Illustrations by Yoshi Sodeoka
Is there any good way to fight internet censorship?
“‘Net freedom’ means different things to different people, but on the global stage the Internet freedom movement is fundamentally linked to efforts to hold governments, corporate actors, and digital networks accountable to ‘Netizens,’ while preserving freedom of speech and expression online. ‘It is time,’ MacKinnon says, ‘to stop arguing whether the Internet empowers individuals and societies, and address the more fundamental and urgent question of how technology should be structured and governed to support the rights and liberties of all the world’s Internet users.’”
— Pierce Stanley, “Who Really Rules?”
Photo courtesy of Paid Content
What is it about cats that creates internet page-view gold?
“But why have cats specifically been so successful at soliciting our attention? One hypothesis is that there is a fateful link between cats and human babies that explains their Internet stardom. According to Michael Newall, a philosopher of art at the University of Kent, our inordinate interest in cats may derive from their formal resemblance to our offspring—their big eyes, smallish noses, and dome-shaped heads trigger the evolutionary nurturing instincts that we have evolved toward babies. There may even be a multiplying “superstimulus” effect at work: Newall posits that the exaggerated proportions of cats’ baby-like features prompt an exaggeratedly intense, and involuntary, response in people.”
- Perry Stein, “Why Do Cats Run the Internet? A Scientific Explanation”
Photo courtesy of New York Times
What’s behind Congress’s new proposal to censor the Internet?
And that can only mean a huge payday for lobbyists.
According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the film, music and TV industries have spent more than $91 million on lobbying so far this year — an amount that puts them on pace to beat all of their previous spending records.
“Don’t Be Evil”: Google’s informal motto is another bulwark against “normalization.” The motto is one of the most controversial—even mythical—things about Google. Both Levy and Vaidhyanathan discuss it in great detail, but neither says much about its actual origins, which are crucial to understanding the motto’s perverse influence over the company. Initially, it signified something much narrower than what it has come to symbolize in the popular imagination. Back in its early days, Google was one of the few search engines that did not mix ads with search results. Instead, links to ads were clearly marked as such in a dedicated section on the site. “Don’t Be Evil” was Google’s informal commitment never to insert ads into its search results. Paul Buchheit, one of the two Google employees credited with coining the phrase, once described it as “a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who, at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users.” The founders’ letter that accompanied Google’s IPO also defined this principle rather narrowly: “We will live up to our ‘don’t be evil’ principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results.”