16. august 2010

Closing the Digital Frontier

The era of the Web browser’s dominance is coming to a close. And the Internet’s founding ideology—that information wants to be free, and that attempts to constrain it are not only hopeless but immoral— suddenly seems naive and stale in the new age of apps, smart phones, and pricing plans. What will this mean for the future of the media—and of the Web itself?

As Chris Anderson pointed out in a moment of non-hyperbole in his book Free, the phrase Information wants to be free was never meant to be the rallying cry it turned into. It was first uttered by Stewart Brand at a hacker conference in 1984, and it came with a significant disclaimer: that information also wants to be expensive, because it can be so important (see “Information Wants to Be Paid For,” in this issue). With the long tail of Brand’s dictum chopped off, the phrase Information wants to be free—dissected, debated, reconstituted as a global democratic rallying cry against monsters of the political, business, and media elites—became perhaps the most powerful meme of the past quarter century; so powerful, in fact, that multibillion-dollar corporations destroyed their own businesses at its altar.

Kilde: The Atlantic
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