This image clearly violates Fox’s copyright, but fuck it, it’s funny.
My coworker Chhaya is a sharp one. She’s our Events Coordinator, but that doesn’t mean she sits around thinking about guest lists and fingerfoods. This woman pays as much attention to the issues at the intersection of music, technology, policy and law as anyone at our little think tank. At the moment, the Big Question is about how to implement sustainable economies in a world of digital abundance. The once distant digital future — with its privacy, free speech, First Amendment, intellectual property and monetization concerns — has now come crashing down on our personal, social and professional networks. How all this shakes out is gonna determine what the rest of the century looks like.
Can the law keep up with new uses? Can commercial value coexist with the collective? Smart pipes or dumb pipes? Copyright protectionism or blanket licenses? Is aggregate personal data mining actually the new privacy? If the wireline networks are open, why not wireless? Should we feel safe putting sensitive info in the “cloud?” Where’s my lossless, interoperable digital audio? (And that damn jetpack?)
Do you see what I’m getting at? I’m not sure I do, either.
Anyway, Chhaya has a short little post over at Liquid Sunshine that talks about the openness of the internet vs. the lack of flexibility with some forms of commercial exploitation. Essentially, she uses Jonathan Zittrain‘s book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It as the springboard. I’m stealing a whole friggin’ chunk of her post — it’s “fair use” if I say so!
What I find so fascinating about the theories underpinning the internet and code and collective endeavors like Wikipedia is that the way they’re built run counter to capitalism. In the brick-and-mortar world, we pay people for knowledge, solutions to problems and functionality. Our Constitution specifically encourages creativity by granting people an exclusive right to license for a time their creativity for a cost. The value is created by retaining your right to keep information scarce and then profit from its sharing.
In the digital world, websites are easy to build because you can grab code from any other website; solutions to problems are shared freely so someone else probably has already fixed your problem and left you with time to fix another problem; and the network is flexible enough to accommodate any functionality you want to build on top of it. The value instead is created by sharing information to build something greater.
So, are the “problems” with the digital revolution only those of mindset? That we’re giving away things we used to sell? And now are we trying to overlay the old economy of goods-for-money onto an open source ethos when instead we should be rethinking altogether?
Click here to read the three or four sentences I didn’t steal.