Au revoir from Rosemary

Frankly, it’s impossible to keep up. Take four passing comments from the shoals of commentary – these in the Financial Times – in the last couple of months:

From ‘Traditional media may face extinction‘ by Mike Scott,
“The media sector is in the midst of a technological revolution that is undermining traditional business models. The rise of the internet, mobile phones, multi-channel television, social networking and other phenomena have had a huge impact on content, advertising, brands, and the way all of these are delivered… It is not content that is king, as Bill Gates said in 1996, Mr Ricketts suggests. “Historically, the channels have controlled content – now the customer is in charge. But no-one knows what the customer will do…”…

From ‘User revolt forces Digg copyright retreat‘ by Kevin Allison,
“The power of internet users was demonstrated on Wednesday when a popular news website said it would ignore requests to remove stories featuring a code that can be used to crack copy protection on high-definition video discs. The decision by, a “Web 2.0” site that relies on users to act as editors of news stories, came after users rebelled by voting for stories featuring a 32-digit key that can be used to hack HD-DVD copy protection…
Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder… wrote to users on Digg’s weblog: “You’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company…we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.”

From ‘MySpace cedes editorial control to users‘ by Matthew Garrahan
“MySpace, the social networking site owned by News Corp, is close to launching a news aggregation service that will allow its 160m members to rank news stories and headlines in order of importance and relevance.
The service, which could be announced as early as Thursday, effectively cedes editorial control of news selection to the MySpace user base and is the latest example of the company’s attempt to diversify into new areas…
“The response from advertisers so far has been fantastic,” said Brian Norgard, co-founder or Newroo, a news aggregation service that was acquired by News Corp last year and integrated with MySpace…”

From ‘GPL sparks openness debate in tech sector‘ by Richard Waters
“In future, if the latest compromise over the GPL is adopted, anyone with the technical competence will have the right to crack open a television set-top box or any other gadget that employs the software and add new capabilities and features to the device themselves.
“This is serving notice on all the consumer electronics makers,” said Mark Radcliffe. “They will have to give people the alternative of replacing the software [in their devices] and tell them how to do it.”…
The battle is central to the broader question of intellectual property rights in the internet age. It concerns an approach to licensing software that, over the past decade, has come to be seen as the model for an open approach to letting people share ideas over the Web.”

As an IBM document reputedly puts it, “Today, innovation is a dual-value proposition: a balanced foundation of open and proprietary collaborations”. James Boyle can turn his attention in the FT’s New Technology Forum to the hints of a different, ‘copy-friendly’ business model in every one of the businesses – recording, film, publishing and software industries – that not so long ago, as he put it, were so eager to ‘ have their cake and make your cake illegal’.

Meanwhile as ever, it is the sheer creativity of the users, customers – ‘what used to be called the audience’ – that is most impressive. Here are some examples from South Africa, Catalonia and Spain, Dubai, and of course, Brazil.

So, as an impressive victory was scored for politics and the US public space last month by an eclectic group who successfully called for US Presidential debate video footage to be ‘placed in the public domain, or under a Creative Commons license..’, it was simply the icing on the cake to discover in the first Reith lecture that Jeffrey Sachs has decided to christen his new way of solving the world’s problems, ‘Open Source leadership’ – which I look forward to hearing much more about:

‘We are entering I believe a new politics, and potentially a hopeful politics. I’m going to call it open-source leadership. If Wikipedia and Linux can be built in an open source manner, politics can be done in that manner as well. We are going to need a new way to address and to solve global problems, but our connectivity will bring us tools unimaginable even just a few years ago. I’m going to try to explain how this can be done, how without a global government we can still get global co-operation, how initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals can be an organising principle for the world — though there is no single implementing authority — and how it is possible to coalesce around shared goals.’

So it seems as if the openness debate is well and truly launched out there. It has been extremely interesting trying to map its contours so far. Where it is all going to end – no-one can possibly tell. For now, I’m happy to bow out. To everyone who has taken an interest in this blog – thank you and best wishes.

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