Corante

About this Author
Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @
Copyfight
LawMeme

Listen to the weekly audio edition on IT Conversations:
The Importance Of ... Law and IT.

Feel free to contact me about articles, websites and etc. you think I may find of interest. I'm also available for consulting work and speaking engagements. Email: ernest.miller 8T gmail.com

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

The Importance of...

« Broadcast Flag Threat Greatly Diminished, For Now | Main | Reason's Nick Gillespie on the Copyfight »

June 24, 2005

Meta-Meta-Meta-Grokster

Posted by Ernest Miller

Seth Finkelstein takes an interesting and pre-emptive shot at post-Grokster commentary, claiming that there will only be one of three main story lines (Meta-Meta-Grokster). For the traditional media, sure. But this is wrong:

So, as a matter of mathematics, the number of people trying to say something about this, vastly outnumbers the basic number of things to say. The insight of power-laws is that the distribution won't be uniform. Sure, anyone can write about it - but there isn't much of a reason to read what anyone writes. Blog-evangelists consistently neglect this factor. Not to mention the relative privilege necessary to be able to take the time to spend pouring over a document and writing analysis. [italics in original]
Most of the news stories are going to be much simplified versions of the general outline of the decision, and once you've read the AP or NY Times account, there isn't going to be much reason to read the LA Times and all the rest. Indeed, there will be surfeit of "me too" posts in the blogosphere as well (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Yet the blogosphere is going to be doing something else as well. On several sites, including the Picker MobBlog and a branch off of SCOTUS Blog, you're going to have more than two dozen of the finest legal minds in the country dissect and discuss the decision in real time. Within 24 hours, many of the main legal themes, disagreements, and remaining questions will have been thoroughly analyzed. There will still be room for the academic papers, but 80% of the work will have already been done. Of course, this will only be of interest to those who follow the legal arguments closely, but for those this is a cornucopia of serious goodness. Far from being no reason to read the commentary there are now dozens.

Yeah, there are going to be hundreds if not thousands of mediocre news stories and blog postings on Grokster ... but there is also going to be a level of serious legal commentary never before seen.

And. yes, its a relative privilege to be able to spend time to analyze and write about the decision. Heck, given the poverty of vast majorities of the planet, it is a privilege to be able to read about the decision at all. And it is also a relative privilege to have the education necessary to understand the case on a deep level. But that's the point, isn't it? That is what is going to make the hours-after-release commentary on Grokster far richer than ever before.

Finkelstein himself is privileged when analyzing and writing about censorware. My commentaries on censorware can't touch Finkelstein's. That's a good thing. That's a reason for more people to write about what they know, in otherwords, to blog. The hard part is finding who to read when. The filters are imperfect, but the quality of material available has improved dramatically. Will someone's brilliant Grokster insite be lost in the shuffle? Quite possibly. On the other hand, under the old regime of information dissemination, there would have been zero chance.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blogging and Journalism


COMMENTS

1. Seth Finkelstein on June 25, 2005 01:55 PM writes...

I added an update to my post:

Update 6/24 1pm Eastern: Ernie Miller posts a response (my emphasis):


Seth Finkelstein takes an interesting and pre-emptive shot at
post-Grokster commentary, claiming that there will only be one of
three main story lines. For the traditional media, sure. ... [snip]


Yet the blogosphere is going to be doing something else as well. On
several sites, including the Picker MobBlog and a branch off of SCOTUS
Blog, you're going to have more than two dozen of the finest legal
minds in the country dissect and discuss the decision in real
time. Within 24 hours, many of the main legal themes, disagreements,
and remaining questions will have been thoroughly analyzed
.


This commentary misunderstands my main point, which is a mathematical
observation on the nature of punditry, and implications thereof. I wrote
"there can't be more than about a dozen things to say about the result.
The top three being
:". The big, mass-appeal, newspapers and TV
will take the simplest view. Small specialized publications -
which include blogs will go into more detailed analysis.
But, for any nontrivial given scale,
the total number of "worthwhile" analyses is quite small, and
much less than the number of people who will write them. Hence, there
is a huge imbalance - which is then resolved in a exponential distribution,
with a few specialists taking the secondary slots after the bigger media
takes the primary slots. And you have to be positioned to get in
"[w]ithin 24 hours" to even try. Frankly, this looks very much like being
an (unpaid) trade-publication reporter than anything else.


The point is hardly that specialist publications go into more detail
than nonspecialist publications. But here, talk of "the blogosphere"
is not useful analysis. There's levels of pundits. In fact, my
view is that from a certain height of observation, this
is the old regime structually (and remember, quite a few
A-list bloggers are traditional media people, and the
prominent specialists often have many bigger-media connections).


I highly value Miller's legal analysis. However, the structure of the
distribution isn't changed - in fact, that's exactly the point. There's
more overall excellent people that there are pundit-slots, and small
differences (not necessarily of quality) lead to exponential curves.
Hence my use of this case as a worked example.


Permalink to Comment

2. Jon Garfunkel on June 26, 2005 08:56 PM writes...

and also, this is what the New Gatekeepers series was about. But when you (Ernie) say:

"Will someone's brilliant Grokster insite be lost in the shuffle? Quite possibly. On the other hand, under the old regime of information dissemination, there would have been zero chance."

This is total bunk, but, whatever, just blog away.

Permalink to Comment

3. Ernest Miller on June 26, 2005 09:36 PM writes...

Mr. Garfunkle,

And why, pray tell, is it total bunk?

And, please, while I realize I have no where near the intellect that you have, could you avoid the condescension?

Permalink to Comment

4. stj on June 27, 2005 03:08 PM writes...

Ernie,

"Will someone's brilliant Grokster insite be lost in the shuffle? Quite possibly. On the other hand, under the old regime of information dissemination, there would have been zero chance."

Electronic mailing lists, discussion forums, legal journals, paper, pens... never existed. Why do bloggers have to perpetuate the fiction that 2001 was some kind of Year Zero, and nothing before blogs ever existed?

It's very silly.

Permalink to Comment


EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 23
Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 22
Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 21
Kitchen Academy - The Hollywood Cookbook and Guest Chef Michael Montilla - March 18th
Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 20
Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 19
Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 18
Salsa Verde