Listkeepers - Declan McCullagh - Politech
www.politechbot.com Mstation: > When did you start the politech list? Declan McCullagh: I started the Politech list in 1994. It's gone through a number of iterations since then, from a hand-maintained list to majordomo on an MIT server and then, most recently, to Mailman. I finally added a Web site in 2000. > What did you have in mind when you did? Initially Politech was just focused on free speech online. This was, after all, the time that universities were censoring their Internet use and now-retired Sen. Jim Exon was introducing the Communications Decency Act. > While there's no stated interest in libertarianism, > the general feel of the list is that this, or strands of it, are quite > high on some agendas. Do you agree? I think that's right. T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor says it better than I can: The U.S. technology industry has flourished because of the lack of government regulation. That means geeks tend to be a bit more suspicious of big government. I get the impression that there are relatively few ardent Democrats or Republicans on Politech. Many are pro-regulation types that might vote for Ralph Nader. But at least as many are in favor of individual liberty and free markets. Whether that makes them libertarian or not is up for them to decide! > Do you think that there can be a "caring and sharing" libertarianism? Sure. Libertarianism is merely a philosophy of what government should and shouldn't do. It doesn't speak to what individuals should do in their private affairs. Charity is part of that private sphere. > Ah, I just found a great quote at > http://world.std.com/~mhuben/critobj.html > that I have to work into this ... > 'Ayn Rand was a truculent, domineering cult-leader, whose Objectivist > pseudo-philosophy attempts to ensnare adolescents with heroic fiction > about righteous capitalists.' Such a quote probably calls for a > defense. Care to make one? I'm not so critical of Ayn Rand, but I'm also hardly one to defend her. I applaud Rand's ability to popularize free-market principles and illustrate some of the fallacies of domineering government. Even though I found it a bit tiresome, there's nothing wrong with heroic fiction about righetous capitalists! But I have never been an Objectivist and view Objectivism as somewhat illogical. > I was talking to an Irish guy the other day about the Murdoch media. > His view was that ordinary people could see through all the political > agendas and make their own minds up in a rational way. I'm inclined to > think "garbage in - garbage out". What do you think? By and large, people do behave rationally. But the amount of influence you have over, say, who is elected to national office is for most people insigificant. The cost of researching where each candidate stands on each issue important to you is substantial. Therefore it can easily be argued that it's rational to remain ignorant of politics. I think the average American has a healthy distrust of Washington politicians. But at the same time the average American, if I can be so bold, seems sadly ignorant of economic reality. Why else do protectionist measures enjoy so much support, even though they raise prices and may lead to more unemployment than employment? > One of the prime uses of a free press is to illuminate the dark > corners of government dealing so that they are made accountable. > The internet adds to this by making the barriers to publication so low. > What do you think the future holds as far as keeping it that way > is concerned? It's a constant struggle, but I'm optimistic. It's always tempting to reach for hyperbole, but in this case it may be justified. The Internet is a catalyst for a torrent of news and debate -- the likes of which the world has never seen before. > You're a serious digital photographer. What's the coolest big number > of pixels camera there is right now? Well, I reviewed the Canon 1Ds for CNET a year ago, and that's still a remarkable camera at 11 megapixels. (http://reviews.cnet.com/Canon_EOS_1Ds_Digital_SLR/4505-6501_7 -20610303.html) Because the street price is around $5,500, I own its little brother, the 10D at 6.3 megapixels. While I think Canon has an edge, Nikon has similar products. And of course dedicated scanning backs have far more pixels. But there's a limit to how big you can make a digital sensor at a reasonable price. That's why I still shoot with an analog 4x5 view camera for landscapes. It costs me a few dollars per photo, but I have arguably 40x the resolution of even a top digital SLR. Earlier this month I framed a 16"x20" photo of Yosemite for my living room. I don't have my view camera photos online because of the difficulty involved in scanning them. > If someone asked you to get some architectural photos of a building, > would you grab a digital or go find a plate camera? It depends on what the client wants. A view camera's second big advantage is that, because the film is not neceessarily parallel to the lens, it won't have the same kind of distortion you see with all but a few 35mm lenses. > I'm not sure if you're still a correspondent for Wired but > do you know what Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe are doing now? I'm no longer affiliated with Wired. I did have lunch with Louis Rossetto when I was in San Francisco a year or so ago. He's a remarkable fellow; I've always been a fan. At that time, at least, Louis seemed focused on his personal and family life. >Thanks a lot Declan.
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