3 replies on “Seth Finkelstein quits censorware research”

  1. After reading some of his and rcgraves’ flames back and forth on usenet, I’m not really sure what to make of it…it was 6-7 years ago, so I guess it shouldn’t really influence my impressions of either of them that much. Still, I’m more inclined to believe the opinions of the person who I’ve had much more contact with (even if I heard of him much later). So I’ll redact the “poor guy” and leave the less-opinionated posting, since I don’t really know to what extent Seth’s failure to get much out of all his work has to do with his personality as opposed to his field.

  2. Hello.

    My response to that question is that I’m an average person, not a
    saint. Meaning, I assert an average person, under similar stresses and
    circumstances, would react in the same way, OR WORSE (and I can often
    point out examples). As a logical matter, it really does no good to
    say I would do better if I were a perfect person. I’m not, and nobody
    is. It is *extremely*, *enormously*, stressful to do legally-risky
    activism for no pay. One big problem is since those effects are
    completely outside almost everyone’s experience, they don’t factor it
    into their assessment of reasonableness in terms of reactions.

    As to the specifics of the rcgraves flames, I’m really sorry about
    that stuff now. Frankly, I was wrong, and I later apologized to him
    (I think he accepted, it wasn’t clear). I thought I was defending a
    friend who was being unjustly attacked, and later found out I’d been
    manipulated. I made a moral judgment, and in retrospect, came down on
    the wrong side. I still feel guilty about it.

  3. Hey Seth, thanks for commenting. I think the biggest impression I got out of wading through the piles of posts on Google Groups is that that was a different time. The issues being addressed and debated aren’t as relevant today. Exporting strong crypto? Done. Anonymous remailers and the like? Less important today. The sheer vastness of the internet has solved, or at least changed the context of, a lot of these problems. Censorware still exists and is evil, but more people see the trouble with it, and there are more avenues for unfiltered net access (even if it isn’t as much as we’d like). CDA/COPA got struck down, and I don’t remember the other ones (COPPA? CIPA?) but my impression is they are evil, but much less so. I think progress has been made, stupidity has been exposed, things have changed…slowly.

    Yeah, that snipe of mine about your personality was unfair. I’m sorry. Guess I’m just a little protective of my sysadmin. I can tell through your writings, your research, your hard work on the Censorware Project , etc. that you are devoted to the cause, and doing your best to make things better out of a sincere belief that what you are doing is right. I share that belief, and I think that type of action is the most noble.

    No, you never saw the payoff. But you did have the experience. And really, if you hated it so much, you wouldn’t have been doing it for 10 years. I agree that this type of work is risky, and I respect your decision to stop. I think it will be good for you to try something different, something a little less stressful. 🙂 The gears of time crank along, stupidity is (sometimes) recognized, people look back and laugh, things change. I think that’s happening with filtering, and you had a hand in it. So don’t despair.

Comments are closed.