Re: Summary and looking ahead [cr-95/10/19]


Sender: Arun Mehta <•••@••.•••>

>     I know there are wide differences of opinion on this list about
>     ratings.

As has been often pointed out, the librarians have already enunciated a
very sensible policy on the matter, they are opposed, and they explain
why. Their note has been posted twice here already, but if people have
missed it, maybe Andy can fish it out again?

The only kind of rating that I would like to see is the kind that people
use in research: to find out how great a paper in a technical journal is,
it is possible to check which other papers cited it. That gives one a
fair idea of what others thought of it. Likewise, it would be nice to
find out, when trying to evaluate the info on a web page, which other web
pages point to it.

Arun Mehta, B-69 Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi-24, India. Phone 6841172,6849103
"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be
stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house
as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any."--Gandhi


Sender: •••@••.••• (Kurt Guntheroth)
Subject: ratings and censorship

>   The next wave of Internet and Web standards will include ways for
>   organizations to rate public sites, and for people to install
>   filters that restrict the sites that can be downloaded.  Long
>   before Senator Exon's crusade, people have recommended ratings as
>   ways to separate the really good sites from the time-wasters
>   (something akin to book reviews).  But now ratings are emerging as
>   form of censorship too.

Ratings are valuable.  They are a service, an index that allows consumers to
pass by information that they don't want.  There should be companies which
rate content.  Ratings companies should be free to rate content according to
whatever criteria they choose.  They should be permitted to publish or keep
secret their criteria.  They should be as free-minded or as xenophobic as
they choose.

And they should be voluntary.

Censorship occurs when one person tells another person what the rating
on their material must be.  Censorship is when there is only one label
and the author has no choice but to wear it.  Making authors rate their
own work (assuming they are liable for the rating) just passes the buck
for censorship.  It lets people pretend there is no censorship, when in
fact authors are forced to censor themselves to achieve circulation of
their work.

Why is it that we revolt when one person labels another "n--r", "k-ke",
or "g--k", but we smile when one person labels another's ideas and
expression as "obscene", "immoral", or "indecent".

We've already surrendered to self-censorship of motion pictures.  Recorded
music is teetering on the edge of self-censorship, as is the video-game
industry.  Books have escaped.  Perhaps we've learned over bitter years that
it's too dangerous to mess with this medium.  Perhaps we are more prudish
than we once were (hard to imagine).

(Moderator's note: I cleaned up Kurt's language, not out of fear of
censorship, but because I have often heard that people find the words
so offensive they get upset to see them, even when the context is
meant to criticize the use of the words.--Andy)

 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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