Godwin’s Law And The ‘Right To Be Forgotten’


Nearly 25 years ago, Mike Godwin, a Washington-based attorney, came up with “Godwin’s Law.” His law, or theory if you will, that stated that: “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” That is, it becomes almost inevitable.

Recently, Godwin sat on a congressional panel to discuss the “right to be forgotten,” the notion that people have some right to control what appears about them online. The ruling, however, was particularly unfavorable. Godwin describes the ruling as “going against the fantasy we have where we believe we have control over what we say and do online.”

In terms of controlling our online identity and the intellectual property rights of what we publish, we live in an interesting and often confusing time. This is the first moment in human history where individuals have had the agency to be heard around the world on a very large scale. It used to be that you had to have a mass-medium to do it. Now, everyone is a publisher of sorts: an autobiographer, musician, or poet. Godwin describes this evolution as “consciousness-changing” and I am inclined to to agree. “We’re in that intergenerational moment where people are coming to terms with the consequences of their online interaction and interactivity. It’s new and it’s unprecedented.”

Click here to view the related article from The Washington Post in full.

Emerging Web Conglomerates Affect Buying Strategies

Tech Giants

With a steady stream of head-shaking acquisitions, Google, Facebook, and other Internet Giants are speedily transforming themselves into web conglomerates. While this is unquestionably making fortunes for the venture capital industry, it does beg the question whether is can be good news for everybody else.

The giants’ buying sprees have not only created a handful of powerful young millionaires; it has revolutionized the venture capital business model. Outside the tech-bubble, it used to be that someone struggled for years to build a company before it went public. Now the idea is to move into the social media hot-spot by developing a product that the new web conglomerates buy at prices never before seen in private deals.

Consider the following transactions:

  • WhatsApp sold to Facebook for $16 Billion;
  • Instagram sold to Facebook for $1 Billion; and
  • Beats Electronics sold to Apple for $3 Billion.

Would you like a piece of that pie? If you answered in the affirmative (let’s assume that you did), the goal is no longer building a business to compete with these tech giants, but work to be established within their orbit and share in their success.

It will be interesting to observe how this strategy morphs and develops in the years ahead. Click here to view the related article by Steven Davidoff Solomon in the New York Times.

In A War With Hackers, We Are On Our Own

A burglar opening a safe that is a computer screen

When it comes to online security and privacy we live in a troubling time. Not only do we run the very real risk of having our passwords and personal information hacked, we risk being taken advantage of by companies that are looking to capitalize on, and make money from, our vulnerability.

We must remember that the internet was built to share information, not to secure or store it. The reality is that while we try desperately to bolster security after the fact, hackers continue to outpace our efforts.

What does this mean and what can we do?

It’s time to be smarter about passwords. This means making sure they’re not easily guessed and not re-used across any sites that contain personal information. That way, if one password is compromised it won’t bring down your entire digital identity; an identify that once corrupted is very hard to reclaim.

Click here to see the related article in the New York Times.

Can You Really Handle the Entrepreneurial Life? Check These 5 Signs.

So you’re thinking of starting your own company or small business? Before you dive into creating a business plan, you need to assess an important question: Are you ready for the entrepreneurial life? Here’s a checklist to help you answer that question:

1) It’s all you think about;

2) You’re beyond determined;

3) You turn criticism into motivation;

4) You have some money in the bank; and

5) You have healthy coping mechanisms for stress.

Click here to view the entire related article in Entrepreneur Magazine.