Ming the Mechanic:
Is it sharable?

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Is it sharable?2001-12-07 23:46
by Flemming Funch

Most things I seem to care about are sharable. There's a certain enjoyment in sharing. Sharing an experience, a story, something one has learned, a piece of good information, a better way of doing things, a spiritual revelation, sexual ecstasy, whatever it may be. Nothing is quite so much fun if it can't be shared. Even if it is a deeply personal experience. Then maybe you'll share your subsequently different outlook on life, or you'll go around emanating a different vibe.

I'd also go as far as saying that in most fields it is good that something is sharable, and bad when something isn't sharable. In fields such as technology, communication, information, politics, art, or just about anything else I can think of - if something useful and desirable is sharable, it can benefit many people, and possibly the world. If something considered useful and desirable is not sharable, but is only available for the select few, under very limited circumstances, it is probably a waste of resources and the world is bereft of a potential positive benefit.

That is a bit black and white, but it is very important distinction, I think. Particularly because it is partially at odds with mainstream economics, and therefore it isn't how most people in a position of power are thinking. The objective of sharing more widely is incidentally partially in alignment with the mechanisms of industrial mass production, albeit not quite in alignment with its economics. Mass production is indeed an attempt to put something into the hands of many people rather than only a few. And for some industrialists, like Henry Ford, that might very well have been their motivation. For most capitalists it is quite the other way around - it is an attempt of selling the same thing over and over for artificially inflated prices, while spending next to nothing on producing it.

The issue of sharability has reached a state of impending chaos when it comes to intellectual property in the form of patents, and it has reached a state of war when it comes to entertainment in data form, such as music that can be put into MP3 files, or movies in MPEG files. Record and movie companies are spending great efforts in trying to ensure that their products can not be shared, and that they can only be used under very controlled circumstances. You supposedly have to buy the same song again in a store on a CD even though you already have the LP record and the cassette tape, and despite that it would be faster to pick it up over the net in an MP3 file. Your collection of DVD disks would be useless if you move to another country and try to play them in the DVD players sold there.

Long and heated discussions are possible on the issue of copyrights and intellectual "property". To me it is as simple as whether things are made to be sharable or not. Companies that don't care about what you need, but who spend most of their efforts on trying to stop people from using their products - are obviously not your friends.

Copyrights, patents and trade secrets have become destructive. Where they originally served to protect creators of good things, they now mostly serve to waste a lot of resources, because things that already have been done well need to be re-done over and over again. By all means, let's reward the people coming up with good things, but the wrong way of going about it is to try to stop people from using those good things.

The best invention one can make is something that produces the greatest possible benefit for the most possible people, using the least possible resources. That will probably include that it is easy to produce, using minimal resources, and that it is easy to distribute.

Note that the primary aim "to make money" points in an entirely different direction. People who're looking to make money will often look for where they can put up toll booths for things that would otherwise be free. They will wring their minds to come up with ways of convincing people that their product is valuable, even when it isn't. They will go to great lengths to hide the truth about what are really the best products, the easiest and most effective ways of doing things. Successful money making is often about creating a believable fiction, making one's product simultaneously very attractive and very hard to get at, and hiding any alternatives to it. Capitalists make money through scarcity. If you happen to hold a substantial amount of something that the public has come to regard as very scarce - you've got it made, because you can "reluctantly" let go of it a little at a time and make a lot of money.

Taking the view of the whole planet, that's all crazy of course. If the whole planet were your household, you'd want to do things in the most useful and efficient way. You'd want to acquire the most high quality goods and services, using the least possible amount of resources, and you'd try to coordinate how everybody can as much as possible get what they need and desire. And you would quickly realize that everybody can get more of what they want in the least resource intensive way if we work out how to SHARE. Sharing in our information driven world is not particularly about 5 people sharing the same toothbrush, but about people sharing the same infra-structure through which they do things. My family doesn't need 5 copies of a CD just because we all like the same song. And we're probably fine about letting just one of us take care of toothbrush shopping.

It is not about whether you're an altruistic socialist or not. Sharing is not about some government mandated self-sacrifice thing. On the contrary. The people and companies who most successfully can give people what they really need and want - will be the most rewarded. That's kind of obvious. If you truly are providing the best possible service, even in the light of truth and in the absence of deception, and you can deliver that service to the maximum amount of people, for the least possible cost - the public will value that greatly.

It is a very simple guideline, a very simple hint as to who's trying to benefit the world versus who's trying to control it. Just look at their product or service and notice how sharable it is. Notice whether the provider of this product or service is trying to make it more available, or less available.

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10 Dec 2001 @ 13:02 by peazritr : apparently it isn't shareable...
...judging from the low response to this celestial crapola you dumped in eden soil three, four days ago & nothing has yet sprouted from no one's mouth, heart. talking trees, where are you when one needs your wisdom? helllooooooooooooooooooo. taking tongue from my cheek, swirling it around in one of bushman's bowls of 'shroom tea & contemplating the coming alphabet soup, i say with you, my friend, everything IS shareable & i say i am with you on it. forward ever!  

10 Dec 2001 @ 13:57 by istvan : Intelligent responses take time
Did you ever notice when somebody puts some shallow comments,on the web immediately dozens of people respond. When something a little deeper appears ,comes the big silence.
The depth of Mings proposals/musings require some some sort of reflection, partly because none of us have the answers yet. To blurt out whatever comes immediately to mind is not using the mind a proper way.That is not saying street theater has no value.
Also, perhaps people post news articles from other sites because their contents point to some signs of emerging from all the "do-do" the general news contains. I do that, and at times i feel the writer does not need my stupid comments. Anyvay most of the news is all comments, devoid of reality.  

10 Dec 2001 @ 14:10 by peazritr : street theatre heart beat ...
... everyone has one until the opera stops. & who is the fat lady, anyway? is she us (collective songwriter, spectator, singer)?  

10 Dec 2001 @ 14:28 by sharie : Sharing Our Meaningful Life
"The meaning of *Meaning* is that it can be shared."
-Jane Griffith and Robert Powers

In other words, sharing is what gives life meaning.  

11 Dec 2001 @ 00:56 by ashanti : Sharing, Intellectual "property", etc
Actually, this one's right up my street, so to speak. Knowledge Management is my profession, and the massive desire by profit-seekers to control the dissemination and recorded media of information smacks of the old middle-age feudal Church making sure everything is in Latin, so no-one can understand it. There is so much to say on it, it wouldn't all fit into a comment. There has been a massive shift in the profession, just recently, from regarding knowledge as a shared resource, freely available, considered as essential to social development, over to regarding knowledge as a profitable commodity.

A foolish path.

Your article is brilliant, Flemming, could I have permission to make a copy, and show it to people in my profession?  

11 Dec 2001 @ 02:51 by ming : Intellectual Property
Oh, certainly, you can share it all you want. Sad to see that knowledge becomes something to hoard and hide and profit from  

11 Dec 2001 @ 05:34 by kay : The Library
The newslogs for me are a library of information. I come here a lot in the night. I sit here for hours reading and thinking about a lot of things. I even fall asleep at the keyboard sometimes. Might make me apprear to be lurking. I'm not, just sleeping. On one of the news logs I posted that I had come to read it several times then I made a comment. Some comments and newslogs are so thought provoking, that I sometimes don't quite know what to say. Some thoughts I actually take into meditation, like sync23 and turn it into what someone called a Wisdom Pill. Hee-Hee :-)  

13 Dec 2001 @ 04:25 by istvan : Knowledgebase
I am musing about wheather there is a need and possibility to work on setting up a sort of knowledge base that we could use to access for research, learning and building tools for Newciv.
It would have to be user friendly,dynamic (evolveable),intuitive,etc...etc..
There is a lot of resources scattered all over the network now that only found by sheer luck.  

13 Dec 2001 @ 05:11 by ming : Knowledgebase
Yes, I've been thinking about the same thing. There's so much good stuff out there, but it is spread around and it is a little haphazard whether one finds it again. So there's some sense in gathering things together in a uniform way. I've made some facilities for an article library, which aren't used much yet, but which is somewhat for that purpose. Like, I did some work for http://www.bagelhole.org, which is NCN member Tom Osher. I set up an article database for him, and added the same module to NCN, although it isn't quite open yet. But I got inspired by some of the environmentally oriented How-to articles he had gathered, and I've started copying some of them. Anyway, I'd really like for us to collectively gather a Knowledgebase for a new civilization.  

3 Mar 2007 @ 19:24 by zmea @ : sharing
Your article is extreme and opinionated. That doesn't make it any less true. I've thought very similar things many times before and wondered if anyone agreed with me. Glad to see someone does.  

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