Monday, May 31, 2004

What do iLaw participants think are the pressing issues?

From John Palfrey's weblog relating to "i-law 2004":

What do iLaw participants think are the pressing issues?
For me, a long-awaited session. What do the participants think are the Pressing Issues in internet law?

* Peer production: does it really matter to those of us who aren't interested in developing Apache? Charlie Nesson pushes back to Yochai Benkler: what is this freedom that you think we want, and what do you think that we want to do with it? Why do we care? When we want something else, this is the way to get it? Charlie wants to know what the "it" is. Yochai says it's blogging, it's being more engaged with the world around us in creative rather than passive ways, it's having more platforms to do other things we want to do -- like earning money.

* We can test propositions over and over again. Scientists should love it. We can change the world through experiments. We will fix things like no longer boiling trees to make paper.

* Jay McCarthy: people are already doing the things that Yochai says we will want to do, like blogging and making movies.

* Charlie really wants to know: To what new creative endeavors will this new mode of production be applied? Larry says it's work as play, or play as work (someone says it's Ender's Game). Just experiment. You might learn, and learn to be able to do, new and incredible things.

* Yochai: most of the great peer production examples are hybrids, not pure plays (Wikipedia is probably the closest thing to the pure play).

* Dave Winer: You panel guys should move off the stand. Practice what you preach. Make it an un-conference. Let's do peer production. [A "hum" from the audience reveals no consensus: about 50/50. So two guys move off into the audience, two guys stay up there. Heh.]

* National security: a pressing issue, with a cool back-and-forth on the Pentagon Papers, but no resolution on the point.

* Media literacy: learning how in the context of making a film that you can radically alter how people understand a series of events. Our kids are far ahead of us. They are learning how to be creators, not just users. They are re-mixers. Pew says that 44% of people had "contributed something to the Internet", which is huge -- huge in terms of people becoming creators. But most of what these kids are doing is illegal -- perhaps criminal under today's law.

Headline for today: Lessig: "All of us should aspire to become 'just bloggers.'" (A great side effect of the conference is new bloggers.)

* Terry raises the K-12 Initiative problem: it turns out to be very possible to get digital versions of textbooks put online and accessible to children with disabilities that make it harder to read (blind, e.g.). There's a trade group representing these publishers who are focused on this issue -- with some trepidation, but also with a sense of the promise. The law is convoluted in this area, and is holding things back at this point. There's movement, with the likely adoption soon of an XML DTD that's standard for these publishers. But the economics, law, technologies, administrative aspects of this issue are extraordinarily complex.

* Rebecca MacKinnon, (one can hear Ethan Zuckerman making the same point, from afar), draws our attention to developing countries. She knows what she's talking about: her NKZone weblog is an important idea. Ben from OSIWA (in Dakar, Senegal); Phillipp from, Heather Ford (a representative from Creative Commons-South Africa), a Latin American, others question some of the immediate relevance of the theory discussed here and focus us tightly on IPR issues. Free culture is essential, most seem to agree.

* Alex Tarkowski: worries about free-riding upon the system generally, and cites the peer production of term papers. (Alex, to his credit, has pursued the translation of Creative Commons licenses into Poland).

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