Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.
Re: New Third Voice version out
Author: Jeremy Bowers Posted: 9/15/1999; 1:17:25 PM Topic: New Third Voice version out Msg #: 11076 (In response to 11064) Prev/Next: 11075 / 11077
As things stand now--with the Web using simple protocols with little or no security, no accountability, and in fact a great deal of resistance to adding such features--no one creating content on the web can safely assume that the content, and *only* the content, is reaching any given user.
True; but somewhat unfair. Such guarentees don't exist in the real world either, but we still expect them. Newspapers don't have to deal with large numbers of people intercepting the trucks and adding their comments to the newspapers. (Note, it doesn't have to be all the newspapers... and for that matter, it wouldn't really matter whether or not the reader wanted those comments; I'd still expect the newspaper to win the lawsuit against the markers.)
The question arises, as an earlier poster pointed out, as to where the problem lies: if Third Voice could somehow magically install itself on users' machines without their knowledge, that would be *bad*. But people are voluntarily downloading and installing it, and explicitly asking for the posted notes from arbitrary parties on the sites they visit. As a staunch Libertarian, I have to agree with the messages that suggest that that is indeed a free-speech right.
It's so easy to forget that on the web, there are TWO parties at the very least: Webmaster and reader, and that on the web, neither of the two are necessarily some sort of "elite". Both are often just common people.
To me, the root of the problem is that there are changes made to a site. A copyrighted site, might I add. As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter whatsoever whether or not the reader "chooses" to modify his copy of the web page. Modification is clearly one of the rights granted by copyright.
I don't much care what those changes are. That you have some right to free speech is not a concern to me. I have it too; my website is me using it. If you want to discuss my site or my content, fine, but use YOUR free speech, not mine.
There are a whole host of other reasons webmasters should not have to put up with Third Voice.
No matter how good Third Voice is, it can't possibly be good for every page on the net.
- It can interfere with the message of the site. I don't even care if it's a "good" interference... on my site, that's my decision to make, not yours.
- I heard from a professional psychologist who didn't want any messages on his site, as even well-meaning messages can make things go wrong, and do a lot of damage. In his case, he's not interested in whether or not the user asked for his message. He needs the control so he can deal with a sensitive group of people without interference.
- Flip side too... for some people, having a website and knowing that those comments are there can be damaging. I don't want to try to detail specific instances, but some people put deeply personal stuff on the web, and while they can handle mail they know nobody else got, putting messages on the site is a lot more public of an insult (or whatever the problem).
- How much money has Microsoft spent serving their pages to people who were there for the sole purpose of participating in an ongoing Third Voice (or other annotation service) conversation? Why should they spend this money?
- If my ISP charges by the byte, why should I spend this money?
- If I have a secure site, and in the interests of protecting my customers against security flaws in software (for which I will be blamed!), I want to disable Third Voice & friends, that's too bad. Third Voice has taken possession of the entire web. If they have a security hole in their product, and anybody who uses it hits it, then the site is compromised, and that's just too darned bad, because you can't stop it (and apparently you would argue we have no right to). Those holes can extend beyond those who have TV installed too (constructing such an example is not really that difficult or implausible), so the argument that it only puts those who choose it in danger is not viable either.
You could (correctly) point out this is an issue with annotation software, not Third Voice yourself, and I'd agree... in return, I point out that ALL annotation software introduces these problems... as does ANYTHING that modifies the page before it arrives to my viewer!
I submit to you that if it is OK for the current users of Third Voice to use it, it is OK for everyone, and we should deal with the ethical issues as if anybody and everybody uses it. Aside from the technical issues, what happens on the web when anybody can drown out an unpopular opinion by saturating it with posts espousing a majority view? This is already happening on sites that dare suggest that Third Voice is not a good thing; it's not going to stop. What of the webmaster's rights then?
As you yourself say, What Third Voice does--and ALL Third Voice does--is take the conversation ABOUT a web site and/or the people behind it and attach it TO the web site. It results in no new rights for the "user", and no real new abilities; the "user" can still address the entire internet. Yet it seriously impinges on both the rights of the webmaster (who is also a user at other times) and the ability of the webmaster to carry out their exercise of the rights to free speech of their own and the responsibility to provide a secure environment, when applicable (e-commerce and such).
(I am assuming here that free speech implies the right to go uninturrupted. That may be not true... in which case I think we're all going to wish it was real soon.)
So, my answer to your question of where it matters... this is an issue for those who choose to communicate over the web. Certainly there's no reason from the user's point of view to be upset... THEY can just shut it off and be more-or-less shielded from the effects (not perfectly, though). What rights do a webmaster have?
There are responses to this message:
- Re: New Third Voice version out, Paul Snively, 9/15/1999; 3:37:19 PM
- Re: New Third Voice version out, Chris Hanson, 9/15/1999; 9:25:15 PM
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