Scott R. DiMarco of the Mansfield University of Pennsylvania campus library writes:
The story begins with two staff members and one librarian who enthusiastically created and ran a week of interactive programs for banned book week. The turnout was tepid. A panel discussion on the subject drew six people. Five were librarians and staff members. The sixth was Dennis Miller, our public relations director, who recently published his second novel, One Woman’s Vengeance. As we talked about various books that are still being banned at different locations around the country, Miller said, “You should ban mine. It has sex, violence and adult language.”
He was joking, but his statement emphasized that as long as one book can be banned, any book is a target.
Two of my staff members and one librarian thought it over and came to me a couple days later, suggesting that we should, indeed, ban it during Banned Books Week. We talked over the ramifications and I agreed. We contacted Miller, an ardent opponent of censorship.
He agreed to participate.
The AP reports:
Wikipedia on Tuesday shut down its Russian-language site for 24 hours to protest a bill that would give the Russian government sweeping powers to blacklist certain sites, the latest in a flurry of legislation that appears aimed at neutering a growing opposition movement that has protested President Vladimir Putin‘s rule. […]
The Kremlin has made no public comment on the bill, but lawmakers from Putin’s party were among those who wrote the legislation, and it is likely to pass. It follows other recent laws that have targeted groups Putin views as rivals or bad influences: A law imposing heavy fines for protesters was quickly pushed through parliament in June, and a bill that would label NGOs receiving foreign aid as “foreign agents” was approved just last week.
You once tweeted that ‘the term censorship has become meaningless’. Why? And what does it mean exactly?
I have? Half of my tweets are not meant to be serious. But, sure, I do find that a lot of debates about censorship – and especially Internet censorship – operate in very binary terms – i.e. people just look at whether a given site is blocked or not. This may have worked ten years ago but now we have much more sophisticated methods of control, ranging from cyber-attacks (which knock out a site for a short period – but the timing might be crucial) to self-policing by Internet companies to massive trolling. We need to find ways to conceptually allow for those new methods of control as well. […]
Did the ‘Arab Spring’ and Occupy movements lower your skepticism about ‘hashtag activism’?
I’ve never used the term “hashtag activism” but the short answer is “no”. Furthermore, I’m not sure that my position here adds up to “skepticism”; as I state in the book and in the afterword, I have no problem acknowledging that Twitter and Facebook can be great for spreading information and mobilizing people. My concerns – and these are purely normative concerns – are that these tools may also be giving some budding social movements false hopes of being able to transcend the ugliness of political life and simply fight the man from within their Facebook profiles. The less it happens, the better – I’m not arguing that this is an inherent feature of all campaigns that take place online, only that this is one possible outcome and that participants (and especially policymakers who may be thinking of how to invest their money and attention) need to be aware of this possible outcome.
Morozov’s TED talk How the Net aids dictatorships
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Eastern Missouri sued a local public library on Tuesday for allegedly blocking websites related to Wicca, a modern pagan religion.
Anaka Hunter of Salem, Mo., said she tried to access websites about Wicca, Native American religions and astrology for her own research, but the library’s filtering software blocked the sites.
According to the ACLU, the software labeled the sites as “occult” and “criminal.”
Bonus: the library director is accused of saying she had an obligation to report people who accessed said sites to the police.
Have we really learned nothing from the West Memphis Three fiasco?
Whoa, just saw Archie dropped the Comics Code Authority seal at the beginning of this year (yeah, I’m pretty late with this one):
With time the moral panic subsided, the rules softened, and a new wave of adult-oriented titles appeared. In 2001 Marvel Comics adopted its own rating system and dropped the code altogether. In January 2011 the other major comic book publisher, DC, did the same thing. And a day after DC’s decision, Archie Comics followed suit.
And last month the Comic Book Legal Defense fund acquired the Code’s intellectual property:
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it has received the intellectual property rights to the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval in an assignment from the now-defunct Comic Magazine Association of America, which administrated the Code since the 1950s.
The Comics Code Seal comes to the CBLDF during Banned Books Week, a national celebration of the freedom to read, and just a few months following a decision in the U.S. Supreme Court where Justice Scalia cited CBLDF’s brief addressing the comics industry’s history of government scrutiny and the subsequent self-regulation the Comics Code represented. Dr. Amy Nyberg, author of Seal of Approval: The History of Comics Code has prepared a short history of the Comics Code Seal and the era of censorship it represents exclusively for CBLDF that is available now in the Resources section of cbldf.org.
Online text of Seducing the Innocent (with different illustrations from the original print version).
Glenn Greenwald reports that the U.S. has subpoenaed Icelandic member of parliment and WikiLeaks supporter Birgitta Jónsdóttir’s Twitter history:
What hasn’t been reported is that the Subpoena served on Twitter — which is actually an Order from a federal court that the DOJ requested — seeks the same information for numerous other individuals currently or formerly associated with WikiLeaks, including Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp, and Julian Assange. It also seeks the same information for Bradley Manning and for WikiLeaks’ Twitter account.
The information demanded by the DOJ is sweeping in scope. It includes all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the “means and source of payment,” including banking records and credit cards. It seeks all of that information for the period beginning November 1, 2009, through the present. A copy of the Order served on Twitter, obtained exclusively by Salon, is here.
The Order was signed by a federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, Theresa Buchanan, and served on Twitter by the DOJ division for that district. It states that there is “reasonable ground to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation,” the language required by the relevant statute. It was issued on December 14 and ordered sealed — i.e., kept secret from the targets of the Order. It gave Twitter three days to respond and barred the company from notifying anyone, including the users, of the existence of the Order. On January 5, the same judge directed that the Order be unsealed at Twitter’s request in order to inform the users and give them 10 days to object; had Twitter not so requested, it would have been compelled to turn over this information without the knowledge of its users.
It’s possible other companies like Facebook, Google and Skype were subpoenaed and complied with the requests silently.
The fact that Twitter is being targeted by the government is another sign of how important the network has become as a real-time publishing platform, and also of how centralized the service is — something that could spark interest in distributed and open-source alternatives such as Status.net, just as the downtime suffered by the network early last year did. It is another sign of how much we rely on networks that are controlled by a single corporate entity, as Global Voices founder Ethan Zuckerman pointed out when WikiLeaks was ejected from Amazon’s servers and had its DNS service shut down.
See also this post about Douglas Rushkoff’s call to abandon the corporate Internet and the supplemental links I supplied there. I’m tagging further links on the subject of a decentralized Internet with decentralized net.