"As regards the internet motto that 'information wants to be free,' please don't anthropomorphize information. It doesn't like it."
Featured [partial] Comment by Hugh Crawford: "I'm also tired of people quoting 'information wants to be free' with no understanding of what it means. It's like if you heard that America was the 'home of the free' and concluded that Americans were cheap dates.
"The full quote is:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.
"The context is a conversation between Stewart Brand and Steve Wozniak."
(Ed. Note: Both these quotes come from the "When the Internet Turns Vicious" post below. You can read Patrick's and Hugh's entire comments in the Comment Section to that post.)
Featured Comment by Steve: "I'm an experienced designer for a large, independent travel publisher trying to make the leap to survive the new media world, so I've been thinking about this a lot.
"The key points are the same, whether it's photography, the music industry, the publishing industry, or any other industry based on the distribution of creative expression—what we in online publishing have, for years, referred to as 'content.'
"What's undermining those economies now is that our professional institutions are set up to monetize expression based on scarce distribution—that is, the existence of a container which is manufactured, packaged and shipped. Records. Books. Magazines. We've piggybacked onto the mark-up of cost built into the scarcity of distribution. Those costs assume the existence of a container which is no longer there.
"Photographs, music and literature are now freely transmittable information.
"Almost simultaneously, cameras, instruments and typewriters have converged with computers, if not become computers themselves, and with that convergence, the walls between amateur and professional, which had been easily defined by access to scarce distribution (i.e. 'getting published') have dissolved.
"And—surprise!—we have a participation culture. We have access to near-free distribution. We can make our own books, write blogs, debate, pontificate, shoot, image, imagine, and get feedback for next to nix. Why is it a bad thing that everyone is a writer, a photographer, a musician?
"What is scarce, and getting ever more precious now, is attention. The best you can do is be worthy of attention. Be in the networks. Be findable. Be GOOD. And then...be accessible. Make yourself easy to hire. Make prints or rights fast and easy to buy. People are willing to give you their money, but their time and attention are scarce. Trying to restrict the online distribution of media is, for most, certain death. There may well be more money in the creative industries than ever, but never before has it been spread across so many, and our economic and professional models are having to adapt.
"So I'll leave you with some words from a couple of guys much, much smarter than I. First, John Perry Barlow, of the Grateful Dead and founder of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation:
The whole problem can be reduced to one simple error: People acting as if you can treat information like physical objects, to leech off of creative people and their fans, without doing anything important themselves. The music industry, for example, is the enemy of the musician industry.
You can not ever own information. It’s a physical impossibility.
Second, Clay Shirky, author of the Here Comes Everybody:
People want to participate in their culture more than they want to sit back and be entertained (and advertised to). They’re making stuff and putting it up on the internet and they’re not doing it for money, they’re doing it for attention – which makes for far more diverse and interesting output. And because it’s all going up on the internet, these things aren’t getting lost. They’re getting to cross-pollinate with other ideas.
It’s not just that copyright cartels are being sidelined, the entire culture has changed. Copying and mutating IS the culture now. Mind you, it probably always was. The 20th century was probably an aberration.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.