bm257 Filesharing Philosophy with Peter of the Pirate Bay.

by bicyclemark 3 Comments

In some parts of the world people still use the term “steal” to describe getting music through bittorent or other systems. At the same time, many people use the term filesharing or downloading to describe that same process. Laws might get passed and moral judgements might be imposed, but how logical are such views when it comes to the sharing or copying of digital material.

My guest today is Peter of the Pirate Bay, one of the most popular sites on the internet, period. Moreover, someone who has a strong commitment to struggle and educate people when it comes to the nature of filesharing. Looking beyond scare tactics and the manipulation of governments by large corporate interests, Peter has alot to say when it comes to how we think or could think about the world reknowned practice of downloading things from the internet.

I also recommend the most recent Yeast Radio, which features Peter in a debate on intellectual property. And a previous edition of Chaos Radio International which provides alot of essential information about pirate bay, why and how it does what it does.


Instant Debate – Mention Islam to Europeans

by bicyclemark

It is certainly no new discovery, but as you can see from my vlog entry about the far-right demonstration in Brussels, a sure way to get people commenting and yelling (well not really yelling) at you is to defend people’s right to be muslim. So while I’ve lots of other issues I’d like to bring up, I’ll first come back to this one. And I should mention I do appreciate all comments and I especially appreciate criticism and debate that is carried out in such a way that is not insulting or name calling, but rather about saying I disagree, and here is why. So thanks to all of you who continue to do that.

There were a great deal of comments, including some heartfelt ones from a good friend in Chicago who is originally from Lebanon. (hi dear!) The underlying theme was that I shouldn’t be so in favor of welcoming all things islam into the social and political stage in Europe because, as many people insisted, it is a religion that seeks the joining of church and state, that excludes women, that refuses democratic principles etc, etc.

Now I must state here, because going any further, I don’t claim to know the muslim faith. I’ve never read the Koran or lived in a country where it was the dominant religion. So I don’t honestly know how it all works and what the ultimate goals are, etc. Some of you say you do, and that is good, I’m a big believer in learning, researching for yourself and understanding. All I do is study history, closely observe the present, and learn from my interraction with those in my daily life who I know are of the muslim faith, most of whom I have a great deal of admiration and respect for as kind and honest humans trying to live their lives.

>Here comes something I rarely reveal on the blog, overall, religions and their power over people, scare me. All of them. Places of worship, religious leaders, the artifacts and traditions in general.. I don’t much care for them. HOWEVER. I realize that lots of people do. I see the importance they have in people’s lives, the positive aspects, and I try to respect that. I have a curiosity and a desire to learn from the past, including time honored traditions… because maybe many of them have something to teach us. There are plenty of traditions that I don’t like, and even some I would consider flat out wrong, where humans are tortured or killed for example… I try to draw a line there. You might draw the line somewhere else altogether… fine.

But here’s my little conclusion for today. Generally speaking, the greater the amount of poverty, desperation, and lack of education, the higher the level of religiousity and especially of the irrational fundamentalist kind. In many countries in Europe we see empty churches and few people willing to go to war on the whims of the pope or if someone insults the Catholic or Protestant faith. But a few hundred years ago, those two religions wielded tremendous power and did terrible things in the name of their god. So when people start touting all the dangers and problems of the growth of another religion in Europe, I don’t see it that way. Rather than talking about stopping or in some way stemming the growth or influence of islam in Europe, why not look at the conditions people live in, especially in terms of economics and social mobility. Are people from certain countries really seen as equals and able to have the same access to power and wealth as the “native” population? Are we doing all we can to provide a solid education and social services to people regardless of what neighborhood they live in or their class? I say, learn from history, address these issues, and no matter what your background or your religion, Europe will have a bright future, with civil and healthy disagreement and debate.

Prison Writing

by bicyclemark

I’ve recently tried to get in touch with Josh Wolf, citizen journalist recently released from jail. Obviously since his release he’s had nonstop places to be and people to talk to, but I figured I would get in line and see about interviewing him.

The purpose of my interview was NOT going to be his case and the whole question of journalist-blogger rights. That topic, while important, has been well covered by the alternative media online.

Instead I want to talk to Josh about prison life. Especially about the conversations, the thoughts, every aspect of prison life and the experiences of other prisoners. He had lots of interesting things to say while he was in prison about what things they did have a right to and what things he thinks they should have a right to, and I wanted to explore all that and hopefully learn from it.

Well I still haven’t heard back from the man, but I will remain patient. In the meantime, I was excited to hear about his project ““. Free blog hosting for prisoners, a space where they can communicate their thoughts and experiences. Over my 7 years of publishing on the internet, I’ve come across many letters from prisoners republished on a few blogs. I glad to see that someone like Josh is helping to make this more possible and will be reading along with great interest.

Northern State

ps- Do watch his appearance on Colbert.. it’s fun.

**UPDATE: Just recieved an email from the man. thank you internets.**

Media Should Not Be Business

by bicyclemark

Capitalism, at least the version that is commonly practiced in this era that we currently live in, has a long list of terrible drawbacks. The one I was thinking most about this evening, as I cruised the canals of Amsterdam, is the marriage of business and media.

Let us take a step back for a moment. While pure capitalism seems to push for a world where everything is a commodity and everything can be bought and sold. We know, in fact, that many things cannot and SHOULD NOT be for sale. Examples of this include matters of public safety, like the Fire Department. Many centuries ago they experimented with private fire brigades in the US, but of course houses that didn’t pay for service burned down and led to other houses catching fire. Clearly, fire protection was deemed something that cannot be a business.

Let us return to media, a far cry from the world of fires and fire protection. Media is widely operated around the world as a business. While there are numerous public media run from public funds, a majority of the world’s information comes from media companies that are private businesses. Why even in terms of language (english anyway) you hear this cultural norm in the term “the newspaper business”. Yup, when you talk about media, you’re almost always talking about business.

Yet everywhere you look there is evidence of what a terrible and detrimental marriage this is. News reports mixed with advertisements to the point you can’t tell which is which. Media companies buying other media companies and cutting staff and budgets in order to increase profit margins. News programs covering topics that will attract the most amount of people in order to attract the most amount of advertisers, appealing to people’s insecurities, fears, or dreams. Ignoring news that makes people uncomfortable about their lives, their government, or the companies they help fund. Firing or marginalizing reporters that dare to challenge this system, by direct or indirect orders of business managers or sponsors.

Over and over again, now of course, on the internet, we are told that media is a business and that is just how it has to be.

G8, never forget.

People ask me, “Maybe you could make a living out of your work on the site by having ads or a sponsor”, and I make some excuse about not being sure what to do. The truth is I am very sure it has been and would be a mistake. More than that, I disagree with the global norm, the widely accepted tradition that this is how media works and the world will be fine if this continues. It’s not fine. We are not ok, and one of the most basic reasons is the way our media system functions… the business of reporting the news.

And so I carry on without the sponsors. Without the money that journalists need to survive. Like many of my friends and fellow reporters on the internet, I try to formulate a better way. Or more often, sit here hoping that if I keep doing my work, that new day will finally come when media breaks free from business and finds a better way to exist. One where reporting about people and injustice gets the priority, and funding comes without the need to sell something or compromise the essential principles that make it possible to shed light on what has been left in the dark for much too long.