Free Information vs Information Protectionism

Francois-Rene Rideau Francois-Rene Rideau <>
Mon, 28 May 2001 03:17:50 +0200

On Sun, May 27, 2001 at 12:45:04PM -0500, Craig Brozefsky wrote:
> What's remarkable about this thread, and the others like it, is that
> there may be reams of rhetoric about [...]
> but in the end it all comes down to the same thing:
> a theorizing circle-jerk that at it's core revolves around who can
> repeat their position more times than the other.

I tend to disagree.
There certainly is a lot of redundancy in the arguments, all the more
since there is no reference material that people are meant to know about,
so each new couple of debater tends to begin again from scratch.
[Hum. This is a sign that I should really be writing and translating
this Manifesto of Free Information, in english.]
But I have found that it can still be enriching to attempt
a rational discussion and a rational discussion analysis
even with irrational and/or redundant people.

Indeed, by analyzing the arguments of the various speakers,
and by trying to answer them rationally, you can refine your own
understanding both of the rational structure of the problem,
and of the psychological mechanisms behind each speaker.
Of course, everyone tends to believe _he_ is the most rational,
and his contradictors have at least one irrational premise,
if not a complete irrational behavior, that can be explained
through a memetic psychological analysis.
However, sometimes, although quite seldom and then often too late,
one realizes that the other party is right, and that there are mostly
irrational psychological effects behind one's own beliefs.
That's a win, too, perhaps the biggest.
Happened to me at least once after email discussions
(about ownership of weapons).

For instance, I've been having an off-list, off-usenet discussion with
Andy Freeman, who feels emotionally involved in flaming me;
although he seems rather irrational and redundant to me,
he is much better than many who don't debate at all,
and his insistance on a some points helped me to understand better
some key points of the discourse of people offended by copyright abolition.
It also forced me to reformulate better my opinions,
and to be more aware of mistakes in my style (that would
directly or indirectly lead to being somewhat deservedly flamed).
Maybe I should forward this discussion, with his permission,
or put a summary of these key points.

BTW, about style, it has been said many times,
but apparent not enough for me to have had assimilated yet:
avoid irony at all cost in all public forums of discussion,
but perhaps the most elite ones (and even then, at your own risks).
Indeed, as a corollary to Murphy's law,
if anyone can misinterpret you, someone will (maybe even many or most).

So, considering this particular topic, I'm still interested in
justifications of what causes something to be natural property or not,
what differentiates intellectual property from physical property or not,
and how these differences interfere with justifications or not.
No need to argue for the nth time if it doesn't address these three points.
We're not after consequences but after justifications
(although in a utilitarian calculus, consequences are balanced
for _all_ parties involved, even hidden ones,
so as to obtain a justification either way).

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  |  ]
Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out,
but that is not the reason we are doing it
	-- Richard Feynman