"Information wants to be Free"
The Digital Knowledge Order between ‘Trusted Systems' and Information as Commons

-- Quotes --

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Information Wants to Be Free. 

Stewart Brand is generally credited with this elegant statement of the obvious, which recognizes both the natural desire of secrets to be told and the fact that they might be capable of possessing something like a "desire" in the first place. 

English biologist and philosopher Richard Dawkins proposed the idea of "memes," self-replicating patterns of information that propagate themselves across the ecologies of mind, a pattern of reproduction much like that of life forms. 

I believe they are life forms in every respect but their freedom from the carbon atom. They self-reproduce, they interact with their surroundings and adapt to them, they mutate, they persist. They evolve to fill the empty niches of their local environments, which are, in this case the surrounding belief systems and cultures of their hosts, namely, us. 

Indeed, sociobiologists like Dawkins make a plausible case that carbon-based life forms are information as well, that, as the chicken is an egg's way of making another egg, the entire biological spectacle is just the DNA molecule's means of copying out more information strings exactly like itself. 

[more >]

John Perry Barlow, The Economy of Ideas, A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age. (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.), Wired 2.03, Mar 1994 

"[T]he US government is pushing on the whole world a war on copying, a war on sharing, which will be just as dangerous, just as devastating, as the war on drugs. In the US there are nearly a million people in jail because of this war on drugs.  It causes corruption of officials, distortion of the rights of citizens, it distorts everything.  When a war is "on drugs", it literally goes mad and forgets who the enemy is. The war on copying will have to get even worse. Think how much fear is going to be required to stop people from passing along copies of things on their computers. I hope you don't want to live in a world with that much fear. The Soviet Union tried to stop people from passing around copies of things, and they found a number of very interesting methods of preventing it. Today, the US government is proposing and enacting all of the same methods. It turns out that if you want to stop people from sharing copies of things, there are only certain methods that are applicable.  It doesn't matter whether the motive is political censorship or simply enforcing the monopoly power for some business -- they use the same methods, and they make society monstrous in the same way." 

Richard Stallman, at the Wizards of OS

"If information ever wanted to be free, it must have changed its mind because under UCC2B [now know as UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act)], information seems intent on being licensed."

Pamela Samuelson, Legally Speaking: Does Information Really Want To Be Licensed?, in: Communications of the ACM, September 1998 

Transparent Technology: Knowledge Wants to Be Free

Motto of the Red Hat Center

What is it?
                              Transparent technology is the general term Red Hat Center uses to describe any type of technology where
                              the public is permitted to see, understand, and possibly improve on what's being developed.

Getting down to basics
                              Transparent technology empowers users and society as a whole because it encourages and supports public
                              participation in the determination of the future direction of technology.

                              A higher level of transparency means more freedom. It is this freedom of knowledge and information that
                              drives innovation in the global society and economy. Transparency can make the worldwide distribution of
                              resources far less predictive of the distribution of knowledge. Transparency can help to overcome traditional
                              barriers to the knowledge infrastructure such as race and class by allowing and supporting a more democratic
                              social discourse. 

Can I have a look inside? 
                              That's by-and-large how one learns to interact with the world. An individual moves from fear to acceptance,
                              and maybe even to full understanding. If people aren't permitted to explore their environment, test it, and
                              manipulate it, they may never overcome their fear. And better ideas will be both slower and less likely to

                              When the innovator is the community, rather than the corporation, progress is accelerated at the same time
                              that costs are reduced. But this win-win situation cannot happen if technology is held back by proprietary
                              ownership of knowledge, which will inevitably align development with the potential for profit. If a
                              market-centered hierarchy like this one contols content, we all lose, since the diversity of expression available
                              to users will be greatly reduced.

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possess the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lites his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening  their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement, or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

Thomas Jefferson, IV Jefferson 180-81, quoted from Lawrence Lessig, Jefferson's Nature 1998

Für eine freie Zirkulation und Manipulation von Informationen und damit Wissen als einem Gemeinschaftsbesitz!

Condorcet, in der französischen Revolution

"The airwaves should belong to the people. If a TV signal comes trespassing onto my property, I should be free to do any damn thing I want with it, and it's none of the government's business." [A TV equipment dealer in Arkansas]

Pirates quote the 1934 Communications Act, which banned the use of jamming or scrambling equipment and guaranteed the right of all Americans to receive any form of radio transmission. There was an important underlying principle behind this legislation: the radio spectrum is a limited natural resource, like air or sunlight, and everyone should have access to it.

Charles Platt, Satellite Pirates, Wired  2.08 - Aug 1994 

"Freedom wants to be informative."

Christopher M. Kelty, in personal communication

"... wheras war -- whether military or business -- wants to be secretive."

Volker Grassmuck, in reply

"Enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was the first law to establish an effective legal right of access to government information, underscoring the crucial need in a democracy for open access to government information by citizens. In the last 30 years, citizens, scholars, and reporters have used FOIA to obtain vital and valuable government information. ...
     My Administration has launched numerous initiatives to bring more government information to the public. We have established World Wide Web pages, which identify and link information resources throughout the Federal Government. An enormous range of documents and data, including the Federal budget, is now available on-line or in electronic format, making government more accessible than ever. And in the last year, we have declassified unprecedented amounts of national security material, including information on nuclear testing. ...
     Our country was founded on democratic principles of openness and accountability, and for 30 years, FOIA has supported these principles. Today, the "Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996" reforges an important link between the United States Government and the American people."

(from the statement issued by President Clinton upon signing the 1996 FOIA amendments into law on October 2, 1996)

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