Annexing my tiny slice of the Intertubes

Well hello denizens of the internets! Particularly those who are frequenting the Madhatter’s blog! I am happy to make your acquaintance.

My name is Mike, and I’m a nutjob. I have to be in order to keep friends like Wayne 🙂

You see, four score and twenty something years ago, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Mr. Borean by a fellow named Mark during the pre-internet age of technology called a B.B.S. Through this chance encounter I was introduced (some might call it abducted and re-educated) to a man with a baritone voice along the same lines of a Morgan Freeman. I’m sure he can pull off a good Darth Vader if he tried.

When I met him, I was all of 15 years of age or less and just bursting onto the emerging scene, one of sharing data over vast distances through copper wire. The golden age of computing, where the sweet loving embrace of hardware handshakes and the mesmerizing sounds of BAUD negotiations filled the air, with only the flicker of the monitor screen illuminating the room. I was overcome by this wonder which enabled for the first time the ability to play online with real human players in video games like DOOM, the ability to communicate with new strangers via a messaging system, a precursor to today’s forum boards, and the transfer of files and pictures from one computer to another without the requirement for floppy disks.

It is a time like this where you learn the measure of a man and his character.

As a 15 year old, I felt the sense of power and the urge to use it. The ability to download games had just begun to mature. The pirate scene was ripe, especially in Toronto. I wanted in on this free game market. I felt entitled to it, I felt obsessed by it, games, games for the taking. All the arguments felt right! “Oh they make tons of money” or “They release so much shit and garbage, this is a way to get back”. The one that made the most sense was the ‘Try before you buy, if you like it, go out and buy it.” That made perfect sense and most logical, even Spock couldn’t find fault with that. It’s the Blockbuster model minus the rental fee. (Of course i rarely knew of people who followed through on that philosophy, myself included)

I recall one night having a discussion with Wayne, which somehow involved one of the users of his B.B.S. Through the Looking Glass, trying to acquire illegal software through his site. Wayne found this to be a good time to play a prank so we ended up finding the number for the R.C.M.P.  division regarding theft, and then made the user jump through a series of hoops before finally telling him to call that number and yell into the phone “I’m a PIRATE” before anyone on the line could say anything. The user logged back in just long enough to tell us to go fuck ourselves.

In that night I learned something about the man, and I can see how his convictions have carried over in what he does now. I’m sure he hasn’t made any friends in the big business of music, movies and Hollywood with his stern defense of Copyright and Fair Use. But I personally know that he is not doing it for shits and giggles or to start a war for the sake of war. He’s not doing it to allow pirates to steal and share with impunity. He’s doing it because this business model that big record labels and movie studio’s keep following is to beat law abiding users over the head with more ridiculous hoops and hurdles just to be able to watch and enjoy what they paid for. More DRM to drive end users mad, to cripple their devices and make viewing their purchased media on the device of their own choice a painful, and sometimes illegal experience. And it carries even further into the future realm of digital video streaming ala NETFLIX, and the bullshit argument to throttle or cap bandwidth usage, to implement Usage Based Billing to collectively punish the masses for the download behavior of the few, all in the name of fighting the dreaded scourge of the digital waves. Those nasty Pirates arrrr.

It’s all fear mongering and bullshit put up by the status quo to keep the status quo, so the big corporate fossils can continue to milk you for all you’re worth. If it wasn’t for Napster, you’d still be paying $30+ a CD, nor would you have the Apple iTunes 0.99 cent model (which I am not implying as the right model). Anything that disrupts their system of control and distribution is a call to put up roadblocks, and enact draconian legislation to solve such an easy problem. They take the shotgun to kill a fly approach and be damned with how many legal users end up with buckshot in the face. Monopolies tend to abuse this approach as both privilege and right.

Wayne made me understand the wrongs of piracy long before I ever even thought about such things as copyright, fair use, DRM, bit-torrent, etc.. which is why I can firmly stand by his convictions as being just, without any ulterior motive. I do not have, nor would I ever consider myself to understand the situation as clearly as Wayne. I have my own views, which clearly mesh into his understanding of the facts, albeit not as informed as his. I intend to read up and learn more on this as I take up this ‘blogging’ thing he has so graciously offered to me.

In the end, the greatest monopoly is the customer, who votes with his wallet. They wield the most collective power. If they all act as one, they will be heard and the system will bend to serve them, as it should be. They only need to unite. In that regard, I look upon Wayne sort of like Tron, he fights for the user… the end-user!

Most of my blog topics will be varied and bounce around from one mainstream opinion de jour to the next. I intend to pull a few bits and a few bytes, some zeros and ones, and hunker down into this tiny little corner of the internet and make it my home. And I want to thank Wayne for that opportunity.



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