Over on Ars there’s an article talking about how Ohio legislators are considering requiring heavy ebay sellers to become accredited auctioneers. In effect, if you’re making a living hawking crap on ebay, and you live in Ohio, you’d have to pony up $200 for a license, attend an auctioneer class, study under an existing auctioneer for a year, and post a $50K bond.
We’ll leave the fact that the actual “Auction” part isn’t being run by you out of the equation for the moment.
The real question here is that there’s absolutely no shortage of ne’er do wells lurking about on sites like ebay, just like there’s no shortage of legislators willing to impose their “solutions”, particularly when there’s the decided benefit of additional state revenue. Sure it’s a short-sighted, easily defeated, doomed to fail piece of legislation, but it’s neither the first nor the last.
It still astounds me that nearly twenty years later, the Internets are still not widely understood. (Heck, i’ll be nice and say ten years, since the ball didn’t really get rolling until 1994 or so and http was created.) The web is still very much a “wild west” of stalwart heroes, shady characters, skiddish settlers and overbearing preachers. It’s a sea of Sergio Leone similes that spans most of the planet (although huge sections still don’t really talk to each other), and that wave of open communication scares the blue hell out of folks.
Fact is, there’s no filter available, and no nanny could ever do the job. (My advice to someone who was deeply concerned about the chance of exposing his child to risk on the Internet? Keep him off the Internet. Oh, and kill his T.V., radio and newspaper access too, but that’s beside the point.) The Internet is not self governing or self censuring. There is no controlling body and no way to enforce laws. It is both the best humanity has to offer and the worst.
It ain’t Disneyland, kids.
The fact that there’s nothing any “protector” can do, just doesn’t seem to sink in. i’m actually really happy about that.
You see, in some respects the Internet is the next evolutionary step. This one doesn’t involve any physical changes, but instead more mental ones. If you’re an idiot, you’re culled from the herd, plain and simple. There’s great benefit from this massive stream of communication, but there’s also huge amounts of risk. Your choices are to adapt, grow smarter and more cynical, or get out and become an effective dead end. What’s more, the only person responsible for you being culled is you. Smart people know that, and find at least two conflicting sources of truth for everything they read, put themselves in the head of the “bad guy” at every chance, and can predict the submerged rocks like any decent white-water rafter can.
My guess is that it’s probably another twenty years before the majority of folks figure that out, which is fine. It gives us a generation to train our kids to be even better than we are, and a generation of easy pickings for the hunters out there. (Which will give us the advantage when the hunters run low on pickings.)
Sure it’ll be ugly, evolution usually is. Plan accordingly.
Oh, and welcome to the next level.