Thursday, January 19, 2012

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE HOLE, NOT THE BALL

Jason Lanier writes about the "False Ideals of the Web"

"There is an outdated brand of digital orthodoxy that ought to be retired. In this worldview, the Internet is a never-ending battle of good guys who love freedom against bad guys like old-fashioned Hollywood media moguls. The bad guys want to strengthen copyright law, and make it impossible to post anonymously copied videos and stories. Our melodrama is driven by a vision of an open Internet that has already been distorted, though not by the old industries that fear piracy."



My quarrel with the libertarians has always been about their absurd faith in a tempting illusion of freedom. The fact is that if government is eliminated from regulating the Internet as a public domain, it will become an increasingly private domain. The corporations will step into the power vacuum and rule via non-representative, non-inclusive, non-transparent, and non-accountable market mechanisms. Does anyone expect that Google or Facebook or another Internet giant will not censor and control to suit their own need to market products? Indeed, they already do!

As Bobby McGee said, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." The saints and sages can handle renunciation of the material world but, for most people or the "public interest", the question will not be about freedom per se. It will be about who and what does freedom serve. As every golfer knows, it's important to keep your eye on the hole and not the ball. The "hole" here is the open center of the Internet that must be accessible and safeguarded in service to all.

It's worth reading all of Jason Lanier's "False Ideals of the Web"

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