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Fwd: Ratings

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>Message-Id: <199612161534.KAA20900@metric.inch.com>
>From: "Michael Sims" <jellicle@inch.com>
>To: fight-censorship@vorlon.mit.edu
>Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 10:27:27 -0400
>Subject: Ratings

Let's face it, the rhetoric about "multiple, customizable, ratings 
systems to suit an individual's preferences" is bologna.  Those who 
support PICS but think its *uses* are bad are arguing for all the 
great uses of guns, such as shooting out door locks, opening the 
shells and using the gunpowder to start fires, signaling to rescue 
planes when you're stranded in the wilderness, etc., while closing 
your eyes to the fact that guns are intended to kill things.  PICS, 
and all of its derivatives, are intended to censor.  If you support 
censoring, you should support PICS.  If not, not.  It's that simple.

There's going to be one ratings system.  It's going to be supported
by major corporations [you insert names here...].  And instead of
all the various censoring groups establishing their own preferential
ratings (The Christian Coalition Ratings System, The Right-To-Life
Ratings System, whatever...), they will put pressure on RSACi to
support "their" values.  Not that RSACi really needs any pressure to
support a "American Christian" point of view, but its ratings will 
get more restrictive over time, not less.  Once the christian groups 
realize that there's a system they can pressure, support, institute 
as a default, they will do so.  Public libraries NEED to have 
filtering software installed to protect the CHILDREN from harmful 
thought.  Schools?  Those PTA meetings are GREAT for showing support 
for the CHILDREN and FILTERING software.

And of course, Microsoft is supporting this.  Microsoft doesn't
follow standards, they create them.  Why would MS want to support 20
ratings systems in their bloatware, when they can code in support
for one, and MAKE that one the primary choice?  If anyone can make
this work, it's Microsoft.  I doubt they will institute RSACi as
default for now.  Give too much ammunition to Netscape.  They need
to capture a greater market share for IE, get more sites rated under
RSACi.  It's a snowball thing.  The more sites that rate, the more
people will use the system.  The more people that use it, the
greater incentive to rate.  As soon as the marketing execs start 
coming in saying "We're losing 5% of our market because our site 
isn't rated", all of the commercial sites wil rate like *that*.  And 
once there's a significant rating base out there, MS can come out 
with it enabled, combined with a nice ad campaign and everything.  
Win95 - the "family" OS.....

And from there, hey, what's left?  I mean, why do you "surf the net" 
anyway?  To buy product, right?  It's the home shopping channel, 
squared!  Commercials come on during Oprah?  Flip to WebTV, hit up 
the Victoria's Secret site for a few minutes.  All of the major 
marketers will be interlinked in their corporate family.  Start 
following links between Proctor and Gamble's sites and you'll die of 
old age before you see them all.  Or before you see a link that 
LEAVES a P&G site.

I'll wind down my rant, but it's something to consider. 
Corporations run the US, and they will run the internet as well. 
(Yes, they run it, but they will _run_ it to boot.)  If the
corporations feel that influencing content on the net is beneficial
to their bottom line, they will do so.  Individual good (pursuing
profit) combining to form an overall evil (least-common-denominator
content).  Major, major corporations already feel that controlling
the content presented to consumers is good for them.  See Walmart,
Kmart, Blockbuster, many others.  It's equally true for the web. 
The biggest consideration in new blockbuster movies isn't what
exciting, innovative message they can present to viewers, but how
many spots can you plug Coke or other brand names before everyone
gets sick of it.

That's going to be the factor you run up against in the end.  The 
corporations have power.  If every christian group in america tried 
together to ban certain song lyrics, they probably wouldn't succeed.  
When Walmart says "We don't like these lyrics", they're GONE.

Microsoft has fewer scruples than Walmart.  Less of an agenda to 
push, perhaps, but that's more because Gates isn't sure which road 
leads to greater profit right now.  When he decides, he'll let us 
know, I'm sure.

-- Michael Sims

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