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Feed: re: Ian Clarke [Freenet]

Aug 10, 2000, 23:40 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Christopher Locke)

"And so far, we've just been playing. The flap over Napster is merely the toy of public opinion wound up and released -- a plastic duck quacking its way through the mainstream media. It's right! It's wrong! The millennium has come! The end is nigh! But who cares? Most of this "debate" is looking backward, trying to salvage constructs that no longer matter. Whose property is intellect? Whose right the right to copy what has gone before? Human culture has always been the work of thieves, beginning with Prometheus. Kill Napster today, get the fire next time."

"While the music industry wrings its hands over profits lost from catchy tunes it ensnared in the twentieth-century equivalent of bad-faith treaties with native tribes, the Net is already dreaming about arts and music and literatures not yet composed. About how they will travel, whose eyes and ears, whose hearts they will arrive at. Business made an unholy pact with technology, and thought it had found the keys to the kingdom. But unlocking the gates, it imported a Trojan horse into the city of commerce. Within the code is a deeper code that business does not understand."

"Ian Clarke, on the other hand, does understand that code. A twenty-five-year-old Irish programmer, Clarke has been thrust into the Napster limelight because of a program he wrote called Freenet. Like the name implies, Freenet is all about making, and keeping, information free. It's a distributed file-sharing network, where all users are completely anonymous and there's no central distribution server -- which means no master list of users, no one to sue, and no way to shut it down. Clarke has been asked about the decoy duck numerous times, but he has more to say on a wider range of issues than that debate has so far touched on. I spoke with him via phone from his London office. We talked about free speech, piracy, copyright, version control, distributed caching, and an exceedingly cool plan to automatically generate topical directories based on use. Watch this guy and what he's up to. If information wants to be free, it just got its wish."

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