Ming the Mechanic:
Battle for the Commons

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Battle for the Commons2003-12-12 06:41
3 comments
by Flemming Funch

Howard Rheingold at SmartMobs:
"I have come to believe that new understandings of cooperation and collective action are emerging in a dozen different fields, with implications far beyond the "technologies of cooperation" that enable smart mobs. I am embarking on a project with The Institute for the Future to map and catalyze a broad interdisciplinary study of cooperation and collective action. This PDF (a preprint from IFTF's latest Ten Year Forecast) highlights some of the issues near and dear to smartmobbers, but also looks beyond the horizons of the work I did in Smart Mobs to sketch out the broader landscape we are beginning to explore. This is an ambitious project and we are looking for foundation or angel funding or corporate funding. If you are an angel or a foundation or a corporation who understands what we are getting at, contact me for a more detailed proposal.

Commons foster innovation. Consider the Internet: at its core, it’s a public good. Anyone who follows the technical protocols can use it. But it’s also a source of commercial innovation and wealth. Tim Berners-Lee did not have to ask permission or pay a fee to launch the World Wide Web. The founders of Amazon and Yahoo! became billionaires through their use of the Internet commons to create new kinds of private property.

The literature of science is also a commons. Once the law of gravity or the antibiotic property of penicillin mold was discovered, people were free to open ski resorts or start pharmaceutical companies. But Newton’s equation and Fleming’s discovery entered the public domain—to benefit humankind and enable others to build on their discoveries for both private and public interest. control the emerging innovation commons.

Large content distributors have stretched copyright laws into territory that formerly was held in the public domain. Broadband carriers are seeking permission to control the content of the data that moves through their parts of the Internet. Incumbent license holders in the TV and radio frequencies are encouraging the Federal Communications Commission to maintain 1920s-style regulation over the new wireless spectrum (although treating it as a commons instead of private property could potentially enable millions more broadcasters than today—with much more innovative programming and services).
"
Yep, very important battle. Increasingly, and more and more openly, a very small percentage of the population are very actively trying to keep the rest of us from sharing, cooperating, collaborating and taking collective action. By pretending they own most of the ways we might think of doing so.


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3 comments

12 Dec 2003 @ 10:42 by Paul Hughes @24.205.195.242 : A way around it?
Ming. Yesterday, I wrote a piece on my blog about how we might be able to preserve a "freenet" regardless of what "they" do. I'm not a technical guru, only a well-read passionate freedom lover. I'd like to get your feedback and others to see if my idea holds weight, and what if anything we can do to usher in its existence... keeping the lines of communication and colloboration open for everyone without fear or censor.  


12 Dec 2003 @ 18:34 by ming : Freedom net
Fine article. I'll mention it and say more about it. But, yes, one way or another, it might very well come to that. The battle between technology with an inherent freedom to use it your way and technology forcing you to use it somebody else's way. We need an Anarchist's Cookbook for communication technology for free people.  


15 Dec 2003 @ 04:33 by ashanti : Anarchist's Cookbook
Excellent! And becoming a very major issue - whenever a new creation appears to facilitate freedom, you can bet there are a small group working 24/7 to figure out how to get control over that creation. It's an endless pattern throughout our history. At present, it seems sabotage, distraction, "noise", overwhelm of junk, and deflection are the main weapons being used, but soon that will escalate unless we are prepared to protect our freedom to communicate on the Net.  


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