Category Archives: Open Systems

“Net Neutrality” and The New Enclosure (Part I)

Those of us who oppose allowing Internet service providers to impose tolls on users wanting to use higher broadband transmission speeds are rowing upstream.  This is not only because powerful interests—among them, AT&T, Verizon, and cable companies—want to exploit U.S. policy’s current treatment of Internet access as a commercial commodity, rather than a public utility. […]

The New Enclosure (Part II)

The notion that the things we create belong to us is not new; it dates back at least to 560, when Ireland’s King Diarrmait ruled against the monk Colmcille, who had secretly copied his mentor Finnian’s psalter.  (Legend records Diarmait’s judgment as “To every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy.”) […]

The New Enclosure (Part III)

  Discussions of patent policy in the United States and elsewhere often overlook the fact that the original intent of issuing patents (not to be confused with sovereign-granted commercial privileges) was to encourage the disclosure and spread of novel devices to stimulate manufacturing and trade.  The earliest patents (such as those awarded by the Republic […]

National Public Wi-Fi: Why it Matters to You

  A recent proposal by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Julius Genachowski, would recover some of the country’s little used radio and TV broadcast radio spectrum in order to create a national public wireless (WiFi) network.  Telecommunications companies, which make money selling data plans to enable smart phone and Wi-Fi computer users to access the […]

Maine: The Costs of “Political Speech”

In its article on forced ‘disappearance’ to eliminate political opposition, Wikipedia lists no less than 22 countries where ruling parties have resorted to this practice.  Among the better known are Argentina and Chile, under the regimes of Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-1981) and Augusto Pinochet (1976-1981), respectively. As a means of eliminating unwelcome political speech, ‘disappearing’ […]


Among the fallacies promoted by conservatives eager to unseat liberalism in Washington is the notion that the interests of the ‘free market’ are incompatible with government, and that government programs are taking money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans. Shadowboxing a federal enemy that doesn’t exist, they are are proving themselves either knowingly deceptive in their political rhetoric, or oblivious to the importance of the federal government to our ‘free market.’

Let Us Eat Cake

Limbaugh-Beck-Palin acolytes invoke the sanctity of the ‘free market’ to obscure their real fear of social and cultural changes that seem alien to them. But the ‘free market’ ideal will not support what they ask of it.

‘Climategate’ Redux

When hackers in 2009 obtained data and e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, they did more than light the tinder box of ‘global warming’ skepticism. The disclosed material also exposed a dismissive attitude shared by many scientists toward the public’s right to know the full results of research funded by public funds, an especially worrisome attitude when that research may influence important national and international policy decisions.