to anyone who may have stumbled over here by way of EFF (and, for that matter, to anyone who has stumbled over here at all). It seems that my last post won “Best Overall” in the EFF Blog-a-thon, which is such an honor I can hardly comprehend it. But sometimes that’s what happens online–you put your your little piece of whatever it is, and, through some weird alchemy of algorithms, people find it.
Sometimes, of course, those people are totally random. My friend Felicia does a periodic “Top 10 Searches to Find This Blog” post, and I have to say, the people who end up at her blog are searching for funnier things than those who end up at mine–though someone did once get to me by searching for “playboy centerfold”–I hate to break it to you, but this is all they found. But sometimes people come to you in weird and wonderful ways, or in quite ordinary ways, and it’s quite extraordinary.
For a long time, if you typed “John Crossett” into Google, the first thing that came up was an old lecture of his that I included as part of The New Rambler No. 5 (old version here; retroblog version here). John Crossett Jr. was my father, and he was also a professor of Classics at a series of small colleges. He studied with a bunch of A-list profs (Mark Van Doren, Lionel Trilling, Werner Jaeger [A-list if you’re a classicist]), but he never was one himself. He published almost nothing, and he ended up at a small college in the Midwest. But every now and then, in a Long Tail-ish way, someone will be sitting in their office and something will remind them of John Crossett, and they’ll type his name into a search engine, and then I’ll get an e-mail, saying something like, “Hey, I was a student of your dad’s, and he was one of the best teachers I ever had. I still remember. . . .” My father died when I was five and a half, so those e-mails mean quite a bit to me.
I first heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation a few years back when I asked my technologically inclined cousin Matt for his opinion on file-sharing, and he said, “Well, you should check out this outfit called EFF and also this guy named Lawrence Lessig.” Some years later, I’m halfway through library school. A few months ago, the American Library Association, EFF, and friends won their challenge to the broadcast flag.
I am still far, far from being any kind of expert on digital rights, but I’m glad, through this odd set of connections, to be part of the fight. And one last connection I’d like to mention: I probably wouldn’t have entered the blog-a-thon if it hadn’t been for the suggestion of my friend Mitchell. He does a weekly radio show on WHPK in Chicago. If you live on the south side, you can hear it there on Thursday afternoons. If you’re reading this, though, you can catch it online at his web site, www.szcz.org, where it’s also available as a podcast.