For those who don’t know (which is probably all of you), my brother is a programmer. He’s been one for many years, and has worked at a wide variety of software companies (including Amazon, Yahoo!, and Avid). A couple of months ago, he got hired at Google, working on the Android platform.
This is cause for celebration. The work he’s doing sounds interesting, he’s making a very good living, and from what I’ve heard, Google has a great work environment. It does, however, present an interesting conundrum for this blog.
I intend to write about the lies that copyright maximalists spread about Google. I’ve been meaning to do this for many months, but in light of revelations about Project Goliath, now would be an especially good time to do so. The catch is that my brother’s new job will naturally lead to false claims that I am a “Google shill.” We’ve already seen this false accusation thrown around before, against both individuals (e.g. Mike Masnick) or non-profits (e.g. the EFF and Public Knowledge). And none of those people had family that worked for Google.
I was actually debating whether to write about my brother at all. For the record, he has no involvement in this website at all (nor does anyone else at Android or Google), and didn’t even know it existed until I told him about this quandary. (When I told him the blog started as a reaction against the Trichordist and David Lowery, his response was “Who’s David Lowery?”)
But, in the end, I decided to disclose my brother’s current employer. I figured that sooner or later, someone would find out anyway, and there would be some sort of “revelation” about my “hidden connection” to Google lobbying, or some such bullshit.
So, for the record, I would like to repeat what I said in the disclaimer on my About page. The opinions on this website are purely my own. Neither my brother, nor anyone else at Google, has asked me to write anything. I do not get any funding from Google (or any other tech company). Any advertising you see here is served by WordPress, and I do not earn any income from it.
Since we’re on the subject of full disclosure, I should probably mention my “connection” to the Free Software Foundation. I doubt it will surprise anyone that I am a supporter of open-source software. I have volunteered with the FSF before, and I paid to become an FSF member. I also am friends with a couple of people who work for them (both previously and currently), though I was friends with these people long before they ever worked at the FSF. For the record, none of them have anything to do with this website either, and nobody at the FSF has shown any indication that they even know this website exists. Once again: my opinions are purely my own.
On the other hand, I’m also personal friends with many, many artists in the local Boston scene. Yet I somehow doubt that I’ll ever be accused of “shilling” for them. So it goes.
On a personal note, I think it’s kind of sad that this could even be an issue. But everyone seems to be a conspiracy theorist nowadays. This obviously applies to the tin-foil-hat crowd at the Trichordist, but they’re hardly the only ones. Right around the time that my brother switched jobs, Jack Conte from Pomplamoose wrote about the band losing money on their last tour. Conte is also the (voluntarily unpaid) CEO of Patreon – a fact that he has never hid – and because he wrote one sentence in that article that mentioned Patreon, the entire article was accused of being fake, merely a “publicity stunt” for the company. This is obviously bullshit, and Conte wrote a response to the critics about it.
Tangentially, this was also the year of the Gamergate “scandal.” Some dude writes a bitter article about his ex-girlfriend, an indie developer, and suddenly every video game reviewer is conspiring with feminist game developers to bring down the gaming industry, or something. A time when Felicia Day can write an article fearing how toxic the situation has become, and she immediately gets doxxed for it.
Now, obviously, the copyright maximalist movement is nowhere near as bad as those Gamergate douchebags. But they do have this in common: they take any kind of personal connection, no matter how slight or tangential, and blow it up into a “conspiracy” against them. They can’t wrap their heads around the notion that maybe, just maybe, there is no conspiracy, and people don’t like their ideas simply because their ideas are toxic.
But enough of this rant. I simply wanted to write this post in the interests of disclosure. With that out of the way, expect some more articles to come down the pike. I can guarantee you that many will be about Project Goliath.
And on a more upbeat note, happy new year, everyone! Let’s make it a good one.