Archive for October 2006

A couple of interesting developments

October 30, 2006

I wonder how the people at OpenFest will respond to this news from the Bulgarian foreign ministry:

And more ‘commons sense’ from IPPR:



October 26, 2006

The P2P Foundation has been excerpting Unbounded Freedom.

Michel Bauwens also sent me a long article on the political economy of peer production. It contains, among many other new formulations, one that I think is particularly intriguing – ‘anticredentialism’, defined as follows:

“P2P projects are characterized by equipotentiality or ‘anti-credentialism.’ This means that there is no a priori selection to participation. The capacity to cooperate is verified in the process of cooperation itself. Thus, projects are open to all comers provided they have the necessary skills to contribute to a project. These skills are verified, and communally validated, in the process of production itself. This is apparent in open publishing projects such as citizen journalism: anyone can post and anyone can verify the veracity of the articles. Reputation systems are used for communal validation. The filtering is a posteriori, not a priori. Anti-credentialism is therefore to be contrasted to traditional peer review, where credentials are an essential prerequisite to participate.”

This chimes well with my current mood on there being too many gatekeepers, and not enough opportunities for people to show their creativity. For every book that is published there are so many more that could be that are just as good, even if they’re only read by your own extended family! The essay is here:

Can a sharing economy be a ‘fake’?

October 24, 2006

OpenBusiness is following up on a discussion by Larry Lessig and Joi Ito – “Is YouTube web 2.0 ?” They argue that there is a “fake sharing economy” emerging. YouTube does not allow downloading, nor does it encourage remixing, or re-use (in contrast to services like Revver). In that respect, YouTube is a service which lives off user-generated content, but does not empower individual creativity.

OpenBusiness will publish a series of responses. The first one is here:

This relates to the need to define Open Services:

If or flickr are nothing without their users should we explore distributed ownership and investment structures? Is it right and sustainable that “enabling shells” such as flickr, YouTube or digg are owned by one big company?

Giants’ shoulders

October 23, 2006

I have long admired John Kay, Financial Times columnist, on these issues, and here is a recent column of his on innovation and copyright, which finishes with a few words of advice for Andrew Gowers:

It has made me think again about Bob’s question of a few days ago. In response to my assertion that we need a rich cultural commons, Bob Croxford says,

‘Why? How does this help encourage works of original authorship?’

In the same issue of the FT as Kay’s column (October 13), an editorial called ‘Threat to free speech’ found itself alongside a letter from a list of performers’, writers’, directors’, and composers’ organisations, entitled, ‘Worrying rise in hostility towards copyright’. (more…)

Statistics and Creative Commons

October 21, 2006

For Intellectual Property Watch, Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen has just given a very interesting report back from the 23rd general assembly in Geneva of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA):

‘As part of its greater focus on accountability and transparency, the global pharmaceutical industry will launch a new code of marketing ethics next year… Meanwhile, its stand in support of patents will remain unchanged, although its strategy was challenged at the meeting.’

Gerhardsen interviewed one of those doing the challenging – Hans Rosling, professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who told him, ‘The pharmaceutical industry has so far been extremely conservative.’

Rosling had called on industry to ‘think of new “clever business models,” as the information technology and aircraft industries have done, both of which offer high-price as well as low-price alternatives.’ He cited the alternative approaches to conventional market mechanisms taken by Internet companies Google, Skype and YouTube and suggested that the pharmaceutical industry should ‘find ways of providing free or at cost products in the beginning, as many mobile phone companies have done, in order to acquire potential customers…’ adding, ‘ With this thinking, the industry should not be afraid that its products would be copied. Even Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates recognised that copiers would later purchase the products when it has helped them grow their economy’.

Rosling is the founder of Gapminder, a non-profit organisation that aims to create a ‘YouTube of statistics’. Public statistics are hidden from the public, Rosling told Gerhardsen: those who have used them have either put ‘prices or stupid passwords’ on them. Gapminder aims to change this and bring statistics back into the public domain.

Intellectual Property Watch have made Rosling’s amazing presentation and graphics available, from Tedtalks on a Creative Commons License.

Academic publishing

October 19, 2006

I received this comment on Unbounded Freedom from a friend of a friend. Had there been more time, I would have liked to have gone further into this issue:

‘I am not qualified to evaluate the non academic publishing side of things. At the risk of appearing biassed I think you could make a bit more of this area:
1. It is vast – 25,000 core journals.
2. Elsevier, the largest, publishes 1200 and has just produced a backfile of all 2000 that it has ever published. (Cost? In the region of £1 million). In a good year Elsevier makes £1 billion profit – up to 30% return on capital invested..
3. Prices have risen 2,3,4 times the rate of inflation for the last 20 years as commercial publishers carve out subject monopolies
4. The ‘price crisis’  is driving the Open Access movement. Academics write and publish without charge. Editors sometimes receive a modest fee.
Publishers then sell the product back to the library where the same
academics can then read the output of their colleagues. Publishers are
esssentially parasitic in the scholarly communication process.
5. Open Access is developing rapidly as funding bodies, (eg Wellcome and
some Research Councils), insist on articles based on research that they fund being placed in Institutional Repositories
6. Publishers are reacting by introducing ‘author pay’ models – as high as £3000 per article. This will shift their revenue streams from librarians to funding bodies.
7. It is quite possible that within 10 years there will be a decisive shift away from commercial publishing towards linked repositories combined with OA ‘not for profit’ journals.
It is all very messy but also fascinating!…’

Could this be a win-win situation?

October 18, 2006

Vladimir has been listening to the Unbounded Freedom launch debate on Counterpoint-online. He says we should all be growing up… fast:

“What a heated debate 🙂

But then, I’m not surprised the debate took such a course. The motion was defined in such a way as to tempt participants into thinking that they fundamentally oppose each other. They don’t. Both sides are for creativity that doesn’t suffer petty restrictions AND for creativity that enriches both giver and receiver.

What some perceive as conflict between Copyright law and the ideas of the Creative Commons movement is in fact only a symptom of an issue at a deeper level:

In the culture we have created it feels hard to give as well as receive reward. Why is this so?

Because we believe to live in a world of scarcity and struggle which justifies exploitation?

Because we believe somebody always has to lose?

Because of mistrust – in our society, in our economy, in ourselves?

Let me tell you that we as humans have reached a point in our development where it is no longer justifiable to feel victims of factors beyond our understanding and reach, victims of our world. Our traditional culture and religions have deeply ingrained thoughts that we are disadvantaged and rely on the mercy of external influences. But now we have reached an age when it’s time to grow up. Our society, our technology and our consciousness approach a level where it no longer makes sense to believe in half-solutions, in deprivation and the need to compromise with ourselves and our dreams.

The need for protecting legislation will vanish when giving is no longer associated with losing. That would require not simply an economy where people thrive, but an economy where we, our ideas and our creations are interconnected more effectively and on a greater scale; an economic system which also reflects our finer and intangible needs, economic interactions which by degrees of fluidity and connectivity resemble our hyperlinked Internet.

I believe this to be firmly within our reach, within a generation or so.”

…and that this not only could, but must be a win-win situation… ?