Cover stories

Spotted on the cover of ACM’s “Computing Reviews” (vol 46, number 8):

Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine – too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, “intellectual property”, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each new round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.

The above is an obvious truism for anyone paying attention much today, and hardly worth blogging. What’s interesting is that those words weren’t written today – they were written an eon ago, in 1987. It’s from “The media lab: inventing the future at MIT” by Stewart Brand. I find it interesting that this perception existed even back then, before HTTP was invented and the net exploded onto the public consciousness. I also find it interesting that the term “intellectual property” gets quotes around it, presumably because of its unfamiliarity and dubiousness – which don’t think it would today.

Also, from vol 46 number 5:

Technology is a servant who makes so much noise cleaning up in the next room that his master cannot make music. — Karl Kraus, “Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths”, 1990.

2 Responses to “Cover stories”

  1. Rich
    August 18th, 2005 | 9:47 pm
  2. Barbara B
    August 23rd, 2005 | 5:16 pm

    And Karl Kraus is also worth a follow-up on e.g. http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5411, Wikipedia, the library or Dr. Blüm’s PhD thesis. :-)