Last night Larry Lessig and Jonathan Zittrain presented what I’m sure will become a legendary session on the future of content and the future of the Commons.
Jonathan Zittrain gave a thoroughly enjoyable presentation related to his work on the Web’s famous network vulnerability, and what it means for the future of the internet and for the future delivery of content. Zittrain’s final points related to the fact that there appears to be a devolution of content provision by technologies that are more analogous to the old BBS services. Similarly, there is a growth in the creation of gated sharing communities instead of the wide and vastly open sharing P2P networks. I was happy to see this expressed in such a manner, I have personally believed that the next generation of “sharing” has been coming back to what I call the “tree house” model, where membership is by invitation only.
Zittrain’s presentation was amazing, but something kept nagging me about it, and when I got back to the hotel it dawned on me that it was not specific to the talk, but to the summit in general. There has been a certain American-centric slant on the summit. We have been hearing a lot of American speakers, talking about American practices, American technologies, American websites, and American devices. There is also a certain absence of recognition that other people in the world do things differently. For example, in Africa the devices spoken about are practically unheard of, while the mobile rules the waves. There is also a bit of over-exposition of Western and American cyber-culture and American law. We need to recognise that this is a global summit, and that people do things differently in other places (the exception has been Jimmy Wales, who presented a candid and honest look at global educational projects).
Lessig’s talk was a tour de force. I have seen him speak several times, and I honestly thought that I had become used to his presentation style, I didn’t think that he could amaze me the way he did last night. The talk was frank, forceful and honest, but most importantly, it was passionate. Lessig has announced that he will be taking a lower-key role, and that it is up to us, the members of the movement to take the brunt of the responsibility in promoting it. He received a standing ovation, and there was a certain buzz after it was over, I think that people were aware that we had witnessed something different.
Jamie Boyle is announcing CC Learn, and Yochai Benkler will give his keynote tonight. I can hardly wait.
On the social front, I went back to the hotel early. Too much international liquor on Thursday night!