Information wants to be free, but the world isn’t ready

January 24, 2013

“Every few years, one of my friends from the early days of digital enthusiasm turns up on the media’s radar as a ‘defector,’” R.U. Sirius, former editor-in-chief of Mondo 2000, writes on The Verge. …

The latest chapter of this saga, “What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web,” … portrays Jaron Lanier (You Are Not A Gadget) as being like a “spy who came in from the cold.” …

“To some extent, both Jaron Lanier’s turn against ‘free culture’ and the insane, heavy-handed prosecution of Aaron Swartz stem from an inability to come to terms with the reality that in the digital age, it’s easy to share stuff for free with everybody, but people still want and need money. The larger tragedy is that lots of people (not just middle class creative professions) will eventually be rendered economically superfluous.

“The hope is that this will result in a critical mass of folks demanding a solution. The solution, which seemed obvious to people when they discussed the coming “cybernetic revolution” in the 1970s, is to find a way to (or an excuse to) distribute wealth to those rendered economically obsolete. …

:In the meantime, I’m convinced that with the slightest loosening of the economic pressure cooker — and even better, a modicum of slack — this techno-juggernaut will start to look again like the marvelous garden of intriguing possibilities that it did to some of us back in the day, when we enthused and dreamed an expansive and delightful future.”