Thinking Carefully” About Online Reputation

The after­noon por­tion of today’s Law Camp ses­sion was mostly admin­is­tra­tive.  We heard from sev­eral deans and stu­dent lead­ers about var­i­ous dif­fer­ent aspects of aca­d­e­mic and social life at law school.  The last speaker this after­noon was the dean of career ser­vices.

The dean went over a few impor­tant dates, and then offered us a piece of advice.  I para­phrase:

The sin­gle most use­ful and impor­tant thing that you can do in these first sev­eral weeks is to inves­ti­gate and think care­fully about the images and infor­ma­tion about you that exist on the Inter­net.

He went on to pro­pose two hypo­thet­i­cals, in both of which we should assume the role of a hir­ing part­ner at a national law firm.

  1. You gain access to a promis­ing candidate’s Face­book pro­file, and find a pic­ture of the can­di­date sit­ting on the beach in her swim­suit with two of her friends, rais­ing beer cans in a toast.  Do you dis­qual­ify the can­di­date based on this image?
  2. In research­ing a dif­fer­ent but also promis­ing can­di­date online, you come across a col­lege news­pa­per arti­cle com­plete with photo that says, refer­ring to that can­di­date: “SGA Sec­re­tary Con­victed of Steal­ing School Sup­plies.”  Turns out, it was the April Fool’s edi­tion of the news­pa­per, but it is not clearly marked on the arti­cle and not appar­ent from the writ­ing style.  Do you dis­qual­ify the can­di­date based on this dis­cov­ery?

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Antiauthority disputation? Yes please.

David Brooks weighed in last week on the books ver­sus Inter­net debate.  Though I had no doubt that he would side with the print camp, I was sur­prised by the route he took.

He begins by cit­ing one study show­ing that kids who took books home over the sum­mer did bet­ter than those who didn’t, and another demon­strat­ing that broad­band pen­e­tra­tion seems to cor­re­late with decreased math and read­ing scores among North Carolina’s 8th graders.  Fair enough.

But then he takes an odd turn, cit­ing an unnamed philanthropist’s obser­va­tion that kids most ben­e­fit from the iden­tity that books pro­vide them as “read­ers.”  This iden­tity places them at the bot­tom of a great hier­ar­chy of knowl­edge, a sub­servience to which Brooks cel­e­brates as the only path to “seri­ous learn­ing.”  The Inter­net, on the other hand, encour­ages ram­pant and egal­i­tar­ian “anti­au­thor­ity dis­pu­ta­tion” (you can just hear the sneer­ing).  It seems that Brooks thinks stu­dents should only par­tic­i­pate in intel­lec­tual con­ver­sa­tion when they’ve earned the right.  I dis­agree.

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Why URL Shorteners Suck

DeWitt Clin­ton (a fel­low Googler) wrote up an excel­lent analy­sis of URL short­en­ers on Buzz.  In short, they suck for users, they suck for pub­lish­ers, and they suck for the web.  My recent Tropophilia post on links got me think­ing on this sub­ject a lit­tle, and I was think­ing about post­ing some­thing, but noth­ing I write would approach DeWitt’s level of exper­tise and insight.  A highly rec­om­mended read.  (Note: Tay­lor wrote about URL short­en­ers briefly here).

Side note:  Although I find DeWitt’s post a lit­tle long for Buzz, it does show off some of the service’s rich edit­ing capa­bil­i­ties.  Scoble and Cutts have been talk­ing recently about how nicely Buzz fills the niche between microblog­ging and reg­u­lar blog­ging (what is that, pseudoblog­ging I guess?).  I agree, and I have come to see Buzz more like a social ver­sion of Tum­blr than I do a new Twit­ter or a Blog­ger.  Hop­ing more of my friends will jump back on the Buzz train in the future to check it out.

Testing Blackbird Pie

Twit­ter just released Black­bird Pie, an (oddly named) tool that makes it easy to gen­er­ate embed­d­a­ble tweets.  Test­ing here:

Josh Ritter’s new album (http://​bit​.ly/​9​u​z​diz) ain’t bad, but to me His­tor­i­cal Con­quests (http://​bit​.ly/​b​9​D​jA9) blows it away.less than a minute ago via Echo­fon

Hm, good start, but needs improve­ment. I like that it car­ries over my pro­file back­ground. The code itself is ridicu­lously long, though, and because it’s HTML-based it picks up all of my blog’s CSS for­mat­ting (thus the weird yel­low high­light­ing). I guess I could dive into my stylesheet and try to fig­ure out what’s going on, but that’s a hur­dle I’m just not will­ing to jump over. I’d pre­fer a sim­pler (Flash?) imple­men­ta­tion. I also think the lay­out could be econ­o­mized even more to save space. I’d much pre­fer the sleeker imple­men­ta­tion shown here.

Why I’m interested in copyright law

© Geek and Poke /​ cc-by-nd

I think some friends and fam­ily won­der why I am so enthralled by copy­right law.  Oth­ers may also won­der how it applies to my wider inter­est in tech­nol­ogy law.  For some time, I wasn’t quite sure myself.  Indeed, over the past few years I’ve some­times found myself dis­cour­aged by the seem­ingly wonky nature of the sub­ject.  Look­ing back, for exam­ple, at my grandfather’s legal career in civil rights, I won­dered if I was being too self­ish with my inter­ests.

I’ve recently come to under­stand that this isn’t the case, that copy­right law (and its reform) is an impor­tant mat­ter for the Amer­i­can pub­lic to under­stand and dis­cuss.  Why?  Because copy­right presents a fun­da­men­tal con­flict between cap­i­tal­ism (or, profit) and free­dom of speech, with noth­ing less than the fate of our cre­ative cul­ture at stake.  The way we go about resolv­ing this con­flict says much about Amer­ica as a lib­eral democ­racy and cul­tural leader in the world.  And right now, we’re not doing so hot.

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