I tend not to be much of a believer in political "parties." They always seem to get lost in groupthink around what's best for "the party," rather than what's best, period. I even tend to have issues with groups like The Pirate Party. While I support many of the ideals and concepts within the party's platform, I don't agree with everything they have to say, and still think the use of "pirate" in the name, while attention grabbing and perhaps useful in the short-term, is quite limiting long-term. And yet, I'm certainly intrigued by a lot of what's been happening over the past few months, in terms of somewhat ad hoc groups coming together and protesting things they just know are not right. While I still don't agree with the denial of service tactics of "Anonymous" and its Operation Payback, I've been saying for a while that this really is a moment when centralized top-down legacy systems are coming into conflict with distributed, decentralized, bottom-up systems -- and not understanding them at all.
Michael Scott points us to an opinion piece from lawyer Douglas Wood, in which he does a nice job describing what he refers to as "The Party of We," which he notes is already in control. I think that final point is the part that is the most interesting, and the least understood in many of the discussions around what's happening online. In the past, with traditional systems, if you didn't agree with something, you would just protest. But if you look at what's been happening lately, when the public doesn't agree with something -- official secrecy, draconian copyright laws, censorship, privacy violations, etc. -- rather than just protesting, they're simply routing around those things. It's an incredibly important point. They're not protesting by saying "this will not stand." They're protesting by saying "your laws don't matter, because we can simply route around them." [Emphasis added.]Read the rest.