95 Theses: The Aftermath

by Devanshu Mehta

That past 2 days have been fantastic. After my long and heartfelt article was picked by BoingBoing, I figured that would be as good as it would get. Boy was I wrong.

The article made its way to Del.icio.us popular, the Digg home page, the Metafilter home page, Der Spiegel and dozens of other blogs. And now, 33000 readers later, I am stunned.

The comments on the article page alone have been phenomenal- people have called it inspirational, a must read, people have been spurred to donate to the EFF, to start their own blogs, to revive their own blogs, to download and install a second operating system. Then again, many criticized my grammar and spellings, my paranoia, said the list was facile, presumptuous, commie, anarchic and questioned who I was to speak for them.

The most interesting, however, were the ones who disagreed with individual points. Many of them were valid, such as:
* Leaving many important people out of my list of geek philosophers.
* That being pro-civil disobedience and anti-breaking the law was incompatible.
* That corporations do not actually care about people, they only care about making money. So a corporation is not on anyone’s side. (*UPDATE*: _corrected sentence_)
* And that the math in the NSA-refuting link may not be correct.
* That the article was probably a little US-centric.
* That the DMCA is not all bad.

I have much to say about each comment. Each of my theses could be an article of its own, and probably will be in the future. Here is some of my favorite feedback:
Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing

a great list of 95 ways to use knowledge for good, and to defend freedom with technology.

From meloukhia at this ain’t livin

Above all, these theses are here to remind us that we need to be active. We need to speak out instead of remaining silent. We need to participate in our societies. We need to interact with the world if we want to change it, and this is something I think a lot of people, including myself, forget sometimes. Yes, blogging is a powerful tool, and it’s great when it can be used effectively to reach thousands (or millions) of readers. But I feel sometimes that just writing is not enough. I should be out proactively pounding the streets in pursuit of what I believe in, bringing down yuppie civilization and unschooling our children and farming organically.

hericon at amphicon

Geek activism needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. We spend too much time tinkering with our toys and not enough time using them to change our world for the better. Technology is a lot of fun to play with, but ultimately it is a tool, intended to be wielded by an intelligent hand toward a meaningful purpose. People, stop sharpening your tools and start using them.

Jonathon Marshall actually “started a blog”:http://letterzed.blogspot.com/ with my article as his first post. And “The Samurai”:http://samurai1200.blogspot.com/ revived his blog on reading my article.

Cyen says

wouldn’t it be cool if this one small comment would lead to it all? That there will be a Third Party of Politics in the upcoming future. Call it what you will, but in essence… The Geek Party – or probably more marketable “The Tech Party”…

Piove in the comments on the article writes:

I am not a geek, or a hacker. I use things the way they were intended. However, this may not always be the case, and I have just joined EFF (after reading this) and wholeheartedly agree with you.

At “Random Gemini Weirdness”:http://jolieve.polestar.org/blog/?p=113 I found:

A lot of the ideas set forth here are things I agree with and think that the average man doesn’t think about. I know, for example, that my mother argues and struggles with proprietary software for her mp3 player because of DRM but I’m certain she doesn’t know what DRM is and why she has to contend with it.

When someone criticized the _license violation != theft_ idea, “harlequin over at Metafilter”:http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/53249 came back with the following:

I don’t think it is at all suggesting it’s ok, there is nothing weasely about it, it’s recognising that this whole “infringement = theft” propaganda almost certainly has to be broken or reined in or a major battle for rights is already lost, and the future will be bleaker for it. It’s about leveling the field of an important debate, not about saying geeks are allowed to break the law.

“Starkiller” over in the comments on the article says:

If there would be a political party that would stand only for, let’s say, 30 of this theses, i would totally vote them!

So would I.

“Zipko”:http://digg.com/tech_news/95_Theses_of_Geek_Activism over in the Digg comments said:

There are a lot of his points that I could find fault with, but what I liked about the article is that the author doesn’t intend it to be a statement of fact. It’s meant more to facilitate discussion, which is always good.

And then there was this, which was completely opposed to the sentiment of the article, but still strangely appealing:

No offense intended to the writers or diggers, heaven knows a good part of that list is true (not all, but a good part). This falls under the category of “Be careful what you digg, because someone may find out later”.

And then there was the pessimistic outlook on copyright future at Digg:

I really like most of the list and it reflects many of the values I believe in…But I had to smile at #6. I fear the poor mouse will never be free of corporate servitude, certainly not in our lifetimes. I figure our great great grand kids will someday be taking THEIR kids on vacation to the Disney Moon Adventureland SpaceBase, via Shuttle, with a 5-day, 3-night package deal including hotel rooms at the MickeyMoonland Hotel…

The Mouse will never be free.

Yes he will- some day, either no one will care or sanity will prevail.

This has been fun- but it is only the beginning. I will keep this going- come back often for ideas on how to take action and how to get our ideas out to people who do not understand them. In any case, so long and thanks for all the links, comments and criticism.