Law in the Internet Society

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JoseMartinezSecondEssay 5 - 21 Jan 2021 - Main.JoseMartinez
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META TOPICPARENT name="SecondEssay"

Help Give the Declining Empire a Second Chance at Life!

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-- By JoseMartinez - 20 Nov 2020
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-- By JoseMartinez - v2 21 Jan 2020
 

The Disease

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As I was writing this essay, I received an email urging me to help fund the Biden-Harris transition team while it awaits the release of taxpayer funds from the General Services Administration. I didn't donate, but I did envision a GoFundMe? page for our current sociopolitical moment and lent the imaginary fundraiser's call to action to the title of this piece.

The fact that the outgoing administration is working hard against a smooth transition is concerning, to be sure, but there's something insidiously disturbing about a presidential transition team crowdfunding a solution for a critical political failure. And yet, this seems like the next natural step in an iterative process in which a major problem in the United States—whether it's underfunded schools, mounting medical debt, or an uncoordinated response to a pandemic—is solved on a myopic, case-by-case basis through shared social media posts and hyper-targeted emails. Crowdfunded campaigns in the Internet society can, and do, help people overcome challenging situations, but the widespread reliance on crowdfunding in an era of social alienation and austerity also reveals much about our willingness to carry structural burdens, and an unwillingness—or inability—to mend a broken system.

There is never a wasted moment reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society
>
>
As I was writing this essay, I received an email urging me to help fund the Biden-Harris transition team while it awaits the release of taxpayer funds from the General Services Administration. I didn't donate, but I did envision a GoFundMe? page for our current sociopolitical moment and lent its call to action to the title of this piece.
 
Added:
>
>
An outgoing administration impeding a smooth transition is concerning, to be sure, but there's something disturbing about a presidential transition team crowdfunding a solution for a critical political failure. And yet, this seems like the next natural step in an iterative process in which a major problem in the United States—whether it's underfunded schools, mounting medical debt, or an uncoordinated response to a pandemic—is solved on a myopic, case-by-case basis through shared social media posts and hyper-targeted emails. Crowdfunded campaigns in the Internet society can, and do, help people, but the reliance on crowdfunding in an era of social alienation and austerity also reveals much about our willingness to carry structural burdens, and an unwillingness to mend a broken system.
 

The Band-Aid on the Broken Leg

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At its core, the modern model of fundraising online is no different from that of fundraising prior to the advent of the Internet: People with money to spare give some amount away to a cause or project that has captured their attention. Online and offline, there may be material incentives for donating or people may feel a duty to help someone in need.

Crowdfunding platforms have taken off in recent years by providing a service ostensibly for little to no cost, and at great benefit, to its users. Viewed in the best light, crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe? and DonorsChoose? help to spread awareness of a cause far beyond a community's boundaries and can showcase projects to people across networks who may be more inclined to donate as compared to the general population. Fundraiser sites often include social media integration and quick payment options that make it easy to find and fund a cause. During the COVID-19 pandemic, crowdfunding platforms have shown to be useful tools in the mobilization and distribution of financial support (a search for "COVID" on GoFundMe? shows 374,730 active fundraisers) during a crisis.

But as with many other useful services on the Internet, there are underlying pitfalls associated with the widespread use of crowdfunding platforms. For one, they are not designed to equitably distribute funds according to one's need. Instead, the guiding mechanisms are similar to those at play in the market for eyeballs: Potential donors scroll through compelling individual appeals to emotion and vivid descriptions of one's struggle. Donors must ask themselves "Is this person's suffering worth my money?" One study shows that, indeed, crowdfunding campaigns involving non-stigmatized health problems or that include carefully curated writing and multimedia are more appealing to donors. Deservingness is thus inextricably tied to the quality of the user engagement.

The prevalence of these platforms also has the potential to exacerbate alienation and socioeconomic inequality. One study of crowdfunded projects showed that people or causes based in high-income, high-education, and high-homeownership areas tended to meet their fundraising goals more than those in poorer areas. Another suggests that people who can tap into robust and wealthy social networks are more likely to receive crowdfunding in the first place. Fundraisers for medical bills and funeral costs are usually measures of last resort—if who you know and where you live are the determinative factors for fundraising your way out of a vulnerable state, then what hope is left for people who feel forgotten or are disengaged from their communities?

The greatest concern is that as these platforms become normalized, our perception of the underlying problems becomes obscured. These platforms, like any charitable organizations and funds, certainly help fill the gaps for needs that can be addressed on an individual basis. However, it is impossible to crowdfund away the failures of austerity and bad public policy. We must not treat crowdfunding as a legitimate alternative to an eroding social safety net in the wake of privatization, corporate excess, and spending cuts. If we do, the main beneficiaries of these structures will be rewarded for their efforts and they will continue to push back against universal health care, free college, and any other realistic policy goal that threatens the status quo. All the while, the burden of commodifying suffering will continue to rest on the backs of the sufferers and the buck will be passed on to others who are just as weighed down by the many systemic failures in the United States.

The Cure

The inequities that lead to the need for online fundraising in the first place will not vanish overnight. In the meantime, there is room for models that incorporate aspects of modern crowdfunding schemes without losing sight of the underlying issues nor requiring people in need to self-market their experiences. One example is Watsi, a non-profit that works with medical partners on-the-ground to identify patients whose treatments can be funded by a general pool of donations. Donors are updated about how their money is used, but the donation pool is spread equitably across projects and patients do not have to optimize their narrative to maximize donations. Perhaps the best approaches are offline: Last summer, ad-hoc mutual aid groups and bond funds were formed throughout the country in response to waves of civil unrest. While many groups used the Internet to seek and facilitate funding for their projects, the decentralized nature of these approaches ensured not only direct financial assistance but also meaningful civic engagement with their communities.

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The underpinnings of crowdfunding as a mode of exchange are like those of traditional giving. People want to give for a number of reasons: as a response to solicitation or a demonstration of need, out of altruism or adherence to personal values, to generate happiness or fulfillment, and even out of a desire to signal wealth. People in turn fund causes and organizations, online and offline, to fulfill these motivations.
 
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The most-frequently-shouted comment at scientific talks in my lifetime before the epidemic ended talks was "What's the scale?" It would be good to answer the question here. Reminding the reader that crowdfunded philanthropy is (to speculate, not wildly) 0.00001% of the world's giving and 0.001% of the world's donors would be helpful.
>
>
The main difference comes with the changes in the mode of communication. Online crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe? and DonorsChoose? help spread awareness of a cause far beyond a community's boundaries. They can showcase projects to people across networks who may be more inclined to donate as compared to the general population. And while crowdfunding makes up only a small proportion of total annual giving, crowdfunding sites also often include social media integration and quick payment options that make it easy to find and fund a cause. During the COVID-19 pandemic, crowdfunding platforms have shown to be effective tools in the mobilization of financial support during a crisis: a search for "COVID" on GoFundMe? shows 374,730 active fundraisers.
 
Changed:
<
<
Changes in communications methods have effects on selling. Including the selling of the grace that abounds from charity. But there are other underlying structures that do not change because the modes of marketing change. Watsi and Save the Children have a genetic relationship, as do the March of Dimes and the orange UNICEF Halloween box I carried for donations of change rather than candy when I was a kid. Nothing has ever been more powerful than the collection plate.
>
>
But as with other Internet services, there are also pitfalls that follow widespread adoption of these platforms. For one, they are not designed to equitably distribute funds according to one's need. Instead, the guiding mechanisms are similar to those in the market for eyeballs: Potential donors scroll through compelling individual appeals to emotion and vivid descriptions of struggle. Donors must ask themselves, "Is this person's suffering worth my money?" One study shows that, indeed, crowdfunding campaigns involving non-stigmatized health problems or that include carefully curated writing and multimedia are more appealing to donors. Deservingness is thus inextricably tied to the quality of the narrative.
 
Changed:
<
<
So what would most contribute to the draft's improvement, I think, would be some connection to the history and/or sociology and/or social psychology of charitable fund-raising. It's also good to remember the pan-handler who worked the 116th Street IRT station in the late '80s and early-'90s, who would sit with his back against the wall at the foot of the stairways of the east entrance, with his upturned Tupperware bowl next to him, announcing to the passers-by: "A yacht, I need a yacht...."
>
>
The prevalence of these platforms has the potential to exacerbate alienation and socioeconomic inequality. One study of crowdfunded projects showed that people or causes based in high-income, high-education, and high-homeownership areas tended to meet their fundraising goals more than those in poorer ones. Another suggests that people who can tap into robust and wealthy social networks are more likely to their projects funded in the first place. Fundraisers for medical bills and funeral costs are usually measures of last resort—if who you know and where you live are the determinative factors for fundraising your way out of a vulnerable state, then what hope is left for people who feel forgotten or are disengaged from their communities?
 
Changed:
<
<
>
>
The greatest concern is that as these platforms become ubiquitous, our perception of the underlying problems becomes obscured. These platforms, like any charitable organizations and funds, certainly help fill the gaps for needs that can be addressed on an individual basis. However, it is impossible to crowdfund away the failures of austerity and bad public policy.
 
Added:
>
>
We must not treat crowdfunding as a legitimate alternative to an eroding social safety net in the wake of privatization, corporate excess, and spending cuts. If we do, the beneficiaries of these structures will be rewarded for their efforts and they will continue to push back against universal health care, free college, and any other realistic policy goal that threatens the status quo. All the while, the burden of commodifying suffering will continue to rest on the backs of the sufferers and the buck will be passed on to others who are just as weighed down by systemic failures.
 
Added:
>
>

The Cure

 
Deleted:
<
<

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.

 \ No newline at end of file
Added:
>
>
The inequities that lead to the need for online fundraising in the first place will not vanish overnight. In the meantime, there is room for models that incorporate aspects of both traditional gift-giving and modern crowdfunding schemes without losing sight of the underlying issues nor requiring people to self-market their painful experiences. One example is Watsi, a non-profit that works with medical partners on-the-ground to identify patients whose treatments can be funded by a general pool of donations. Donors are updated about how their money is used, but the donation pool is spread equitably and patients do not have to optimize their narrative to maximize donations. Perhaps the best approaches exist offline: Last summer, ad-hoc mutual aid groups and bond funds were formed throughout the country in response to waves of civil unrest. While many groups used the Internet as a tool to seek and facilitate funding for their projects, the decentralized nature of these approaches ensured not only direct financial assistance but also meaningful civic engagement with their communities.
 \ No newline at end of file

JoseMartinezSecondEssay 4 - 31 Dec 2020 - Main.EbenMoglen
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META TOPICPARENT name="SecondEssay"
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 The fact that the outgoing administration is working hard against a smooth transition is concerning, to be sure, but there's something insidiously disturbing about a presidential transition team crowdfunding a solution for a critical political failure. And yet, this seems like the next natural step in an iterative process in which a major problem in the United States—whether it's underfunded schools, mounting medical debt, or an uncoordinated response to a pandemic—is solved on a myopic, case-by-case basis through shared social media posts and hyper-targeted emails. Crowdfunded campaigns in the Internet society can, and do, help people overcome challenging situations, but the widespread reliance on crowdfunding in an era of social alienation and austerity also reveals much about our willingness to carry structural burdens, and an unwillingness—or inability—to mend a broken system.
Added:
>
>
There is never a wasted moment reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society

 

The Band-Aid on the Broken Leg

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 The inequities that lead to the need for online fundraising in the first place will not vanish overnight. In the meantime, there is room for models that incorporate aspects of modern crowdfunding schemes without losing sight of the underlying issues nor requiring people in need to self-market their experiences. One example is Watsi, a non-profit that works with medical partners on-the-ground to identify patients whose treatments can be funded by a general pool of donations. Donors are updated about how their money is used, but the donation pool is spread equitably across projects and patients do not have to optimize their narrative to maximize donations. Perhaps the best approaches are offline: Last summer, ad-hoc mutual aid groups and bond funds were formed throughout the country in response to waves of civil unrest. While many groups used the Internet to seek and facilitate funding for their projects, the decentralized nature of these approaches ensured not only direct financial assistance but also meaningful civic engagement with their communities.
Added:
>
>

The most-frequently-shouted comment at scientific talks in my lifetime before the epidemic ended talks was "What's the scale?" It would be good to answer the question here. Reminding the reader that crowdfunded philanthropy is (to speculate, not wildly) 0.00001% of the world's giving and 0.001% of the world's donors would be helpful.

Changes in communications methods have effects on selling. Including the selling of the grace that abounds from charity. But there are other underlying structures that do not change because the modes of marketing change. Watsi and Save the Children have a genetic relationship, as do the March of Dimes and the orange UNICEF Halloween box I carried for donations of change rather than candy when I was a kid. Nothing has ever been more powerful than the collection plate.

So what would most contribute to the draft's improvement, I think, would be some connection to the history and/or sociology and/or social psychology of charitable fund-raising. It's also good to remember the pan-handler who worked the 116th Street IRT station in the late '80s and early-'90s, who would sit with his back against the wall at the foot of the stairways of the east entrance, with his upturned Tupperware bowl next to him, announcing to the passers-by: "A yacht, I need a yacht...."

 



JoseMartinezSecondEssay 3 - 24 Nov 2020 - Main.JoseMartinez
Line: 1 to 1
 
META TOPICPARENT name="SecondEssay"
Line: 27 to 27
 

The Cure

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The inequities that lead to the need for online fundraising in the first place will not vanish overnight. In the meantime, there is room for models that incorporate aspects of modern crowdfunding schemes without losing sight of the underlying issues nor requiring people in need to self-market their experiences. One example is Watsi, a non-profit that works with medical partners on-the-ground to identify patients whose treatments can be funded by a general pool of donations. Donors are updated about how their money is used, but the donation pool is spread equitably across projects and patients do not have to optimize their narrative to maximize donations. Perhaps the best approaches are offline: Last summer, ad-hoc mutual aid groups and bond funds were formed throughout the country in response to waves of civil unrest. While many groups used the Internet to seek and facilitate for their projects, the decentralized nature of these approaches ensured not only direct financial assistance but also meaningful civic engagement with their communities.
>
>
The inequities that lead to the need for online fundraising in the first place will not vanish overnight. In the meantime, there is room for models that incorporate aspects of modern crowdfunding schemes without losing sight of the underlying issues nor requiring people in need to self-market their experiences. One example is Watsi, a non-profit that works with medical partners on-the-ground to identify patients whose treatments can be funded by a general pool of donations. Donors are updated about how their money is used, but the donation pool is spread equitably across projects and patients do not have to optimize their narrative to maximize donations. Perhaps the best approaches are offline: Last summer, ad-hoc mutual aid groups and bond funds were formed throughout the country in response to waves of civil unrest. While many groups used the Internet to seek and facilitate funding for their projects, the decentralized nature of these approaches ensured not only direct financial assistance but also meaningful civic engagement with their communities.
 

JoseMartinezSecondEssay 2 - 24 Nov 2020 - Main.JoseMartinez
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META TOPICPARENT name="SecondEssay"
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It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Paper Title

 
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-- By JoseMartinez - 20 Nov 2020
 
Added:
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Help Give the Declining Empire a Second Chance at Life!

 
Changed:
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Section I

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>
-- By JoseMartinez - 20 Nov 2020

The Disease

 
Changed:
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Subsection A

>
>
As I was writing this essay, I received an email urging me to help fund the Biden-Harris transition team while it awaits the release of taxpayer funds from the General Services Administration. I didn't donate, but I did envision a GoFundMe? page for our current sociopolitical moment and lent the imaginary fundraiser's call to action to the title of this piece.
 
Added:
>
>
The fact that the outgoing administration is working hard against a smooth transition is concerning, to be sure, but there's something insidiously disturbing about a presidential transition team crowdfunding a solution for a critical political failure. And yet, this seems like the next natural step in an iterative process in which a major problem in the United States—whether it's underfunded schools, mounting medical debt, or an uncoordinated response to a pandemic—is solved on a myopic, case-by-case basis through shared social media posts and hyper-targeted emails. Crowdfunded campaigns in the Internet society can, and do, help people overcome challenging situations, but the widespread reliance on crowdfunding in an era of social alienation and austerity also reveals much about our willingness to carry structural burdens, and an unwillingness—or inability—to mend a broken system.
 
Deleted:
<
<

Subsub 1

 
Changed:
<
<

Subsection B

>
>

The Band-Aid on the Broken Leg

 
Added:
>
>
At its core, the modern model of fundraising online is no different from that of fundraising prior to the advent of the Internet: People with money to spare give some amount away to a cause or project that has captured their attention. Online and offline, there may be material incentives for donating or people may feel a duty to help someone in need.
 
Changed:
<
<

Subsub 1

>
>
Crowdfunding platforms have taken off in recent years by providing a service ostensibly for little to no cost, and at great benefit, to its users. Viewed in the best light, crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe? and DonorsChoose? help to spread awareness of a cause far beyond a community's boundaries and can showcase projects to people across networks who may be more inclined to donate as compared to the general population. Fundraiser sites often include social media integration and quick payment options that make it easy to find and fund a cause. During the COVID-19 pandemic, crowdfunding platforms have shown to be useful tools in the mobilization and distribution of financial support (a search for "COVID" on GoFundMe? shows 374,730 active fundraisers) during a crisis.
 
Added:
>
>
But as with many other useful services on the Internet, there are underlying pitfalls associated with the widespread use of crowdfunding platforms. For one, they are not designed to equitably distribute funds according to one's need. Instead, the guiding mechanisms are similar to those at play in the market for eyeballs: Potential donors scroll through compelling individual appeals to emotion and vivid descriptions of one's struggle. Donors must ask themselves "Is this person's suffering worth my money?" One study shows that, indeed, crowdfunding campaigns involving non-stigmatized health problems or that include carefully curated writing and multimedia are more appealing to donors. Deservingness is thus inextricably tied to the quality of the user engagement.
 
Changed:
<
<

Subsub 2

>
>
The prevalence of these platforms also has the potential to exacerbate alienation and socioeconomic inequality. One study of crowdfunded projects showed that people or causes based in high-income, high-education, and high-homeownership areas tended to meet their fundraising goals more than those in poorer areas. Another suggests that people who can tap into robust and wealthy social networks are more likely to receive crowdfunding in the first place. Fundraisers for medical bills and funeral costs are usually measures of last resort—if who you know and where you live are the determinative factors for fundraising your way out of a vulnerable state, then what hope is left for people who feel forgotten or are disengaged from their communities?
 
Added:
>
>
The greatest concern is that as these platforms become normalized, our perception of the underlying problems becomes obscured. These platforms, like any charitable organizations and funds, certainly help fill the gaps for needs that can be addressed on an individual basis. However, it is impossible to crowdfund away the failures of austerity and bad public policy. We must not treat crowdfunding as a legitimate alternative to an eroding social safety net in the wake of privatization, corporate excess, and spending cuts. If we do, the main beneficiaries of these structures will be rewarded for their efforts and they will continue to push back against universal health care, free college, and any other realistic policy goal that threatens the status quo. All the while, the burden of commodifying suffering will continue to rest on the backs of the sufferers and the buck will be passed on to others who are just as weighed down by the many systemic failures in the United States.
 
Added:
>
>

The Cure

 
Changed:
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Section II

>
>
The inequities that lead to the need for online fundraising in the first place will not vanish overnight. In the meantime, there is room for models that incorporate aspects of modern crowdfunding schemes without losing sight of the underlying issues nor requiring people in need to self-market their experiences. One example is Watsi, a non-profit that works with medical partners on-the-ground to identify patients whose treatments can be funded by a general pool of donations. Donors are updated about how their money is used, but the donation pool is spread equitably across projects and patients do not have to optimize their narrative to maximize donations. Perhaps the best approaches are offline: Last summer, ad-hoc mutual aid groups and bond funds were formed throughout the country in response to waves of civil unrest. While many groups used the Internet to seek and facilitate for their projects, the decentralized nature of these approaches ensured not only direct financial assistance but also meaningful civic engagement with their communities.
 
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Subsection A

 
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Subsection B

 



JoseMartinezSecondEssay 1 - 20 Nov 2020 - Main.JoseMartinez
Line: 1 to 1
Added:
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>
META TOPICPARENT name="SecondEssay"

It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

Paper Title

-- By JoseMartinez - 20 Nov 2020

Section I

Subsection A

Subsub 1

Subsection B

Subsub 1

Subsub 2

Section II

Subsection A

Subsection B


You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.


Revision 5r5 - 21 Jan 2021 - 23:57:30 - JoseMartinez
Revision 4r4 - 31 Dec 2020 - 16:33:03 - EbenMoglen
Revision 3r3 - 24 Nov 2020 - 15:25:29 - JoseMartinez
Revision 2r2 - 24 Nov 2020 - 02:41:40 - JoseMartinez
Revision 1r1 - 20 Nov 2020 - 18:28:13 - JoseMartinez
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