Monday, May 25, 2009

More on the Final Lecture

Still meandering in my thoughts, leaving my socks off to dry out my painful feet, too excited toward the finish of Who Owns You to keep reading. I have to pause for commentary. I've actually scoured the web for some time now for lucid grounding on what's meant by "The Commons" and how that relates to open source and GNU, and GPL. You'd think that would be a specialty on the net. Of and by and for the net. 

I'm probably not a very good searcher, or there may simply be that built in limitation to the way the network's organized, but in the end it took a copyrighted book for me to find what I'd been looking for. It's all there. An historically grounded explanation of what the Commons is. What it means. What enclosure is and was. The origin of letters patent, their relation to privateers (though that had to await a blogged addendum), their relation to government fiat. Their endpoint now in patents for genes. 

The government too now has squandered its franchise, by giving away too much of what was already mine. I am and will remain a commoner. In common cause against all those mere elites. I may play for you, but you will not own me. Lets get our hands out from each others pockets, say, and elect actual public servants. I'm sick to death of corporatism, I want free markets back. 

And unlike, say, my writing, this writing is succinct, compact, orderly, disciplined, and very much to the point.

But there are plenty of ironies. (And?? there are plenty of ironies?) This book was actually written by a former student of mine (I didn't teach him how to think - I can't claim that honor - just peripheral stuff. Foreign language. Merest clerical issue amongst the gold of education). He's someone I now "friend" on Facebook. How odd that I'd have to beat so far around the bush to find something so intimately nearby, even though he lives across the ocean where the living is so much more, well, civilized.

And how ironic that I have to pay so much, still, to find out what those GNU folks are almost desperate for me to have for free. This book is copyrighted and expensive, but I'm more than glad to pay the price. I'll gladly forgo those couple bottles of Rioja. Well, almost gladly. It's the spirit of the thing in either case, right? The ideas. The essence. Well no, it's more the flavor which mysteriously dances across my palate. It's the way reading this book inflames my mind.

Here at the end of the universe, having hitchhiked, never ever really learning how to drive that car of language, I find that there has been a flag planted. An end called to corporate dominance. A citizen has already arrived at this territory and claimed it for the public domain. Exercising all the powers of letters patent, having tricked the powers that be into letting the secret out in full public view. (what do you mean by "we," whiteboy???)

That secret being the very same one revealed by the Final Lecture. That while you might make gene-patent holding giant corporations or universities very rich by living in fear of disease and death, you might also foil The Man by having fun right up until your very death. Hell Randy Pausch even got in a really nasty dig at that university gatekeeper who wanted to own his thinking. Payback's a bitch, man. He who laughs last truly does laugh best.

1 comment:

David said...

Good stuff, always pleased and amazed when someone gets what I mutter. But I suppose I should mention you can actually pirate my book. It's a torrent file somewhere. Someone in Malta posted it. Go figure. People are pirating it and what can I honestly say?

I won't get rich off the royalties, but it effects my sales figures, which track the perceived importance of what I am trying to say.

So far, this patent suit has been a good chance to do some preaching, but the press's ears are deaf. So hard to rouse them from the common distractions of the day, I guess. No matter, glad you get it!


(p.s.: and my Chinese has been very handy, especially for my two trips to China! So, thanks!)