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Facebook’s IPO, “Privacy Correctness” and Charlie’s Writing September 27, 2012

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Charlie Cheever is stepping away from his day-to-day role at Quora.

Quora is and always will be a great product. It’s not easy to do a real-time, community-edited, advertising-free collection of the best sources on the Internet for questions.

One of the things I particularly like is Charlie’s style of writing. Quora has one of the most readable “About” pages on the web. I always attributed this to Charlie, because the word “great” showed up a lot in his answers.

I hope Charlie continues to contribute prolifically to Quora, and I look forward to whatever he decides to do next.

Also, here I am discussing Facebook on the day of its IPO  with Kashmir Hill, Denise Howell, and Evan Brown on This Week of Law 162. “Privacy correctness” is an interesting idea. I’m generally impressed at how far we’ve come in at least considering the issue since the original Facebook privacy controversy in the Spring of 2010.

This Week in Law, Copyright School and Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act May 14, 2011

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It is always great to talk to Denise Howell and Evan Brown on This Week in Law. I had the pleasure of being a guest on Episodes 107 (April 15, 2011) and 87 (November 19, 2010) on this video podcast, which I consider essential listening for keeping up with technology law trends. Here are the replays:

We talk a lot about changing norms in copyright and Internet use. Here, we had a very spirited discussion of Youtube’s new “Copyright School.” Also, the Internet rights discussion has now entered the lawmaking process with the Kerry-McCain draft Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act currently circulating on Capital Hill.

In its Darkest Hour, Seeing the Good in Facebook May 18, 2010

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I’ve been skeptical of Facebook from the moment it tricked me into joining.

Lately, I’ve been surfing the wave of Schadenfreude at its recent fall from grace. I even co-wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle that took some major digs at it.

However, I won’t be quitting. Something happened over the weekend that reminded me of the positive power of Facebook. A friend died. His name was David Lee.

Here is David, laughing and smiling just before he left for Costa Rica:

David Memorial from VidFu on Vimeo.

David was one of the best guys I have ever met. The video is from a business he was supposed to launch right after he came back from Costa Rica. He died in a car crash on that vacation.

It’s very much in character that Dave made this video. He told me, “There are a lot of people that talk about doing things, but I’m someone who does them.”

He was going to launch that business on time no matter what. I had told him it might be fun to get some comedy actress-writers I knew to be in the videos. But the actress-writers wanted to sit down and chat about it over coffee first. Their coffee date day was the day of the shoot. So he decided to star in it himself.

In business, David personified Guy Kawasaki’s principle of “Be a mensch.” His inner haggler sometimes battled with his innate generosity, but the generosity won out. Every long afternoon and late night we worked in K-town coffee shops, he picked up the check. When it was dark, he insisted on walking me to my car.

One night we had a heart-to-heart about why Koreans can be so dramatic. It’s like the Armenians, he said. Koreans endured a lot of suffering in their history.

I learned of David’s death from a Facebook event invitation. At first I mistook “Farewell to David Lee” for a going-away party. It dawned on me what might have happened. We were sending him off in farewell at the beach.

Like all of Dave’s friends, the friend who invited me was warm and outgoing. We had connected pretty quickly on Facebook.

When Dave’s friends started posting pictures and stories on his Facebook wall, I had some context to understand how loved he was. The range of emotions from his connections was comforting too. Everyone was dealing in their own way. It helped make it more real, going through it in real time, and not alone.

And this was possible because David and his friends had shared so much already. This is a case where in the moment you don’t care if the pictures are private or public. The point is to remember and share our life with David.

Now I get the half of the argument that is defending Facebook. If you post something you probably want to share it at some level. Even in the years I posted under an alias on an obscure Web community, I did.

As an Internet and media lawyer, I still think the Facebook privacy scam is evil. I think it sets a terrible example for business ethics. I still advocate for people to consider alternatives like Twitter, Flickr and Evite.

But as a user, I was really glad for Facebook this week. I’ll protest the privacy changes by abstaining on June 6, but I won’t quit.

If I had, I would have missed out on a little of David. I had too little time with him as it is.