They staged a colloquy, a dialogue of their own, before the assembled crowd. And the crowd joined in. A Q represents a statement or question from someone in the audience.
Searls: A few days ago I realized there were several moral systems that seem to be operating in the context of the Net. One is the selfish interest model. Second is pure exchange. Third is the market of generosity. In the marketplace you develop a relationship, and at the end of the conversation you may want to pay him more, he may want to charge you less.
Relationships are based on generosity, which is not related to the market of the net.
So much of what we’ve done to enlarge the net has been done by individuals and small groups, not the operators.
Flickr comes to mind. At eTech someone showed me a new company that lets you do Photoshop in a web browser. Flickr is generous with their APIs, he said, and he proceeded to move everything in my Flickr collection over.
His point was the reason we use Flickr, the reason we use some of these companies, is because there is inherent generosity.
What you make with open source is something no one owns and everyone can improve. Over the last years we’ve seen a lot of that happening.
Weinberger – The generosity of the Web is based on links. In big sites all the links point in. The rest of us are happy to send people away. Please leave – it’s a little act of generosity. That’s the moral nature of the Web that has always made me verklempt.
Q – What about the taxes?
Searls – We make a lot more money because of things than with things. Far more taxes will come in because of businesses taking advantage of the Net. This often comes up in open source. Not many people make money off Linux but they make it because of Linux. Who could subtract the Net out of the economy at this point? We don’t ask the telephone what our business model is.
The Net does not have a business model.
Weinberger –But there are things that need it. Infratructure
Searls – But the Net is not infrastructure.
Weinberger – My experience with politicians is unless the idea is aligned with their self interest they won’t act. For decades the telcos and cablecos have poured money into politicians, and we haven’t been able to make a strong case that they should get involved with us because they can’t figure out how to make it part of their MO. A politician doesn’t know the difference between a server and a waiter. They say, we don’t have anyone knocking down our door demanding broadband. We have to convince elected officials is this is aligned with their self interest, make an economic argument.
Q - What’s the potential of boycotts. I haven’t seen any successful boycotts. but they’ve worked in the past.
W – How many would have to switch for it to matter?
Q – I think the pessimist is right and the optimist is right. There’s no we here. There are 200 people here who can’t agree. But there are a lot of places where sticks can be stuck into spokes, where trouble can be made, where it can be made clear bad things are happening that need to be stopped. Showing up for the merger (of AT&T and BellSouth), doing stuff in Congress.
Q – open spectrum.
Searls – I’m amazed the case isn’t obvious. I regard it as a form of corruption, selling spectrum.
Weinberger – It requires a radical reframing. It is a hard concept. It makes it hard to make the case, which is the most exciting possibility we have.