665) On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.
Stewart Brand First Hackers' Conference (11/9-11/1984) transcript published in Whole Earth Review (5/1985)
[Note: Aphorized as "Information wants to be free."
Brand refined his original comment for The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT (1987) to:
"Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine---too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, 'intellectual property', the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better."
In various talks Brand gave at about this time, he used this expression of the idea:
"Information wants to be free (because of the new ease of copying and reshaping and casual distribution), AND information wants to be expensive (it's the prime economic event in an information age)... and technology is constantly making the tension worse. If you cling blindly to the expensive part of the paradox, you miss all the action going on in the free part. The pressure of the paradox forces information to explore incessantly. Smart marketers and inventors quietly follow-and I might add, so do smart computer security people."
Roger Clark, who tracked down this information, has also found some predecessors to Brand's statement, including "Information should be free," said by Peter Samson of the MIT Tech Model Railroad Club circa 1959.]
666) For years, software publishers wasted countless work-years devising byzantine protection schemes, while hackers wasted an equal amount of time cracking them. "Bit-nibbler" software as cheaply available for anyone who wanted a bootleg copy of dBase or Lotus 1-2-3. Meanwhile, legitimate consumers were maddened by disks that couldn't be backed up and programs that didn't run properly on hard drives.
In the end, the software publishers gave in and abandoned copy protection. None of them has gone out of business as a result. As [satellite pirate] Fred Martin points out, many consumers are willing to pay for the legitimate product when the price is reasonable, especially if they reap extra benefits such as proper documentation and technical support.
But this compliance cannot be achieved by moral or legal pressure. For most people, theft of data is in no way a moral issue; it doesn't create even a twinge of guilt. Consumers today are unimpressed by the legalities of copyright or the potential penalties involved. Bearing this in mind, which is the better policy: to make concessions to consumers or to clamp down and try to force them to obey?
The history of copy protection proves that concessions can be workable. The history of satellite video piracy indicates that clamping down leads to draconian law enforcement, huge unforeseen expenditures, and a flourishing black market patronized by everyday, law abiding Americans. Our system tends to function best when consumers are given a fair shake and freedom to chose. Trying to limit their options and beat money out of them with a bigger and bigger stick has never been a viable long-term policy.
667) "The airwaves should belong to the people. If a TV signal comes trespassing onto my property, I should be free to do any damn thing I want with it, and it's none of the government's business."
A dealer of pirate satellite equipment quoted by Charles Platt in "Satellite Pirate" in Wired (8/94)
668) Delivered to your door daily, newspapers are silent, highly portable, requiring neither power source nor arcane commands, and don't crash or get infected. They can be stored for days at no cost and consumed over time in small digestible quantities. They can also be used to line trash cans and train pets. At their best, they have been fearless, informative, and heroic - exposing corrupt practices and crooked politicians, delving into health care and other complex issues. They can be deliciously quirky, useful, even provocative - filled with idiosyncratic issues and voices.
669) Technology adds nothing to art [...] Two thousand years ago, I could tell you a story, and at any point during the story I could stop and ask, "Now do you want the hero to be kidnapped or not?" But that would, of course, have ruined the story. Part of the experience of being entertained is sitting back and plugging into someone else's vision.
The fact of the matter is, since the beginning of time, you could buy a Picasso and change the colors. That's trivial. But you don't because you're buying a piece of Picasso's fucking soul. That's the definition of art: Art is one person's ego trip.
670) I've noticed that the proponents of free image-appropriation [...] are people who don't have any images. Perhaps if they spent 22 years of their lives making original photographs, they would feel different. And if mass image-appropriation becomes the norm in the future and any published photograph is free for public use, you might find that artists who are making original images will keep most of their work out of the mass media. Imagine the ocean of mediocrity that would prevail.
671) In rural areas, there are thousands of miles of railroad tracks, unfenced and easily accessible. Any disaffected teenager can put something on a track to derail a train. Kids frequently trespass on railroad property and occasionally tamper with the system; yet for some reason this is no great cause for alarm. No one demands better railroad security or jail terms for trespassers.
Our information network is much better protected than our railroad network, and someone who cracks a system is able to cause far less human damage than someone who derails a train. Why, then, has "computer crime" caused so much hysteria? Perhaps because the public is so willing - eager, even - to be scared by bogeymen.
672) We are as gods and might as well get good at it.
Stewart Brand The Whole Earth Catalog (1968)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 691 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.