RSS gets a new sponsor

Dave drops a bombshell in the syndication controversy: UserLand has transferred the RSS spec copyright to the Berkman Center; has put it under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike license; and set up an advisory board to promote RSS and maintain the spec according to the roadmap.

Politically this is mostly savvy. I’m curious to see where the “advisory board” bit goes. But congrats to Brent for his role on the board. It’s always really good to have a pragmatic developer who has to consume the spec on board.

Scoble on spyware

Scoble writes about getting spyware, and laments, “Yeah, I know I can run Ad Aware to remove it, but, what happens if a ‘normal’ customer gets spyware at home. Think they know how to remove it? No way.”

Actually, Scoble, at least some of them do. The stats on say that AdAware has been downloaded over 18 million times. Sounds to me like the market is working pretty efficiently here. But yes, it would be good if we got off our butts and put popup blocking in IE. (This is one of those times that I have to remind everyone that this opinion is mine alone, and that there is no warranty expressed or implied by my comment.)

Falling off a bicycle without a helmet

Esta pointed to this WaPo article identifying a potential genetic cause of post-traumatic depression; if you lack the gene, the studies’ authors say, “traumatic experiences are like falling off a bicycle, but genes determine whether the person is wearing a helmet.”

I can’t say that I find that analogy especially compelling, though I will note that during depressed times I find my brain function slowed, almost as if I’ve been trepanned. No, that’s not quite right; more like someone has put a felt barrier between my thoughts and myself.

Here we go again

On Ed Felten’s blog, a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives that once again overreaches itself in a serious way trying to protect the content middlemen: the Author, Consumer, and Computer Owner Protection and Security (ACCOPS) Act of 2003. The bill states that to knowingly offer “enabling software,” defined as software that, “when installed on the users’ computer, enables third parties to store data on that computer, or use that computer to search other computers’ content over the Internet,” and not to warn of the privacy implications and offer the user a chance to opt out, may result in a fine or jail time.

I perhaps overreach in ascribing an RIAA or MPAA agenda to this bill. It could easily be interpreted as a consumer protection act against “spyware” and viruses (not that we really need consumer protection against virus software; existing laws have proved pretty capable of handling them). However, Felten correctly points out that the language is so broad that a download of Microsoft Windows could be covered under the bill, while the original Napster client, “lacking upload and network search facilities,” would not be covered.

It would save us all a lot of time if the folks writing these bills would get the help of someone other than whoever’s pockets they happen to be in before introducing them. Then maybe we could together work out a consensus definition of “bad technology” that’s a little more precise.