I always say that the great thing about the Internet is that it brings people together who would otherwise might never have met. The bad news is that regardless of the Internet, the place they would likely have met is prison. Who are these people? You know–The Trolls. Often corporate backed attackers leaving pre-digested bits of astroturf in the comments on well-meaning and heartfelt blog posts.
And so it is with Zoë Keating’s excellent point about data. What has brought out the trolls this time is something more commercially debased than just copyright–it is that Ms. Keating has pulled back a little corner of the curtain that conceals the Great and Powerful Oz.
Let’s be honest–for the Great Troll Google, every aspect of their business is about collecting data. This has held true from the Wi-Spy debacle, to the debacle of Google’s near-indictment for profiting from the sale of illegal drugs, to YouTube. And since Google presents the Federal Trade Commission with the classic Bundler’s Dilemma (how does a Presidential appointee prosecute a company whose executives have raised millions for the appointee’s boss and who provided the data crunching for a successful campaign?), it is unlikely that anything will stop the Great Troll Google. And Google is a good proxy for the other services, because the other services know that all they need do is let Google fight that one for them.
And if Google don’t share their data with the US Government–we assume–then does anyone think Google will share their data with an artist? Even if that data solely concerns her fans and her music?
In a word–no. Not voluntarily, anyway. To paraphrase Arthur Jensen (in Network), you are meddling with the primal forces of nature, Ms. Keating, and you will atone.
And that is reason alone for The Man 2.0 to send in the gangs of Straw Men, the Categorical Imperatives and other members of the intimidation squad. And of course no one knows this better than the Head Trollette herself, Jill Hazelbecker–at least according to the New York Times. (When Ms. Hazelbecker was caught trolling on New Jersey Democratic Party websites on behalf of her Republican candidate.) That would be the same Jill Hazelbecker, now the Head Trollette of Google a/k/a Google’s Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. I wonder what Google found most compelling about her qualifications?
So we should not be surprised that Ms. Keating has been slashdotted and trolled–that’s actually confirmation that she has a startlingly brilliant idea that will send a shiver down the backs of incumbents.