Thursday, December 18, 2003

An excerpt from interview with Yochai Benkler...

A Reference to the interview with Yochai Benkler that I made during "i-law 2003"!

Mr. Yurtsan Atakan, the leading ICT columnist of Hurriyet Daily, quoted the interview that I made with Prof. Yochai Benkler during the "i-law 2003" course in Stanford for the "Open Radio" ("Aç?k Radyo" in Turkish). He underlined that the well-known "Indian miracle" on creating software is a "fairy-tale" and referred to what Benkler told on creativity and innovation by the transition countries!

For the Turkish translation of my interview click on here...

And... I am enclosing the original decoding of the said interview below:

A.TANSUG- Dear Professor Benkler, what would you tell us for the rest of the world in terms of their positioning in the information society?
J.BENKLER- I think we’ve been seeing too much focus in the US, in Europe, on securing high-speed Internet connections and the information economy based on purely market behavior, based on strong property rights. This has been true for a radio frequency spectrum policy, this has been true for broadband wire policy, and this has been true for intellectual property policy and we see in this regard both the US and Europe moving in the same direction...

The problem and the problems are divers for each of these particular layers of the communication system; the problem with exclusively lies on the property based approaches is that they are leading us towards missing the opportunity of an open, decentralized Internet and straightening into re-concentrate or to shift the Internet to a broadcast model where you still have one primary or one small set of primary owners of the means of communication, of the contents of communication, who then can control the flow of information and society.

I think for any country now and I say this one I speak in the US, and I say this one I speak in Europe and I say this one I speak to people or interested in development in all sorts of places in the world, beat as a matter of policies of freedom, beat as a matter of policies of development and there is a series of strategies that are committed to open communication systems that can be implemented. At the physical layer this means using a variety of strategies of unlicensed wireless communications, things we now see primarily in the wire Fay market in communications devices and don’t have the government licenses to operate but are in fact permitted to operate wherever within a range of frequencies but permitted to offer whatever but these enable is the development of a network that is owned by no one and the network that is owned by its end users, built and by its end users and provides no bottle-neck over which anyone can exercise control in the way that the cable operator controls, the cable head in and whether the broadcaster control the transmit so that’s are the physical.

3-11- 3.43 (Noise)
At the logical layer, what we have today is increasing opportunities. For use of open source software or free software that is not controlled by any single company that is open and free for any country to use as its primary software infrastructure for critical infrastructures, it is being deployed by parts of the US government simply because its better, it is being deployed widely in businesses, because its better.
But from the perspective of creating an open network, it is crucial that the logical layer, that the layer of software and standards that allowed machine to let people speak to each other and make culture together. Be such that no one company can control it that and no one person can say, “you may speak and you may not speak this particular kind of uses permitted and that particular kind is not”. And so it is a matter of speech and openness and innovation. It is important to adopt a strategy that supports open source software up to an including I think every government needs to look at procurement policy of actually using free software for its own operations both to cut the costs of government software systems. But no less importantly to create a practice and a habit and a market within the nation of people who have the facility to work with free software. And who can then participate in the international network of computer programmers who contribute to this. And who by building skills can then also become valuable contributors to the large service industry there has been built around free software and it prevents tremendous opportunities for nations that are outside the economy to have to develop a set of programmers who are educated in materials that allowed them to participate in the core economies from a distance.


And finally intellectual property we know that intellectual property increases costs of innovation and this is so particularly for countries that are net-importers of cultural and innovation products. And so I think we have a very strong agenda driven by both US and the EU towards international expansion of intellectual property rights across all domains, patent, copyright, trademark... I think this a trend that works to the decrement of all developing nations. It works as the decrements of the all nations that are net-importers of innovation and cultural products because it raises their cost without at the same time increasing as much their ability to appropriate the benefits and so I think its is important for any country that in the position of being a net importer of innovation and cultural products and information. To collaborate with other nations to co-operate with other nations in this framework to bring the interests of these countries outside the core information economies, to bear on international trade negotiations and to permit a greater flexibility and designate any quality in the obligations of countries that are net-importers vis-à-vis those who are not net-exporters because otherwise we see a re-distribution from the periphery of the information economy into its core and in this regard usually from the less wealthy to the more wealthy nations which doesn’t seem to be either good development policy or just in matters of distribution. Well at the same time not at all the in clear that it is important as a matter of innovation policy because patents and copyright and trade mark though continuously strengthen the straight policy or questionable as innovation policy...

AT – So can we outline the matter as “to be just consumer or not to be”?
JB- Exactly!

The possibility of being not purely a passive consumer but also an active participant in the creation of information of knowledge and culture is embedded in the widely decentralized open Internet.
And its the possibility of having a society of active participants as supposed a society of the passive consumers. That is the promise of the Internet and that promises being threatened by the excessive focus on purely property based commercial provision of all the layers of the information environment...
AT- Thanks a lot...

Later on, Prof.Dr. Emre Kongar published an article referring Atakan's:

Cumhuriyet Daily