At “JOHO the Blog,” David Weinberger has a simple and very cool summary of the meaning of yesterday’s SOPA-induced blackout. “This is our Internet. We built it. We built it for us, not for you. We get to turn off the lights, not you.” Yes, indeed. It took a long time for the the Internet to smell like money to those folks who like that smell more than they like the smell of creativity, innovation, fellowship, commons, etc. Now it’s a platform for all media in digital formats that are easily replicated, therefore distribution is hard to control. Much of what flows across the Internet is freely shared by its creators, and there’s also channels for media that people pay for (like Netflix). A system that facilitates all that sharing, along with a high degree of interactivity, also makes it easy to do the natural sort of sharing that peopel will inherently do. Content providers could spend less time figuring out how to stop sharing, and more time figuring out how to build a business model that works in a social/sharing environment. People who invest time and money in media creation and production have a right to charge for it, but we need to rethink how that works in the 21st century networked world.
I recently attended (and blogged and tweeted) Fiber Fete in Lafayette, Louisiana. One highlight of the Fete was David Weinberger’s talk, which closed out a day of presentations and panels about the evolution and implications of high-bandwidth networks. David had been asked to talk about “what we could do if we had ubiquitous, high speed, open, symmetric (i.e., roughly the same speed for uploading and downloading) connectivity.” As we sat together at lunch, he was telling me that he doesn’t really know how to answer that question.
What he did talk about was stimulating and, I think, important to consider: “an assumption of abundance…an abundance of information, links, people, etc.”
The abundance means we will fill up every space we can think of. We are creating plenums (plena?) of sociality, knowledge and ideas, and things (via online sensors). These plenums fill up our social, intellectual and creative spaces. The only thing I can compare them to in terms of what they allow is language itself.
What do they allow? Whatever we will invent. And the range of what we can invent within these plenums is enormous, at least so long as the Net isn’t for anything in particular. As soon as someone decides for us what the Net is “really” for, the range of what we can do with it becomes narrowed. That’s why we need the Net to stay open and undecided.
Read more at David’s site, “JOHO the Blog!” Ignore Richard Bennett’s comments. Think about what David is saying, and feel free to comment here, because I’d love to discuss it.