Open infrastructure and the common good

Open infrastructure and the common good:

At this very moment you’re using a magnificent outcome of this kind of “common good” approach that I’m talking about—the Internet. Yes, yes, I’ll pause for you to crack an Al Gore joke here, but let’s not miss the point. The Internet exists the way it does because no private or state actor owns it, right? The reason no private or state actor owns it is because of explicit decisions made by both its creators and funders to treat it as a common good. From TCP/IP up to higher-level protocols like HTTP and electronic mail, no company or government agency has the power to declare “from this point in time forward, things using this protocol will be different.”

Those protocols are open infrastructure. Sometimes they have nominal owners but control has been relinquished to a standards body; sometimes they’re true public domain. Businesses can build on them, governments can try to spy on them, and of course vice-versa—but they’re public roads, not private ones. Everybody can use whatever web browser they want or email client they want or MP3 player they want. People can (and do) build businesses on top of those protocols, just like businesses in the physical world are built on top of physical infrastructure that those businesses only pay for indirectly.

[Interesting thinking. But spot on in the above.]

Source: Coyote Tracks

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