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eduardo on Thu, 10 Oct 2002 13:10:26 +0200 (CEST)

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Barbrook wrote:

Despite its many benefits in the wider economy, the greatest impact of the
hi-tech gift economy will still be cultural. The information society is
built upon information. The Net already provides the structure for
realising an unfulfilled revolutionary demand: media freedom for all.
Authors can publish their writings on their own websites. Musicians can
release their tunes on MP3 first. Film-makers can distribute digital files
of their movies. Not just the right to consume media, but also the right
produce media too. Even better, the Net is inspiring novel forms of
expression. Things beyond the delights of making and distributing old media
in improved ways, Net.Art. Blogging. Webcams. These are the first
experiments in a new aesthetics - an aesthetics which reflect the social
mores and technical protocols of the Net. Interactive. Modifiable.
Accessible. Communal. Democratic. Upgradable. We can only imagine what our
imaginations will be able to create once the Net begins to reach its full
potential. We can only dream what happens when the hi-tech gift economy
makes possible the flourishing of a socially advanced gift culture:

My response:

The gift phenomenon is based on reciprocity.  In the end, it does not matter
if money or gifts are being exchanged.  The fact is that something is being
exchanged for some sort of gain or benefit -- often legitimation, which
can be considered one of the major benefits of the net, equates capital.
 Simply because capital gain may become decentralized does not mean that
power will be shifted in some significant way.  Major corporations, when
between a rock and a hard place, will certainly follow IBM's steps upon
releasing its first PC in 1981: let open source be part of their strategy
to survive. Hence, we got a lot of PC clones. Copyright may become demoted
or drastically modified, but corporations will make sure to be on the top
of the profit chain in some form.

As much as I enjoyed the essay, I must admit that nettimers need to get
real, playing hardball in the end needs major funding, even when it comes
as a gift for progress.


Eduardo Navas

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