• Internet as a Public Good

    Community, Communication Design

    Sustainable Web Development must go beyond money and effort and enters into the realm of public good. Public good means that consumption by one individual does not reduce the good available for consumption by others. A pure example of a public good is air - you breathing it doesn't stop me from breathing it (water was once considered a public good, but alas, times change). Creative works are often referred to as Public Good.

    In economy, this topic is highly theoretical, however the Internet starts to offer new examples that are real. This is not to say that the Internet itself is a public good, but accessibility of it is (or should be).

    Open Source Development and the buzz word Web 2.0 has marked a clear shift towards Internetworking as a Public Good. Social Networking, Media Sharing, Syndication, Blogs, Wiki's, etc all aim towards sharing and playing well together. Creating software that can mashup with other software is becoming more and more prevalent.

    Actually using the web for more than reference and email has drastically changed in the last few years. No longer do you need to be technically savvy (or have a friend that is) to publish, communicate or assert yourself through this medium.

    But what is the endgame of Open Source and the Web 2.0 trend, fad, crazy ... whatever you wanna call it? Is it sustainable or is it a burst of energy that is propelling the Internet in order for the private sector to take it over to do business through it?

    Big business is scrabbling to know what to do with social networking and free-wheeling content sharing. What will prevail or more pointedly, what should prevail?

  • I think that the current social-everything and open-everything-else trend is actually what the Internet was designed for.

    The Internet is social by nature and open source by design. Open source because the foundations of it are free systems based on open standards. A global communications network controlled and designed by a single company wouldn't have been possible.

    Companies have come and went but open source is more than a fad. It IS the Internet.

  • I agree with Manuel, the internet wouldn't exist without open source contributions. The problem is, big business will always take an interest in anything that manages to generate attention passively. A product or service that can reach customers with little or no advertising spend has to be appealing for reasons other than their social good.

    In most cases, it all comes down to how much big business can squeeze out of a service before it falls out of favour with it's users.

    Consider MySpace. As far as I can see, it's main source of revenue has always been through advertising. It has been clever in the ways in which it generates this advertising revenue (leveraging targetted music, promotions etc..) but I think it'll be interesting to see how the service changes as MySpace's new owners decide it's time they saw some return on their investment. Surely they're not expecting to see enough return through advertising revenue to justify the purchase cost?

    As soon as big business gets involved and return on investment becomes the priority, the initial idea behind these services will become obscured behind quarterly balance sheets.


  • I so agree! Open source is the key to the internets success. And its attraction.

    With new forums of communication opening up as a result of its inception, it has managed to bring closer together communities local and global.

    It is helping us redefine what a 'community' is to each and every one of us.

    Isolation for ones perceptions or interests are nullified on the internet. If one's own hometown community ostracizes - the internet invites. Go out in the world and find like minded people? Just surf the web.

    Yes there are others out there just like you - or me.

    This is a very powerful tool. As it stands, censoring the internet and its content that flows forth is already in place in many countries. That in and of itself bottlenecks some traffic. Without open source - who is to say how the internet traffic will be censored and monitored - and for which purpose and whose intentions.

    Open source keeps the big companies always looking over their shoulders. It is the best way to keep the internet from becoming like the broadcast industry - controlled and contrived by 5 main media moguls.

    As a result? Video may have killed the radio star - but it was big broadcasters that killed the tv!

    Boring programming that execs decide will run. No variety. Mainstream media at best because it is more likely to get ad dollars.

    With so many more choices out there - open source should be a backbone to all. If we don't keep the playing field open and fair - we will end up with a few large conglomerates steering us through cyberspace and we all know that trained monkeys in suits rarely have an original idea, much less a good one.

  • Hey George,

    You might be interested in the Internet as a Public Good Symposium (http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/ipg/Main_Page)

    Cheers! --zak

  • Connect_177_

    Hi George,

    ..the internet is a network. A social thing, no one organisation can control the the whole. It was never designed for central control in the first place. Regardless the whole would rebuke such a motion. I feel it is in the use of the internet that defines its worth to the Public Good.

    The ability to communicate is the most essential and basic right of life. The internet provides this on a macro scale for the individual, the boom of social networking (ie. The ease thereof) and Blogging in such tsunami like levels, I can only see big business taking cup fulls from this tidal wave of usage. To season this recipe, we have groups like Linux and their Ubuntu product which provides tools for free to publish one's self on the web. The desire for free speech in the digital realm will prevail.

    No, the real money is in being an access provider, as you mentioned in your first thoughts. We all need an ISP, so the question should possibly be, are our ISP's being responsible in the provision of Public access to a increasingly essential tool in modern society? (As the tools for publication are freely available)

    ~ Seb.


  • Yes...I have decided to give open source a chance...

    I have been seeking the most interesting and most useful open source software for industrial design purposes...there are some:

    1. Blender. This can be well used for polygonal modeling, animation and rendering. Excellent product support in the Blender artists forum. No need for Maya or 3D Max. Blender does the job.
    2. Paint kills need for photoshop. And also Gimp.
    3. Vector graphics and 2D with Inkspace
    4. 7 zip is excellent archiver
    5. Open office for making contracts...

    and so on there are good softwares for free...

    However Rhino and T-splines must be bought and Alibre also for mass modeling. However the package above is rather cheap compared to many others....Its a pitty that there is no "free ware rhino" or"free ware PRO/Engineer". I hope I am wrong. If there was you could start a business with almost 0 software costs...

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