Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Access to Knowledge - A2K

Just in - a reference to the latest First Monday, which from memory, was one of the first peer review online journals on the Internet. It has a welcome, if sometime stiff focus on cultural analysis. The milage can vary, and the academic noise a little loud sometimes, but the references are totally useful and the points of view always stimulating.

"Info-communism? Ownership and freedom in the digital economy"
First Monday [Online], Milton Mueller Volume 13 Number 4 (24 March 2008)

The current edition has an interesting paper by Milton Muellar, Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, who argues for a more nuanced debate between the advocates of open source and proprietor software.

In the process he has some interesting things to say about the Creative Commons movement in particular and the notion of an information or knowledge commons in general. He also neatly conjoins this with a new to me phrase - “Access to Knowledge” (A2K).

His conclusion, especially the nod back to economic liberalism might be a tad strong for some. I for one did find it a little neat, but you can make your own mind about that.

However, notwithstanding my own scepticism at the plethora of squared circles, the article does make a contribution worth sharing to the concept and practice of information democracy.

ABSTRACT

"This paper takes a new look at the debate over commons and property in information and communications. It warns against recreating the old communist–capitalist ideological divide by framing the movement for informational commons as “info–communist.” The spectre of communism haunts the movement because of an unresolved ideological tension in its ethical and philosophical foundations.

The case for free software and open information contains both deontological appeals to the virtues of sharing, and consequentialist arguments against the growing intrusiveness of the institutional and technological mechanisms used to enforce exclusivity in the digital economy.

The paper argues that the deontological case is a dead end that leads to info–communism. The strongest case for open access and freedom in information and communications is grounded in a liberalism that takes maximizing individual freedom as its objective and relies on creative complementarities between property and commons regimes as means to that end"


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Don't you love a deontology for breakfast

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