In message <3716322F.C786D928@liszt.com>,
Scott Southwick <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>>From the day I started Liszt in 1995, Liszt has been an 'opt-out' robot.
>We always trumpeted this fact: for the first three years, Liszt's main
>About/Help/FAQ page, linked to from every page of Liszt, began with the
>words, "Liszt is basically a mailing list spider. It queries servers
>from around the globe and compiles the results into one directory..."
>The rest of the page goes on to explain Liszt's opt-out methods and
>During this time, Liszt was used millions of times by millions of
>individuals, featured on PBS and MSNBC, written up in the Wall Street
>Journal and USA Today and the New York Times, awarded Infoseek's highest
>rating and Excite's highest rating and named a Yahoo Pick of the Day and
>of the Week and even of the Year (1996), and recently named one of Yahoo
>Internet Life's '10 Net Essentials'. During this whole period, the
>ethics of Liszt's methods were never questioned in a public forum, to my
>Nor does that surprise me. The right of Internet directories' spiders to
>collect and dispense information from servers has been long-established.
>Those of us who were around before 1995 will remember the consternation
>Webcrawler originally caused. People used to write in to forums much
>like this one, outraged: "How dare they index my web page?"
It's funny (and interesting) how the edges of what is considered acceptable
on the net change and evolve over time.
>Eventually, after being hashed out in forums just like this one, it was
>settled. People can use the 'robots.txt' file to block ethical spiders.
>And now the whole argument seems, well, kind of quaint. But at the time
>- boy, were people mad, and their argument seemed compelling.
Although the argument about web indexing was put to rest some long time
ago, that resolution, hard fought as it was, merely shifted the position
of the outer edge of what is commonly considered acceptable in the current
era. But the arguments about where this fine line should properly lie
can and do continue. For an example of one thing that some people, at
least, apparently feel is pushing the (current) edge of the envelope,
please see http://www.imrss.org/.
(I should say also that I fully expect that the debate over this project,
like the debate about web calatoging before it, will someday pass quietly
away into the history books, and will likewise be considered ``quaint''
when viewed from some future vantage point.)
>Lest you want to dismiss the analogy as apples and oranges - mailing
>lists being potentially more sensitive than web pages - think for a
>moment what the other classic 'opt-out' web service, Deja News, does: it
>sucks up everything everybody says on any corner of Usenet and keeps it
>on the web forever! Now, you better believe people used to question
>that, too, even though it's beyond question now - and that's so much
>more in-your-face than what Liszt does. Liszt just reports the existence
>of various mailing lists, and how to subscribe, as reported by various
>list servers around the world.
The data that is being collected and disseminated by the IMRSS Project
may or may not be considered as being very much ``in your face'', depending
upon your point of view and (most probably) upon the current configuration
details of your own local mail server. Some will undoubtedly consider it
less ``in your face'' than (for example) what DejaNews and/or Liszt do,
while others will most certainly consider it moreso. This will certainly
be a function of both personal outlook and also of the customs prevaling
on the net at any given moment in history.
In any case, the IMRSS Project almost certainly has relevance to the
subscriber base of this particular mailing list, and this seemed like
both an opportune moment and context in which to mention it to y'all.
It certainly represents yet another sort of cataloging activity of
information and/or resources that are available to the public at large
via the Internet, _and_ one that has gotten a few people, at least,
rather up in arms about the collection and publication of the specific
type of public information that it focuses on.
I don't really need to say this, of course, but all of you are welcome
to join the fray also. I feel certain many will not even feel the need
for such an invitation.
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