Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in | Create Account

The Future of Digital Commons (MIT Commnications Forum)

09/22/2005 5:00 PM stata
Nancy Kranich, Former President, American Library Association; Guest Lecturer; Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries; Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology; Harvard University;

Description:
Nancy Kranich says the debate boils down to this: "Is information a public good or a commodity?" The more profit to be made, the higher the tension. Kranich envisions an "information society of the 21st century," where the ruling metaphor is the commons: information is neither public nor private but something shared. Intellectual assets are not given away but managed "to sustain communities of interest," and to foster free expression, creativity, innovation and democracy.

Ideas, unlike popsicles, do not disappear once they are consumed, Ann Wolpert notes. And the resources of the academic world are intended to be used repeatedly -- exchanged and enhanced. Wolpert finds particularly threatening the notion of extending copyright law to the work of academics. Ideas should not "be stuffed in the same box as Mickey Mouse," she says. The internet has fundamentally changed the flow of information, and while it has encouraged a greater degree of "social sharing," it is now threatened by market forces, which insist on controlling and realizing profit from ideas. Asserts Wolpert, "Neither the academy nor society can tolerate tight control over movement of information. For knowledge to advance, production and distribution systems can and should occur outside the tightly controlled, capital intensive publishing system."

Steven Pinker admits that "as both a consumer and producer of information," he has not resolved the conflicting demands of distributing his research freely, and making a living from it. "There is the question of how many ' books would I write if I didn't get a check in the mail from the publisher every once in while." He warns against designing and promoting an information commons that relies exclusively on generosity, openness and inclusiveness -- human nature being what it is. However, Pinker finds hope in such models as Apple's iTunes, with its micropayments to download music, and Wikipedia the online, participatory encyclopedia where people engage in uncompensated activity for the prestige of making "accurate and useful entries" in a shared online resource.



Host(s): School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Communications Forum

Tape #: T20268

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

Created
December 12, 2011 20:35
Category
Tags
License
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files


Viewed
4100 times

More from MIT Communications Forum

Pinker's Farewell (MIT Communications Forum)

Pinker's Farewell (MIT Communicatio...

Added over 2 years ago | 02:13:00 | 3045 views

Remixing Shakespeare (MIT Communications Forum)

Remixing Shakespeare (MIT Communica...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:43:00 | 3846 views

Civic Media and the Law (MIT Communications Forum)

Civic Media and the Law (MIT Commun...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:53:00 | 10641 views

TV News in Transition (MIT Communications Forum)

TV News in Transition (MIT Communic...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:59:00 | 2981 views

Games and Civic Engagement (MIT Communications Forum)

Games and Civic Engagement (MIT Com...

Added over 2 years ago | 02:04:00 | 5240 views

News, Information and the Wealth of Networks (MIT Communications Forum)

News, Information and the Wealth of...

Added over 2 years ago | 02:01:00 | 4984 views