New Assignment

Our latest assignment is to choose an issue we are passionate about, and then write 1500 words presenting the view of he opposition. My original plan for the project (making an argument in a cyber medium) was to attempt to create a ‘grassroots internet’ activism for Spyware – for example, boycotting Vonage as a frequent advertiser on such programs, and starting a ‘click-cott’ on MySpace until they remove the Zwinky/ SmileyCentral ads that download MyWebSearch. MyWebSearch is a program that comes bundles with free software, and inserts a toolbar onto your web browser, serving pop-up ads. It does not disclose that it is a toolbar, and uses vague wording in its EULA to disguise its true purpose. For example, on its website it states:

Bonus: Also includes Smiley Central™, Cursor Mania™, Popular Screensavers™, the MyWebSearch® search box and Search Assistant – relevant search results in response to incorrectly formatted browser address requests.

I did not know that ‘relevant’ was the new euphemism for ‘paid advertisements’.

I was hoping to integrate it into a new project that would tie into my work on Spyware at the FTC last summer, and perhaps my upcoming clinical at the Berkman Center. However, I found that the first stage would be very difficult for this topic. Although there are various arguments on the other side – such as simply standing by the contention that internet users are responsible for thoroughly reading the EULAs, no matter how obscurely they are presented and how vaguely they are worded. One could also make the argument that these adware programs help fund free software that would otherwise cost money. However, one could not spend 1500 words making such arguments. Well, I couldn’t.

I chose instead something from my other life – my job as Spokesperson for No Kidding! which essentially makes me a prominent spokesperson for the childfree (although NK is open to all, regardless of why they don’t have kids, many of its members are childfree and it is, in essence, the largest childfree org in the world.)

Some issues might be just a little too outside the mainstream – such as advocating Stork spots be replaced with elderly parking, since pregnant women benefit from the walk while the arthritic don’t (and those with pregnancy complications can get handicap permits) or advocating that movie theatres have childfree showing, restaurants childfree sections – I took on a budding, yet less controversial topic – employee benefits. Currently, most parents are effectively paid more since the extra benefits employees provide to children have large monetary values. 1500 words on the opposite side was pretty easy – economic efficiency + corporate responsibility to the community. Here’s the result.

Comments are closed.