Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

New framework for thinking maybe?

Author:Jeremy Bowers
Posted:9/3/1999; 6:18:06 PM
Topic:New framework for thinking maybe?
Msg #:10549
Prev/Next:10548 / 10550

I know Dave wanted to tone the conversation down... hopefully, this meets the "something new to say" criterion.  If not, delete it; I've got a local copy (and please forgive me).

What I've been trying to create is a new theorectical framework for handling some of these issues.  Well, I'm sure it's not new, but it's certainly not in use (and I haven't seen it anywhere).

I'm getting a bit tired of being negative, so let me express this first in a positive manner, from the point of view of the rights of the original content rights owner.

You have the right to communicate in an unobstructed, direct manner with the recipient of your communication.

Explaining what this means to me is not going to be fun.  There must be a better way to phrase it... perhaps one of you can show me.

For the purposes of explanation, there exists a message that a sender is trying to send, and the reciever is trying to recieve.  On the web, we are lucky enough to have a page model, such that the definition of message is simple, even for dynamic pages.  Other things won't quite be so easy, but the definition of "message" doesn't seem to be critical to the point here.

The sender controls all aspects of the message he is trying to send (pretty much by definition). The idea is that this message should be recieved, unimpeded, by the reciepient.  Going back to my previous 8 examples, let me show you what I mean, in action:

  1. No links: Not relevant.
  2. Linking to the home page: Acceptable.  You are sending them directly to the source... no distortion occurs.
  3. Linking deeply: Again, under this structure, you can't really stop deep linking.  

    You can construct counter-examples, if you are creative enough; in that case, I prefer to let the principle stand and forbid those, because by constructing a counter-example, you are, by definition, constructing a situation in which communication is being impeded.
  4. Linking deeply, repeatedly: As long as there remains no particular pattern, you are still merely directing people to somebody else.  

    I can't eliminate the issue of distinguishing between this and the next. I think society pretty much just needs to pick something and stick with it.
  5. Linking deeply, catching an entire class of links (such as "todays news stories"): I think, by the time you reach this point, you are representing a significant portion of the site, and, intentional or not, it is not the intended communication (by the sender).  There now exists a third party: The sender, the collater/collecter/scraper/whoever, and the recipient.  That isn't acceptable.

    Reminder: If permission is granted, this is a non-issue.  Permission must be granted, however, opening up the possibility of selectively granting permission.  (There already exist laws banning certain types of selection protocols (such as race and gender), and they will serve fine here.)  My competitors may not carry my stories.  All linux sites may.  Authorized for personal use, as long as you link to us in the following fashion. Only Tom, Dick, and Sally may get to it using the password I provide.  Whatever you want that's legal.
  6. Linking as above, with summaries of an entire class:  Obviously, still illegal, but an even more egregious violation.  I assume that, since we are working with the situation where permission does not exist, summaries were not provided, so the aggragator is either ripping off summaries already existing (bad!) or creating their own (even worse!), which will almost certainly result in distortion a large portion of the time.
  7. Linking as above, with large summaries of an entire class: This is just for numerical consistency :-)  Using the "OL" tag has some disadvantages... :-)
  8. Simply mirroring all content of interest: Actually, I want to point out something here.  Despite the fact you may be mirroring the entire content of a site, the mirrorer is still serving as a third party in the communication.  The context necessarily shifts, because, by definition, if the context was the same, you'd still be on the original site (Q.E.D. :-) ).  A trivial example would be reposting a campaign site for a hypothetical candidate for the Presidency "Todd" onto "".  You are changing the context, which affects the message, and while in some instances the effect may be so small as to be un-noticable, as a class of distortion, we cannot allow this.
Further web examples: As for the non-web, I am willing to say that common custom has created what exists and it is basically permitted.  For instance, clipping services under this model could be stopped, but if the industry was going to stop them, it should have by now.  At this point, they are accepted.  Over time, other practices may become accepted on the web.

The good things about this model

In my mind, at least.

The Disadvantages Some negative statements

I wanted to state it positively, but an explanation is not complete without a discussion of what this implies for the reciever and the sender, not just the third-party-that-shouldn't-be-there.

You do not have the right to interfere, in any way, with communication between two external parties.  (without permission, of course)

My commentary

Of course I like it; I created it!  We'll see what I think in a day or two.

Still, I like this (so far).  It covers a lot of issues, and while it does require new case law, it's really just an old principle, previously ignored due to the impossibility of violating it.  It is unfinished, it is difficult to explain, and I've probably not done the best of jobs of explaining myself, but, at least before it is chewed on, I am finding it a useful abstraction to try to unify my otherwise disparate views.

This is already long enough, so I'll stop.  I'm sorry it has to be so long, but I think if I tried to shorten it, I'd more then lose any savings in the explanations I'd have to make.  This still isn't exhaustive, but it should be enough to get the idea.

(Please, if something doesn't seem to make sense, ask a question to clarify before flaming me for inconsistency!  I am really nailing down the idea as I go along... it's wiggling, and hard to contain... one expects a certain amount of messiness at this stage.  And apologies if this is stated somewhere else by someone else; I came up with it more-or-less on my own.)

Thanks for reading.

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