"Digg"ing a Hole for Democracy

What happens when Democracy goes wild? Here's a story that ought to make you think.

Recently a web site posted the instructions for how to decrypt content on HD DVDs. Quickly it received thousands of approval "Digg"s on digg.com. The "intellectual property rights owners" asked digg to remove the story, as it was an infringement on their property--which, by the way, it is. The result? A plethora of other unique source stories began to pop up around the internet, which got Digg'ed, and which included the same decryption secrets.

Representative democracy (or a 'democratic republic') works rather well. Democracies often do, too. But sometimes the herd mentality of a democracy causes society to go haywire.

I think digg.com is cool. Digg is not to be blamed in the least. But this story clearly illustrates that if we were to allow everything to be decided in a pure democracy, life would turn into rule by the whims of the mob.

As much as I despise the ineptitude of my current Senators and Congressman, I prefer representative democracy to mobocracy democracy any day.


  1. What you are actually talking about is "open information flow." And you seem to be suggesting it get restricted. Ironically, your blog would not exist without such free-flow of information (i.e. The Internet). And if you start restricting it, what criteria do you use. Who polices it?

    You are confusing Representative Democracy with censoring knowledge. And that's dumb.

  2. If you think that's what I am suggesting, please read the article again (maybe the lead-in paragraph, if read in isolation, would give you the impression that you arrived at). Free flowing information is important, and I am not suggesting that it be limited.

    What I am suggesting is that using a decryption cypher to infringe on someone else's property is criminal.

    I am also suggesting that if decisions were made based on free information flow by everyone a "pure" democratic society (rather than in representative democracy), we would run into all sorts of trouble.

    So, in a nutshell, I am not "confusing Representative Democracy with censoring knowledge".

  3. Anonymous -

    "Open Information Flow" does not mean anarchy or promoting criminal behavior.

    I love the internet and the democratization of information, but it has to be done responsibly and with some accountability.

    It's better if that accountability is self-imposed rather than brought on by lawsuits or other government intervention. So it's a good thing Digg is policing its own site.

    Copyright laws are prehistoric to where they should be right now, but I bet we'll get it right eventually. As good as democracy can be, it can be slow and a painful process.

  4. Intellectual property is theft.

  5. Anon,

    You are either a member of the Chinese government, or you are a devotee' of Karl Marx.


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