Information (sharing) is power: Notes from Vint Cerf

I am a few years late to the podcast party, but I am here now and completely hooked. I drive an hour and 15 minutes every day and have found a well-chosen podcast to be a funner, more informative, more entertaining companion than music or the news. I follow quite a few in rotation but my heavy favorites are The Nerdist, Radiolab and, as of today, DecodeDC.

DecodeDC is a new project by NPR’s Andrea Seabrook. It is smart, focused and fun.

Sometime this week you will have a free 24 minutes and 34 seconds. In that free time, you need to listen to Seabrook’s interview with Vint Cerf  (Cerfing the Net) about intellectual property law, the copy-machine nature of the web and the coming Internet of Things. Cerf is the main founder of the World Wide Web, which is, as he says, the crucial human tool of the 21st century. The Web underlies everything. We are accustomed to hearing people say that “information is power.”  Cerf says this is wrong. Instead, information sharing is power.

The Internet has become so essential so quickly because it is a catalyst that allows people to share ideas efficiently. The problems and challenges we face are immense. The solutions require everyone’s best ideas and honest conversations. The internet makes this conversation possible.

Cerf tackles the adage “Information wants to be free”. This is true, he says, in the sense that information wants to be freely accessible. It doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be able to charge for access to valuable information and cultural products. Just that the information should not be hidden, undiscoverable behind pay walls. Current intellectual property law favors corporations and the descendants on culture creators at the expense of the people who would use that culture to create new art, solve problems and move everyone forward. We are losing access to our own tools of cultural creation.

Cerf also talks about the need to talk more about new business models to support cultural creation rather than focus on new restrictions designed to perpetuate old, non-functional models. He offers the notion of subscribing to a film producer or a television screenwriter as a way to support and reward work. The idea is that through subscription-based models, patrons would continually support an artist’s next work of art rather than their last work.

Lots of challenging, interesting ideas here. And a brief riff on Angry Birds.

The interview is short, fun and accessible. If you are at all interested in how the internet works and why the internet matters, this 24 minutes will make you smile.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s