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Friday, February 23, 2007

Code and the Information Oligarchy

Tomorrow, I (Matt) will be presenting a paper entitled "Code and the Information Oligarchy: Information, Technology, and Justice" at the Loyola conference entitled A Calling to Justice. The conference will be at the Loyola Water Tower campus in downtown Chicago.

The argument central to the paper is that there is increasingly a need to consider the current unjust distribution of information, and rights to that information. Given the push toward even more stringent global intellectual property rights initiatives, are we not in danger of creating a strata of the global society that is information poor, being unable to control information? Such a population of information poor would find themselves at a distinct disadvantage, economically, as digital technologies become truly pervasive.

Does this pose concerns for well-being, and for global development? I think it does, and I argue that if we are to address this issue at a foundational level, we need to look to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).

In the course of the paper, I talk about intellectual property rights, the so-called digital divide (and why I think it is a misnomer), One Laptop Per Child, Stallman's Four Freedoms, ans Venezuala, Cuba, Indonesia and Vietnam as they grapple with piracy, information ownership, and the promises of FOSS.