Craigslist, Second Life and the law – disability, society and openness.

I see via tech.meme and outlined over on law.com that the net community is struggling with issues of discrimination with a law suit that’s been filed against the popular online classifieds site, Craigslist. To fill you in from law.com:

Google, Amazon.com, AOL and Yahoo are helping defend online peer Craigslist against a lawsuit that would hold the Web site liable for discriminatory housing ads that appeared on its site.

The lawsuit against Craigslist was filed by Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The committee argues that Craigslist has violated the Fair Housing Act by letting its users post ads in which they discriminate in seeking tenants, asking, for instance, for a “gay Latino” or a “clean, godly Christian male.” The lawsuit cites about 120 ads from July to October 2005.

Now I live in Australia and so don’t know about this “Fair Housing Act” spoken about, but it made me ask myself how I would feel if an ad appeared asking for a tenant that had a disability. Which, if you’ve just tuned in, I do.

I think the answer is, I’d feel bloody good.

Face it, no matter how much they protest they don’t, people discriminate. While I’m no aficionado on equal opportunity – far from it, I’m just your normal guy with a disability – here in Australia it seems the question is whether the discrimination is ‘fair’ in the circumstance (whatever that really means – ‘fair’ discrimination).

I mean, how do newspaper classifieds get on? They have personal columns; Guy seeks Guy for … Girl seeks Guy for … etc. I guess it’s to do with the ‘Act’ they operate under. Anyway, I digress.

Given my previous musings about the new spirit of openness that seems to be appearing on the net around all things web 2,0, I wonder if what’s happening on Craigslist with this lawsuit isn’t just one of those old rocks getting beaten against by a new wave in a growing ocean.

I mean isn’t openness better in that at least we know where we stand?

Rather than a negative, I see what’s happening on Craigslist as a positive indicator of society. It is an indication of acceptance of and an expressed desire for people to be included by other people. It’s saying to the people being offered tenancy ‘you’re wanted‘ in society.

The reverse also applies and is also seen, in the negative light, in access to the built environment – when I can’t get in a shop to spend my money, when transport isn’t accessible to everybody, society is saying ‘you’re not wanted‘.

Regardless of an ‘Act’ or any real or perceived discrimination, or an argument over a written law, we should be looking what it says about the spirit of the society we live in. Inclusion should be celebrated.

Notions of what society says about inclusion really stood out to me in Second Life (SL). You’ve got all sorts of weird looking people in there, but everyone I’ve met seems to get along and be accepting. I wonder if it’s because, much like Star Trek, most avatars are based around a walking human form.

When I first entered SL I went looking for a place to buy a wheelchair. In fact, the only efforts I’ve made to build anything in SL are to attempt to build a wheelchair that I can sit in. So far all I’ve managed is rubber looking hollow wheels.

Alright, so you can fly in SL, but my point is when I see in ‘First Life’, classifieds everywhere advertising a tenancy for a person with a disability I’ll really believe we are beginning to live anti-discrimination rather than just talk and make laws about it.

In the mean time, I’m backing openness.

[tags]openness, web 2.0, craigslist, google, discrimination, disability, inclusion, accecptance, society, yahoo, aol, amazon.com, second life[/tags]

RockYou

Found this neat site called RockYou via Mike that lets you do neat Photo Slideshows. It’s extremely easy an neat. I put this show together below from my Darwin trip to show what’s possible.

Update: Did I say it is neat? :-/

Silliman reads Confused who reads Lifekludger

Dunno who Silliman is exactly, except he has many followers and a wikipedia entry. But he lists the “Confused of Calcutta” blogroll as one he likes a lot.

And I’m on that roll, well my Lifekludger blog, with lotsa other good blogs, so that makes me feel happy…..in a sort of ‘second degree of seperation‘ way :-)

Quoting Silliman:

One technology blogroll I like a lot – because it focuses to a surprising degree on the social implications of technology – belongs to J.P. Rangaswami, whose blog is Confused in Calcutta. This is the current roster.

Thanks Silliman.

‘Don’t forget about delight’

Point 13

Back in 2003 Scoble wrote his 20 point “Corporate Weblog Manifesto“. Point 13 says:

13) If your life is in turmoil and/or you’re unhappy, don’t write. When I was going through my divorce, it affected my writing in subtle ways. Lately I’ve been feeling a lot better, and I notice my writing and readership quality has been going up too.

Okay, this may not be a “corporate” blog and no, I don’t do everything Robert Scoble says anyway (Doc Searls, now that is a different matter, see point 10). No, I’m not going through divorce (been there, done that), but my life, especially at work, has been in turmoil of late. Nothing that won’t pass…in fact it’s starting to already.

So, if you glance every now and then at your list of feeds in your reader (you are using a feed reader I hope) and are wondering where I am, see point 13.

Maybe in future I’ll just write a post with the title “Point 13” and in the body put “See title”….and you’ll know what’s going on.

Hob-knobbing with the Governor

Just got back from town where I attended the Dawn Slade-Faull Awards ceremony.

It was held where I work and my Boss, who was ill, was suppossed to meet and greet the Governor of SA, Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson. All other Staff had prior engagements so the batten passed to me at the last moment.

It was a pleasure as my family had known her over thirty years ago. My Mother and her were friends and so she tagged along and they caught up. She didn’t recognise me, naturally, but remembered me as a little, blonde, 12 year-old.

Someone was taking pictures so will most likely get something for a momento sometime down the track.

Re-presenting – Two presentations in three days

This week Mike (Seyfang) and I have been on the heady Adelaide talk circuit. Silicon valley’s got nothin on us! [grin]

mike and dave at adelaide uni
[mike and dave at adelaide uni – 7-6-06]

We’ve been presenting our ‘Building communities through weBLOGS and PodCasts’ talk we first did at ConnectingUp at the beginning of May. This last Monday we presented for the eTeachers at TSOF (The Technology School of the Future) and last night, Wednesday, we were at the Barr Smith Library at Adelaide Uni presenting to a combined group from ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) and the ALLG (Australian Law Librarians Group).

Still feel sometimes like we are aliens – strangers in a strange land – speaking a different language. Just gotta keep rolling them snowballs. But I can’t escape this sense that if people don’t start lifting heads up from the grindstone the snowball is going to roll over them.

Mike’s got reports with some more links here and here.

Slides notes and resources of talk here.

Rebooting Relationship

Looking at some of the thoughts filtering out of Reboot8, a post by Robert Paterson titled Reboot8 – Transactions or Relationships? A return to being human! caugfht my attention and just kept reinforcing my thinking on a few things.

About having, not using blogs. Like I wrote last week in No-one likes to be used….

Blogs are RELATIONAL not merely TRANSACTIONAL. And nobody in a relationship likes to be USED.

Robert’s well summarised description got me asking the question I posed at the end of Openness is more than an API

“Is openness a cultures’ adaptive behaviour to enable what in essence we crave” relationship?

Here’s some choice bits of what Robert said came out of the conference :

Natural human relationships, based on honor and reputation, mediated in the context of community will replace transactional relationships mediated by institutions.

Community and personal reputation will increasingly be amplified by social software and will creates “Places” in which commerce will take place, just as markets themselves were once social spaces. Participation is not a feature of this emerging paradigm but its centrality.

Blogs are documented ‘natural human relationships’ and the same rules of relationships apply in virtual space as in physical space. If we think they don’t we’re thinking in the past not the now and certainly not of the future. Trust, reputation, honour matter. Things naturally occur or grow out of participating.

Robert reports that at the end of the conference that everyone was asked us to speak out what they would do now. For my part, it’s Lifekludger.

Dave
[tags]reboot8, openness, trust, culture[/tags]