Techdirt Writers Favorites Of The Week… And Year

Rather than picking one community member to handle the favorites this week Tim Geigner/Dark Helmet came up with the brilliant idea that this final favorites post of the year should be a group post from “the gang” of Techdirt writers (or at least those who were around and not off on vacation in some exotic location). To make it more interesting, we decided that each contributor got to suggest one post from the week… and one from the year.

Tim Cushing

As many guest writers have certainly noticed, simply choosing Posts of the Week can be a daunting task. Being asked to pick just one from the year that seemed to contain nearly a quarter of Masnick’s 40,000 posts goes well beyond “daunting” and into “nigh impossible.” While a majority of the year was filled with great stories of various bad actors (RIAA, MPAA, BMI, ICE… basically if it had an acronym, it was screwing something up) doing bad things, the last few months have been particularly interesting, especially with regard to the –AA’s pet legislation (and pet legislators).

An early favorite was obviously “Something Something Something SOPA” (especially as “supporter” after “supporter” demands to be taken off the list) but when it boils down to it, one story stood out from the pack. Blame it on my internet-damaged attention span, but the post I feel defines the Year of Our Various Lords 2K11 is the one detailing the amazing story of Dajaz1’s still-unexplained year-long seizure by ICE. This was truly a Techdirt scoop in the true journalistic sense, and once I got through being amazed and disgusted by ICE’s actions, I turned my attention to the rest of the internet and watched the story blow up everywhere else. There’s nothing like being in on the ground floor, even if by proxy. It stood out as an obvious example of what SOPA had in store for the internet, despite its supporters constant claims to the contrary.

And as for this week? It’s a much easier task to pick one standout when you can trim down the possibilities to merely a comparative handful (read: 50-60). My pick goes to the entertaining account of one man’s incredibly thorough self-immolation via email exchange. While there is no shortage of bad PR firms and lousy customer service is still far from uncommon, it’s not often that one gets the chance to see someone set himself on fire and obtusely make trip after trip back to the pump for more gasoline. By the time all was said and done (which it probably isn’t), Paul Christoforo, director of “Marketting Stratagy” for PR firm Ocean Marketing had burnt himself into an unrecognizable crisp, albeit one sporting shades and an unrepentant mouth.

Zachary Knight

The year seems to have a running primary theme of SOPA. However, there is one theme that has run along side it that is not only as important but also shows that SOPA is not actually needed. This theme is that piracy is merely a service problem. If more creative people would see this and then connect with fans and give them a reason to buy, they could watch the money roll in. The one story that really stuck with me through the year, is when Wil Wheaton told off television and film studios for not making their shows and films available online: “As soon as the entertainment industry provides an alternative to Bittorrent or an alternative to piracy, that makes it just as easy for honest people to get access to the programming, then the piracy dries up.” Over the rest of the year we have seen story after story of creative people and companies succeeding despite piracy. For instance, we have Valve turning the pirate haven of Russia into its most profitable European country. We have Louis CK making a million dollars in 12 days selling his routine himself. We have a large number of others doing pretty much the same thing. These success stories show that piracy is only a stumbling block if you make it one.

This last week is a little different for me. Of all the stories this short week, we have one that is very interesting. In this story we show that a recent study came to the conclusion that the Return on Investment of lobbying efforts was right around 22,000%. While that number is astounding in and of itself, it is apparently nothing to Jack Abramoff. He believes that the ROI is so great for a successful lobbying campaign that it eclipses the negative ROI of a failed one. This is the thought process that floods DC at this time. That is absolutely scary. It also shows just why so many in DC are completely impervious to the will of the public on matters that will negatively effect the public. They don’t really care what a bunch of voters have to say because there are full time salesmen telling them otherwise. I hope that more people wake up to the corruption that has infiltrated DC and vote for real change.

Timothy Geigner

Now, normally I’d immediately choose one of my own posts for my favorite post of the year. The truth is that I’m not really egotistical or a megalomaniac. No, I’m just actually that good. But, in the interest of the gift-giving season, and as part of an upcoming New Year’s resolution to pretend to care what other people think of me, I’m going to choose a piece discussing Anonymous Cowards and their value to online communities.

Written by Tim Cushing, also commonly referred to as Tim Geigner, Dark Helmet, Mike, and sometimes Slagathor The Pod Person, it’s a fine post that digs into the worth and practices of the anonymous contributors. The specific nods to nameless commenters at Techdirt and the pluses and minuses of both anonymity and having a named profile worked as I imagine it was supposed to and spurred a pretty solid conversation in the comments section, which for me is always the mark of a good Techdirt piece.

As for the week, I’ll keep it short and simple. Mike’s piece on the strange sources of creativity tickled my author-brain simply because it describes some of the very ways that I’ve developed story ideas. Well, that plus the message retweeted by comedian Jon Hendren: F&#@ christmas mayne my brother got an iphone and I got a map of Maryland.

Marcus Carab

Choosing a story is tough, because choosing the criteria is tough. This year offered some of the funniest posts I’ve ever read on Techdirt (Tim Cushing’s colorful history lessons come to mind) as well as some of the most monumental—but I decided the best choice would be one of the posts that I find myself revisiting when discussing these topics with people outside the Techdirt community. There are several, but the one I’ve gotten the most mileage out of is the revelation that Return of the Jedi supposedly doesn’t make any money. Though only published in September, I’ve linked more people to this post than any other, because it debunks two of the core myths that drive public acceptance of intellectual property law: the idea that it’s all about protecting and benefiting the artists, and the idea that you can believe the things movie studios say. When a person is convinced that actors, musicians and other creative professionals need copyright to make a living, nothing makes them stop to think faster than pointing out that Darth Vader has never been paid.

For posts this week, I’m going to cheat and double up on Cush’s choice, because there was simply nothing more amusing than the increasingly poor decisions of Paul Christoforo. I do a lot of work in the world of marketing, as well as being a consumer and a person with basic social skills, so I was triply entertained by his hapless antics and total lack of self-awareness. Even from his emails, it quickly became apparent exactly what kind of person he is—in fact, if you’re ringing in the new year at a packed club tonight, you’ll surely spot a few like him. But here’s hoping that they, like Paul, do the brunt of their damage to themselves while giving the rest of us a good laugh so we can all kiss 2011 goodbye in high spirits. Happy New Year, everyone!

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