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

Re: TV & the First Amendment

Author:Seth Gordon
Posted:10/26/1999; 12:30:56 PM
Topic:TV & the First Amendment
Msg #:12374 (In response to 12369)
Prev/Next:12373 / 12375

If you're giving a speech, and someone takes your mike and drowns you out, then I can't ignore the interloper, even if I want to. I have to either help shut up the interloper or strain to hear your voice over the interloper's.

By contrast, if you put up a Web page, and 3V users plaster comments all over it, I can ignore those comments without making any effort. If I haven't bothered to install the 3V plug-in, then I won't even be aware of those comments.

Here's another analogy. Suppose I set up a Third Voice Radio Service (3VRS), working as follows: I give you a special device, which includes a cellphone and a GPS receiver. The device broadcasts your minute-by-minute location to a server. When you are near a person giving a speech to the public, you can hear other people's comments on a channel dedicated to that speech. (Hmm. This would make university commencement ceremonies a lot more interesting. Maybe I should take this idea to the Patent Office.) If enough people are heckling, er, commenting on, the speech, you won't be able to hear the speech they're commenting on. But if you don't want to hear the comments, you can just turn off the device.

The 3VRS would do to open-air public speeches the same thing that 3V does to publically accessible Web pages. What's wrong with 3VRS? If I want to divert my attention away from the speech (your Web page) to the 3VRS broadcast (the annotations on your Web page), isn't that my right, rather than an "interruption"?

If the inturruper has something to say, they should need to set up their own soap box,

Or convince someone to set up a soap box for them. 3V provides its users with a soap box.

and, well, they aren't going to get as large an audience as the speaker in all likelihood.

If my Web page and yours both contain the same rarely-used keyword--e.g., Spaceley Sprockets, and we both get indexed by a search engine, people who search for that keyword are going to get both of our pages. To the extent that people use search engines to look for Web pages related to that keyword, our pages will both have approximately the same audience.

Now, if your page advertises the wonderful features of Spaceley Sprockets, and my page announces that Spaceley Sprockets are worthless trash, you will not be happy with this correlation. If your own page is dwarfed by the number of anti-Spaceley pages out there, all set up by people with one reason or another to dislike Spaceley, you will be even less happy. But even though all these anti-Spaceley pages are taking advantage of the Spaceley name's popularity, that is not, in and of itself, a justification for shutting down the anti-Spaceley sites, or for making the anti-Spaceley sites harder to find.

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