Internet

The Macro-economic Challenges of Building a New Commons-Based Economy

As commercial interests try to convert what has essentially been a commons into a total market order, the Internet is experiencing a mid-life crisis.  The open Internet is in the process of being enclosed by a variety of commercial forces.  The struggle for political and creative freedom is getting more urgent and complicated as commercial forces try to “develop” the Internet.

The challenge for people who believe in free culture is to reinterpret the core values of the Internet and somehow develop new ways to protect them in today’s more complicated environment.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?

The weekend news showed exultant customers hoisting their newly purchased iPads over the heads in stunning images of triumph, transcendence and rapture. You gotta hand it to Steve Jobs. He knows how to stage a PR coup.

Too bad that the iPad is hardly a paragon of "freedom." It is actually a "tethered appliance," as tech guru Jonathan Zittrain puts it — a closed, proprietary system that enables Apple to control what we may do with the iPad and which new applications may run on it.

The International Amateur Scanning League

Sometimes it just takes a determined set of commoners to get the job done. Impatient with the lethargy of the federal government in making its own films and videos available online, info-activist Carl Malamud has launched the International Amateur Scanning League. Dozens of volunteers are digitizing government-produced DVDs on everything from agricultural advice to presidential addresses, and putting them on the Internet.

Barcelona Charter for Free Culture is Released

A huge international coalition has come together to campaign for respect for the civil rights of citizens and artists in the digital era. Yesterday, the Charter of the Culture Forum of Barcelona for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge was released by more than 100 representatives from 20 different countries who had met in Barcelona from October 30 to November 1. The Charter is a landmark statement about rights of commoners to freedom of expression, access to culture and knowledge, privacy, cyber-security and Net Neutrality, among other concerns.

Celebrating One Web Day

It may seem odd to celebrate a day known as One Web Day. which is this Tuesday, September 22. Isn’t this a bit like National Mustard Day (August 3) or National Bubble Gum Week (in March)?

Not at all! We have very few devoted to our shared, commons interests — and the World Wide Web surely must rank as one of our most important shared interests. In fact, the Web must be considered one of the most amazing, historic, disruptive, democratic and surprising creations in human history.

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No Time to Think

One of the more pernicious enclosures of the commons is the enclosure of time and consciousness. It’s pernicious because it is so subtle and rarely discerned. When commercial values such as productivity and efficiency become so pervasive and internalized, they crowd out other ways of being. Our very sense of humanity — full-bodied, spontaneous, spiritual — leaches away.

Online Collaboration Goes Legit

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