The reinvention of scarcity

Tempted though I am to reproduce the essay in full, Tony Curzon Price, incoming CEO of openDemocracy, has a very … thought-provoking article up, dealing with the issue, and effects, of web-publishing under Creative Commons.

It is very, very interesting, and you ought to head along and read it.


5 comments so far

  1. tony curzon price on

    thanks for the link and the compliment!

    I have also been re-arguing the point at:


  2. zooeygoethe on

    A pleasure (if you return, and I hope you do).
    I used the same CC license for anything (of mine) on this site as I did for my PhD thesis: BY-NC-SA. The difference (for those not-used to Creative Commons) being that openDemocracy’s license does not permit Derivative Works (I have SA, instead of ND). Mine does, as long as that derivative work has at least as friendly a CC license as this one (SA = Share Alike).
    It strikes me that the dilemma (for want of a better word) of Dr. Price is not at all an easy one (you can see that in the comments of the discussion to which he links). The ‘BY’ (attribution) aspect is fairly fundamental to Creative Commons, and to open source, copyleft, etc.
    The trouble is, knowing openDemocracy published something you read on Alternet, and reading it on openDemocracy, are not the same thing. They are – after a fashion – in terms of what you ‘get’ (the information, the knowledge), but they are not in terms of what openDemocracy ‘gets’.
    This isn’t monetary or commercial (compare instead reading a Harper’s article in Mother Jones: you still get the story, but Harper’s lose the sale), but rather openDemocracy ‘loses’ participation. If that person had come to openDemocracy, that person would participate in the openDemocracy community, and the strength of this community is the revenue stream (again, for want of a better word) Dr. Price wants to protect.
    And there’s really no license that can do that. The Harper’s/Mother Jones comparison is easy to follow; it’s money. ‘Community’ can be called a currency, but it cannot be used as one. Dr. Price talks of making licenses work for us. I suspect it’s a matter also of technology: the use of frames would allow Alternet to send you to the article, at openDemocracy, within Alternet’s page. Almost win-win, except frames rather thoroughly suck.
    I’m not qualified for this beyond these examples. But I suspect technology, either more than or as well as, licensing, is necessary, if openDemocracy is going to both share its community, and make sure it is recognised and enriched in return.

  3. tony curzon price on


    thanks, casey.

    i agree with you that technology will be a big part of the solution … stay posted, we hope to try something out soon.

    But one quibble with what you wrote. You said: “They [reading an article on Alternet versus on the original source] are – after a fashion – in terms of what you ‘get’ (the information, the knowledge), …”

    I would deny that they are the same. The framing of content changes its impact. Data, information, knowledge … even wisdom … are in a hierarchy that is at least partly to do with the amount of coherent peripheral context available.

    I think that one of the slow forces at work in the age of search is that we turn wisdom into knowledge into information into data … we do this for convenience, (because search works by atomising, whereas the “hierarchy of knowledge” works in the oposite way, by synthesising). But we do it without the awareness of the slow depletion of the assets of meaningfulness that we are engaged in.

    We shouldn’t collapse the distinction between information and knowledge – I think that a reader of a CC copy of an oD article may be said to get the same information, but not the same knowledge.

    I voice these fears in my Google article, which is pretty much on the same themes as my CC article, but applied to what search is doing.


  4. tony curzon price on

    the above is cross-posted, with small modes, from

  5. zooeygoethe on

    Excellent point (the quibbling one). Thank you. So the context of the community influences the import of the piece. I can see that. It is moreso, I assume, with articles of a more activist disposition (I was probably thinking more along the lines of mere reportage, which was a mistake).

    I do know data isn’t information isn’t knowledge isn’t wisdom – although it seems the current is running stronger and stronger against that these days.

    I am frankly glad, to paraphrase my prime minister (speaking of taking things out of context), that this problem is not mine. Technical difficulties aside, I’ve seen the resistance to your argument itself. To need first to convince people of the definition of what is being shared vs. what is being foregone cannot be easy (I offer to help – but I fail to see how I can. Which is unfortunate, because I value openDemocracy very highly).

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