Wednesday, January 04, 2006

There's No Such Thing As Free Speech

I found that Blogger has a mechanism by which objectionable content can be flagged. This is a huge issue for any open content infrastructure as its just damned hard to keep things from getting out of hand - particularly in a context where children have ready and often unrestricted access to the Internet. Even for adults, its hard to rationalize a strict definition of the patently offensive: and hard to set hard limits on offensive categories. When does satire or humor become offensive? When do political or social viewpoints tilt toward the offensive? These are impossibly difficult questions. The mechanism they've chose is pretty interesting and I guess a nod to the idea that the Web is broadly democratic. It is a bit strange to see Blogger relying on the Wisdom of Crowds (I guess no one ever made them read Gustave Le Bon in college), but as an experiment, it might be interested to see a special list of "delisted" blogs -- if only to gauge the social psychology of the user base.

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