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This post is in reply to Deirdre’s post, "Facebook and Richard Stallman".

I do agree with Stallman's view and share Deirdre’s concern re FaceBook. I think the problem is bigger than just FaceBook, and has more to do with the tensions that now exist between technology (the Internet) and in the business world. Earlier during the workshop, the point was made that vast amounts of information is being collected online on people – their personal details, purchases, buying habits, location, etc. More importantly, those who have access to that data are in an enviable position not only to influence others, but to use that information to their advantage, which does have some privacy implications. Further, in the knowledge-based economy to which the world is moving, all of that data becomes a powerful commodity, which (e.g) is where FaceBook's strength lies...

On the flipside, the Internet is very a collaborative medium, which is fostering, to varying degrees, sharing, transparency and openness. However, most commercial businesses exist to create wealth for their owners. Yet one of the key challenges of Internet businesses, especially those in social networking, is figuring out how to make them profitable.

For many social networking sites, although they might not be profitable, they have been able to establish large communities, which suggest their level of influence, which in turn can be used to attract advertisers and investors. A good example is Foursquare. I do believe that the business models for Internet ventures are still evolving, but traditional practices of highly proprietary behaviour still obtains, which also highlights the larger issue of Intellectual Property (IP).

I gather that IP is a highly contentious issue. It cuts across all creative forms and avenues for innovation, so there are very powerful lobbyists that are keen to maintain the status quo. A glaring example where the tension is very evident is the book publishing world: the price of a hardcopy versus an e-book; the constraints that the publishers want to impose on e-libraries; etc.

At the e-G8 Forum, which was held in France earlier this year, industry leaders and experts agreed that the current rules and structures governing IP, which were developed over 300 years ago, are no longer appropriate for today’s society, since we can all be creators in our own right. I do think that more open data systems will be eventually become the norm, but we have a long and drawn out battle before us before it is realized.

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Comment by Michele Marius on September 29, 2011 at 1:11pm
Hi Keisha, I am not in Kenya - wish I was! Nevertheless, I hope we can continue chatting online...
Comment by Keisha Taylor on September 29, 2011 at 10:51am

Hi Michele, I organised the 212 workshop so i am glad you found it informative! i like your last statement, though i am not sure how long and drawn out the battle will be. We should talk if you are here!



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