Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Cultural Agoraphobia and The Future of The Library , James Boyle

Future of the Book Seminar, Auckland,
Prospective attendees of the Future of the Book Seminar being run by Martin Taylor in Auckland tomorrow and Thursday, might be curious to learn, I have just sent an email to Unity Books asking them to put aside The Public Domain, the Future of the Commons, by James Boyle.

The Public Domain, the Future of the Commons
Nothing exceptional there, you might say. True - but the curious thing is, the book has been available as a PDF under a CC licence for some time, here. And yet it continues to sell. Why?
This summary might help unpack the appeal to both traditional and new media audiences alike. Also, for some, including me, his argument is of seminal importance to libraries and other public learning institutions.

" Our music, our culture, our science and our economic welfare all depend on a delicate balance between those ideas that are controlled and those that are free, between intellectual property and the public domain.

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press) James Boyle introduces readers to the idea of the public domain and describes how it is being tragically eroded by our current copyright, patent, and trademark laws.

In a series of fascinating case studies, Boyle explains why gene sequences, basic business ideas and pairs of musical notes are now owned, why jazz might be illegal if it were invented today, why most of 20th century culture is legally unavailable to us, and why today’s policies would probably have smothered the World Wide Web at its inception."

First Arcadia Lecture
Courtesy of the Arcadia Programme, people curious as to both the message and the calibre of the thinking now have an opportunity to hear the author thinking out loud in a podcast of the First Arcadia lecture held earlier this year.

"Cultural Agoraphobia and The Future of The Library"
First Arcadia Lecture: March 12th - 2009 - Professor James Boyle (Duke University) on "Cultural Agoraphobia and The Future of The Library"

The Podcast
- James Boyle lecture podcast [MP3]

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind
"In his new book 'The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind' James Boyle argues that we have a bias that makes us unduly skeptical of open networks, systems and methods of production.

The success of non proprietary systems -- ranging from open source software to Wikipedia and the open Internet itself -- fills us with surprise.

Cultural Agoraphobia
He calls this bias "cultural agoraphobia." In a world where all texts were tangible, the institution of the library stood for the proposition that a certain degree of openness was good; that a place that allowed free access to knowledge by every citizen was one of the defining institutions of a liberal society and culture.

How will that principle change or evolve in the digital world? Will it survive at all? What is the future of the library in a world grappling with cultural agoraphobia? .."

The Arcadia Programme
The Arcadia Programme is a three-year programme funded by the Arcadia Fund to Cambridge University Library. The grant enables them "to explore the role of academic libraries in a digital age, create new programmes and services, particularly for undergraduates -- and also to improve the external environment of the library".

Arcadia Fellowship Programme
A major part of the Programme is the Arcadia Fellowship Programme. Fellows work on projects aimed at increasing the library's capability to provide users with services appropriate to a networked world. Each Fellowship has 'deliverables' (broadly defined) associated with it and our findings and outputs are be shared the [academic] library community worldwide.


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