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Open Source vs. “Free Culture”: a colloquy

The following exchanges were culled from a recent, interesting series of threads at the Wikipediocracy Forum.


Peter Damian:

Sometimes the way you describe a thing can be a more powerful comment on it, than any actual comment. The tech industry talks about ‘Web 2.0’, which sounds incredible and futuristic and technologically advanced, as well as ‘cool’ and modern. But let’s call it what it really is, namely ‘The Exploitation Economy’.

Similarly, ‘user-generated culture’ should be ‘DIY culture’. And don’t talk about the tech industry, or Google or YouTube, call it ‘The Content Theft Industry’. The Berkman Centre and other academic institutions funded by the Content Theft Industry are really “The Pirate Propaganda Machine” or “Thieves posing as revolutionaries”. Blogs and other media such as Slashdot and the rest, which support thieves and their enablers, should be called “The Anti-Copyright Press” or “Digital parasites”. Their political lobbying machine is “The U.S. Pirate Party”. What should we call Wikipedia? The DIY encyclopedia posing as a Pirate Propaganda Machine? Mixed in with a bit of Exploitation Economy?

…And of course “opensource” is a software concept, whereas ‘free culture’ is about, well, culture. I can see how opensource works for software, because it’s useful to adapt someone else’s code to do stuff that the original code wouldn’t. That’s why RMS got mad when he found that the guy wouldn’t share the Xerox printer code. Or rather, he got mad because the guy had promised not to give the code away. He had ‘betrayed the whole world’.

It’s somewhat different with culture because, while certain ideas and themes are shared between writers, a writer (and probably an artist) feels that the vision of the whole work is something that they created, and should not be stolen. Art and writing is personal in a

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