Emergent Morality #2 : Set thine information free

My mum was going through some old (very old) photographs the other day, and she was like “we might as well just throw them out, no on knows who they are any more”, and I was all “No way, WTF? I’ll scan them and upload them to the web, old photos are sacred”, and she was all “Meh, but no one knows who they are”, and I was like “Hello? It doesn’t matter. The Internet cares”.

We have similar discussions about digitising photographs. She likes paper ones because… they’re format independent, and are proper photos and are “safe” and I think everything should be digitised because until it’s uploaded and can be (and is) replicated across different mediums, it isn’t safe. It’s trapped in a single-point-of-failure format.

To me, putting something on the web, sets it free… and makes it safe.

I think there is a subtle moral imperative to make all information freely available to everyone. The celestial jukebox. The library in the sky. Coming up is a new generation… who have never known a world where you couldn’t (in a matter of seconds) get the answer (or a pretty good shot at it) to any question you might have. Got a question? Google it. The Culture of Availability is on the rise.

I am the part-owner of a massive database of sports information… that has taken decades and millions of dollars to accumulate. We’ve opened up a big chunk of it… but largely out of timidity, not opened the rest. I know this is wrong… but fear, politics and conservation of momentum have a way of keeping the status-quo, status-quoed. But I know it’s wrong.

Ring-fencing information is immoral. We owe it to each other… we owe it to those that went before (the shoulders of giants upon which we stand), and we owe it to our children, and theirs.

And Tim Berners Lee’s recent Ted talk was a crie de cour for just this… Free Your Information.

He goes further and makes 3 sub-rules.

The data you upload needs:

1) a unique (http) identifier
2) a standardised format
3) links to other data

I’m not sure if I entirely agree… I agree with the first two, but I’m going to separate those out into Emergent Morality#3… and I think his 3rd point is the responsibility not of the data’s originator, but everyone who cites the data. The originator can do this as well, but the responsibility doesn’t stop (or even start) there. Linking is a never-ending work in progress.

The Internet is the biggest experiment in Artificial Intelligence that we can possibly build. It is a planet-sized human-machine symbiote. You share your internet connection with your computer. Here’s the deal: It gives you answers and connections; you give it participation and data.

This is a transitional phase though – the shape of things has still to coalesce so…

a 3 minute video with an incredibly high profound/fundamental-concept to time ratio.

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