Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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Creation and Ownership of Information

  • Information does not obey a law of conservation.
  • If i give you a tomato, you have a tomato and i don't: the total remains one; but if i give you information, i duplicated it, and now there are two instances of that information.
  • With information the issue is not ownership but access.
  • It makes no sense to pay for "owning" information the same way we own furniture: the couch is either in my house or in yours, but a song is everywhere there is a music player that can play it.
  • Information is more similar to the sky or the air that, once created, exist for everybody to share. We can artificially confine someone in a jail or suffocate her, thereby depriving her of the sky or of the air, but that takes a brutal act of repression.
  • The natural state is one in which we all have access to the sky and to air.
  • The natural state should be one in which we all have access to information, any kind of information.
  • Having to pay for accessing information (whether a ticket to enter a museum, or a tuition fee to attend college, or a yearly fee to access a library, or a monthly fee to browse the Internet, or the price of a newspaper) is equivalent to having to pay for staring at the sky.
  • At the same time, information is "produced" by someone, unlike the sky and the air that were available even before humans were born. That someone should be entitled to remuneration for the information that she has produced.
  • Unlike the air, that is available and abundant everywhere, information requires work, and sometimes a lot of work, to be assembled, vetted, indexed and stored.
  • In practice, we are charged to access information because society hasn't found a way to pay the persons who are producing and maintaining information for all of us; otherwise accessing information would be as free as contemplating the night sky.
  • Nobody "owns" information, just like nobody owns the air, but some people create information, unlike the air.