Downes’s Techdirt Profile


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  • Jan 12th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    (untitled comment)

    If it were just one deranged shooter, I would agree. But it seems that there's no end to them...
  • Dec 27th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    You find this worrisome because it may lead to the conclusion that banks may need to be regulated?

    Have you not been following recent events? Banks need to be regulated, because otherwise they will crash the economy and then hold it for ransom, demanding billions of dollars in payouts.

    Any time anything gets too powerful, it needs to be regulated. Governments, telcos, and yes, banks. Because, otherwise, they *will* deprive you of all your money, and hold you in indefinite servitude.
  • Dec 9th, 2009 @ 2:55pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Nobody in Canada believes that signing any agreement with the United States will be sufficient to cause them to drop "buy America" provisions.

    Canada signed NAFTA fifteen years ago explicitly to avoid U.S. protectionist measures, and the experience has been that (a) the United States doesn't abide by the provisions of trade agreements when it doesn't feel like it, and (b) American protectionism continued unabated.

    That said, American lobbyists are spending a lot of money attempting to buy legislation here in Canada, and there is significant concern that they will be successful.
  • Nov 20th, 2009 @ 3:36am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    > Charging can be expensive. It takes quite a bit of effort to charge, to take money, to manage the money, to set up the accounting and bureaucracy for managing each transaction.

    The same is true of government services, which is why it makes more sense to offer government services for free, rather than to charge a user fee.
  • Nov 6th, 2009 @ 5:40pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Well, if you're going to do that, you may as well just raise taxes by $42 billion (out of an overall budget that's $2,979 billion, it won't even be noticeable).

    I mean, really, the money comes from the same place, no good or service is exchanged for it, and it is exactly the same sort of drain on the economy. Except that the collection service is really inefficient, probably tied to the mob, and tends to tax the poor and uneducated disproportionately.
  • Oct 13th, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    The question is not whether or not Starbucks promoted the album - we know it didn't - and not whether or not some other label would have promoted the album - we know they might not have - but whether or not Starbucks had a contract with Streisand where it promised to promote the album. And that bit if information, really the most important bit of information, is missing from the story.
  • Sep 11th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    > the labels are almost certainly right here, and will almost certainly win

    Not if they're just short clips. I think it's well established that you ran run 30 seconds without paying a royalty. Though some pay anyways, just to be on the safe side - that's why the "we don't roll that way" is actually a credible and meaningful response. And clever, too.
  • Jul 30th, 2009 @ 3:29am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    No, sorry, texting while driving belongs in a category by itself and deserves to be banned.

    Whenever I see a car weaving on the road, missing stop signs, etc., these days (and I see it a lot) I look at the driver and he or she is texting or jabbering on a hand-held mobile phone.

    It used to be, drunk drivers were the most dangerous thing on the road. No more. Texters are.

    The law is not intended to ban stupidity. It is intended to ban stupid behaviour. And that - when it so obviously endangers other people - is a good thing.
  • Jul 29th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    > why doesn't anyone ask how such a patent got approved in the first place?

    What, you think nobody asked this? You think nobody in the learning community has been talking about this? D2L got a big boost from the community in this case as people got together and argued - via a wiki - that the patents should never have been approved in the first place. This page - - was created specifically in response to the question you say nobody asked.
  • Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 4:06pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Actually, that's rather more care than the traditional newspaper or media would take.
  • Jun 18th, 2009 @ 2:46pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    The original debate? No problem. The anonymous attack emails with the rude sender username? Harassment.

    The two cases should not be confused. And indeed, the presentation of the first case simply serves to prejudice discussion of the second.
  • Jun 18th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    > The answer isn't to stop companies from getting so big. It's to provide more transparency into the actual risk.

    No. Wrong. The problem isn't that we are unable to see what the consequences might be. The problem is that the consequences can't be determined, and could not be determined, even if we had perfect transparency.

    You are talking as though what we have is a complicated system - there are many moving parts, but if we look at it closely enough, we can figure out what's happening. Watts is saying that it's a complex system - the parts depend on each other and influence each other recursively, which is essentially a chaotic system, which cannot be predicted.

    When you have a chaotic system, you cannot prevent or mitigate conseuqneces. Your only defense is to minimize the influence of each part, and in addition, to lower the probablility that one part will directly impact another part (i.e., to regulate the market).
  • May 7th, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Why do we care what the shills hired by the Economist to generate publicity have to say? The much more interesting - and free - debate is happening elsewhere.
  • Apr 27th, 2009 @ 4:27pm

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Yeah, well, if I stood on the street outside your house and started taking photos into your livingroom window, you'd freak out too.
  • Mar 21st, 2009 @ 8:00am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Nobody wants levies, sure.

    But if you word things a bit differently you'd get a very different result. Because Canadians have been paying levies for years without complaint.

    Ask Canadians this: would you be in favour of retaining current pricing on media, with this ensuring that there will be no lawsuits, restrictions on downloads, or DRM?

    You would get huge approval ratings.

    This, though, is the current state of affairs in canada, and it does include a levy.

    Even if the choice to increase the levy were offered, if it were given as the alternative to lawsuits, restrictions and DRM, I have no doubt most Canadians would choose the levy.

    Surveys are always a very questionable foundation on which to base a story, and this article is proof of that.
  • Mar 21st, 2009 @ 7:23am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    Done earlier and better. Issa (formerly Jane Siberry, a well known Canadian musician) solicited fan contributions for production of her recent album, Dragon Dreams, recorded it and released it, and now sells it using the self-selected pricing system she has used for a number of years now.
  • Mar 11th, 2009 @ 11:56am

    (untitled comment) (as Stephen Downes)

    The principle is, if you are the owner of a car, the you are responsible for what the car does. This is an extension of the same principle applied elsewhere.

    If somebody is driving your car and gets a red light ticket, sue them. That's what small claims court is for.

    As for people complaining about their rights - I am totally tired of having to watch for people running red lights. They are endangering everyone's safety for a few seconds saved - and they have the nerve to complain about _their_ rights. Pfaw.

    Oh - and for those complaining about due process - you _can_ have your day in court. That is your right. And at that day in court, a photograph will be presented with your car (probably with you at the wheel) easily visible running a red light. Fight it if you want.
  • Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 3:30am

    Not Scrutinizing (as Stephen Downes)

    As it turns out, not scrutinizing non-government business turns out to be a false economy. Or have you not noticed the financial crash happening all around us these days?

    And in non-scrutinized enterprise, business decisions are not made according to sound business judgment, but rather, based on the short-term greed of the person making the decider. Or, again, have you not noticed the crash.

    I think that if this crash teaches us anything, it is that the tired old reasoning recited in this post is simply wrong. Private enterprise is not inherently better. Life and economics are more complex than that.
  • Feb 6th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    The government... (as Stephen Downes)

    I think in posts like this you need to distinguish between "the government" and "the Bush government".

    So when you say "The government isn't just throwing money at a problem that might not need money -- it's doing it badly" what you mean is "The Bush government wassn't just throwing money at a problem that might not need money -- it was doing it badly."

    The current government, which has a clue (unlike the Bush government), is far less likely to make $78 billion simply disappear.
  • Jan 9th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Hulu (as Stephen Downes)

    Please do not use Hulu, not even if they pay you. Hulu just throws up a big error screen outside the U.S. - where 95 percent of people live.

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