Emergent Morality #1: thou shalt not impede information flow

Morality. What’s it for? It’s rubbish isn’t it. It’s old people telling you what to do.

Jonathan Haidt has done some research etc and identified a number of different axis upon which moralities tend to fall

And identified three axis where liberal and conservative moralities diverge.

1) obedience to authority
2) unquestioning loyalty to the group
3) anxieties about purity – especially around race/procreation etc

And then he tries to throw an olive-branch to conservatives by making out that these are legitimate moral values… trying to equate Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (heaven->liberality->hell) as 50s/60s/70s.

Which is bullshit. Morality is adaptive behaviour at a social level… and conservative morals are adaptations to conditions that no longer (for most of us) exist.

That was yesterday. A new social grouping has emerged. The Internet has arrived… and new morals are emerging… to protect it. To protect us. This is a pretty big subject, so I won’t attempt to tackle it all at once… so:

#1 : Thou Shalt Not Impede Information Flow.

Which breaks down into various sub-groups like
– though shalt not censor
– though shalt not apply DRM
– though shalt not interfere with “the pipes”
– though shalt not cap bandwidth
– etc etc.

When the internet is threatened, it responds with great vengeance and furious anger. Witness the Spore DRM fiasco… the NZ Blackout Protests, the Digg HD-DVD code censorship balls-up.

There’s a bit of a fuss going on in England at the moment because The Black Spaghetti Monster wants to make it illegal to film the police, at exactly the same time as The Blue Spaghetti monster filmed a policeman assaulting an innocent bystander who wound up dying. The police tried to cover it up, all the newspapers (except the Guardian) went along with it… but The Blue Spaghetti Monster had the film. There is more to this issue than simple consumerism. There are fundamental issues of freedom at stake.

This new moral axis also falls (spannerlike) directly into the cogs of the IP industries (who would (it would appear), happily create a police state to protect their 20th century business models).

People instinctively know that sharing culture is morally positive behaviour. When someone says “Hey, get a load of this” and (illegally) sends someone some content, they instinctively know that they’re doing the content a favour. Hell, Barack gave the Queen a mix-tape. The Queen has a stamp collection (literally) worth something in the region of 300 million dollars. Her family has had so much treasure gifted to it that it fills museums… it takes armies of people just to dust the stuff, and Barack gave her something that was intrinsically worthless, and yet worth so much more. Very much “of” the 21st Century, and it’s illegal.

The IP industries have (to paraphrase Mike Gronstal) already lost. To paraphrase is daughter “‘You guys don’t understand. You’ve already lost. My generation doesn’t care.’”

Only we do care… and what we care about is diametrically morally opposed to anything that impedes the flow of information.

We care a lot.

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