LinuxMedNews: Innovation, Open Source and Lessig

[ Thanks to Saint
for this link. ]

“Lessig starts by observing that the recent rise of the Internet
and Open Source software has created the most innovation any of us
have seen in our life times. Whether this is a greater
transformation than the industrial revolution is unimportant,
because for us, living at the edge of the new millenium, it is the
most transforming process within memory. One of the significant
principles involved is embedded in the original design of the
Internet. That is end to end transparency, i.e. that the network
exercises no control over content. One needs to ask no permission
to devise and implement a new scheme of software over the Internet.
This decision to disable control by other actors or competitors
enabled certain features which we now take as somehow embedded
within the nature of the Internet: free speech, privacy, free flow
of content and freedom from local regulation. The important
observation is that these things are a consequence of an
architectural decision….”

For Lessig, the importance of open source is not in it’s
increased efficiency, it’s increased robustness, but rather in it’s
use of commons to foster innovation. This should really be obvious
to anyone engaged in producing software.
Complete software
applications do not emerge cut from whole cloth, rather they build
upon a long and complicated foundation of previous software. The
more of these building blocks that are available, the easier it is
to build new software applications. These building blocks can be
painstaking collected and developed as private property, enforcing
a control point upon what can and can not be allowed, or they can
be part of the commons; unregulated and uncontrolled. If you don’t
like the particular direction a software system is taking, you just
start your own variation. Someone says that Z is impossible, you
just go and try to do it anyway.”