This was written in 2001, and the author is considering the future of the world wide web and isn’t very happy about how it’s currently going. As he sees it, the web’s position as a self-regulated, democratic source of creative energy and opportunity is in danger of being undermined by market and political forces which will seek to control and exploit it. Those who prospered in the pre-internet times are suspicious and nervous of its potential, and those who embrace its liberating aspects haven’t yet stepped up to organise a defence of its positive qualities.
“Free” is a big buzzword here, and a discussion of what the word means in this context. What kind of things are free, what are not and what arguably should be. There has been a growing culture of lawmakers putting legislation in place to protect the copyright of artists’ work, be it reproductions of artworks or corporate logos in films, musicians and artists being paid for the use of their work etc. While this is a positive, the fact that a culture has emerged of opportunistic people taking this idea way too far has undermined the creative processes of many projects and made them logistically very difficult to see to conclusion. It’s this playing out of the age old idea of socialist versus capitalist mentality that the author argues will continue to spell trouble for the internet as we go forward.
Seems like a good book, would like to see it to the end if I get time. Would be interesting to see what 15 years worth of hindsight has done to the arguments.