Monday, February 25, 2008
Brewster Kahle and a Free Net
Discoveries can apparently come from anywhere. I have spent so much of my time in the past few years trying to figure out how I am going to be a “successful” journalist—success in this case equates to making money. However, this past Thursday I attended the Davies Digital Literacy Forum at USF where Brewster Kahle delivered a presentation on his Internet archive and a complex mobile instrument that publishes books in a van . His creations have the sole purpose of providing the public commons free access to knowledge in almost every arena.
Free access. What a truly innovative concept—providing free access to a world of information. According to Kahle however, this concept is not new at all—much of the Internet in its early stages was built around freedom for all. Down the line, when business saw money could be made, everything changed. And thus the emergence of pay-per-byte and pay-by-use systems were created, ruining what some believed could be a democracy of information available to all equally. Now, decades later, Google has the potential to privatize all digital information by creating an online monopoly.
In relation to Journalism, this could have a profound effect. If a monopoly on online information occurs, then credibility all together could face extinction. If a single source was the distributor of all knowledge in this new age of Web 2.0 where all text is susceptible to immediate change, then no one could truly trust web based news. For this reason it is important that there are many publishers, providers, and distributors of news all over the place, who might have different goals, but share a common objectivity.
Key word here is common. Free news should not be an outlandish concept. No one should have to pay for receiving the news. The digital divide has already removed a large chunk of the public from politics by disallowing them access to information through relatively high-tech mediums such as satellite TV, digital cable, and the Internet. We must have a common ground and that is: if you want to know something you should be able to without having to consider if your class/finance limitations restrict the possibility. Information, as Kahle says, should be the backbone of the public commons—democracy can only thrive with education. Back to the discovery intro. I’m not sure what kind of journalist I am going to be, but I’m certainly going to let anyone check out my work free of charge—unless Google buys me out too.