Open knowledge production policy

Logo conocimiento libre y cooperación - dominio abiertoYesterday, a day after the recently declared Document Freedom Day, I attended an event about Free knowledge and cooperation held at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid.

During this series of conferences the aim is to analyze the cooperative knowledge creation that the new technological and social tools enable.

Geert Lovink, communication media expert and director of the Institute of Network Cultures of Amsterdam, has presented his vision about the open knowledge production.

I will try to summarize the main ideas that I have extracted, along with some of my impressions on the subject.

Geert exposed the problem of the extended mentality among Internet users that assume that everything has to be free on the net. According to him, this model affects mainly certain groups that are very important for the culture of every country and that at the same time are very vulnerable to this free (as in “free beer”) mentality. Among this collectives, he mentioned musicians (specially the least popular ones), writers or investigation journalists. Geert proposes that an open debate should be installed among different sectors of the society to search for a sustainable economical model that avoids that this cultural diversity or the independent investigation dissapears, because they are necessary for every society and that depend on the income derivated from the distribution of their work.

As an observation, he added that micropayments culture is very extended in the mobile world, but nonetheless this concept hasn’t yet consolidated in the Internet world. Recently however, an economical model has emerged based on micropayments that is having quite an important success, like iTunes.

Geert mentioned that this kind of micropayment model, where intermediaries that don’t add value (and that take the biggest share) wouldn’t exist, could solve the current situation. I also believe that an open debate in the society would be quite positive to improve the current situation, but however I also consider that we should defend (as well as the governments) the universal right to information access, specially the knowledge that has been generated with public funds. I think that imposing a canon in an indiscriminate way to every digital storage media is not a sustainable solution and difficults the progress towards an information society.

Apart from this, I think that in every age in history, and specially with all the different technological “revolutions”, there have been great changes and many business models had been deeply affected, as well as people lifestyles. The recent expansion of broadband is causing great changes, to which all of us (including artists, researchers, etc.) have to adapt. Of course it is also important that governments help those that are more affected by these changes, but I think that nobody can stop or avoid change.

To sum up, I believe that it is very interesting that these kind of debates take place, where all the affected actors have a voice. It is also clear that Internet has a huge value in itself. Except for some problems like these, it has eliminated many barriers and facilitates greatly the exchange of ideas and participation.

Geert Lovink

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