Thursday, August 07, 2008


Cory Doctorow, a co-editor over at BoingBoing, recently covered the American Library Association conference panel that he participated on, "Privacy: Is it time for a revolutiond." Cory's talk is an inspiring call to the librarians, and through the WWW, a worldwide digital audience to wake up, support libraries and create effective ways to ensure consumer privacy and consumer freedoms in a digital age (link).

Cory and I have a history; he has been one of the most influential people in my life. In his visiting Fulbright graduate Set Top Cop seminar, I spent a full semester learning from Cory about global struggles to protect the emerging "digital commons" and ensure Access to Knowledge. Some people have called this movement a new "Knowledge Ecology." So in a deja-vu to that fall almost two years ago when I had serious insomnia, I happened to be online and was the first person to comment on Cory's above post,
White papers are important and panels are excellent (it be nice if they were publicized beyond the converted however), but what about planting one's feet on the ground, like, maybe LA Public Library might want to make a Facebook group, before walled gardens and basic groups on FB req. an "advertising", ur, I mean, posting sur-charge.
Another BB reader called me out and challenged me to start a FB group myself.

I have spent a lot of time over the last two months thinking and writing about the future of the Internet. Are all these new, funky, interactive, digital media tools at their core just a social networked means for marketeers to promote brands, discuss what we should call these things amongst our own echo-chamber, Silicon Valleyed worlds and how to organize them? If there is something really called a digital commons, what are the norms - the lessons learned - around participation in such a "commons" and "unpublishing" those who allegedly violate these unclear standards? Finally, if there is a new digital commons (as I believe there is), then must all content distributed via the WWW be "free" or will we ever enable a "rich" digital culture so that creators are compensated for work spread online?

But a certain point, one needs to shut up, stop commenting, conversing, marketing, and blabbering and take action. So our little Facebook library group has been birthed. It's not the start of anything special; but public spaces are needed; the issues are complex; we should all have a little more humility, and fun, while we challenge Walled Gardens. Our group will be a little place to discuss these things, hopefully pushing FB to embrace more open standards. These walls exist in our Vegas-like, faux-urban Grove shopping malls, in our data-mined, over-commercialized, sorry-but-u-cant-control-yr-own Facebook profile or, most importantly, in our own over-networked minds, so often satiated with the latest consumer appendage for which we had no need.

So simply put, if you believe that children deserve to play, that public spaces should be open (and that we need more of them!) and that libraries are the perfect model and their computers should not be restricted by DRM, then join our FB group. If you want to be a part of a growing A2K, digital commons movement, then figure out some way to pitch in. Joining our group is a very small start.

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