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New Technology for Digital Democracy

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the sit-down-strike dept.

Technology 176

An anonymous reader submitted this interesting software request/editorial piece. The idea of digital demonstrations is still more or less in its infancy; various methods have been tried but none have proven to be perfect. Slashdot recently covered one presentation about digital demonstrations given at H2K2 [grep Dornseif] - the slides are online. The writer has glossed over some technical details, and the theoretical system he describes doesn't meet all of Dornseif's criteria for a digital demonstration which mimics physical ones (which seemed pretty well thought out at H2K2), but it's certainly an interesting idea nonetheless.

Votester, A New Tool for Digital Democracy and Digital Demonstrations
by Anonymous

The Problem: Free-speech and right to assemble are threatened

Peaceful public assembly, free-speech and even civil-disobedience are essential to maintaining the balance of democracy in the USA and worldwide. Yet as recent public demonstrations have shown us (for example those against war, the IMF and the World Bank) in our modern-day society it is increasingly difficult, ineffective, and even dangerous for citizens to exercise their democratic rights to assembly and free-speech.

  • Many nations do not allow open public dissent at all, and the penalties for participating in demonstrations are severe. In several cases, international governing and policy-making bodies have deliberately selected such nations for their meetings, in order to prevent demonstrations.
  • Even in democratic nations such as the USA, peaceful demonstrators are often violently harassed, attacked, detained, arrested and imprisoned by police.
  • The police are more organized and equipped than ever before with tear gasses, irritant sprays, stun guns, rubber bullets, water cannons, body armor, etc.
  • Demonstrators can now be arrested and prosecuted as "domestic terrorists" if they participate in civil disobedience or their actions are deemed a threat to "national security."
  • The mainstream media provides only scant, token coverage of large public protests and civil unrest, often whitewashing out incidents of police brutality, human rights violations, and violations of the right to free-speech and assembly.
  • An increasingly large percentage of the world population (especially in developed nations) is over the age of 50 and cannot safely participate in public demonstrations due to the physical fragility and health risks associated with aging. They simply cannot risk getting beaten up by the police. In other words, the majority of citizens cannot safely assemble and demonstrate.

The Solution: Votester, a new tool for Digital Democracy

What is needed is a new technology that enables all citizens to safely and peacefully assemble, exercise their rights to free speech, and perform civil disobedience if necessary. This can be accomplished using an innovative application of open-source, peer-to-peer (P2P) technology on the Internet, which we call "Votester." Votester does not exist yet. It is the hope of the authors that one or more groups of technologists reading this document will be inspired to create versions of it and make them freely available to the general public.

Votester enables peers to automatically send recurring email messages and/or HTTP requests to a set of addresses associated with a digital demonstration. The rate at which messages/requests are sent by each peer to each address is determined by either (a) a function of the number of people in the digital demonstration, or (b) the peer-owner's individual preferences.

The Votester function mentioned in (a) increases the number of messages and requests sent per peer, per unit time, proportionally as the number of peers in the digital demonstration increases. In other words, the number of parties endorsing a digital demonstration is used as an implicit measure of its legitimacy and thus allows for the digital demonstration to be "louder." This prevents Votester from being used to harass individuals on a small-scale, while still enabling it to be used for large-scale protests. As the number of peers in a digital demonstration increases, the number of email messages and http requests received per unit of time by the targets of the demonstration can become large enough their organizations and IT infrastructures are overloaded. For small digital demonstrations, Votester results in the equivalent of letter-writing campaigns. For large digital demonstrations - such as demonstrations that attract hundreds of thousands or millions of participants, Votester results in significant inconvenience or even denial-of-service for the targeted addresses.

For example, to protest the policies of the World Bank and the IMF, parties could run copies of Votester on their personal computers around the Internet. They could join a group called "World Bank and IMF demonstration." Members of this group would all receive a set of email formletters, email addresses and HTTP addresses. These might include addresses for the World Bank, IMF, politicians, corporations and even media organizations. Their peers would periodically send out the email formletter(s) to each address, and/or issue HTTP requests to any URLs included in the demonstration as well. The rate at which their peers send out messages and requests is determined as a function of the number of participants in the demonstration group: If more peers participate, each peer is allowed to send more messages per unit/time. For small scale demonstrations each peer might only send the email message once per week, but for large demonstrations each peer might send the email message once per day or even once per hour.

Votester provides a number of additional useful features to users:

  • Peers report their activity to other peers in the digital demonstration, thus all peers can see the statistics of demonstrations that are taking place. Relevant statistics are included in email messages sent by peers for particular demonstrations. For example, an email protesting a policy includes information about the protest, stats about the number of peers involved in the protest and the number of messages sent by them.
  • Peers also provide a directory of current and proposed protests, and a means for users to join protests, leave protests, post messages to discussion groups, propose new protests to the community, manage protests they start, and send announcements to protest-participants.
  • Votester peers may send email messages via their owner's email accounts and/or via built-in sendmail capabilities and/or via public email servers on the network.
  • Votester peers have dynamic IP addresses that change each time they are launched.

Benefits of Votester

It's legal. In the USA democratic system, it is not illegal for a citizen to send an email containing their opinion on an important issue to others in the society. Even if they send their email more than once, this is legal. It is also not illegal for a citizen to visit a Web page repeatedly. Since each Votester peer only sends a few messages (such as once per day, or once per hour, etc.) no individual peer can be considered to be engaging in illegal harassment, hacking, denial of service, etc. Rather it is only the totally decentralized, emergent activity of the entire group that results in large volumes of messages and requests being received by target addresses. Therefore no individual is liable. (Please Note: We are not lawyers and the legality of these claims still needs to be evaluated and established by professional lawyers, and no doubt they will be challenged by governments and others if and when Votester is deployed.)

It's non-violent. However annoying Votester may be it is not comparable to violent demonstrations in which property is damaged and/or humans are injured. Votester demonstrations are peaceful, they are simply email and HTTP campaigns. All that is exchanged is information.

It's safe. Participants in digital demonstrations are not physically at risk. They can make their opinions known without getting beaten up, tear-gassed, pepper sprayed, etc. They can also protest without getting arrested.

It's effective. Digital demonstrations get noticed - they may actually cause enough inconvenience to target addresses that they can't help but notice them. They also cannot effectively be blocked by the police, so they last longer and can accomplish their objectives with fewer obstacles.

It's open. Anyone can participate in Votester demonstrations, including people who for reasons such as age, disability, ethnicity, economic status, etc. would not feel safe participating in physical demonstrations, or simply do not have the time or money to travel to a remote location and risk several days of detention etc.

It's unstoppable. Digital demonstrations are hard to block. Since messages come from dynamic IP addresses all over the network, targets have no effective way to shield themselves from them. They cannot anticipate the IP addresses that messages will be received from, and even if they block particular addresses, new parties are always joining and the IP addresses of participants change dynamically.

Conclusions

It is our hope that someone reading this will be inspired enough to create an implementation of Votester, and that they will release it as a free, open-source tool for the public. We believe that creating Votester will be an interesting project in its own right - for it presents a number of technical, social and user-interface design challenges that are worth solving. In particular, in order for Votester to succeed, it must provide strong anonymity protection to users, it must also facilitate a sense of community such that users can easily locate and participate in demonstrations of interest to them, finally it must be immune to attempts at hacking or misusing it so that it cannot be used for harassment by small groups and it cannot be blocked or manipulated by various parties.

cancel ×

176 comments

woot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4350962)

another fp for skib

Technology is ruining our world (-1)

Sir Bard (605512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4350963)

Look at all the polution and stuff socialism doesn't work but linux still roolz

Filter. (1)

Fantanicity (583135) | more than 11 years ago | (#4350970)

This is so easy to filter.
The PTB don't need to send out the police to deal with the demonstration, they just turn off their mail server for the duration and continue ruling the owrld.

Re:Filter. (5, Insightful)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351085)

The concept allows for a broad type of interactions. You cannot stop 100,000 web requests from seperate ip space without *you* causing a DOS on yourself. What is the difference between real traffic and this? Nothing they are both legitimate clients. The same will go for mail. ftp. etc.

Re:Filter. (2, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351184)

Give me a break. A digital demonstration will never get noticed as much as a physical one. Geeks, if you want something done get off your ass and get up there. Anyways, this sounds dangerously similar to eMail bombing someone, which I'm sure won't get you noticed in a positive way. Oooh, just annoy them to death. Sure, exact letter repetition gets you noticed. I know I open up every copy of the Nigerian money scam I get (*sarcasm folks*). Anyways, this story is boring. I'm moving on.

Re:Filter. (3, Insightful)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351243)

In your opinion did the ebay dos of latter days not get onto the news? The papers? The court system?

Money is what matters.
When people block the whitehouse they used to stop the flow of communication, the flow of governing, now they do not. Cash still flows. The governing goes on. To be effective one must stop the flow. The form it takes now is the internet. It is time to use this medium that has brought back the ability to have civil disobedience.

I am a part of the activist community. I am also a geek. I think people all bring a trade to the table. So if you have the ability to bring computers to the activist table you should do so.

I suggest you get yourself a copy of "electronic civil disobedience" by the critical art ensemble.

Why again can't a NAP be shut down? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351262)

Of course you can shut down as much of the web as you want to. Governments can simply walk into NAPs with guns pointed and tell them to shut down...shut down the entire NAP or go to federal prison.

Is it just me... (5, Insightful)

BlueGecko (109058) | more than 11 years ago | (#4350988)

...or does this sound like a Distributed.net-style of spam? I am not kidding. Maybe it's necessary in some countries to get the message across, but are we sure this is the only option? The potential for abuse here is utterly insane...

My complaint about Michael Sims (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4350995)

After reading this letter, you will never again be able to trust Michael Sims, and you will see with crystal clarity the way that his testy press releases are to politics what the blitzkrieg was to international diplomacy. To plunge right into it, if there's an untold story here, it's that he says that he is always being misrepresented and/or persecuted. That's a stupid thing to say. It's like saying that divine ichor flows through his veins. The implications of psychotic denominationalism may seem theoretical, but they have concrete meaning for thousands of people. One might think that the notion that Michael runs at the first sign of trouble is pervasive, and this is, not surprisingly, the case. How I pity him if I were to be his judge. I would start by notifying the jury that all the deals Michael makes are strictly one-way. Michael gets all the rights, and the other party gets all the obligations.

Though I don't doubt the depth of his sentiments, it's rather the form of his expressions that I find both sententious and loathsome. I want to thank him for his theories. They give me an excellent opportunity to illustrate just how repressive Michael can be. After I develop an alternative community, a cohesive and comprehensive underground with a charter to fight the warped, distorted, misshapen, unwholesome monstrosity that his editorials have become, I know that everyone will come to the dismayed conclusion that I stated at the beginning of this discussion: In his declamations, larrikinism is witting and unremitting, soulless and imprudent. He revels in it, rolls in it, and uses it to impose unruly new restrictions on society just to satisfy some sort of profligate drive for power. I don't mean to condemn anyone's beliefs, but if Michael can give us all a succinct and infallible argument proving that he has mystical powers of divination and prophecy, I will personally deliver his Nobel Prize for Barbaric Rhetoric. In the meantime, either Michael has no real conception of the sweep of history, or he is merely intent on winning some debating pin by trying to pierce a hole in my logic with "facts" that are taken out of context. You do not need to be reckless to know that his undertakings remain opaque to many observers who dismiss him on the basis of his childish hatchet jobs and general lunacy. But don't take my word for it; ask any noxious slubberdegullions you happen to meet.

We are on a slippery slope towards economic strife, social turmoil, cultural chaos, and squalid cynicism. That shouldn't surprise you when you consider that my general thesis is that one of his dupes once said, "What I call self-aggrandizing fruitcakes have dramatically lower incidences of cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, and many other illnesses than the rest of us." Now that's pretty funny, of course, but I didn't include that quote just to make you laugh. I included it to convince you that there is no defense against ridicule. Why do I tell you this? Because these days, no one else has the guts to. I'll talk a lot more about that later, but first let me finish my general thesis: The next time Michael decides to force us to bow down low before fork-tongued extortionists, he should think to himself, cui bono? -- who benefits? If I may be permitted to make an observation, Michael thinks that a richly evocative description of a problem automatically implies the correct solution to that problem. However, I've never encountered anything as haughty as his agendas. This raises the question: Is he so hate-filled as to think that this can go on forever? In other words, how uncontrollable can he be? To rephrase that question, why doesn't he point a critical finger at himself for a change? This is not a question that we should run away from. Rather, it is something that needs to be addressed quickly and directly, because I find that some of his choices of words in his hijinks would not have been mine. For example, I would have substituted "vitriolic" for "microcinematographic" and "vainglorious" for "incomprehensibleness." While Michael has a right, as do we all, to believe whatever he wants about sadism, I recently heard him tell a bunch of people that it's okay for him to indulge his every whim and lust without regard for anyone else or for society as a whole. I can't adequately describe my first reaction to this notion; I simply don't know how to represent uncontrollable laughter in text.

He will go to almost any extreme to prevent my message of truth from getting out. Why is that relevant to this letter? Because I truly have a hard time trying to reason with people who remain calm when they see Michael create problems that our grandchildren will have to live with.

The credentialism "debate" is not a debate. It is a harangue, a politically motivated, brilliantly publicized, anti-democratic attack on progressive ideas. From what I understand, the objection may still be raised that no one is smart enough to see through Michael's transparent lies. At first glance, this sounds almost believable. Yet the following must be borne in mind: While we do nothing, those who impose tremendous hardships on tens of thousands of decent, hard-working individuals are gloating and smirking. And they will keep on gloating and smirking until we convince the government to clamp down hard on Michael's slurs. It's not just the lunatic fringe that's in Michael's corner; a number of previously respectable people have begun backing him.

I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people. I can therefore assure you that we mustn't let Michael promote the lie of extremism. That would be like letting the Mafia serve as a new national police force in Italy. He is locked into his present course of destruction. He does not have the interest or the will to change his fundamentally lascivious inveracities. If it were up to Michael, schoolchildren would be taught reading, 'riting, and racism. By the end of the decade, he will indulge in a vast orgy of murder to sate his innate blood-lust and his hatred of his betters. People have commented that there may be a gap in my logic there. I don't think there is, and I've gone to great pains to explain why. A great many thoughtful people share my concerns about him. For proof of this fact, I must point out that the reason he wants to turn me, a typically mild-mannered person, into a crude vat of fascism is that he's entirely malign. If you believe you have another explanation for his jejune behavior, then please write and tell me about it.

To put it another way, if Michael can one day abuse science by using it as a mechanism of ideology, then the long descent into night is sure to follow. I want to draw two important conclusions from this. The first is that I resent being exposed to irritable sideshow barkers, and the second is that if we let him palm off our present situation as the compelling ground for worldwide onanism, civilization itself will fall. I'll say that again, because I want it to sink in: Only unbridled clunks are capable of imagining that it is his moral imperative to manipulate everything and everybody.

If we can understand what has caused the current plague of uncompromising wastrels (especially the licentious type), I believe that we can then shatter the illusion that Michael's mottos are our final line of defense against tyrrany. Might I suggest that Michael search for a hobby? It seems he has entirely too much time on his hands, given how often he tries to inculcate foul-mouthed sentiments. Fortunately, most people understand that I've heard of contemptuous things like neocolonialism and tribalism. But I've also heard of things like nonviolence, higher moralities, and treating all beings as ends in and of themselves -- ideas which his ignorant, unthinking, obdurate brain is too small to understand.

Here's an eye-opener for you: I oppose his words because they are unregenerate. I oppose them because they are slaphappy. And I oppose them because they will push our efforts two steps backward by next weekend. I guess what I really mean to say is that to believe that Michael's vices are the only true virtues is to deceive ourselves.

In light of my stance on this issue, I am tired of hearing or reading that doing the fashionable thing is more important than life or liberty. You know that that is simply not true. I do not find warnings that are self-absorbed, feckless, and prurient to be "funny". Maybe I lack a sense of humor, but maybe Michael wants to force us to do things or take stands against our will. Such intolerance is felt by all people, from every background. "What's that?", I hear you ask. "Is it true that to deny this is to deny science, let alone the evidence of one's own powers of observation?" Why, yes, it is. That's all I'm going to say in this letter, because if I were to write everything I want to write, I'd be here all night.

The Amazing Class Tester (2)

webword (82711) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351001)

Class testers.VOTester [soften.ktu.lt]

Just a scary thought..... (5, Insightful)

Gruturo (141223) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351004)

What if somebody hacks into votester's security protocols and (ab)uses thousands of systems to Ddos/spam the hell out of whoever they don't like?

Really, this looks like you are knowingly installing a Ddos zombie on your box, which is just waiting to be cracked and abused.

Not trolling.... sincerely worried.

None Have Proven to Be Perfect (1)

1alpha7 (192745) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351008)

"none have proven to be perfect"

More like, not worked. The first step to making a political point is to show up. And calling this a "digital demonstrations" doesn't make it any less a DDOS.

1 Alpha 7

what is this, indymedia? (-1, Troll)

Pave Low (566880) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351011)

maybe if this proposal wasn't prefaced with leftist america-bashing that is not accurate to say the least, I would take this a little more seriously.

The premise is wrong too, you can argue that freedom has actually been increasing for more people in the USA and the world.

But hey, with an editor like michael, "features" like this are newsworthy when it is in fact just another of his pet issues he likes to push.

Re:what is this, indymedia? (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351282)

you can argue that freedom has actually been increasing for more people in the USA and the world.

Wage slavery isn't freedom...it's umm...slavery.

Not for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351013)

I still prefer the old-fashioned way of protest & dissent. Barring the risk of being arrested, I still enjoy breaking windows, destruction of property and other acts of wanton destruction/violence (all in the name of [place cause here], of course).

Re:Not for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351034)

>I still prefer the old-fashioned way of protest & dissent. Barring the risk of being arrested, I still enjoy breaking windows, destruction of property and other acts of wanton destruction/violence (all in the name of [place cause here], of course).

Agreed. I like destroying Windows (tm, Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved)

Another form of leftist destruction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351014)

Wonderful! Another way for Stalin apologists and anarchy kiddies to cause damage online, to go with smashing windows and keeping people from getting to work so they can put food on the table!

The people who put this stuff together seem to support terrorism - isn't there something that can be done about creeps like this?

Re:Another form of leftist destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351135)

Maybe we should ship them all to Europe where they've been brainwashed into thinking that socialism is still a good thing.

Similar to other demonstration (5, Insightful)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351021)

Votester enables peers to automatically send recurring email messages and/or HTTP requests to a set of addresses associated with a digital demonstration. The rate at which messages/requests are sent by each peer to each address is determined by either (a) a function of the number of people in the digital demonstration, or (b) the peer-owner's individual preferences.

On first reading, this seems like it would be less effective than the flooding demonstration found in the slideshow from the link up top. The slideshow details basically a flood attack designed to essentially produce the "slashdot effect" to the website--this method just floods them with emails.

The /. method has the problem that the more bandwidth the target has, the less effective it is (and with demonstrations, it's likely we're going up against bigger purses). This e-mail deal seems way too easy to block and therefore does not solve the outstanding complications of the other.

I applaud their efforts (and to some extent success--consider Lufthansa), but since we're not anonymous in the digital world like we are in public, I think it'd take radical approaches to be effective. Of course, with the DMCA and it's broad verbiage, at what point is a digital demonstration an illegal digital riot? Imagine a few boxen on a webserver designed to filter out repeated protest e-mails--if the implementation mentioned above were improved enough to get past these filters, would that be breaking a security system?

Re:Similar to other demonstration (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351064)

First we are not anonymous in the public world. "Show me your papers" ruins that.

Second it isn't the slashdot effect in bandwidth.
It is the webserver unable to handle requests reguardless of bandwidth availible. (ask how if you still dont get it)

Re:Similar to other demonstration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351314)

Thanks for the clarification--I get it now. The slideshow didn't make the distinction however (I assume it's for a less tech-savvy crowd) and therefor I was misinformed.

Bad idea (1, Troll)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351022)

Free voting at the press of a button? Sounds utopian and egalitarian, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.

With electronic democracy, public apathy would skyrocket. It might have some interest at first, but soon enough people just would click yes to boring bill HR13213 no matter what it contained just to get voting out of the way! How often do YOU really think and mull over the issue when you click that poll over to the right on slashdot? CowboyNeal for President? That would be "cool," but in all seriousness, that's probably what would happen if voting restrictions were relaxed.

A voting system that actually works requires voting qualifications. If we let the trolls mod slashdot, it would go right down the drain. When the Founding Fathers set up our government, only the richest 10% of white men could vote due to property qualifications and so forth -- we're not a "democracy" -- we're a Republic. Soon, it was extended to more white men, then eventually women could vote, and eventually nonwhites were allowed to officially vote without any harassment.

Nowadays, the only roadblock to voting is registering and showing up, and people could care less. Most high schoolers and even college students cannot even distinguish between Republican and Democrat political views, and about half of all voters practically vote randomly when they're at the ballot box!

Are people like that fit to run the country because they're entitled to? Absolutely not! People that ignorant should not be allowed to vote, and ever since we removed all restrictions, this country has turned into a cesspool welfare state -- though we're still not as bad as Europe or Canada.

Forget easy access to voting -- something should be done to make it HARDER to vote. Heinlein didn't have a bad idea with military service requirements to vote, but that's not entirely practical -- instead, we should re-instate a poll tax of $400. If you aren't willing to pay hard cash for your rights to vote, then you shouldn't be able to vote. I honestly don't want apathists running the government anymore.

Re:Bad idea (3, Insightful)

Mage Powers (607708) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351056)

So wait a sec here, if you restrict people that can vote to people that can blow $400, will those people put thought into it? I don't think so, I think people that can throw $400 away will go vote randomly because they can.

Re:Bad idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351093)

You must be totally out of your mind, I bet you are one of those 10% with too much spare time, sitting on slashdot trolling around with a cigarr in your mouth. When it comes to democracy US is way below Europe, and dropping more day by day. I don't know I I should laugh or cry at your miserable way of thinking.
Duh!
Cincerely Richard

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351122)

When it comes to democracy US is way below Europe

yeah, if you're a socialist that wants the government to be your nanny for you. I prefer the United States where the individual is more important than the state.

Re:Bad idea (0, Troll)

TheLostOne (445114) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351210)

I prefer the United States where the individual is more important than the state.

I think the orig poster meant the US of AMERICA.. which obviously doesn't apply. (Perhaps you meant 'where the individual Corporation is more important then the state? :)

Re:Bad idea (3, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351114)


Forget easy access to voting -- something should be done to make it HARDER to vote. Heinlein didn't have a bad idea with military service requirements to vote, but that's not entirely practical -- instead, we should re-instate a poll tax of $400. If you aren't willing to pay hard cash for your rights to vote, then you shouldn't be able to vote. I honestly don't want apathists running the government anymore.


That's a bad, bad, BAD idea. The rich can vote on a whim. The poor simply can't afford to vote.

A better idea would be either service of some kind (military, non-military government, or charity), a minimum level of education, or [my favorite] a test.

If people, at the voting booth, have to pass a rather simple competency test, that'd screen out those that don't have a clue.

Or, we could have an "informed choice" law, that provided unbiased evaluations of each canditate's views. Or maybe just hvae an electronic reader that gives each candidate for each position five hundred words to express why they should be in office.

Hmm....

It's still a good idea (-1, Troll)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351180)

That may apply for $4000, but not $400.

If you can't save up $200/year for self-determination every 2 years, then you obviously just don't care. It's not even the cost of one measly soda -- which even the "poorest" Americans indulge in regularly -- per day!

But if $400 is nothing to you, then why show up, either? Apathy is apathy, plus $400 is about the correct amount for the vast, vast majority of Americans. Truly careful and frugal people, no matter how rich, would not throw $400 away, and anyone who would spend $400 on a whim AND be determined to vote is in a minority, anyways.

If $400 is actually worth something to you, you're going to want to spend it on something worthy, like voting for self-determination and freedom. What's it worth if one doesn't have to fight for it, and just get it handed out like everything else is nowadays?

However, I'm not opposed to testing, either, whether it be for voting or especially breeding...

Re:It's still a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351219)

Voting should be free.

And your comment about voting and breeding is fucked.

First we don't let the poor vote.
Then we don't let the black kids vote.

Fuck you.

Re:It's still a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351223)

Who cares about the black kids? They probably want to use these DOS tools. Just like the poor.

Let them all hang.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351172)

instead, we should re-instate a poll tax of $400. If you aren't willing to pay hard cash for your rights to vote, then you shouldn't be able to vote.

Well, that excludes anyone living hand-to-mouth, and it would be another statist cash grab.

Making people pay to vote wouldn't make them any more inclined to vote; indeed, I think it would push attendance numbers to unheard-of depths.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351194)

If only the rich can vote, then there is no way for the poor to change the system except through violence. And that is what will happen.

The "cesspool welfare state" is in fact the only thing that stands between the rule of law and the rule of the strongest.

agoraphobia (3, Insightful)

Unordained (262962) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351230)

No, this post has nothing to do with agoraphobia. However, it does relate to your most interesting comment about the right to vote. Your point is, I assume, that you'd really rather that votes only be cast, and counted, if they are backed by a true wish to make a difference.

I can understand your frustration with the voting system. I think, though, that your feelings about it can be better channeled by looking at the following problems:

-Not everyone would have the money to vote. Not everyone is fit for military service. (etc.) Imposing any restriction besides registration would imply a class-level difference, between those who can afford to vote, and those who cannot. I'd really rather not live in a country where only the (even mildly) rich may vote -- the laws have an effect one everyone's lives. As such, I'd even rather children be allowed to vote. And tourists. And anyone else who (at least for a short while) must live under the laws of the land. If the jurisdiction of law is going to be based on land-borders, votes should also be defined purely by land-borders.

-It's not apathy that is the root of the problem. It's not that people don't care about the issues; it's that they've already made up their minds ahead of time. I come from a rather (D) family, by girlfriend from a quite staunch (R) family. In both cases, I've observed people who will go to the voting booth because they care about the issue, but would willingly 'vote down the line' (check the box at the top saying you agree with said party on all issues.) We need to educate people to care about issues rather than grand theories. I grew up in europe, where there are quite a few more parties available to vote for. Here, you rarely have more than two choices: and two choices cannot possibly represent, accurately, all the different combinations of voting preferences of the american people. But they do. Because people here refuse to deal with individual issues. And that, I think, is even worse than apathy.

-Not being able to distinguish between (D) and (R) shouldn't surprise you: in europe, they're both considered centrist movements, compared to all other available political parties. You don't see here campaigns by neo-nazies or communists. The anarchists are barely represented. Independent? What does that mean? So really, no, the two aren't that different. If you see them as radically different, then you just have an extremely narrow vision of the political spectrum. Open your eyes.

-Representation is a problem: would it have mattered if I had voted (D) in the last presidential elections? No, because the deciding factor wasn't the state I'm in -- only in Florida did every vote count (that is, obviously so.) If we had a more direct approach, where 'popular vote' were actually the vote that counted, perhaps people would be more inclined to vote, no?

-Apathy isn't surprising: consider slashdot. Most of us are pissed off that our congresscritters (what a fond name) won't listen to us. Shouldn't they be listening? If they're not, and our votes don't really matter, then we're not left with much but civil disobedience. And with recent laws, that's not nearly as safe as it used to be. Check around -- police violence is a problem, and it's stifling even our ability to hold protests outdoors. Check the videos available from indymedia, raisethefist, etc. of protests, say, at the presidential elections? I hadn't even seen those on television ... but it did happen. And it was shushed. People were beaten for complaining about what goes on. Are you surprised there's apathy?

I'm sure others can add to this list. I'm all for democracy -- fair democracy. Democracy in which people feel empowered to make a difference in how their country is run, how their lives will be changed by the powers that be. If they don't feel they have that, it's useless. Lobbyists, people like our families, who vote based on how their parents (and churches) vote ... those are the people who will run our lives. If it takes electronic voting to reach out to those who think the system doesn't work, then do so! Make sure they know their vote matters, whatever it takes.

Re:agoraphobia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351331)

Check the videos available from indymedia, raisethefist, etc. of protests, say, at the presidential elections?

This pretty much exposes your leftist agenda. No one trusts Indymedia except for the gullible bleeding-heart morons who repeat the crap published there everywhere they go. Even the craven violent commie and Nazi shitheads who run it know enough not to trust it!

And raisethefist... you support a site that told people how to commit terrorism. That says it all.

Ignore this freak, folks - he'd see you all in the gulag for not supporting his Party.

MOD PARENT DOWN. (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351234)

The poster obviously hasn't read a single sentence of the the slashdot story, just the headline. Groan.

The post goes on a rant about VOTING but the article is about digital protests.

As for Voteser, amusing idea. I doubt it would be successfull, and it's too similar to a DDOS. I give it a big thumbs down.

-

Re:Bad idea (0)

kaxman (466911) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351287)

I wouldn't say that Heinlein's Starship Troopers-esque society wasn't practical, it's simply that our society isn't set up that way. I mean...in his world, everyone, and EVERYONE did hard work during their time in the service. Just about as hard as they could make it. They did everything in their power to make that person want to quit. They gave everyone a shot, sure, but they made them pay for it. No cushy jobs for the handicapped, etc, just hard ones specifically suited to them. Our military just doesn't seem suited to that, even though it'd be a far better alternative to what we have now. I've always thought that'd be a great way to determine who should be allowed to vote, even though it maintains that odd line that occurs exactly at the mystical chemical transformation that occurs exactly eighteen revolutions of the earth around the sun, starting from the time you come screaming and toothless from your mother's belly, but I think I can live with that.

On that note, I'd like to formerly register my vote against your idea of a poll tax. History has shown us that the rich always use a poll tax to discriminate against the poor, just as literacy tests were used to discriminate against those who not only were not educated, but could not be under the very laws they would no doubt have voted to change, given the opportunity.

-kaxman

Re:Bad idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351291)

This site [slashdot.org] has grown so lardassed that it cannot even distinguish insightful commentary from flamebait anymore.

Re:Bad idea (2, Insightful)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351298)

Are people like that fit to run the country because they're entitled to? Absolutely not! People that ignorant should not be allowed to vote, and ever since we removed all restrictions, this country has turned into a cesspool

He has a point, just look at our president.

Re:Bad idea (1)

first axiom (311777) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351321)

Most high schoolers and even college students cannot even distinguish between Republican and Democrat political views

What is the difference between Republican and Democrat political views?

Point taken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351025)

In DC yesterday, 639 people were arrested, mostly before any damage could be done (there are suspicions a broken Citibank window and smoke bombs nearby were done by infiltrators since the cops just went and arrested everyone after herding them into that area). The police have been talking all week about "preemptive arrests" - Dept. of Precrime, anyone?

In the UK today, up to 400 000 people (SkyTV estimate) marched against war with Iraq, with very little police harassment, aside from one attempt to keep the marches from joining up and some shoving. Very few arrests.

Funny how it's easier to demonstrate in a monarchy than in the country that broke from the monarchy over "freedom".

Re:Point taken (2)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351115)

Why is it that every damn time something violent happens at one of these protests it is by 'infiltrators'? Did it every occur to you that there may just be some idiots in this protest movement?

If the protesters would police themselves and remove the idiots that cause the trouble before they had a chance to act, the police would have a much more difficult job arresting people. Then the protester would not look like violent thugs on the 6:00 News.

Also, doing some research and planing would help. (Don't have all the leaders in one place so they can be all ID'd and arrested at once. Also, learn map reading skills)

Re:Point taken (2)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351159)

If the protesters would police themselves and remove the idiots that cause the trouble before they had a chance to act, the police would have a much more difficult job arresting people. Then the protester would not look like violent thugs on the 6:00 News.

Remember: That was why the Hoover FBI infiltrated the various 60s social movements; to get them to be extreme so they would look bad.

Also, doing some research and planing would help. (Don't have all the leaders in one place so they can be all ID'd and arrested at once. Also, learn map reading skills)

I think having an organization with a lawyer on hand, and some AV recording equipment, would be a sufficient check on police brutality.

Contacting the police ahead of time and letting them know that you will be protesting is probably a good idea too. Do it far enough in advance, and if you run into legal snags ("There was a riot at your last rally, so we're going to assume that one will happen again and not let you rally") you can come up with some alternative method of protest.

Re:Point taken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351183)

I think having an organization with a lawyer on hand, and some AV recording equipment, would be a sufficient check on police brutality.

In fact, lawyers and people with recording equipment are usually all over these demonstrations - the National Lawyers Guild usually has a few people on hand, organizers tend to get some free legal representation together for demonstrators to call, and mainstream and independent media can be seen all over the place (along with plainclothes and uniformed cops taking pictures and video).

Brutality still takes place. I direct you to Portland, OR, where an anti-Bush demo was met with pepper spray and beatings, despite the presence of lawyers and cameras.

Simply put, police have the upper moral hand in the eyes of many Americans, even when they greatly abuse their power, as long as the abuse is directed at those "darn dirty hippies". It's pretty scary when you think about it - I wonder if that's what "good Germans" thought in the 1930's.

DNS Atttack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351032)

Whatever. You'd be tracked down and your ass would be history. The government would have a little talk with your ISP and you would lose access. For some turds, that is worse than getting thrown into jail with Bubba. Then again, you wouldn't have access in jail either. In any event, you'd be hunted as a cyber terrorist and you'd get your ass kicked. It wouldn't be private or secret, although you know that, don't you. So, you'd hand your ass out on a line because you would be part of a collective of terrorists. At least in this climate. This is kind of the same reason Cringley is full of pig shit [pbs.org] . You'll never reach the tipping point [wordspy.com] . Gotta run. Otherwise I'd say other stupid shit that makes sense to most of you. By the way, Slashdot tracks all this crap. They will tell the government and you'll go to jail and meet Bubba and little Bubba and Bubba's friend.

So the whole idea of this article is.... (2)

pclinger (114364) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351035)

So the whole idea is to use up all the bandwidth available by some company you don't like, or crash their servers by sending too many people to their Web site, costing them potentially thousands of dollars?

No, I don't see a lawsuit coming...

Re:So the whole idea of this article is.... (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351175)

So who are you going to sue?
The person that made the remark go to blah.com?
The tool that allows peoples computers to all be a part of a digital demonstration?

Each person in this network would have to take responsibilty for their own node, so who are you going to sue?

Also again with the bandwidth rumor.
One person on a modem can take down any webserver, mail server, and/or ftp server without exceeding the normal (perhaps even less than normal) bandwidth quota.

moronic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351044)

The police are more organized and equipped than ever before with tear gasses, irritant sprays, stun guns, rubber bullets, water cannons, body armor, etc.

Yea, God forbid we have a disorganized police that will fire real guns randomly into the crowd, instead of using non-lethal methods.

What a fuckin idiot.

Not sure what problem this solves. (1)

woogieoogieboogie (598162) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351049)

Having a place for people to BMC(bitch moan and complain) Is useless as many such places already exist. The form of protest is not what should be changed, but rather the government's which are inhibiting ones right to assemble. Sitting in secret and BMC'ing is not going to accomplish anything. OTOH if a system was devised to assist people in better organizing protests and increase protester turnout, change might occur. 500 or 1000 people rallying is a nuisance, 100,000 people rallying is a cause for alarm. If the government constantly has to call in the national guard to control assemblies, it is going to get expensive both in terms of money and in that countries international standing.

Step away from the computer! (2, Insightful)

c718333 (612217) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351050)

God forbid we get up form our computers to work for something we believe in. E-mail campaigns don't work because they're easy, anyone with the slightest interest can take five minutes to forward a form letter. Handwritten letters, phone calls, and LIVE protests show that people are willing to give up free time, get arrested and spend time organizing, thus showing that the issue is more than just a passing interest.

What gets more press for your cause, e-mailing the IMF or trying to shut-down DC by sitting in the streets? It doesn't matter what you delieve in (right, left, whatever), effort and personal sacrifice gets the word out, sitting at home on your ass does not.

Since when did DDoS become political speech? (4, Insightful)

Jim McCoy (3961) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351052)

The author is basically asking for help in writing a P2P spamming and DDoS tool. Leaving aside the legality of this action (which it quite possible is not, particularly as laws start to come down hard on spammers), it begs the question of whether or not there is any place for a "demonstration" when it comes to digital democracy. If you want to demostrate online then I would suggest that you start by demonstrating a bit of responsibility by recongnizing that just because you disagree with someone does not give you the right to silence them -- this "tool" is nothing more than a tool for a few disaffected mobs to silence those whom they disagree with rather than actually participating in the political processes that have been established to deal with these grievances.

I would suggest that the authors stop wasting time working on a thinly disguised DDoS tool and instead actually try to see how political speech and democratic ideals can actually fit together. The past few years have seen the emergence of weblogs, community forums, indymedia, and a host of other digital tools for helping people build communities of discussion and distribute ideas and information that can be used to educate and inform. I would suggest that people actually interested in digital democracy seek out these tools and help to make them better.

There is nothin more immature than a child proclaiming that if people will not listen to what he has to say then he will scream and throw a temper tantrum so that no one else can have a conversation. Grow up!

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351076)

This would not be spam. I can send you an email at mad-scientist.com telling you that I do not like your site. That is legal. This simply makes it possible to make a message heard by using legal channels.

This type of demonstration is not a child throwing a tantrum anymore than people on the street with signs would be. This is an effective way to produce a result.

I just hope its the right result (the one they want).

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351116)

Ho hum. And the people who staged sit-down strikes for civil rights in the 60's were participating in a denial of service attack as well. If only they had had your wisdom, to just stay at home and be quiet...

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (2)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351147)

Ho hum. And the people who staged sit-down strikes for civil rights in the 60's were participating in a denial of service attack as well

YES!

The civil rights movement of the 1960s was a willful disruption of society. The fact that it had a moral puprose and a good effect does not change the fact that it was a very basic DoS attack. In this extreme case, two wrongs DID make a right, becasue the second wrong showed how bad the first wrong was.

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351196)

It is not wrong to disrupt society.

The first was a wrong by the government and the second was a RIGHT by the people.

Get with it.

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (2)

(void*) (113680) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351204)

And it can go the other way as well - a wrong by a few against people.

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351318)

There is nothin more immature than a child proclaiming that if people will not listen to what he has to say then he will scream and throw a temper tantrum so that no one else can have a conversation. Grow up!


Tell this to a civil rights marcher. Or how about the founding fathers? The french under Louis XIV? No, when the oppressed and underpriveldged are ignored and marginalized to the point of irrelevance, it's time to change the rules.

Re:Since when did DDoS become political speech? (2)

Ian Bicking (980) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351328)

Meaningful demonstrations in a non-democratic power structure can only occur if there is a disruption of the normal operation of society.

In a democratic society, demonstrations are important simply because they express the will of the demonstrators. However, it should be clear that there is not even the barest veneer of democracy when it comes to certain issues in this country -- international fiscal policy being one of them (IMF, World Bank, etc).

In such a situation a demonstration can serve three purposes that I can think of:

  1. It brings people of like mind together, so they can make connections and be more productive in their efforts. This is not an end unto itself, however, as no one will be productive if they just spend time meeting with each other.
  2. It can inform the public about the issue at hand. This hasn't been terribly effective. The corporate media deserves a lot of blame for this, but by no means is that the only problem -- demonstrations aren't a good way to educate. And even an educated public still has to do something -- education is not an end unto itself.
  3. The demonstration can disrupt society, i.e., blocking traffic, causing meetings to be held in remote locations, etc. Sometimes you can disrupt only the targetted people/organizations/events -- but usually not, since the security response will make this difficult. So you are forced to disrupt all of society. The powers that be by definition have a great deal at stake in the functioning of society. While this may be an indirect effort, it is the only effort that actually does anything. It is the only function of a demonstration that is an end unto itself.
As others have pointed out, DoS has always been the primary method of peaceful civil disobedience.

And education is not the answer to all political problems. The powers that be are not ignorant of their own actions (as much as some would like to believe that if they knew the results of their actions they would somehow reform themselves). Many people are ignorant, but even as more are educated, it's essential that they do something more with their education than stew. Other suggestions are welcome, though, if you have some great idea. (Personally, I'd like to see more moral attacks on the individuals who are doing the most wrong to the world -- name names, publish pictures, picket their homes, etc)

I'm not sure this is the most effective civil disobedience proposed, but at least it's an attempt.

Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351053)

I find that these types of demonstrations are going to be getting alot of people in trouble if they lack the ability to cover their tracks.

I met Max (hey Max nice job getting slashdoted!) at Defcon 10 and he has some interesting ideas (and code) to achieve this goal. Many people will attack this and call it "leftist destruction" and "a simple DOS (or ddos)." The fact remains that we lack a clear cut manner of (effective) protest in our world.

Even in America (TM) we have lost our rights to free speech. We have areas for protest inside a fence, a free speech zone even. People being shot. Protesters and their phantoms of lost liberty have become the evil of the world. In other parts of the world we have people killed for speaking out.
I personally know Tibetian monks that China would like to kill for simply speaking out against the state.

We as a whole cannot let this type of totalitarian behavoir exsist unchecked. Be it corperate, government, private citizen. We as a whole (planet) are letting the world fall back into the clutches of fascism under the guise of "freedom."

This is where the internet comes in.

Countries, corperations and the common man all rely in someway or another every day on the net. With the tools that Max doesn't provide it (could) allow some of the tech savvy (but not tech savvy enough to write their own tools) to fight back.

This is a non violent means of accomplishing this goal, that really sets it apart from the rest. No police will even shoot a protester on accident. Imagine that.

However this type of protest is not recognized as a proper form of policial/economic protest.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351091)

Please post your home address so I can come over with a dumptruck and dump large amounts of dirt on your house/apt and car. This would be a nonviolent protest and all I would be doing is delaying you for a while.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351096)

1600 pennsylvania ave.
Washington DC USA

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (1)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351107)

That would be damaging my property, how is that non-violent? You might as well throw a brick. Or shoot my tires out.

You are the idiot that gets people killed at protests.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351121)

Who do you suggest pays for the bandwidth that these demonstations use? It could easly cost the target of the 'protests' 1000's of dollars in bw costs.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351136)

If you are a public site you clearly pay for anonymous use. If you get alot of traffic, you may not be able to afford it. I could not afford it.
However not all digital protests use massive bandwidth.

Some denial of service tools do not use excessive bandwidth however. Servers can be locked up with 1-2k a second of traffic. Read Max's paper.

Who do you think pays for it when people protest on the streets? What do you think makes any protest effective?

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351431)

"Servers can be locked up with 1-2k a second of traffic. "

Ok please demonstrate by locking up Slashdot.

oh ok wait how about CNN.

Go for it, eleet hackster D00d!

I'm waiting.

Oh ya that paper was just nonesensical bullshit from a stupid script kiddie...

oh well.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (2)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351139)

I find that these types of demonstrations are going to be getting alot of people in trouble if they lack the ability to cover their tracks.

I have no respect for someone who wants to say something, and then "covers their tracks."

Sure, I have less respect for corrupt public officials who make such things necessary--but the appropriate reaction is to go into hiding / become transient / go public, NOT try and be anonymous.

For the record, I don't think that "protest" is an idea (or even desirable) method of speech. Better to create a new communication commons, than to make our lowest-common-demoninator form of dissent more efficient.

The problem is legal, not technical--and legal problems should have legal solutions. Lobby the government to requrire any organization with law-making powers to host (or target to) dissent. Since the WTO is a governmental body, it's paid for by taxpayers and it can spend some effort to help the dissent be clear.

(Heck, they'd probaby save money if they could simply organize and clarify the dissent, and eliminate the protest rallies.)

We as a whole cannot let this type of totalitarian behavoir exsist unchecked. Be it corperate, government, private citizen. We as a whole (planet) are letting the world fall back into the clutches of fascism under the guise of "freedom."

Welcome to the real world. People want to control other people. The protesters demand to be heard. The WTO demands to do their business in peace. "Freedom" is, by and large, an ability to make a choice that often is overruled by social pressure.

However this type of protest is not recognized as a proper form of policial/economic protest.

By whom?

Proper political action is just that--action. It's not "protest."

Protest is nothing more than an interruption of society by a minority with a percieved wrong. Sometimes they're right; as often as not, they're overblown.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (2)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351158)

Well as much as your respect of my right to anonymous free speech matters to me. I have the right to anonymous free speech. In many cases it is needed to prevent violent reprisials against the protesters.

You live in a dream world if you think that the US is going to force (or even suggest) that the WTO host dissent speech. Also, just because they could host it doesn't then mean that no one else could protest (but watch if they did that I am sure they would say there is no more reason to hold protests).

My point is concise.

Protest is a disruption that will cause change when there is no effective way to punish and stop it.

Protesting in a political action.

Re:Defcon 10 (and digital demonstrations) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351425)

You live in a dream world if you think a bunch of emails to some webserver somewhere that will just get deleted by some intern is going to change WTO policy.

"Demonstration?" I object. (1)

oskarfasth (187750) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351086)

Virtual "demonstration"...

Sounds more like virtual destruction to me. Whilst there are certainly a lot of things the World Bank and IMF have done that on afterthought seems stupid and contraproductive in terms of reducing poverty, you have to keep in mind that the idea that this is because these organisations are per definition "evil" is an *opinion*. You can say it out loud to anyone you want, write it on banners, cry it on the streets. But for god's sake, what we're dealing with here is essentially a DDOS attack on their servers, intended to disrupt their communications and whatnot. Whatever the cause, how tiny damage it ever causes, it is still a lot closer to terrorism (yes, I know the word has gotten a wee bit too strong lately, but try to get my real meaning here) than demonstration.

Just because no single person is to blame, it doesnt mean that it's right. The problem, if you are of a political alignment that makes you define it as such, is political and should be dealt with in a political way. Convince the rest of us - and there will be no "enemy" .

Digital Demonstrations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351094)

Maybe those suburban, wannabe-communists that "protested" in Washington D.C. the other day should stick to digital demonstrations instead of disrupting the lives of people that are actually producers.

Re:Digital Demonstrations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351131)

Hah. Producers of what? I keep hearing how 'productive' everyone is, but where, pray tell, ARE all these products?

Re:Digital Demonstrations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351419)

Well Enron produced a lot of..well...hmmm...well on paper...hey man they created billions in wealth so just shut up ok! huh? that wealth disappeared in a big poof of smoke because it was just a mathmatical trick? hmmm, well, uh...ya uh...just shut up!

Michael... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351101)

You've been trolled.

HAA HAA!

History? You mean like in the '90s and everything? (4, Insightful)

realgone (147744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351124)

Yet as recent public demonstrations have shown us (for example those against war, the IMF and the World Bank) in our modern-day society it is increasingly difficult, ineffective, and even dangerous for citizens to exercise their democratic rights to assembly and free-speech.
I don't even know where to begin. That statement shows such an ignorance of U.S. (not to mention world) history that I feel like crawling back under my quilt and calling it an early day.

Let me be blunt: you are spoiled. To even attempt a comparison between the timid crowd control at IMF meetings and -- oh, I don't know, the entirety of the civil rights and labor movements in the U.S.? -- is naive. To suggest that the current state of affairs is somehow worse is laughable.

Tell you what -- I'm going to start an counter technology to Votester. It'll be called Cluester. Instead of spamming [pick a boogeyman] with P2P email, it'll bombard pampered activists with copies of Zinn's "People's History of the U.S." And the more people who join in, the more copies we can send out.

Seriously. Some people need to be reminded there was a world before CNN.

P.S. - Don't get me wrong; I'm all for civil disobedience where appropriate. I plan to be down in D.C. along with everyone else for next month's march against the U.S.'s Iraq policy. And I recognize there clearly remain a great many opressive regimes throughout the world. But it just hurts my teeth when people don't recognize how far they've come as they survey the distance left to go.

Re:History? You mean like in the '90s and everythi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351198)

Oh, so it's not that you're against these maurauding hooligans getting in the way and denying people the right to work and put food on the table; you just think the poster isn't leftist enough for your tastes.

America has been a greater beacon of freedom and dissent than any other country on Earth, including Saddam Hussein's Iraq which you'll demonstrate for, but you won't demonstrate for your own country, your own fellow citizens, when maniacs kill 3000 of them in one day. No, you'll make excuses for them.

Idiot. I hope your "socialist utopia" arrives and bites you in the ass. You'll be begging for the good ol' days of free America then, but you'll have helped destroy it.

Re:History? You mean like in the '90s and everythi (1)

Zebbers (134389) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351379)

ummm... appreciate the past. plan for the future.
Our digital world now has brought new 'rights' that earlier movements never thought would exist. To settle for the fact that we have alot of physical rights now because of past protesting, doesnt mean we should fight for our digital rights....or any rights left that are being stripped from us.

I'm sorry. I never buy the: it used to be worse bullshit. Or even better: it could be worse. Never settle.

heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351130)

Either that's a very click troll or you are one stupid fucker.

That is the lamest thing i have ever seen.

Ok i just can't read slashdot anymore.

That's it.

This article is just pathetic, that was really fucking sad. Ok it's just to embarrassing to read this site anymore.

I'd rather be busted reading a gay mens health magazine than these horrible "cyber activist freedom zine" sites like slashdot and "3l33t scr1pt k1dd13 d00dz" at 2600. I knew 2600 was total loser shit. Now i finally see slashdot is just as bad, maybe worse, i donno, i mean "Votetester" is fucking extremely fucking pathetic.

wow. i don't know where i got this idea that slashdot was kinda sorta respectable...i mean the stories about cartoons, the ads for mpaa movies, the stupid flamewars, etc. was all bad but i guess i didn't see the big picture of lameness until this article.

Re:heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351213)

Congratulations. You have discovered that Slashdot is nothing more than a plaything for a couple of inarticulate punks.

DUH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351137)

DDoS IS FUCKING CENSORSHIP NOT FREE SPEECH YOU STUPID SHITS.

This has to be a government plot to discredit internet activism...i mean no one could really be that stupid? could they? *shudder*

reality check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351160)

People in third world countries most exploited by IMF and the WTO generally DON'T EVEN HAVE ELECTRICITY so how the fuck is this going to work?

get real you fuckin' pussies.

Complainster; democracy at its worst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351171)

Oh great. So that ill-informed malcontents from all over the world can do some industrial strength complaining without straining their fat behinds. This is democracy at its worst.

hello (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351186)

Hi i'm a white suburban fuckwit who just came up with a totally X-treme way to Hack The Planet (tm) like we all use this over glorified e-mailbomber at the same time and like spam the man into giving us our rights!

My mom is getting mad at the high gas prices cuase it's starting to cost so much driving my little sister to her soccer games in our Ford Expedition so if we all get together and log on to AOL and run my totally X-treme Spamster e-mailbomber at the time we can make Iraq become a democracy and give us cheap oil and we can sell them McDonalds hamburgers!

I'm such a radical thinker! X-TREME D00D!

DDOS Is DDOS (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351191)

Anything other than each protester repeatedly hitting 'Reload' and/or 'Send' is DDOS and will be dismissed as such, even if nominally legal.

Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351214)

... [lyricscafe.com]
is an empty lie.

And if you don't believe a Welsh rock band, try a Harvard professor [zmag.org] .

Wake up and smell the fucking coffee.

Re:Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351224)

Stupid leftist shithead. You can't even figure out which university one of your so-called "enlightened ones" works for. He's all safe and comfy off in academia, while real Americans bust ass to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

This is a complete exposure of the intelligence level of American leftists. You all should be ignored.

Re:Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351260)

while real Americans bust ass to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

That's the whole idea of capitalism isn't it? Keep the masses producing with your capital and then you reap the rewards and they recieve just enough to survive?

I mean you bash the left and then complain about life under capitalism in the next sentence...

Re:Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351303)

That's the whole idea of capitalism isn't it? Keep the masses producing with your capital and then you reap the rewards and they recieve just enough to survive?

Uhhh, no, more like everyone works to produce enough for everyone and more, instead of a few people doing the hard work while everyone else slacks and does nothing, feeding off the hard workers.

Capitalism rewards effort. Communism rewards obedience.

Re:Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351412)

Oh so i guess all the enron workers that lost everything just didn't put in enough effort while the CEO who has more money than he can ever spend just tried harder to be a productive worker right?

"everyone else slacks and does nothing, feeding off the hard workers."

Oh ya that never happens in capitalism right? The wealthy shareholders who suck down all of a companies profits into their packets do way more than than the 1000s of employees who just recieve a low wage...

I guess the 12 year old kid in cambodia sewing nike shoes together for 20 cents an hour 16 hours a day just isn't putting in as much effort as the guy who inherited a couple million in nike stock and just has his servant bring him his quarterly report from the mailbox 4 times a year, ya he is just such a hard working productive all american son of a gun.

Ya people who work for wages are just lazy and don't put in as much effort.

Re:Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351277)

*ahem* chomsky is at MIT...

Actually that article is a little weak.

He bashes the educational system for breeding and encouraging conformance, but yet he is a famous academic at one of the most elite universities in the world who constantly tries to be non-conformist.

Sure chomsky has good points, but he is in the came class as the people who bashes.

Put your ideals where your articles are and quit MIT, an insitution that reached it's elite level through massive american military spending on research (oh ya and they got some real juicy patents to)...

oh no i guess that would be asking to much.

Crappy Article Title (2)

Kaz Riprock (590115) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351217)

Here I was ready to sit down to what could have been a very interesting way to get more people voting by putting the polls online in a safe and secure manner, so that democracy truly could go digital and all it ends up being is some DDOS bullshit aimed at attacking corporate websites because the real life rallies show total apathy and disorganization.

Really, if you want a "digital democracy", stop wasting time trying to shut down the corporate interests and work on software that the government could feel safe about using to let everyone voice their opinions at the polls.

My alma mater used a telnet (and now web-based) system to get more people involved in voting and it's translated into a 5-10% rise in voter turnout in the first few years.

Building a P2P-DDOS is going to do nothing but piss anyone who might have even been on your side off. Work smarter not louder.

Stupidest Thing I've Ever Seen on Slashdot (2)

elefantstn (195873) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351220)

I'm serious. This is completely ridiculous -- ever since JonKatz stopped posting, Michael has taken the reins of the "Putting Inane Bullshit On The Front Page" carriage and run with it.

In the name of everything that's holy, someone fire Michael. NOW.

Re:Stupidest Thing I've Ever Seen on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351335)

How about, you assasinate GWB, and then we'll fire Michael. Deal?

Digital demonstrations? Don't make me laugh (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351245)

What a ridiculous joke. You're going to get on your privately funded, government surveilled connection and bring about rapid change? Be real folks. If you want change you get it by hanging someone from a tree or putting a bullet through someone's head.

If you think going online and whining in some blog is going to bring about rapid change, you're pissing in the wind. The IMF protestors have one thing right - if you want attention you've got to break something. The Bolsheviks had it down even better - if you want real change you have to smash an entire system.

900 number (1)

Heynow21 (573910) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351276)

While Votester is certainly an interesting idea,(the name especially, inspires confidence) I propose utilizing 900 number technology to choose our political leaders, a la Big Brother or Total Request Live. The elections would more than pay for themselves through the small fee charged for every call, with any surplus given to the winner on a live television show. Frankly I can't see any negatives to the plan.

Earth to left-wing anti-IMF whiners (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4351284)

Civil Disobedience was never meant to be easy. The very definition of such an action is that it is not sanctioned nor permitted by law. If you don't like getting picked on for breaking laws you think are unfair, that's just tough.

Finally... (1)

alwsn (593349) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351337)

we will have a way that wealthy people on broadband connections will have a way to spread their political views. At last we have reached an all inclusive democracy. Where do I sign up?

Honestly, people need to be proactive about their political views, not press a button.

What's in a name (1)

decrocher (444733) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351358)

"Votester"? What does this application have to do with voting?

I could see "Protester", and then you'd have an accurate, descriptive name which fulfills your Rob Schnider-esque desire to end every P2P app with "-ster".

as past history has proved... (1)

painehope (580569) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351396)

a majority of the people that would use this technology would use it responsibly, but there would be that %15 that would use it just like another script kiddie DDOS tool, and ruin any chance of anyone else being taken seriously
there's a lot of ways to facilitate change, but the one thing that they have in common is each person does a little, and the only way large changes come about is by a large number of people. this tool would put a disproportionate amount of power in the hands of a small number of people ( i can see it now :
protest_leader : dammit, we only have 5 protesters
protester_1 : hey, let's just change the time unit from M to N
protest_leader: even better, let's up it to O
) and thus a DDOS happens, ruining the credubility of anyone participating in this form of civil protest.
if you want to change something w/ your digital means, use e-mail/web-pages/chat groups to organize, discuss, and plan. an anonymous spam/HTTP request shows little imagination and commitment.
better yet, go look up your local chapter of Food Not Bombs, which I used to do as a teenage punk rocker. it's a lot of fun, you get to cook great food, hang out, and make a social difference by giving good food to people that need it. or whatever other group satisfies your political/social idealogies.
and as nice as the thought of influencing society via negative ( punishment-oriented ) actions against what you percieve to be the offending member/group, it has a history of either being either detrimental to your cause or ( witness the history of Russia and Germany ) spiraling out of control and just becoming another form of control and power, to be fought against itself. sometimes the best thing you can do is to do something that might not be as immediately gratifying, but positively ( growth-oriented ) aligned that shows your opinion and might even cause a small change

OK, but where's the blood? (3, Insightful)

legLess (127550) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351439)

Before I start this rant - thank you for sharing the idea and getting a debate going. Using technology to empower citizens is a laudable goal; perhaps we disagree on method, though.

Quoth the anonymous one:

It's effective. Digital demonstrations get noticed - they may actually cause enough inconvenience to target addresses that they can't help but notice them. They also cannot effectively be blocked by the police, so they last longer and can accomplish their objectives with fewer obstacles.

You have exactly zero proof that this will be effective, and I have a few points you don't appear to have considered.

Protests and civil disobedience depend largely on appeals to the "good side" of human nature. GandhiThe Mahatma [mahatma.org.in] and his followers were successful by-and-large because the Brits couldn't justify their actions to the rest of the world. Modern mass media played a huge role in Gandhi's success. There was tremendous pressure from home and the rest of the world to stop the brutality of British colonial rule.

Now, some of this brutality was carefully provoked by Gandhi & Co. specifically to discredit the Brits in the eyes of their own citizens and the rest of the world. Much like the war in Vietnam, once the public saw what was happening they had little stomach for it.

So what am I ranting about? What we need to learn about this is that the problem with protest is how you spin it in the media. Gandhi knew this, and you should learn it. Unarmed young men getting beaten is a sympathetic image, and impossible to deny. The excuse of, "They walked into my club" (while true), doesn't work as well when the blood is on their faces, but your hands and uniforms.

Digitally, however, no one gets hurt. Great. But no-risk protests don't work because you only win if the public sympathizes with you, and who's going to sympathize with a bunch of P2P geeks mailbombing Congress? No one - you'll be called a group of anarchist, terrorist hackers trying to interfere with the duties of the government.

If you were getting the shit kicked out of you on the Capitol steps it wouldn't matter what they called you - you're the one doing the bleeding, so you're going to get the sympathy.

But your plan entails no bleeding. No risk at all, you say. If Gandhi's followers had all stayed home and written polite letters, even in great volume, they would have gotten nowhere. No risk, no reward.

elderly protesters? (1)

borg (95568) | more than 11 years ago | (#4351444)

An increasingly large percentage of the world population (especially in developed nations) is over the age of 50 and cannot safely participate in public demonstrations due to the physical fragility and health risks associated with aging. They simply cannot risk getting beaten up by the police. In other words, the majority of citizens cannot safely assemble and demonstrate.

Are you kidding? The elderly are the ideal people to be on the front lines of a demonstration!

  1. Only the most hardened, jack-booted thug would hit a grandma
  2. "Police vs. the AARP" is a closer match in the arena of public opinion than is "Police vs. Tree-huggers"
  3. Old people bruise more easily, and are thus more photogenic when they appear on The Charlie Rose Show
  4. Old people are less likely to be anally violated while incarcerated

The real down side of using old people for protests

  1. Not having long left for this world, its hard to get them to care for issues beyond social security benefits and the price of adult diapers
  2. They need frequent bathroom breaks
  3. (This is the real show stopper) Having lived for so long, they've seen it all happen before, and they have the growing suspicion that its all going to happen again and that no one's going to learn from history, so why try fighting?

I dunno about virtual protests. Like Heinlein said, all authority derives from the threat of physical violence. Virtual sit-ins will just provide more impetus for government-mandated Palladium-like architectures on our PCs and on the network.

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