This Week In Techdirt History: January 3rd – 9th

Five Years Ago

Recently, Homeland Security returned a domain it seized all the way back in 2010. This week in 2011, we were still examining the fallout from the original seizures, as well as some similar seizures that were finally moving into the forfeiture phase. Some were claiming the technical and legal errors in the affidavit didn’t matter, but we pushed back against that idea while marveling at how Homeland Security had clammed up about the seizures. They also appeared to have invented a non-existent form of criminal contributory liability in their justification.

In the world of Wikileaks, the new congressional leadership was prioritizing an investigation even while paying lip service to transparency. A Spanish newspaper explained its decision to publish the leaked cables, while a USAF Intelligence veteran explained why he supports Wikileaks and we debunked the idea that the leaks put lives in danger in Zimbabwe.

Also notable: this week in 2011 we took our first look at the TPP, and the now-infamous “study” linking vaccines to autism, which had already been known to be mistaken, was beginning to be exposed as outright fraud.

Ten Years Ago

The RIAA was up to its antics this week in 2006, using scare tactics to implicitly threaten anyone visiting the Grokster site and subpoenaing a bunch of John Does over file sharing. The MPAA was celebrating a DVD bust that was basically fake as part of Hollywood’s broader strategy of entirely missing the point. Some media companies were starting to experiment with device-independent content as though it was a shocking and difficult innovation (not an obvious and simple feature) while some TV networks were opening up a bit more to VOD. The New York Times was trying to get its head around the fact that bloggers were calling out inaccuracy in the press, while other major newspapers were failing to fact check stories they lifted from blogs. But the worst trend in online content by far was the separation of articles into multiple pages.

Fifteen Years Ago

After Y2K went off without a hitch, few expected that the real bugs would start coming a year later. This week in 2001, systems that had put in place hacky patches to avoid Y2K problems but not account for future years suddenly experienced the Y2K+1 bug, which brought down the trains in Norway and made 7-Eleven regret the $8 million it spent on a Y2K fix.

Looking back on the year 2000, the total count was over 200 dot coms dead in the water. The still-profitable ones were those that didn’t get venture capital and had to be scrappy from the start. The Blogger platform was begging for money and we saw an early call for getting rid of free content. Still, the overall effect of the internet appeared to be an increase in productivity.

Sixty-Nine Years Ago

Here’s a historical tidbit from the intersection of two of our central topics: technology and government. It was on January 3rd, 1947 that the proceedings of the US House of Representatives were broadcast live on television for the first time. Three days later, Harry Truman would make the first televised State Of The Union address from the same chambers.

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