Viral Spiral: Creating the Internet Commons

my notes on the introduction to Bollier, David. Viral SpiralHow the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of their Own. The New Press, 2009.

[I figured I’d get notes up on the introduction so we could all get a good look at the ideas covered in the book, and decide if we want me to go back and read the whole thing]

viral: “refers to the way in which new ideas and innovations on the internet can proliferate with astonishing speed. The internet virally propagates creativity.”

viral spiral: “a corkscrew paradigm of change: viral networking feeds on an upward spiral of innovation.”

The (Internet) commons is:

A new paradigm for creating value and organizing a community of shared interest. It is a vehicle where new sorts of self-organized publics can gather together and exercise new types of citizenship.

A commons arises whenever a given community decides that it wishes to manage a resource in a collective manner, with special regard for equitable access, use, and sustainability.

The commons is one of the most potent forces driving innovation in our time. Socially created value is increasingly competing with conventional markets.

Freedom without anarchy, control without government, consensus without power. (Larry Lessig)

The commoners’ goal:

To transcend the limitations of copyright law in order to build their own online communities…They glimpse the liberating potential of the internet, and they worry about the totalizing inclinations of larger corporations and the state, especially their tendency to standardize and coerce behavior…They dislike the impediments to direct access and participation, the limitations of credentialed expertise and arbitrary curbs on people’s freedom.

Fair-use: a provision of copyright law that makes it legal to excerpt portions of a copyrighted work for non-commercial, educational, and personal purposes.

Copyright has evolved into a way of creating wealth, of protecting and thus creating value. We’re living through a struggle between the commercial media and the Internet media.

Richard Stallman — started free software movement, which became a software (later digital) commons. General Public License (GPL, 1998) — “a license for authorizing anyone to use a copyrighted software program so long as any copies or derivative versions are also made available on the same terms.”

GNU/Linux — first significant operating system produced by free software movement.

Creative Commons licenses — “articulating a new middle ground of ownership that sanctions sharing and collaboration under specified terms. ‘Some rights reserved.’ ‘Share, reuse, and remix, legally.'”

CC licenses use copyright law to protect the commons. This allows for an outgrowth of “free culture” — remix culture, open business models, scientific commons, open education and learning.  

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