Freedom of the Press

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Freedom of the Press
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This week has been fascinating with regard to the Web. I’m a firm believer in both capitalism and in freedom. They are two sides of a careful scale. Without freedom, the wealthy will rule. Without capitalism, you’ll never have the opportunity for wealth.

The First Amendment of the Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

It’s important to remember that when the Constitution was written, the “Press” were a bunch of rag-tag citizens who had rudimentary presses. They weren’t the massive corporations that were led by the almighty advertising dollar as they are nowadays. The “Newspaper” was often a cynical, single sheet, that lambasted the government. The oldest newspaper, the Hartford Courant, was even sued by Thomas Jefferson for liable… and he lost.

Sound familiar? It should. It’s a lot like having, say, a website or a blog. This is the next “Press” and a simple blog post probably looks much like our newspapers did in the first years of our great country. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation make sure that those freedoms continued to be protected. Take one look at the EFF website and you’ll find dozens of examples of big business trying to pick on the little guy.

The Connecticut Courant

After the money flows, the story changes doesn’t it? NBC reporters are found jumping jets with advertisers, a conflict of interest. Musicians forget the days of no one appreciating their art, and they back the RIAA to fight to continue to hoard millions so the Cristal can keep flowing and the next bling can be purchased. And websites and internet companies that make millions forget that they started with a single hit, a single conversion.

This week has been fascinating. I watched as Robert Scoble took a stand, sometimes a little strong, to ensure that credit on the web was dealt where it was due. Robert even examines himself and admits to hobnobbing a little more and forgetting where he got started. It’s nice to see this.

I also watched as GoDaddy caved in and cut-off one of their clients at the whim of a large company. No doubt that GoDaddy would have never done this with a large client. They weighed the risk, though, and figured they were simply flicking a mosquito off their arm. The problem was that they flicked the wrong mosquito. Now they have NoDaddy to deal with. (Full disclosure: I made the logo at the NoDaddy site tonight.)

Google now acknowledges that they made a mistake in opening business in China with a censored version of their Search Engine. Awesome. I’m glad they understand how this turns back the hands of time on oppressed people obtaining freedom.

Thank goodness for Freedom of the Press! And thank goodness for Freedom of the Internet!