[LINK] Wide Open - Open source methods and their future potential
Auer, Karl James
karl.auer at id.ethz.ch
Sat Apr 23 00:55:05 EST 2005
> not true. the overwhelming number of things in the commons
> have no value or value below transaction costs.
"Value" doesn't mean "what it's worth in cash". How much is air worth?
Bugger all - until there's none left to breathe. So although you may be
right about *some* things in the commons, don't generalise to *all*
things in the commons, digital or otherwise.
> The uniqueness factor is eradicated because anyone can source the
> original at zero cost and virtually zero effort.
Andy Warhol didn't seem to mind. Fact is, *most* "found object" art,
whether plastic or otherwise, uses material available to anyone, at zero
or near zero cost. The whole *point* of most such art is to focus on
some property emerging from the arrangement of the objects rather than
from the objects themselves; that's where the originality is. The
"uniqueness factor" of the objects themselves is irrelevant in
practically all found object art I have ever come across. So I think the
artists being quoted were right up themselves, however that's not
uncommon, even for non-artists.
> It is virtually impossible for anything of real value to arise from a
> free for all ocean of zero or next to zero value. Anything of
> real value that arise from the dark ocean of Creative Commons soon
> becomes consumed and looses its uniqueness because there are no
> rights attached to it which helps maintain its uniqueness.
You are sort of right, but "virtually impossible" is wildly overstating
it. Pretty much all musicians in the western tradition use the same
scales, noone seems to think that patenting middle C would be a good
idea, to up the value of songs containing it. Noone seems to want to
patent "37 centimetres", which would make things that long very
valuable, no doubt. Some things can give rise to value or enable the
creation of valuable things *because* of their ubiquity - and standards
are a good example. It's that sort of thing that the digital commons
enables. Think of it as a value-creating *platform* rather than a
repository of valuable things.
Uniqueness is one property that things can have; there are a lot of
other properties they may have, whose value (not only in your "cash"
sense) isn't adversely affected by them being universally available.
There is also the increasing difficulty of finding stuff out there. Just
as we value the original oil more than the later copies, the person who
*first* uses a found thing has won - in a sense *more* so if they are
then accorded the honour of being copied. The same is as true of the
digital world as the analogue world.
So let's not trash the digital commons just yet.
Another point is that we haven't had a digital commons very long. Maybe
we should wait awhile to see what happens.
Karl Auer (karl.auer at id.ethz.ch) Geschaeft/work +41- 1-6327531
Kommunikation, ETHZ RZ Privat/home +41-43-2660706
Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule, Zuerich Fax +41- 1-6321225
Clausiusstrasse 59 CH-8092 ZUERICH Switzerland
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