Sunday, March 5, 2006

Independence of Cyberspace?

20060305_iphoto_digitalWorking on some research for one of my most exciting projects I recently stumbled upon a document written in February 1996 by John Perry Barlow of the EFF. It actually is fascinating read and a good reminder of a positive vision of cyberspace.  A source of inspiration for those of us who feel a global information revolution is happening resulting in a fight for dominance between the incumbents and new entrants in most areas of human life.

Cyberspace can be a tremendous enabler for unleashing the creative energies of people and for tapping much better the extraordinary potential of mankind. For the first time in human history, there is a truly global infosphere that makes it possible for peope to interact and transact regardless of locations and time zones. For the first time equal opportunities are granted to such a large extent, simply by allowing participation to cyberspace. Of course the system is imperfect and one needs a level of income, time and knowledge to acces and seize the opportunities, but still it is as close as we ever came to equal opportunity.

It is now possible to analyze and understand the globe in terms of information and that is precisely why it is absolutely essential to keep the Internet open, public, neutral, peer-to-peer and managed by its community of users. That's why it is also essential to investigate the sources of information and to cross-check content used for analysis.

The question of who gathers and who chooses the information broadcasted by traditional media and by web media is an interesting one. Perhaps we need a peer-to-peer network of individuals close to the field who can physically verify and contribute proof of the occurrence and meaning of events. With a peer review system that would qualify the credibility of a source through an emergent process with no central authority to grant or refuse to any contributor the right to contribute and yet a clear indication of credibility putting the responsibility for believing whatever they want to believe on the consumers of information. That may actually be an interesting new model for a citizen driven global news organization. Not one that seeks to eradicate or replace incumbents, but rather one that complements and balances what the incumbents are communicating. A sort of people-driven virtual news corporation that could check and balance what the likes of Fox are broadcasting. I know there are a few people out there who should be tempted...

Of course, the implications of true independence of cyberspace for busines are huge. An independent and neutral cyberspace treating its cyber-citizens democratically and respectfully is a catalyst for open business. More on that in future posts.

If you want to read the declaration, follow this link. I also made a PDF version, which can be downloaded here: Download 19960208_EFF_DeclarationOfIndependenceOfCyberspace.pdf

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