The "Kathy Sierra" affair caused Chris Locke, co-author of Cluetrain Manifeso to post his version/take. My take from reading about the affair.
This whole affair unfolded because "Web 2.0" not just allows, but
enforces, anonymity. Provable Identities don't exist.
In an hour's scrolling through posts, I never saw this point [or anything like it] made.
How far would this thing have gone if the police could've tracked the posters quickly and unequivocally?
Presumably within a day or so the perpetrators would've been identifiedand action initiated, legal jurisdictions allowing.
There are good reasons to allow & support anonymity on the Web -"Freedom of Speech" is part of it, along with denying Political suppression and enabling 'whistleblowing'.
But the ugly human stuff of stalking, intimidation and control-by-fear need effective checks and consequences.
Knowing the type of content you are downloading is a basic right - the same way that we don't go into newsagencies, bookshops and libraries and get surprised by the content. The same way that various TV stations will broadcast 'social content' warnings before some programs (violence, 'disturbing or graphic images', 'images of deceased people' and even 'images of surgery'). Our society has very well developed methods of flagging content that some audiences may wish to avoid - right up to full TV, movie & print "classification" and censorship. Plus we have blanket bans, enshrined in legislation, on things like "kiddie porn" and "snuf movies".
Simple minded banning of pages based on keywords or URL makes a priori judgements of what will and won't offend the audience - or under high-control regimes, what is or is not banned/seditious material. Then it becomes a simple "arms race" - two camps competing against one another (attack and defense), and by definition the reactive side can only respond once a new exploit/mechanism is noticed and identified. Yep, it's effective against people obeying the rules, but at the price of massive collateral damage and never being sure you're not compromised.
Generally, the USA is particularly sensitive to sexual matters, but not to violence. Sweden mostly has very different mores...
Filtering all pages that mention 'breast' or it's (English language) derivatives and colloquialisms fails in many ways, especially for medical & pregnancy issues ('false positives') and is easily circumvented by mistyping, obfuscation or using images ('false negatives') and is completely irrelevant for non-English language pages.
In the world of IT Security, this is why we now have Firewalls andIntrusion Detection Systems [and now systems that actively seek to confuse/entrap/counter attackers.] Funny - just like in the real world.
I'm thinking the web-server is the place to insert consistent meta-tags into content.
And that requires a minimum additional two publication stages - author, reviewer, editor/publisher - [as described by Peter Miller in his Aegis Documentation piece (82Kb PDF ) Aegis Is Only For Software, Isn't It?].
Nothing publicly published should go untagged - and that needs independent review and an enforced process to
[OK, so where does that leave the wonderful world of 'blogs'?]
We live in interconnected communities, now global in Cyberspace. All of us have sensitivities that should be respected and the publishing world evolved over many centuries a tradition of "no surprises". It's a convention that has served us well before Cyberspace, it would serve us there as well or better - with everyone "just one click away" from your content.
Free Speech is only a Right in some countries.
Censorship is a given and necessity, even in the most "enlightened" countries - where it might be called 'national security' :-)
And there are globally shared mores/values/injunctions against such things as child pornography and worse.
It's not an even playing field, and will never, can never, be.
My opinion is that laws like the DMCA [USA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act] and the Australian "anti-spam and pornography" laws [no refs] are wrong-headed and irrelevant at best - and counter-productive at worst.
With the Global Net and One Shared Cyberspace, and many cultures, beliefs, religions, etc etc, "Web 2.0" needs to add:
mandatory content tagging.
Then we can adibe by our tired-and-true convention "no surprises" and respect all our differences and sensitivities.