Directory:Akahele/Akahele is your Internet watchdog
Akahele. A Hawaiian word as beautiful as it is uncommon. It reminds us of something we all too frequently forget: To be careful; to proceed cautiously.
Do you know the Hawaiian word for "quick" or "fast"?
It is wiki -- a word previously obscure to English speakers now made famous by the wildly popular, and equally irresponsible, Wikipedia encyclopedia.
Akahele is the opposite of wiki.
And that's our guiding principle.
Indeed, across the new frontier of the 21st-century Internet, we see the exact opposite of akahele every day. We see start-up companies funded with millions of dollars of venture capital, with no realistic business plan. We observe people giving "expert" analysis, when they're just shooting from the hip. Lamentably, we witness a rapid-fire cycle of online defamation, rebutted by more libelous accusation, countered by verbal (or even physical) threats -- from anonymous characters rather than real-name individuals, more often than not.
Take a moment and imagine yourself an internationally recognized historian and lecturer. You're on the faculty of the university with the fourth-largest student body in the United States. You're flying out of the country to deliver a lecture at the invitation of the Law faculty at one of the destination nation's oldest universities. Would you be eager to exhibit your best abilities as an academic professional? Would you be nervous?
Would you have a sense of pride in your accomplishments in academia? Would you be afraid for your civil rights when you land? No, of course not, as you are merely traveling from Minneapolis to Montreal.
As you step off the airplane and enter the airport of your destination city, a Canadian immigration officer takes you aside to ask you some questions. He ends up detaining you for four hours -- you'll be late for your appointed lecture time, caught in a web of his note-taking and phone calls to superiors. You eventually insist on the immigration officer showing you why you're being detained without charge. He pulls out a printed one-page biography about you. The biography alleges that you are a terrorist, with past ties to a radical militant group. Imagine what questions you would ask!
Who wrote these lies about you? It's not clear, as they were authored by someone hiding behind an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Which authority published these lies for public consumption? The Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Who is responsible for this encyclopedia? The Wikimedia Foundation. Can they be sued for this defamatory obstruction of your civil rights? No, their libel is protected under Section 230 of the United States' Communications Decency Act, because operators of Internet "computer services" are not to be construed as publishers (and thus not legally liable for the information provided by third parties who use their services).
You are out of luck. This is the new, free culture of the Internet at work. Your personal rights are not as important as the rights of anonymous agents who wish to libel you in public and put your personal safety and liberty at risk.
The story above is not a fictional parable. It is the Article by Robert Fisk regarding Taner Akcam of Turkish-born scholar, Taner Akçam. And all because of... wiki.
Akahele strives to examine, to understand, and to make decisions based on informed knowledge and truth. We imagine it is what Taner Akçam would have preferred to have happened.
What if there were a place on the Internet where the Internet itself could be carefully and cautiously reviewed and critiqued? What if the voices you heard came from real, identifiable people who backed their musings and words with their real-life credentials and experiences? What if facts trumped speculation? Imagine a calm, rational place on the Web where complex Internet issues detrimentally impacting our society are presented for examination -- without unnecessary jargon, without "insider" metaphors, without confusing (or boring!) the average citizen who doesn't know the meaning of an "open proxy" or a "DoS attack".
The Akahele blog will strive to be that place.
The Internet Review Corporation
The Akahele blog is a property of the Internet Review Corporation, a Florida-based non-profit organization launched in December 2008 by four gentlemen from places as far-flung as Utah, Pennsylvania, Florida, and France. The IRC is a legitimate corporation. Its purview is facilitating discussion and disseminating information related to any site or phenomenon on the Internet; including, but certainly not limited to Wikipedia.
The IRC's aims are noble, not malicious.
The blog is authored by four real people, the directors of the Internet Review Corporation:
- Anthony DiPierro - an accountant and enrolled agent living in Tampa, Florida
- Gregory Kohs - a marketing research practitioner living near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Judd Bagley - managing partner at Deep Capture, he resides in Utah
- Paul Wehage - a musician, composer, and music publisher who resides in Lagny-sur-Marne, France
All four of them have divergent views about religion, politics, and business. They look forward to not agreeing about everything!
But one thing they each firmly hold to is a belief that identity matters, especially on the Internet. When people hide behind anonymous identifiers or phony pseudonyms, trust breaks down. Falsehoods are easier to "get away with". Credibility goes away. That is why every published article that you, dear reader, will see on the Akahele blog will come with an identifiable person's byline.
How Akahele will work
Every new published post on Akahele will be written primarily by one of the four directors of the Internet Review Corporation. We will rotate the role of "lead editor", so that each director will be publishing in approximately equal intervals. Since this is truly a corporate responsibility and liability, each director's post will undergo a modest review and editorial process by the other three directors. This way, we hope to present high-quality, well-worded, factually-accurate material to readers, every time we publish something new.
While we won't always hold ourselves to it, it is our hope to have new content for readers to enjoy and learn from, about every week.
Akahele blog posts will welcome public comments from both individuals who name themselves and those who don't. However, each director will have veto privilege to censor blog comments that are unsubstantiated, defamatory, unnecessarily commercial, or otherwise disruptive to our mission. The staff may also be contacted privately at the following e-mail address:
comments (at) akahele.org
We already foresee interest from enthusiastic readers who would like to pen their own provocative essays for publication in Akahele. We certainly envision a time in the near future where guest authors will be invited to take the editorial lead. But, let us first establish a few rounds of articles ourselves, so as to model the tone and style we would be proud to exhibit.
We hope that you are as eager as we are to begin sharing ideas, ambitions, and indeed even warnings about our too-often quick and incautious Internet.
12 Responses to Akahele is your Internet watchdog
I am very much looking forward to your upcoming articles.
Sincerely, Christine Belin
ps. Hi Greg!
On behalf of outraged academics everywhere, let me be the first to salute you on the launch of your new site.
I’m looking forward to following your research, and perhaps contributing an item of interest or two to your collection of essays and analyses.
I have an interest in this topic. Google has a large impact on the popularity of Web 2.0 sites, in the way they pump the rankings of blogs and Wikipedia. Serious discussion of Web 2.0 cannot be complete without a mention of Google’s irresponsibility in providing a blog service where people are free to be anonymous and post libel about anyone they want. I might end up writing for you! I appreciate your mission, to discuss this phenomenon, in which Wikipedia and Google are major participants. The ease of possibility in publishing lies, and convincing the public of them, fascinates me. It is all due to these greedy companies who have pumped so much money into this, without examining the ethical aspects of it. I am contemplating the writing and submission of an article for this site.
Jonas Rand joeyyuan (at) cox.net
Congratulations on the launch of Akahele. The more nonpartisan, well researched information available online the better. I’ve bookmarked the site for ongoing reference. Also, thank you very much for the link to ProCon.org. We really appreciate it.
Don’t forget my blog. Whenever I come across atrocities, Internet or otherwise, they get posted.
A little friendly limit testing here. I notice all of the comment posters are using what at least appear to be real names. The site is clear that is has a certain disdain for pseudonyms. It is also clear that article writers must use IRL names. If this post goes through it will mean pseudonyms can at least post comments — something I believe is unclear. This will help clarify this question which might needlessly be deterring participation.
If this post does not go through/remain I will wait a while to give you chance for a good start-up and then raise this issue on WR. I hope this helps participation.
Good luck Greg et al.
GlassBeadGame, of course pseudonymous and anonymous comments are welcome on Akahele.org, so long as they are on-topic, thoughtful, not spammy (or at least not too spammy), and don’t detract from our ability to carry out our corporate mission. We do moderate comments, but thus far, none have been rejected. We do believe that the published content we circulate as part of the actual anchor posts should be authored by real-name individuals. Perhaps one day, we will make an exception to this rule, but the content would have to be verifiable, and if it is accusatory in tone, then the accused deserves to know the identity of the accuser, we think.
I fixed a couple of typos in your comment. Hope you don’t mind!
Additionally, the post above does (I thought) fairly clearly explain our policy on this:
+++++ Akahele blog posts will welcome public comments from both individuals who name themselves and those who don’t. However, each director will have veto privilege to censor blog comments that are unsubstantiated, defamatory, unnecessarily commercial, or otherwise disruptive to our mission. The staff may also be contacted privately at the following e-mail address:
comments (at) akahele.org +++++
I am very satisfied that even on this inaugural post, we’ve garnered six outside comments already.
This looks very promising.
Good luck Greg, Judd, Paul and Anthony.
A warm welcome to the net, and very best wishes.
I like the name – very clever. And the turtle.
Ok, even though Greg is my cousin, I’m not biased when I say IT’S ABOUT TIME someone did this. There’s so much crap on the internet that the more we can do to keep people honest, the better.
(RUSSIAN) Благодарю!!!У Вас часто появляются очень интересные посты! Очень поднимаете мое настроение.
(ENGLISH) I thank you!!! You often have very interesting posts! Very much lift my mood.