Charlie: Pressing Issues [4:01 pm]
<< Warning — this is bound to be sketchy — especially if previous year’s experience is any guide >>
Larry, Terry and Jonathan are at the front table; and Charlie is standing behind them
Charlie calls us to order
OK - so what do we mean by pressing issues? In part, what aren’t we covering that you would like to hear us speak more about. So, you need to think about some of them, while I prime the pump - Jonathan Z announces he will be blogging via PowerPoint
Charlie has some provocative questions: Why should we care about the trivial SETI thing? There’s only one Apache: what are you expecting to get from this organization
Y: If you think of Larry’s talk this morning, it describes a certain silliness/messiness that emerges out of rent-seeking in a certain way of thinking — the market and the price system is there to solve our problems. And the market worked better than the “other” - communist society.
Now, we are seeing a change in technology, but we are failing to take advantage of it fully because we are waiting for a market to develop that helps solve it. Well, maybe the market is not the way to handle the new opportunities.
It’s not about Apache: it’s about the kind of ways that we organize society to make us all better off. With this technology, we are increasingly limiting our freedom in order to make the technology fit the current market ideology.
Charlie: C’mon, I want to make money. How does this help me?
Y: You want a degree of respect; you want a set of services and nowadays, you need to separate what you do as a producer and sell it, getting money that allows you to acquire these things. Money is a means to something else.
C: Maybe; but what are we going to get from this new way of organizing
Y: We’re going to get a way to speak our minds to others rather than only accepting what others say, we will be able to make amovie, rather than just watch; we get to filter what we want, rather than rely on others; we get to create and produce with having to raise capital — that barrier to entry will fall;and we will be better off .
You can still earn money; but you have a larger universe for doing something else
Tim Denton: All this P2P stuff will allows us to test propositions across huge populations; science may return to something that amateurs can engage in. There are inquiries that depend upon thousands of experiments — a new way to do science
As products and services get to be less material, the economy may become something that is also less dependent upon physical transformation
Jay McCarthy: It’s interesting that we can’t do all those things; even though Yochai says we can’t. And what if your job is in an industry that we’re talking about blowing away?
Luke Sheppard: Important to some of us is the question of operating systems. Linux v. Microsoft. There are other ones, say BSD Unix. Mac OS X as a commercial derivative. To the average user, it may be irrelevant. But in the computer world, this is really important.
A while ago, it seemed like your only options were Win98 or command line Unix. Training wheels, or a helicopter. Lots of interations since then; some innovated to create something that they wanted
So this is something that we get out of P2P production.
Charlie: granted, but Yochai says this is something new at a higher level
Yochai: Why is this distnguishable? We;re getting new useful thngs, without the notions of property that so many assume we have to rely on
Larry: Here’s a bit of research being done thatmight suggest something new — play as work, or work as play. (Ender’s Game) We give kids a “game” to do, that turns out to be doing really useful things - so by making “games” be productive could be really effective.
But, what stops us from doing this is a set of assumptions about how the world works (ideology) - we need markets, rents, etc to organize an effective way to do this. It might work, but it might not — but right now, we aren;t even trying
Chuck Rosenberg: Where does government fit into this scheme? Google may be social networks, but there is hardware at the root.
Yochai: Pure plays are rare — mixed strategies are more common (Yochai avoids ideology as a word, even though I would argue that’s exactly what he’s talking about — ‘models’ instead)
(Note, capitalism is not a pure play either, by the way — there’s lots we do that has little to do with idealized pure market economies)
Yes, there are some government interventions that may incent certain kinds of actions — but how do you predict? You need to separate out the effects of social production
Dave Winer: I want to make money doing software. We had BloggerCon — no speakers, no audience — instead we had some leaders and a bunch of participants. The attendees were participants, and their participation made it work.
Can’t we try that here? Come down off the stage and let Charlie make us discuss, for real. Let’s do it.
Why shouldn’t software developers get paid? Law professors get paid.
Apache is a tool we write for each other; writing for uses is hard work, and we programmers won’t do it for free.
<<the humm vote leads to a split — yochai and larry sit down >>
Charlie points to the Amy Harmon article I cited this morning before I came to ILAW — digital technologies changing the flow of information; and less control by the government; individuals set us up to learn more.
Q: A market change; the media is no longer thrust upon us; we can now participate. Everyone can create the story collaboratively; participating in the story collection and maing the story.
Charlie: The Berg video was downloaded; the NYTimes gives us a URL to consumption junction — When I went there, it was a porn site (who fooled Amy?)
Q: Margaret Stock — Prof at West Point; national security law; — In the past, the government could achieve this kind of control; not so easy these days. In the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg had to put in days and days of xeroxing to get the information out. The NYTimes had to intervene to turn it into a usable story.
Today, an individual with a digital camera can make the news.
Charlie: I represented Ellsberg in the CA case. I met him when he tried to peddle the information to Harvard; Harvard Law wouldn’t let him release it through the Law School Ames (competition) (www.ellsberg.net)
The NYTimes ended up firing the lawyers that spoke about what couldn’t be done; and got lawyers who wanted to see what could be done. A kind of permissions culture problem
“When in doubt, take it out” — the lawyers are asked to be conservative
Prof: I’m told that the Senate Intelligence Cmte Staff wanted to read the Taguba report; classified secret, no foreign; can only be read on a secret authorized computer — need special comptuers. The Intelligence Cmte members, even though they could read it at NPR, they couldn’t look at it on their computers — the law and the structure of the network said it was illegal to view it on their computers.
Denise Lear of NPR: I chose to put this report on NPR’s WWW site. I note that you said it was a national security issue; the government always says that when we aren;t supposed to see something. This is a weird and continuing problem
Will Eldred lead to a more expansive fair use construction.
Larry: The problem is that fair use is only as broad as the most conservative lawyer thinks it is — until it’s litigated, a lawyer cannot know for sure; and the consequences are huge — that’s a lot of exposure to ride on your judgment.
Posner and Larry argued about the Free Culture example of the Simpson’s clip in the opera documentary - $10,000. Posner wrote that this is clearly fair use; Larry told him,. forget theory and see what the practice is. So he did, and then wrote an article that the lawyers are being too restrictive in their construction of fair use in their advice.
So without a fix, fair use is unusable.
But that’s the wrong question — we need something else; fair use is unworkable for the kind of creativity that we want to engender and promote.
Will Richardson, high school IT: This is an education issue for me. How to teach this to kids? What sort of strategic teaching is needed to get these ideas across. The freedom/information literacy/information creativity thing - how to sort it, filter it and teach it
Larry: This is about bringing together the producer and the consumer. Learning how, in the context of a film, is show how presentation changes the meaning of the facts presented. Teaching kids how to understand the content of media in new ways
By participating, they get to see what’s “inside” of creativity; learning how this stuff really works. It’s not truth, it’s what is presented. That teaches something crucially important for participating in modern society; how to tell the truth; how to acculturate what the truth is.
Participation in the construction of the truth.
Right now, most of what kids do in blogs and other things, people will say it’s illegal — and that’s a problem
Terry: I agree, but I have another point.
The primary way that educational materials are distributed to kids is in the form of hardbound books made by major publishers; established by school boards/districts. There are disadvantages to this mechanism — expensive, and a disincentive to update; got to buy the expensive update — finally, it’s poor for disabled students
There exists a narrow provision that allows for conversion into media suitable for students with handicaps (braille, read aloud, etc). And there are companies that capitalize on this - they buy the textbook, and convert –usually with a digital intermediate form
SO there’s an initiative afoot to facilitate the more rapid distribution by standardizing and liberalizing the digitizing of the material — via a standard XML markup system.
OK - sounds good; but if you’re doing that, why doesn’t everyone get the advantages of digital formats? In digital form, the upgrades are now available; other advantages.
Income problem for hardware, but can be overcome. Will the publishers go along?
They see some advantages, but some threats. Unencrypted content, p2p corrosion. Not so bad; but a bigger one is this. Once the idea that books should be digital, the idea that a SINGLE book is the way to learn a subject weakens — a collection of several pieces would be a better way to assemble the necessary pieces. Publishers fear this
Why? Because of the collapse of the idea that a single source is the way to teach — educationally liberating, but upsets the industry.
Will: WikiText is a site that let’s teachers do this kind of thing
Yochai: Turning this into a teaching tool, the teachers will learn this technology; and possibly this way of working
Celebrating free software is no more a criticism of writing software, than blogging is a criticism of professions journalism
Jim Flowers: I just spent the last legislative session pushing this very agenda (digital texts) - One of the obstacles was the idea that, once it’s on the computer, it should be easy to make a digital form. Well, not exactly. Formats are NOT common; and this is a constraint.
Following the rules, these kind of format issues make this terribly hard to accomplish.
Moreover, there is a structural problem — the way that teachers teach, and how accountability works within the system. A statewide curriculum for K-12. On one hand, it’s vague — master this material. But, interpretation in the context of accountability leads to a very mechanistic implementation.
Until that culture gets broken, these kinds of innovations won’t be prevalent.
Charlie: What about you , Jonathan
Jon Z: Well, let’s look at H20 - a set of GPL code that gives people a way to discuss a topic and exchange ideas. Dovetails with CC and other ideas we’ve heard about today. A way to build up a thinking community; to exchange and compare notes about how it’s going, and how it’s being done. A framework for sharing teaching and learning experience
Many of us are optimists; technology is cool; finding opportunity in the new tech. Next, if it takes off, the question of who gets threatened. And threats are perceived, and usually more urgent. And, as the urgent gets us away from thinking about the important.
Charlie: This idea, H20, is another example of Yochai’s new kind of production.
Rebecca McKinnon (KSG): I’m interested in the digital divide. How relevant is this discussion of the last two days to you and your country? We are talking about this possibly great wired society, but the reality is that there will be huge gaps of opportunity out there that will be a huge problem.
(Beruit): The topics are relevant, but the digital divide is a real factor. For us, the issue is access to the internet. The resources aren’t there
(Venezuela): Access to internet is one of our major goals. Few people have such access. Copyright and IP are also key problem — how to develop software / free software. We see this as being an important issue — how to get tools that are not protected. Income is a huge barrier to progress in this area
South Africa; Phillip Schmidt: While the story has been about the means of production being in the hands of the consumer, this is not the case in Africa.
Can such countries leapfrog the evolutionary path that countries have trakced in the past
(Uzbekistan): A more general question — history says that technology and copyright have been antagonists; c.f., Sony. Will technology win, or will this new scheme win?
(Senegal): There are lots of issues in Africa that have been touched on. But some could be adapted to be discussed more specifically in that context. Licensing/pirating means that people have access to these tools, but I’m not sure what happens with these licensing regimes we promote here; people aren;t going to give them up. Music, as well. People will rip/mix/burn.
In an open air market, people with their own art/crafts have to compete with the copyists — and the competition will make these goods better overall. Protecting IP also means that there will be losses if creativity is lost.
Trade practices: treaties are built used to introduce IP rules by “backdoors” and trade agreements end up having surprising consequences for the cultural development in these countries.
Heather Ford (South Africa): I’m from the CC South Africa Project at Stanford — wanted to use the opportunities of CC in other contexts. Trying to get African culture shown in such a way as to get outsiders to recognize the culture of africa, to show the africans the value of what it is that they do
(Colombia): (1) Concepts like free culture are important for developing countries; access to a public domain to build upon is key for us to develop
(2) Free trade agreements increasingly are introducing the US IP regimes into developing countries; so it matters to us that you get it right; because we will all end up in the same place via the trade agreements that we all have to sign
(Philipines): The present internet technology has brought a new notion of national security — cyberterrorism, cybercrimes. Human security should be a greater focus of the efforts that we put into internet development and policy.
(Poland): In Poland, an issue is the problem of commercial piracy. Poland is an IFPI target right now. As a result, CC has a tougher row to hoe. Doing innovative things in IP is hard and viewed with suspicion.
Peer production — sharing and copying essays in school; they work hard together to develop a product and share it; poor for pedagogy, but cooperative efforts.