Post Refutation

2004 August 90% dicey

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

8 years ago August the blog-haystack was filled with turds (a broken haystack?) that we want to toss out at the very first opportunity.

Moth : Flame :: Human : Religion cf Fly : Excrement :: Blogger : Analogy.

Sturgeon’s Architecture buys the assumption that modern buildings are relatively ugly and spins a theory as to why what remains from this time period will be considered beautiful in the future (the ugly will be culled). Why buy the first assumption? Modern buildings are marvels and we should appreciate them at the height of their beauty, right now, for buildings of the future will be far more beautiful.

I Hate Nationalism oh really? The 2004 me could express agreement with someone else who had expressed agreement with someone else who expressed an opinion on the Internet and call it profound. How trite. Expanding concepts of “us” is a thing of popular culture since the 1960s and surely for centuries and perhaps millennia prior; I am merely ignorant of the specifics. How trite!

Porn Restriction Management to the Future wishfully speculates that porn publishers may not use DRM, perhaps implicitly criticizing non-porn publishers. But comments provided some examples of porn publishers using DRM. Others continue to promote statements from porn executives about DRM-free downloads, but this demonstrates nothing: one can find many non-porn publisher executrons saying the same thing. DRM probably continues to be used by porn and non-porn alike, and there’s nothing to learn, no criticism of publishers to make, that is anything but boring, scummy, raw assertion.

A pin maybe found in a haystack and spreading rumors about things I don’t understand marks me as a foolish charlatan. Play traders seemed to briefly put the probability of the rumor at 50%, but were quickly disillusioned. Similarly in early 2007 and almost no appetite for guessing lately.

At a Seybold DRM Roundtable I argued that DRM and rights description are opposites. But in effect, they’re very similar: fantasies. My guess is the “tech law” enthusiasts providing some of the narrative for each would be providing spin for the other’s vapor if they had gotten up on a different side of bed on some day.

Undiminished Brokenness circa July 2004

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Late in the month but not post-deadline, the title of this month’s refutations of 8 year old posts indicates a decline in quality from the lows of 8 years and 1 month ago — surely death is better than deathless brokenness.

Bill Gates for Broken Windows assumes Gates spoke of global welfare rather than from the perspective of an entrepreneur. The latter is both more charitable and more probable given Gates’ history. If one wants to run a business which holds intellectual property and employs people, open source is not the most obvious path, and that was much more true in 2004 than now. I also extrapolated from Gates’ assumed global welfare statement to an assumed ridiculous scenario in which we’d be better off if all software created in the previous 10 years disappeared. Disregarding the fantastic nature of the scenario, it could be that forced obsolescence of software, such as that encouraged by proprietary product cycles and business failings, is for the long-term good — so that we are not stuck with old, crufty software only used because everyone else is using it. If Gates were making a long-term global welfare claim, he just may have been correct, at least for software — and I won’t even bother to criticize my criticism based on criticism of the broken windows fallacy criticism.

Perry Metzger stopped blogging 1.5 months after I wrote Perry Metzger’s Undiminished Capacity. This may be a refutation of a sort in itself, but more fundamentally I made the preposterous assumption that dispensing pearls of wisdom on mailing lists, Usenet, blogs (and now chickenfacepus) indicates any sort of capacity other than for masochism. While researching this refutation, I found two podcast episodes that Metzger appeared as a guest on. Below two very brief apropos excerpts (if you can’t play, view in Firefox ≥15, beta as of this writing; I’ve only saved an Opus encoding).

Deaths in June 2004

Friday, June 1st, 2012


I’m fairly pleased with this month’s refutation of 8-year old posts!

Sloths and Their Slothfulness is extremely non-insightful, failing to foresee providing links to source and more broadly web colophons (regarding which I’ve long held an inadequately insightful draft post), and failing to foresee “blog” software eating general “CMS” software moreso than the other way around.

Narconon stored indefinitely in fat bridles at inadequate criticism of Scientology and the drug war. Easy targets, making the post fluff at best. However, it’s much worse than that. Religion is a powerful organizing force and addiction a powerful disorganizing force. Even if Scientology and the drug war are poor implementations, society needs to experiment with religion and anti-addiction technologies, forms, methods, etc, together and separately, and won’t have any hope of finding optimal ones without struggling with disease-prone variants. Government support for religious technology anti-addiction programming is brave, pioneering, innovative, and necessary!

Limacatzi is irrefutable, which is a swear word. Fluff, and the last line says “Looks like vapor so far.” The last capture of that link (there’s now a completely different project there) says “It’s coming…”

Fix Web Multimedia with a social movement, really? Be liberal in what you accept and tend to your own garden if it maximizes your utility function and people will live with and indeed love the result. Anything else just holds back innovation. A foolish devotion to standards is the hobgoblin of tech pundits.

2004 Mayday Mayday Mayday

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Only one post 8 years ago to the month to refute: noting the announcement of the availability of Creative Commons 2.0 Licenses. In addition to and perhaps in part due to its hastiness, every change introduced in 2.0 was questionable, but I will only bother addressing one here.

ShareAlike 1.0 (SA) was not versioned as a result of all non-Attribution licenses being dropped. Relatively few people chose non-Attribution licenses, and this significantly simplified the license suite, reducing the number of classes of “CC licenses” from 11 to 6, and the number of incompatible pools going forward, from 8 to 4 (NC-ND, NC-SA, ND, and SA were each incompatible with any other license), and works under all remaining free licenses published by CC (BY and BY-SA) constituted a single compatible pool (though incompatible with free licenses that existed prior to CC, but that is another line of criticism for another time; the worst that can be said about 2.0 is that it did nothing to address this problem introduced with 1.0).

The loss of SA has been mourned throughout the past 8 years, not by many people, but by unusually well informed and intentioned people. I’ve defended its loss many times, giving the above reasons, especially the last, and stating that one can waive the attribution condition if one wants to. But:

  • The rationale I’ve emphasized is weak. SA 2.0 simply could’ve permitted adaptations licensed under itself or BY-SA.
  • It isn’t clear how one is supposed to communicate effectively that one has waived the attribution condition.
  • SA was special. To my knowledge, the nearest any copyleft license has come to purely neutralizing copyright, almost sans regulatory conditions.

2004 April Fools

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Comment on a previous refutation post from Phil Barker:

I was going to ask when you would start refuting your refutations, but I see you’ve already started :D

If I haven’t stopped before then, I imagine that refuting the idea of refuting old ideas would be a good place to kill the project. I have noticed a slight increase in desire to refute whatever I’m communicating, post beginning this series.

Another from Jon Phillips:

Omg, I need to do a post like this or probably better is to kill more bad projects. I have successfully killed many, a skill I learner well from you Mike. Its healthy!

Surely more local value may be obtained by killing bad projects, but consider sharing refutations of previous ideas and projects as akin to publishing negative results: a social responsibility rarely followed through on, such that I’m confident that at this juncture, even weak efforts are worthwhile.

Only two foolish posts from 2004 April:

The other $1 business model refers to $1/track music stores and says that $1 stores are a bigger business than the recorded music industry. Apart from gross use of the term business model (“pricing strategy” would’ve been much better) the point that the recorded music industry is smaller than yet another sector of the economy is hardly insightful. The recorded music industry is high status, near the commanding heights, while dollar stores are at best low status. Even if we were to generously include Wal*Mart in the class of dollar, that is very low cost, stores, such that the class is an undeniably major part of the economy, all of cheap retail is merely where people go to purchase the products of the recorded music industry, and to listen to piped-in-music, courtesy of the recorded music industry.

alias grep=’glark’ advocates using glark, an enhanced grep (a command line tool for matching and displaying text in files against a match pattern) written in Ruby. But there’s no reason to install yet another slow scripting language that you don’t want (unless you already depend on it, but even then you might not in the future). Instead:

export GREP_OPTIONS='--color=auto --perl-regexp'

Addendum 20120421: Use an alias in place of setting the environment variable:

alias grep='grep --color=auto --perl-regexp'

Bad Ideas of 2004 March

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Morte di Cesare IDEA

I’ve already covered the main idea of Creative Commons Search, useful to me but here I’ll just restate that license filtered crawl-based search has not turned out to be useful to me, except as a demo. On the other hand, license filtered media/repository-specific search has proven useful (that’s what most of the search options currently on do), and it’s plausible that crawl- or at least some form of aggregation-based search that takes into account finer grained metadata could effectively perform the same useful service. I also must question the utility of search for finding works for using and sharing: unless one is looking for something representative (e.g., a picture of a rose, a foreboding audio track) the finding is more likely to occur through curation, recommendation, marketing, advertising. “Search” has taken up too much oxygen. Finally, why bother limiting one’s discovery, use, and sharing based on internal passport parameters? The copyright industries and advocates don’t; why should you or I and our communities?

クリエイティブ・コモンズ (Creative Commons) mentioned the availability of “Creative Commons license ports to Japanese law” which is an accurate description, but what does it mean? I won’t answer that directly here, but an effect has been massive license proliferation (560 distinct licenses!) and mistakes — including in the 2.0 Japan licenses mentioned — version 2.1 Japan licenses exist, and version 2.1 was only used for a few “ports” in order to correct errors.

DirectConnect increment[al download verification]: My lack of interest in Direct Connect (which seems still active) was indicative of a fetish for fully decentralized schemes (DC has distinct hubs and clients). Client-server (the web) has won, without even P2P downloading, which DC had, and THEX constituted an improvement to. Hash trees have found use in ever more applications, it just turns out that improved downloading of crap isn’t one of the significant ones.

Client-side remixing isn’t so loopy also evinces a wildly impractical fetish for a kind of decentralization. Copies are cheap and work, coordination of references is expensive and broken.

Hello Austin, Night of Bowed Strings and Cambodian Surf, Texas Alien Abductions Up After Chunnel Completion, CC-Austin, and Walking Austin all concern a visit to Austin, Texas for SXSW. All make it apparent I did exactly what I enjoy, rather than what SXSW might be good for: networking. The “Music Sharing License” introduced there was a confusing name that fortunately has been forgotten. “Remix Ready” and “4th Wall Films” ideas to make “source” for cultural works available are ones that I liked and a concept I continue to advocate. However, clearly there is very little demand for the concept, perhaps for three reasons 1) it often isn’t clear what constitutes source 2) providing source, or even retaining it as one works (often destructively — the silly image at the top of this post is an example — I forgot to save .xcf files, but I did save two .png files for some reason, which is better than I’d usually do) is often expensive and 3) final published works have some usefulness as source. Finally regarding a panel on CC and music: clearly public licenses are neither necessary for distributing music online nor sufficient for engendering creative use and peer production of cultural relevance.

WikiTravel vs. World66: WikiTravel wins more concerns copying text between those two sites, which used the same license, in theory making such copying legal and easy. But such copying occurs constantly with no license and no knowledge of such. And I didn’t even comply with the license conditions, if it were necessary (no attribution or license notice added).

More bad ideas from February 2004.

Refuted: February 2004 had 28 days

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

My first post 8 years ago I already took care of. I find most of my posts, at least from that time period, too content-free to dedicate a single refutation post to each. The remainder of February 2004 follows.


Googlebot Prime encourages poor conversation hygiene, makes a fallacious argument that a global price collapse cannot coexist with local price bubbles, and is pathetically credulous about claims Google might be working on “AI”.

Bitzi Bitcollider 0.6.0 with kzhash, video metadata, tiger tree fix, minimal OS X support is refuted by that being the last bitcollider release.

CC Etech BoF points contains the same errors mentioned in my first post and in “Get creative, remix culture” below.

Not Hosting The Grey Album expresses a wish that pure P2P filesharing might be worthwhile relative to the web. Laughable.

Voluntary Collective Licensing complains about the irritating statement “artists and copyright holders deserve to be fairly compensated”, contributing to the problem of lumping “artists” and “© holders” together. And of course artists deserve to be fairly compensated. They get ripped off too often, eg when playing shows. Better commitment services might help. Do artists get a more square deal in societies characterized as “high trust”, eg Scandanavian? Finally, hatred for collective licensing indicates anti-instrumental signaling. If © holders need to be paid off (voluntarily or otherwise), we should be eager to make a deal. As libertarians are responsible for the continuing drug war (through opposition to even regulation and taxation), libertarians are responsible for lack of © reform and deals required to get there.

REGISTER NOW. IT’S FREE AND IT’S REQUIRED. is short but is severely wrong twice. First, that any blog-related annotations could matter. Second, that people, including me, would not “register” at a website in order to read.

Get creative, remix culture re-posts an announcement regarding the Flash source for two short videos, the first under NonCommons terms, the second instantly-dated and touting several unfortunates and confuses “licensed works” with a “movement”. All symptomatic of a small organization trying out lots of ideas or one having no idea what it is doing. As this is a refutation post, clearly we should accept the latter analysis.

Mediachest Theory claims that social networks will or ought provide reputation, collaborative filtering and the like “advanced” services based on one’s social graph. This was a naive request, and one that I’ve made repeatedly over the years, mostly forgetting that I’d already made it. The money is in providing advanced services to the security state and advertisers, not users.

Real world 5emantic 3eb recommended retaining “ugly and potentially redundant RDF-in-HTML-comments”, a gratuitous error.

Posted February 28, each of the 3 Creative Commons Moving Image Contest Winners were only available under NonCommons terms. (Nearly 7 years later the first place winner moved into the commons.)

February 2004 did have 29 days, though this blog provided no evidence of such.

8 year Refutation Blog

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

I first posted to this blog exactly 8 years ago, after a few years of dithering over which blog software to use (WordPress was the first that made me not feel like I had to write my own; maybe I was waiting for 1.0, released January 2004).

A little over two years ago I had the idea for a “refutation blog”: after some number of years, a blogger might attempt to refute whatever they wrote previously. In some cases they may believe they were wrong and/or stupid, in all cases, every text and idea is worthy of all-out attack, given enough resources to carry out such, and passing of time might allow attacks to be carried out a bit more honestly. I have little doubt this has been done before, and analogously for pre-blog forms; I’d love pointers.

The last two Februaries have passed without adequate time to start refuting. In order to get started (I could also write software to manage and render refutations, and figure out what vocabulary to use to annotate them, and unlikely but might in the fullness of time, but I won’t accept the excuse for years more of delay right now) I’m lowering my sights from “all-out attack” to a very brief attack on the substance of a previous post, and will do my best to avoid snarky asides.

I have added a refutation category. I will probably continue non-refutation posts here (and hope to refute those 8 years after posting). I may eventually move my current blogging or something similar to another site.

Back to that first post, See Yous at Etech. “Alpha geeks” indeed. With all the unintended at the time, but fully apparent in the name, implication of status seeking and vaporware over deep technical substance and advancement. The “new CC metadata-enhanced application” introduced there was a search prototype. The enhancement was a net negative. Metadata is costly, and usually crap. Although implemented elsewhere since then, as far as I can tell a license filter added to text-based search has never been very useful. I never use it, except as a curiosity. I do search specific collections, where metadata, including license, is a side effect of other collection processes. Maybe as and if sites automatically add annotations to curated objects, aggregation via search with a license and other filters will become useful.