Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Economist surveys the "new politics of the Internet"

The Economist has an important article, “The New Politics of the Internet: Everything Is Connected: Can Internet activism turn into a real political movement?,”  from “Berlin and Dubai”,  link here   (provided by EFF).  Note: there may be a paywall in effect for some content from this publication (and that's ironic, given the article).  

The article lays out the “new economics” of the digital world, rather non-Euclidean, with the whole being more than the sum of its parts.  The value of publishing information or art (such as music or film) goes way beyond the “bottom line” the way businesses (and shareholders or stakeholders) have seen it in the past, which is one reason why the Hollywood establishment has such a hard time dealing with it.  Hence – we had the battle in 2011 and early 2012 over SOPA and PIPA – and we might not have won without Aaron Swartz, one of the major contributors to our notion of Commons.

It also gives a little early history of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which was formed in large part to strike down the obnoxious parts of the 1996 Telecommunications Act – the Communications Decency Act provisions – and save the parts that protect providers from downstream liability (Section 230).
It mentions a couple of new books.  One os Brett Frischmann, “Infrastructure: The Social Value of Shared Resrouces” which sounds like it is along the lines of Thomas Friedman.  Another is James Boyle, “The Public Domain”.  I can remember when I was getting my first book manufactured, a printer who had a total misconception about what “the public domain” means.

The article discusses a derivative group “Pirate Party”, which is not the same thing as “Pirate Bay”, in Germany. It also talks about a political experiment called “Liquid Feedback”, which bridges “direct and representative democracy” (try that in high school government class, subs!)  Individuals can delegate their voting power to delegates and then withdraw it.  Would that work in the IS to defuse the “debt ceiling crisis”? 

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