Monday, February 11, 2008

Unintended Consequences: An Exercise for the Reader

Item the first: Slashdot article about how a Danish court-ordered block on BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay has backfired, actually increasing traffic from Danelandia.

If true, the traffic increase presumably results from increased media attention, raising awareness of the site, causing new people to seek it out, adding the court-ordered block to the long list of examples of the "no such thing as bad publicity" phenomenon.

Item the second: A series of self-congratulatory articles on Digg about the recent anti-Scientology raids and protests by Anonymous (yes, yes: we are legion, we do not forgive, we do not forget, we are your waiters, we have seen Fight Club too many times), culminating this weekend in a series of coordinated global real-world protests.

Exercise for the reader: Assume that Anonymous eventually gets bored and switches targets or otherwise moves on. Once the dust settles, what will be the long-term impact on Scientology: Net gain, or net loss? Show your work.

Is Scientology a deserving target? Of course it is. And this is not a new thing -- the anti-Scientology fight has been going on for years; remember when Usenet was the big battleground? But to imagine that this is for some higher purpose than lulz or notoriety or whatever is just silliness.

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Daniel Poehlman said...

I think it'll be a loss for Scientology when all is said and done. After all, torrents are free and something people want, and the whacky cult of Scientology can cost a bunch of money.

On the other hand, the boost in Pirate Bay traffic could be seen as people sticking it to the man and thumbing their noses at the court order.

As for the antics of Anonymous, I think most people will see it as nothing more than a bunch of annoying children who are better left ignored and not taken too seriously.

Hope that makes some bit of sense.

Joelogon said...

I dunno -- never underestimate the power of a celebrity endorsement. People say, "What is this Scientology thing I keep hearing about?", then they see that half the cast of their favorite sitcoms and movies are involved, and say, "Hey, maybe there's something to this..."

As to Anonymous -- while the Internet is Serious Business, I wouldn't be too quick to write them off as just a bunch of punk kids.