Re: [DNS] List members (final posting)

Re: [DNS] List members (final posting)

From: Boz Cappie <B.Cappie§hum.uts.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 1998 18:01:02 +1000
Note: This has been resent - the first posting of this e-mail doesn't seem
to have gone through. My apologies if you get this twice.

Well, having come down with the flu the day I wrote my last e-mail possibly
saved a lot of wasted bandwidth. Thanks to those who sent replies (private
and public) to my missive on public dissemination, openness, etc - it's
good to see some concern about this issue, both for and against. After all,
that's what a healthy society is about, isn't it? I can also understand and
appreciate people's concerns, especially after the goings on in the "old"
list.

However, I would like to reply to a couple of issues that came out of this
(possibly as a right of reply?) and then I will finish my side of the
debate (ie no more postings on the subject - promise :-), because I realise
that these issues are more philosophical than the lists aims call for. My
apologies for the length of this posting.

First of all, I would like to reiterate that I am NOT a journalist. I am a
non-commercial, non-government (dis)interested party, who just happens to
work as a lecturer and ocassional writer and whose involvement with the net
extends to creating websites, having some domain names and assessing the
technology in terms of political, cultural, economical and social impact. I
use this list to observe and comment on developing technical and policy
debates about the internet and have done so on the "old" list for about two
years. 

Anyway, my final replies to posters on this issue are the following: 

Paul Montgomery wrote:

>2. Even if we disagree with whether this is a public forum or not, it
would be
>constructive for all concerned if list members were assured that they will
not
>be quoted directly unless asked.
>4. "True 'public' dissemination" means talking to people, checking facts and
>making sure context is retained. It doesn't mean cut-n-pasting text from
an Inbox.

I never said otherwise. A good journalist should always use at least two,
preferably three, *verifiable* sources before publishing. All quotes should
be verified as well. I know that problems have occurred before, but don't
blame all journalists for the lack of ethics of the few (or is it majority?).

>3. I don't know about anyone else, but to me, reporting on the Internet
>industry means being a good citizen of the Net and not causing trouble where
>it is not deserved. The list members are trying to do a Good Thing (tm) so we
>should respect their needs.

Hmmm ... I respect your wish to "be a good citizen" and "not caus(e)
trouble". But I do also note your qualifier. BTW, I'm wondering whether
this applies to other industries or politics as well?

>5. We should keep our journo-spam to a minimum, and restrict our observing
and
>critiquing to our own media.

Not quite sure what you mean by journo-spam. Or by "we" and "our". I should
ask, though, why should "we" restrict observation and critiquing to "our"
own media (with fact-checking and contextualisation, of course)? Be a
pretty boring world if "we" did. Personally, my notion of a "good citizen"
extends to the Socratic ideal - that is, the citizen has a *right* and an
*obligation* to observe and criticise all aspects of society, and to reject
conformity, passivity and inevitability.

Mark Delany said:

>Bottom line: If the list participants of a private list insist that a
>condition of subscribing is that you not put any material in the public
>domain, then that's the lists choice, not yours. You know the rules, you
>know the consequences.

Well, Mark, when I joined this list about 12 hours after it was started,
the conditions of being a party, as outlined by the autoresponder message,
were as follows:

>This is not a moderated list, but it has a few standard
>restrictions:
>
>o Only people subscribed to the list may send email to the list
>o No attachments/encoded postings
>o No more than ten messages per participant per day
>o No Adam Todd
>
>The list will initially be managed by myself and Kim Davies,
>of WAIA.  However, in the longer term, I'd like to see someone
>else take on the task (Tony Barry has already been mentioned and
>would be an excellent choice).  Modification of the list policy
>is up to participants, and will be implemented in a timely
>fashion.

Nothing in here about reproduction restrictions anywhere. In fact, this
issue didn't get raised until Wednesday 24/6 (the day of my posting) when
Simon wrote:

>Perhaps we could actually add a one or two liner to the auto-trailer from
>the mailing list software to that effect? e.g.:
>
>Messages in this list constitute a private discussion between list members,
>and any
>publication beyond this forum requires the explicit written assent of the
>content author.
>
>Would that nail it? 
>
>... Simon

I replied to it, outlining my thoughts, as per the line in the mailing list
conditions that states:

>Modification of the list policy is up to participants, and will be
implemented in a timely
>fashion.

So I was actually exercising my right as a participant.

However, it seems to me that the policy of the list was arbitrarily changed
from that point when Simon wrote his posting. There certainly didn't seem
to be any "timely" implementation. That *is* an issue. We all complained
about Melbourne IT (or whatever) arbitrarily changing their policies - is
this discussion group going to do the same?

Simon Hackett wrote:

>If you cannot understand the negative implications of quoting information
>in a mailing list in the press without the explicit assent of the author of
>the specific content you plan to quote, then you should not be on this
>list. 

1.	I have no intention of quoting anything - I am not a journalist.

2.	In my original posting I wrote: >>underneath it all, a good journalist
will only quote something 
if it can be verified, and in context.<<

Should I say more? A not-so-good or unethical journalist will still
misquote, decontextualise, etc. if it means they get a good juicy story. A
note at the bottom of the posting isn't going to stop them if they want to
do it. Just as no note at the bottom won't prevent a good journalist from
contacting the poster and asking for permission. If you are misquoted,
decontextualised, etc., then, as I also stated in my first posting, as the
person being misquoted, you would have recourse to compensation for
defamation, etc, through normal legal channels, including the courts, the
Press Council, the ABA and the journalists union (upholder of their code of
ethics).

>Perhaps you are not aware of the second most frequent reason for very
>valuable list contributors leaving mailing lists (used to the be first more
>frequent, before the Todd Era), which is that they have often left them in
>the last because of journalists using the lists as fodder for a cheap
>sensationalist article in the IT trade press, without asking first, and
>without caring about the consequences. If that starts happening here, we
>might as well all go home and forget about it.

Having been on the other list for about two years, I am quite aware of why
people have left.

>If you are not intending to be a contributor, please leave the discussion,
>please. Lurking for the purposes of getting a cheap news article is NOT
>what we're here to help you with.
>Lurking for the purpose of personal education is, however, highly welcome
>and encouraged.

I never said that I was currently a journalist. And I haven't written a
column for eight months. Even then, my columns had nothing to do with IT
issues, only those that report on IT issues - I critiqued the journalists
and their lack of fact checking and investigation. 

My reason for the original posting had to do with the issue of observation
and commenting on a mailing list that is open for the public to read and
participate in - this makes it public, does it not, even if it is run by a
private individual? If you want to reread the first posting, you will see
that I acknowledge that verification and contextualisation by a journalist
is important. As I mentioned earlier in this posting, don't blame all
journalists for the bad work of a few (or many). 

Perhaps my concern is really that the message at the bottom of the posting
discourages ANY journalist from even seeking to pursue an issue, let alone
seeking permission to quote. How does the public find out about these
issues if journalists get the (wrong?) impression that it's a closed shop
and they can't report on the issues (properly)? And before I get the old
argument that some journalists know that they can ask permission, can I
point out that it's only those journalists who are already in the
information loop who know this - which, of course, leads to future
problematic questions about favoured journalists and disinformation. 

About me being a lurker, I only "lurk" when I have nothing to say. You must
admit, the last few months of the other list haven't really produced much
to comment on, but if you go back through the archives, you'll notice that
I have participated, albeit infrequently (not being a major stakeholder),
from an early stage.

As the mailing list conditions state:

>The intent of the list is to provide a constructive forum for the
>discussion of the *.AU name space, and other issues of specific
>interest to the Australian DNS community.  I'd encourage interested
>parties and stakeholders to subscribe, so that we have a useful
>method of communicating on this important issue.

That's why I'm subscribing, just as I did with the other list, because I am
an interested party and possibly a stakeholder - not to get into
meaningless, repetitive and/or personal arguments. If the list decides that
it doesn't want to be exposed to journalistic scrutiny, that's fine - I'll
abide by that (after all, as I keep saying - I am NOT a journalist, so it
doesn't worry me). 

I'm here because I'm interested in the issues being discussed - I'm not
going to go flouncing off in a huff because no-one agrees with me. My
concerns are merely those that any interested observer and/or participant
might have about a policy discussion group - openness of information,
openness to examination and a proper and timely observance of procedural
matters ie, no arbitrary changing of policy.
 
I won't pursue this further. The list has spoken.

Anything written in this message is considered public domain and may be
quoted in context, overriding any constricting messages which may be
applied to this discussion list. If unsure or uncertain about any of the
content of this message, please contact the author by e-mail directly.



-- reality is what you can get away with --

Boz Cappie
Lecturer
Institute for Interactive Multimedia
University of Technology, Sydney
PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007
Australia

All comments or views expressed in this e-mail 
are to be considered as being those of the author 
and do not represent those of the 
Institute for Interactive Multimedia
or the University of Techology, Sydney.
Received on Tue Jun 30 1998 - 16:00:40 UTC

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