In whose interest?

Vladimir says:

“Kudos to Mr. Gil, Brazil’s Minister of Culture for being open on this topic. As for our Bulgarian Minister of Culture, I’m not even sure that he is aware of the Creative Commons movement. Some of the more recent campaigns of our Ministry regarding IP law revealed that it is quite isolated from what is going on in our society.”

This reminds me of Lawrence Lessig’s comment in the LRB this August that the ‘market that controls today’s policy-makers…’ has kept too many governments ‘ from grasping obvious truths that would add substantially to the general good’. He was speaking about the two million volunteers self-organised in Microsoft newsgroups who work to improve the service to Microsoft customers for free. His argument was that ‘we all – citizens, businesses and governments – lose’ if governments don’t understand that ‘the communities that Microsoft husbands are important and genuine; the wealth they produce for Microsoft is great’ and that, ‘The wealth similar communities could produce for society generally is even greater.’

Maybe this is just a question of the main influences on governments isolating them from what is going on in society. But perhaps it is also a fear of the challenge to managerial forms of governance. Business is beginning to see that the great challenge is how to secure ‘readers’ attention’ on an individual by individual basis. But governance more generally spends its time trying to manage the ‘readers’ into national unity or manageable subsets. They might well be worried about how to handle what Hamish McRae in today’s Independent calls ‘a pretty pure market’ like the one YouTube has created in eighteen months, which, ‘like all markets.. signals what people really want’.
McRae, in his article, ‘YouTube is young, democratic and shows that the world is changing before our eyes‘, has noticed that YouTube ‘is about sharing not selling’ and he goes on to describe the social consequences:


“YouTube is profoundly democratic. There is no media tycoon determining what political line the clips should take…no banks of clever executives manipulating the emotions…no trendy art directors using their skills … what you watch is what you choose to watch…”

This is why I cannot understand the head of steam Bob has worked up around ‘rich dilettantes’ and the market being ‘swamped with spoilt middle class views’. My middle class friends are much more likely to spend their time in the same managerial space as the politician. They are likely to feel rather more ‘at sea’ in the face of creative commons thinking, and less clear about what it offers them, than millions of ordinary viewers, readers, music-lovers and punters in general. Scott picks up on this point of ‘in whose interest’ from a slightly different angle – but with the same conclusion I think.

Meanwhile, I notice that Open Business has opened up a new debate which may have much more impact on what is really going on in our societies. It asks:

“If social activity has become an economic product in its own right,
do we need distributed ownership and investment structures? What are
the ethics that make community driven sites sustainable?

More at:

http://www.openbusiness.cc/2006/10/11/the-end-of-open-source-%e2%80%93-the-beginning-of-open-services/

Finally, I absolutely agree with Vladimir – when he says that the internet has been,

“a wonderful catalyst to reevaluate so many aspects of our life”

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One Comment on “In whose interest?”

  1. Parimal Says:

    I find odd parallels with the debate concerning the wearing of veils. When Jack Straw made this an issue, many people thought at long last someone is speaking out for us ordinary folk. Jack Straw is playing the classic game of divide and conquer. He is uninterested in a real and effective democracy in which each person counts. Similarly those arguing for stronger copyright laws or DRM are not fighting for the ‘little people’. They wish to maintain their grip of control. In both cases, veils and copyright, we have structures which are out of tune with what is happening in the real world. We urgently need mechanisms and structures that can enable and empower, both on the Internet and in society in general.


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