Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Piracy, Net Neutrality, And Why To Pay Attention.


If you haven't noticed, the Net Neutrality debate has kicked up a few notches in the last few weeks. I'm saying this following yesterday's post, and after a few hours of thinking about piracy and trying to begin to form something to a coherent whole.

But as I read the Time article linked above - on a subject I've hardly ignored, though my comments have been muted prior to this moment - I realized something: it may not even matter for much longer. If tiered internet payments for broadband service become the new business model (something I believe Harold Roth - bless you, brother - mentioned last night) will make piracy redundant. You probably won't be able fucking afford it, anyway.

It looks like my thought process has gotten that more convoluted. I need to think and keep from being irate for a while longer.

... At least it's a cool, breezy day here in Sacramento. I'm sure relaxation will come with a bit of meditation.

24 comments:

Rufus Opus said...

Yeah, there's that too. When Google turned to the Dark Side a couple weeks ago, I realized how assimilated I was, and that I couldn't disentangle myself from Google in protest of their privatization of teh intertubes. I envisioned classes of"public" internet and "private" internet services that were cooler, bigger, better, and I was all O noes!!!

But then I remembered Cable. You remember how Cable was like that? Better TV for the elite citizens with the expendable wealth and luxury to be able to afford their own private networks, available only to the upper crust...

Right. Bullshit. Why didn't that happen? Because the majority of the people that support business are fucking poor and can't afford that shit. So they kept it cheap, and how many people have cable or satellite television?

Or look at broadband. Did it leave dial up in the dust, with the very poor stuck with geocities sites that take an hour to load? Did it make all the good content only available to those who could afford the higher cost of broadband?

Well, you can't play farmville on dial up, but that's probably a blessing.

Anyway, what higher-costing content are we really going to see out there that is going to ruin the internet for everyone else, really? They need the middle class to support their asses, and they can't price it beyond our range. And the lower class always gets the shaft, they're used to it.

Harold Roth said...

Blogger didn't like the length of my comment, so I've boiled it down:

Comcast wants to charge not just tiered pricing for different download speeds and to create and enforce bandwidth limits but to charge each website that hosts bandwidth suckers, starting with YouTube, for the pleasure of access to their system (even though we customers already pay for that bandwidth). They need to expand their profits to satisfy their stockholders, and there is little physical territory left to expand in. Comcast is one of many isps. Imagine all of those ISPs charging websites individually for the privilege of downloading onto their system.

Imagine Wikileaks in this system. Heck, imagine Esoteric Archives. Think Joe Peterson could afford to pay every dick joe and harry isp that wanted him to pay up so some pimply-faced boy could download a copy of the King of Solomon to his basement room? It would sure solve the problem of copyright theft, though, wouldn't it? No more torrent sites of any kind, because they couldn't afford the isp fees for bandwidth hogging.

McInternet. This is your future.

As for the middle class, google "unemployment" and "foreclosures."

Jack Faust said...

@Harold: Your comment hasn't even appeared here for me, yet. But it's shown up in my email. And, yes. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

@R.O.: Uh. I think you underestimate what's about to happen. AT&T has been threatening Google obscurely for a while, and these retarded "tier" schemes are a way to create new, virtually unlimited wealth for a limited number of huge corporations that are looking for a way to evade the recession. This is a means of "externalizing profits," and you and I are the people who would be affected. I can't even begin to predict what it would do to small businesses.

I threw up The Corporation's shareware version on E.I. for a major reason, and that reason is that any discussion on piracy begins with a discussion on business, and the primary business of today is that of the corporation. You can't touch private printing or small businesses at all until you've covered the ground that began in many respects with the British East India company, who had privitized wealth in... Tea.

There was a revolution, here in America. It was about taxation. That taxation was on behalf of a corporation. That corporation? The East India Trading Company.

Anyway. I digress. My point is that if you trivialize this concern, you stand much more to lose than gain.

Rufus Opus said...

The sky, you'll find, has been falling for just about ever. We've been "on the brink" of the end of the world all my life. Jesus was supposed to come back after Israel became a state, and he didn't. Nukes were going to fall from the skies any minute, but they didn't either. The rainforest issues were going to result in the depletion of oxygen by 2010. Still breathing. Y2k would bring the internet to its knees, sparking global chaos and the end of the world. Didn't happen. The glaciers were melting so fast that the ones in the Himalayas would be gone in 2035. Oh wait, sorry! Forgot to carry the one! 2350. For real this time! Come on, it's still pretty bad!

You read Greer's Green Wizard shit? I swear to god, he's making the same claims about Peak Oil that were being made when my parents were reading original issues of Mother Earth News and Green Egg was just hitting the stands. Same arguments. Same suggestions. Head for the hills, batten down the hatches, be ready, the power's going away.

I tell you the truth, brother, they are telling you Jesus is coming back October 22, 1844, and you're standing in the fields waiting to see the angels sing.

It's only an acorn. Life will go on and it won't be that different, really, than it has always been. For 10,000 years, that we know of. History, as you said, is repeating itself right now, just as it always has. Its relentless tide will continue for as long as it must, and then something else will come along. Give up, give in. You will be assimilated anyway. Maybe you'll even be able to make a change from the inside that really matters. More chance of that, really. Succumb. Subscribe. Submit.

I hear they have Apples.

Jack Faust said...

@R.O.: I had this huge rant about Christ, the poor, wealth, and your continued enmeshment in worldly shit. But then I remembered that that was the point of the magician, as opposed to the mystic. But your support of the present structure and persistent shrugging off of various topics as "crackpot theories" is one I find telling. Even the "sky is falling" diatribe is telling. Don't question it or worry if you feel that's unnecessary. Fuck, man. Whatever, I guess. This is going to bug me, though. I'll say that up front. I don't even think I can construct an argument that will make you question certain things, and it's annoying as all Hell.

Harold Roth said...

I am not a fan of Greer, especially because of his interest in Oswald Spengler. But I do see many pressures on what has been our way of life in the US, and those pressures have already effected changes and will continue to do so. We could benefit from those changes, or we could be ground up by them. It is our choice to react reasonably or to continue whistling in the dark, as you have chosen. There are many people who see the value in acquiring and renewing traditional skills in depth regardless of the state of the world. IMO, that is very much in keeping with the practice of magic. These are skills that I have been working on for decades because they connect me with history and with our ancestors, and because competence always builds confidence and depth of knowledge. If people find that humorous, I can't say I care. I have always been an eccentric.

That you read my remarks about net neutrality and chose to mock them as the sky is falling shows to me that you are unable to parse a reasoned argument. Instead, you react out of your own fear and ignorance and take swipes from the position of elitism you only imagine you hold.

Rufus Opus said...

Does that mean I can has win!?

Rufus Opus said...

Whoa, Harold, I haven't seen anything about your comments on net neutrality. I followed Jack's link to your blog yesterday and landed on a post about sage-inspired dreams. I commented on it, about the book of Daniel. Don't know anything about what you're referencing here.

I thought Jack had read a Time article about net neutrality and had the same reaction I did: batshit paranoia. It happens to me all the time. I have a preclusion to fall into conspiracy theories. I've noted that and addressed it in myself.

So my comment here was not mocking you, it's mocking the intrinsic paranoid reaction that I share with you and Jack. I'm also trivializing things that are concerning because it's safer, personally, safer for me and my family. I mock painful, painful shit because it's not going away, and I find it is preferable to be amused than angry. I spend less time in jail, you see. And that's better for my kids.

Now, I further recognize that this is a bad way to deal with shit, and required me to basically sell my soul for safety and security. I allude to that in the comment, perhaps a bit too subtly.

But I wasn't mocking you, Harry, I like you. You're heaps smart, and insightful, and experienced.

Apparently this is being taken too seriously to play with it the way I did. I apologize for offending you.

Hieronimo said...

Once there were Robber Barons. We have the something like them now: the gigantic corporations. We have child labor laws still, but the power of the unions is gone---the unions were necessary in their day, they screwed up yes, but we have nothing to replace them and employers (personal experience) often can do whatever they wish in the workplace and workers have no true recourse. If you've ever slung burgers or cleaned toilets (done both) you know it's far worse the lower your salary is. My health insurance has gotten worse every year for maybe fifteen years. The rich are still getting richer and vice versa. We saw the gory details of the Vietnam war: that took freedom: we see almost nothing about our two current wars... Some things have unquestionably gotten worse: more things can and probably will.

As for the end of the world, talk to the people of (I think) Samoa and maybe Vanuatu and some other Pacific islands: the governments are buying continental land where they can for eventual relocation of their entire populations. Also because of the dead zones and near dead ones in our oceans, jellyfish biomass now outweighs human biomass (cue visions of Cthulhu). There's a raft of trash in the Pacific as big as a state (not as bad as R'lyeh, but still).

I'll hate to see the day when the Internet sucks (been using the Internet since '87, '88, maybe). But I believe it's gonna happen.

I see few reasons for long term optimism. I don't see a dramatic End of Days. I suspect a centuries long decline already under way that'll end ... how? I worry about my children. A lot.

@RO---I tried to avoid the sophistic rhetoric this time: prob didn't succeed.

--
Hieronimo

Rufus Opus said...

@Hiero: Sophist rhetoric goes highly unrecognized these days anyway. Those who do recognize it decry it, no one appreciates it as an art form in and of itself, and more people are interested in judging the performer than the performance anyway. Rather disappointing.

Plato and his contemporaries held similar views about the outlook of the future, and similar concerns about the youth of their time. Rightfully so, too, their cultures were under constant threat, and barbarians or more-advanced cultures could be depended on to run through raping and pillaging and stealing at any given moment.

That's how life still is for people all around the world, in Sudan, Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Haiti, Mexico. The "First World" countries have been largely insulated from this ugly truth about life by relative prosperity for the last century or so, and when the insulation gets stripped away, everyone gets all up in arms, or depressed.

Like Voltaire's Candide, I've recognized that there will always be calamity and threats aplenty that will come knocking at the gate. I try not to get upset, and to keep it in perspective.

The robber barons never went away. The world is no worse than it ever was, it's just that as we get older, we grow more aware of how bad it always is. Things are always terrible for some, great for others, and somewhere in between for everyone else. Someone's just given birth to a beautiful baby, in the same instant someone else was raped in a pool of their mother's blood. Some teenager got their first car and thinks it's fucking awesome, while another teenager committed suicide because the pills their parents put them on didn't do shit to make their lives any more pleasant to endure.

It's a beautiful and fucked up world we live in. Where are you going to focus your intentions and aspirations?

Jack Faust said...

Dude. I still can't see Harold's first post. It's in my inbox, but not on blogspot. Gimme a sec, and I'll put it up. This is annoying.

Also: Harold, what's up with your dislike of Spengler? Mace discusses him as often as Greer, so I find myself wondering... I've read the, uh, streamlined version of Decline of the West, but never both volumes. It was an interesting read, at least.

Jack Faust said...

Harold had written:

Blogger didn't like the length of my comment, so I've boiled it down:

Comcast wants to charge not just tiered pricing for different download speeds and to create and enforce bandwidth limits but to charge each website that hosts bandwidth suckers, starting with YouTube, for the pleasure of access to their system (even though we customers already pay for that bandwidth). They need to expand their profits to satisfy their stockholders, and there is little physical territory left to expand in. Comcast is one of many isps. Imagine all of those ISPs charging websites individually for the privilege of downloading onto their system.

Imagine Wikileaks in this system. Heck, imagine Esoteric Archives. Think Joe Peterson could afford to pay every dick joe and harry isp that wanted him to pay up so some pimply-faced boy could download a copy of the King of Solomon to his basement room? It would sure solve the problem of copyright theft, though, wouldn't it? No more torrent sites of any kind, because they couldn't afford the isp fees for bandwidth hogging.

McInternet. This is your future.

As for the middle class, google "unemployment" and "foreclosures."

Rufus Opus said...

@Harry: Ok, yeah, I see how you would have taken offense. You are seriously chicken littling it right up. Snap out of it, man.

What did you think I was afraid of, or ignorant of? My apathy and aplomb come from knowledge and experience, not fear and ignorance.

You're afraid you're going to lose access to ... youtube? And torrent sites? Really? And that's got you all upset? What's that tell you about your priorities and sense of entitlement?

And I've had bandwidth limits on my site since I started it. To get more bandwidth, I have to pay more. It's always been that way, since the 90s. Nothing new there, and the internet wasn't crippled or hobbled before. Did you just not know that people have to pay to play on the internet? Oh no, another mouth to feed! Big deal. We've been assraped the whole fucking time, and now that you're afraid it's going to affect you, you're finding out about it and getting all upset.

And the people who lose their sites, is it that great of a loss? Remember geocities? They shut it down. Millions of shitty web sites gone at the flip of a switch. The quality of the internet improved overnight. Have you missed them?

Basically, it's going to cost more to play on the web, and you're mad about it. Things aren't going to be the same (but they are, just more so) and you're mad about that too.

And as for unemployment and foreclosures, that's called life. You may not know about about it, but in 1982 there was another recession, and unemployment reached 10%, and guess what? Ten years later it was the 90s, and we had another market bubble form that made a lot of people rich until it burst. That was the dot bomb. Then it was the housing bubble, and here we are, and you're screaming that the sky is falling, it's the end of the world...

Shit happens. Life goes on. I have no sympathy for people who only care that life sucks when it hurts them personally.

Jack Faust said...

Bandwidth to store on the network, or paying someone to host your site, is not the same as changing the architecture of the internet so that it makes corporations more money, R.O.

Your comments don't work, and you clearly have no idea what we're talking about. We're talking about changing the basis of packet exchange. This is what makes the internet tick. It's blood, lifesource, and heartbeat. Alteration to the fundamental dynamic that packets are never differentiated against by providers is the reason the internet has worked as both a commodity and that technology interfacing with it has continued at an unabated rate.

We're effectively discussing privatization of the internet as a whole. Prior to the last five years, that was impossible. But it is now possible and inevitable if people don't actually try to stop it.

If you can't see why this is a problem, then you're seeing dollars and not dynamics. Snap out of that shit right now. It's not about money, R.O.

Rufus Opus said...

Jack, check your E.I. agreement's fine print. If you get over a certain number of hits per month requiring your host to provide more bandwidth to access the stored data, your rates will go up. I don't know who you went through, but you're most likely in the lower tiers of the already-in-place tiered program. I'm afraid its your own ignorance that's blinding you here.

And you don't think it's about money? It's always been about money. You're just now figuring that out because you've lived in a bubble of protection from that hard truth. The bubble's about to pop and you don't want to adapt.

Let's go back to piracy. I don't like that people can steal and mass produce my books at the click of a button. But as you've said, the tech isn't going away, so I have to adapt. And I do. But I still don't like that people give away my work for free. I have to turn my ebook business into a marketing business for other products and services to increase my profits. That's how it is.

But honestly? That's how it's always been. Rich authors are the exception, not the rule. The tech has changed the way things are done, but not as much as I like to pretend. Authors have always used their books to land speaking gigs, just like musicians have always used albums to fill concert stadiums where they can make some money selling t-shirts.

You don't like that access to media on the internet is going to be just like access to media on television was with cable. But it is, and you'll have to adapt. You're blowing the consequences of the privatization of the system out of proportion, you're fear-mongering. It won't be that bad. It's inevitable anyway, and has been since the first data packet was sent between nodes.

My point is that some things will suck, and other things will be better, and life will go on. You're over-reacting, trying to stop change you don't like. You're in a cycle of fear, and it's warping what you can see.

Man, you just replied to something else I posted.

Rufus Opus said...

Jack, check your E.I. agreement's fine print. If you get over a certain number of hits per month requiring your host to provide more bandwidth to access the stored data, your rates will go up. I don't know who you went through, but you're most likely in the lower tiers of the already-in-place tiered program. I'm afraid its your own ignorance that's blinding you here.

And you don't think it's about money? It's always been about money. You're just now figuring that out because you've lived in a bubble of protection from that hard truth. The bubble's about to pop and you don't want to adapt.

Let's go back to piracy. I don't like that people can steal and mass produce my books at the click of a button. But as you've said, the tech isn't going away, so I have to adapt. And I do. But I still don't like that people give away my work for free. I have to turn my ebook business into a marketing business for other products and services to increase my profits. That's how it is.

But honestly? That's how it's always been. Rich authors are the exception, not the rule. The tech has changed the way things are done, but not as much as I like to pretend. Authors have always used their books to land speaking gigs, just like musicians have always used albums to fill concert stadiums where they can make some money selling t-shirts.

You don't like that access to media on the internet is going to be just like access to media on television was with cable. But it is, and you'll have to adapt. You're blowing the consequences of the privatization of the system out of proportion, you're fear-mongering. It won't be that bad. It's inevitable anyway, and has been since the first data packet was sent between nodes.

My point is that some things will suck, and other things will be better, and life will go on. You're over-reacting, trying to stop change you don't like. You're in a cycle of fear, and it's warping what you can see.

Man, you just replied to something else I posted.

Harold Roth said...

You seem not to understand the difference between a webhost and an ISP, Rufus. A webhost is the company you pay to host your website. They are the ones with the servers and with the relationships to piers that allow them and you to be reached on the Internet by others. Yes, they have all sorts of pricing tiers. I know this because I've been self-employed online through my websites since 1997. This issue doesn't affect me as businessman, but it does affect me as an individual.

Net neutrality is NOT about your webhost charging you for bandwidth. It's about everyone else's ISP charging webmasters for allowing the ISP's customers to access the webmaster's site. That is completely different from anything we have had up to this point. Remember that all of us ALREADY PAY for full access to the Internet as customers of our individual ISPs. ISPs are NOT the same as webhosts--all ISPs do is provide access to the Internet. They don't host sites. ISPs now want to charge websites IN ADDITION to what their own customers already pay, in essence charging for the same bandwidth multiple times. And we are not talking about one ISP. We are talking about all of the big players: Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon, etc., etc., etc. Imagine every single one of those ISPs charging a website like esotericarchives a separate charge in addition to whatever Joe Peterson pays for his webhosting. Imagine them saying you can either pay this extra charge, which is whatever we would like it to be, so that our customers can have access to your site, or you can just disappear from our network. THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT ABOUT DESTROYING NET NEUTRALITY. No non-corporate bandwidth sucker is going to be able to pay those charges. They will either have to start charging a hefty subscription (which is what Faux News plans to do) or they will simply be inaccessible. Thus, McInternet.

Separate and in addition to that is tiered pricing for a) bandwidth, b) speed for ISP CUSTOMERS. This is separate from webhosting, separate from ISPs wanting to charge extra to websites simply to appear on their network. This is something like triple-dipping, selling the same bandwidth over and over, further, bandwidth that if you actually try to use it, your speed will be throttled.

This approach will totally solve the problem of torrents. They won't be able to continue, because they make their living from ads now, and if no one can access them, no ad clicks, no income, no site. And no more copyright violations.

Re youtube, yes, I personally do watch stupid cat videos on youtube on a weekend. If it were gone, I would be sad, because I really like that ordinary people can make these little funny films. I don't have the slightest concern that if people know I watch stupid cat videos on youtube on a weekend that everyone will think less of me. I have that much confidence.

Hieronimo said...

@Jack---You're right, man. Changing the way companies do business is a small part of this. The Internet, down to the packet level, is designed along egalitarian principles. It was designed that way by the military: by allowing any packet to be routed along any any available route, they created a bomb-proof network. Witness Iraq during the Gulf War: country 95% destroyed, Internet still works. Moreover, packets until recently were not discriminated against (at the wires-and-boxes-in-the-ground level) according to type, origin or destination. When the universities gone on the Internet, this egalitarianism reached and affected the individual user. The Internet was a thing of beauty, a work of art in the truest sense.

When these facts change---and they're already changing---it won't in a very real sense be the Internet any more: it'll be something else. Will it be a work of art?

@RO---Just curious: was "Rather disappointing" meant for people who can't enjoy sophistic rhetoric like we do, or were you disappointed in my performance? No hard feelings, just curious.

And I sure hope you're right, man. About it not being the end of the world. To my mind, technology makes all the difference in the world between our fear, loathing and paranoia now, and that felt in A.D 999 or whenever. Life on Earth really could be destroyed, all of it, with tech we have now. This minute most animal populations are in decline. Most things more complex than the jellyfish and the hydra.

Genetic engineering. Nanotechnology. "So it goes."

"There is no new thing under the sun" is not a true statement, now. The new things haven't worked out too good for us, so far. Basically, death is a lot bigger and faster than it has ever been before. There are worse things than death, of course...

I hope the future is something like Gene Rodenberry's vision when he created Star Trek: his optimism was downright shocking, during the Cold War. I really hope it turns out like that.

My intentions and aspirations? The voice of my daimon: "... boldly go where no man has gone before." Haven't succeeded yet. And, yes, William Shatner is my HGA. It happens...

;)

Harold Roth said...

Rufus, you seem not to understand the difference between a webhost and an ISP. A webhost is the company you pay to host your website. Net neutrality is NOT about your webhost charging you for bandwidth. It's about everyone else's ISP charging webmasters for allowing the ISP's customers to access the webmaster's site. That is completely different from anything we have had up to this point. Imagine every single ISP charging esotericarchives a separate charge in addition to whatever Joe Peterson pays for his webhosting. Imagine them saying to him, you can either pay this extra charge so that our customers can have access to your site, or you can just disappear from our network. This is what is meant about destroying net neutrality. No large non-corporate site will be able to pay those charges to all those separate ISPs. They will either have to start charging a hefty subscription (which is what Faux News plans to do) or they will simply be inaccessible. Thus, McInternet.

If you can't understand an argument, it is better to simply not engage in it than to try trivialize the issue or to insult the other person.

Rufus Opus said...

lol, harold, no, you don't understand what I'm saying. I'll try to use the same words you have so maybe you can follow this time.

My point was that "webmasters" already face a tiered fee structure based on the amount of traffic their sites get (bandwidth). You're saying that it's not just the "webhosts" that want a cut, it's the ISPs too.

Another mouth to feed, as I said, but still, just another tiered fee structure based on traffic. It's. not. new. It's just going to another player.

You said they'd go after YouTube first because it's a bandwidth sucker, and then the torrents, right? So apparently they're aiming for high bandwidth, high traffic sites. Those will get the fees. You said it's a tiered structure. The higher the bandwidth and traffic, the higher the fees, right?

Now, in your example, you want me to imagine ALL THE ISPS IN THE WORLD going after a text site that also has black and white pictures and (gasp) an animated GIF. That is frequented by what percentage of the occult community? Which is what percentage of internet users?

You want me to explain how eBusiness works, how it's all about content and traffic, and how if you eliminate content, you lose traffic? What you're suggesting will happen would be businesses cutting off their revenue streams at the source, and that's not going to happen. The sky is not falling. It's an acorn.

Rufus Opus said...

@hiero: I'm disappointed that people don't appreciate rhetoric as an art form. No digs at you.

Rufus Opus said...

@Hiero: You're right, it won't be a work of art. But can you honestly say it is now? The architecture might be a thing of beauty, but the content... Have you seen how glutted with trash YouTube is? I mentioned GeoCities earlier, but that's another good example of e-trash. Google searches used to be useful, remember? You can't find shit anymore that you're looking for. Site after site of copy-pasted content with google ads around it cluttering the results. And the content... 6 million results that all say the wrong thing isn't a beautiful thing at all.

Hieronimo said...

@All---

RO, you're right of course about the crap out there. That doesn't negate the small fraction that is amazingly useful or the power and the freedom the Internet can bring to an individual in this world where the individual is, IMunHO, being rapidly disenfranchised in numberless ways. It's up to the individual to use that power and freedom wisely, even realize they exist.

I still have to agree with Jack and Harold Roth (Harold, I don't know you, if you have a blog I should check it out) that this good thing, with it many blemishes, is probably going to soon be worthless. Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think I am.

I'm done, have used enough bandwidth here. Till another time. Jack will probably be relieved.

--
Hiero

Harold Roth said...

Rufus, I've been making a living from my online businesses since 1997, so I'd say I understand ecommerce a good deal better than you do, okay? I've tried to explain the issue of net neutrality to you, but you insist on saying it's the same as it ever was. It is fundamentally NOT the same as it ever was. If it is trivial to you, feel free to ignore it.

Jack, what I have against Spengler is that he was the philosopher who created national socialism. Although he was not an Aryanist, he hated democracy and loved militarism (Prussianism). He believed that everyone had a social place and that they should stay put in it. He later came to believe that the "colored peril" was going to overtake European white "civilizations" and destroy them. So there's that.

The flip side to his being reactionary is that I don't see the helpfulness of his idea that civilization was cyclical. I don't believe civilization is necessarily a matter of progress or degeneration either, but I am not sure of any cyclicity or of any fundamental symbols that dominate civilizations, etc. So I don't see how helpful he can be in elucidating social problems.

I did read Mace's "Seizing Power" and enjoyed it.