I do, he’ll likely punch me in the nose. So I don’t generally call people clueless train-wrecks and rutting whores. At least not as long as I’m within arm’s reach.
Similarly, if a public figure such as Don Imus dismisses a group of athletes with a racial slur, it’s up to us whether we want to accept that as proper public discourse or raise hell about it. That’s the flip side of free speech: there are consequences to what you say—not because you’ll go to jail, but because your fellow citizens will not accept you as fit to walk amongst them.
Why people don’t get this basic distinction is beyond me. But what do I know? I’m just an ass.
Updated below. Who’s out in front on this issue? The Ass, that’s who!
Before I start, let me just say this about the Kathy Sierra debacle: I’m squarely on Kathy’s side in this one. I think the loss of her voice in the blogosphere would be keenly felt, and I am disgusted by and angry at the kind of juvenile intimidation that drove her to consider not posting anymore. I also think that the proper way to address the bad behavior is more or less what’s happened so far: exposure of the issue, public outrage, and further discussion of the appropriate kinds of communication allowable in civil society. If there are legal issues, I’m sure that the authorities will take the appropriate measures.
Here’s where I think we start to go over the line: when Tim O’Reilly calls for a Blogger Code of Ethics.
Good Lord, man; pull yourself together! What in the hell is a code of ethics going to do?
Seriously, there’s no real debate about the appropriateness of the attacks on Sierra. The blogosphere leapt to her defense. The outcry was overwhelmingly in her favor. The offending blog was taken down. The wheels of justice are in motion to punish the perpetrators. Really, what more do you think you can accomplish at this point? What the hell is your code of ethics going to do? I feel that we in the blogosphere are already operating under an unwritten code of ethics. That code was violated, and the community reacted appropriately. Why do you feel the need to initiate this pointless exercise?
This sort of behavior didn’t happen because there was no code of ethics in place. It happened because we have this wonderful, unprecedented freedom to publish that enables glorious, smart, thought-provoking writers like Kathy Sierra to exist in the first place. The idea that you’re going to write a few paragraphs of noble words and protect any future repeat of this behavior is simply an empty gesture that will have no practical effect whatsoever.
Here’s the question: do we embrace free speech on the internet or don’t we? If you really believe in the promise of the new internet age, then you need to accept the consequences that come with the freedoms of this new medium. To do otherwise is to begin down a slippery slope that will lead to the diminishment of open communication.
Free speech enables the flowering of ideas and growth of communication. This dynamic is great for society as a whole, because it allows all of us to be exposed to ideas that would be missing in a closed, regulated environment. But any freedom comes with some risk. Embracing free speech means accepting the fact that sometimes people will say stupid things – even dangerous or illegal things. The appropriate response when that happens is exactly what happened in the Kathy Sierra case: public outrage, shame and humiliation heaped on the perpetrators. This is how a community takes care of its own, and it is the most effective method of ensuring that this sort of bad behavior remains rare. If that outcry hadn’t happened, then we might need to take a hard look at the kind of atmosphere we’re creating in cyberspace. But it did happen. The voices of civility have spoken. We are all agreed.
Look, it’s no big deal to me if someone wants to create and adhere to a code of ethics. I think that’s noble and good. What’s disturbing to me is the overreaction to the natural effects of living in a free society. We cannot allow ourselves to panic, to shrink and faint in the face of these assaults. We must remain staunch defenders of openness and chaos.
Pay attention, people. The Ass knows from whence he speaks.
Here are some of the bloggers pointing out just how dumb this stupid idea is:
- Dave Winer
- Robert Scoble
- Mike Arrington
- Jason Kottke
- Jeff Jarvis (very nicely done, sir)
- Fred Wilson
- Cory Doctorow (who says amen to:)
- Tristan Louis
- Hugh MacLeod
- Rex Hammock
Update 2: Best of all, there’s this righteous screed from one of my favorites: Digby, of Hullabaloo. Preach it, sister!
Well, harumph. I’ve been a happy customer of Speakeasy for several years, but today’s announcement that Best Buy has acquired the company is a real disappointment. No way in hell am I giving one thin dime to that rotten retailer. I’ll be looking for a new ISP toot de suite.
- Has claimed that the Vice Presidency is a unique institution, separate and deriving power from both the executive and legislative branches. (via Hullabaloo)
- Americans are dicks.
- So are British Tourists.
- Women urinate.
- Age-inappropriate sex happens.
- The world is fucked up.
- I watch science fiction and stupid comedies for a reason.
According to the “Consumer Watchdog” for the Hartford Courant:
Under pressure from state investigators, Best Buy is now confirming my reporting that its stores have a secret intranet site that has been used to block some consumers from getting cheaper prices advertised on BestBuy.com.
I don’t trust Best Buy. Never have, never will. They smell of sleaze, and are constantly caught up in some sort of “screw the customer” scandal.