Thanks to the magic of podcasting and TWiT, I had a chance this morning to listen for the second time to Lawrence Lessig of the Stanford Law School talk about Creative Commons, free culture issues, and other topics related to creative expression and intellectual property.
First big idea that grabbed my attention was a question about moral obligations to distribute ideas and content freely. Lessig mentioned the Science Commons, which I had not heard of before. He stated that unlike artists, who arguably are not under this obligation, scientists can be understood to have a moral ethic to “produce knowledge that is universally accessible.” For the same reasons, I think many of the ideas about education and school reform being advanced via web 2.0 technologies in the blogosphere and elsewhere share a similar ethic. We need to set these ideas free in an environment of reflective analysis and critique, permit them to be morphed and re-synthesized (a la Hegel) in the spirit of, at the end of the day, helping change the world for the better. I think a case can be made that all academics are under a similar scientific ethic to share their knowledge and ideas freely with the world, to support the goal of constructively improving it.
Tied to this issue is the question, “so what?” All these people are blogging, podcasting, sharing music, and producing content, but the big media folks are still making the big money, so small people don’t matter. I really disagree with that perspective. (It was mentioned in this podcast, not really advanced significantly, but I think it is worth elaborating on here.) I am a content publisher in the long tail. If people are reading and listening to my ideas, then I am influencing them perceptually, and I am therefore changing the world. Plain and simple. Web 2.0 matters, because you are reading this and without these technologies and your access to them, you wouldn’t be.
Last idea that grabbed me from this dialog is related: the splitting of content producers into big screen and small screen publishers. The context of the small screen publisher is the video iPod. Although I am not producing vodcasts currently (and don’t have plans to in the immediate future, I’ll stick with audio, thanks) I am certainly in the “small screen publisher” category. Old media (big money publishing houses) are in the first one. This is an interesting way of thinking about content publication and idea sharing.
Great thoughts from the TWiT gang and especially Dr. Lessig. All hail the ideological power of the mighty podcast! 🙂
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