[ox-en] Freedom Hardware - or - Hardware Freedom
- From: "Patrick Anderson" <agnucius gmail.com>
- Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2008 14:44:44 -0600
Pure information such as ideas, plans, intellect, software, video,
audio, genetics, or any design of any kind is not rivalrous, so does
not need owners. But each copy must be "hosted" by the rivalrous land
and capital needed to store, copy and express it. It is this
inescapable connection to the physical world that makes bread and
software both infinite in potential, but always limited immediately by
the current number of copies in existence, and into the future by the
Physical Sources and labor needed to make more copies.
We can think of information as the 'Virtual' sources of production,
while 'Physical' sources are the material aspects of reality such as
space, mass and energy. Examples of physical sources include land,
water, sunlight, seeds/eggs/spores, buildings, tools, computers,
electricity, gas, food, etc.
Information is non-rivalrous in and of itself, but it cannot be
utilized, and will often even cease to exist without Physical Sources
for storage and expression.
The design of a car, the data and code composing a software program,
the genetics of a living organism, a picture, an email, a video or
song, etc. always requires physical space, mass and energy to store
and express it. Information is not infinite ONLY because it is
permanently anchored to the physical world through this requirement of
hosting. For instance, when you copy a program, the new copy must be
stored on optical, magnetic or 'flash' media which itself requires
space; and the entire operation requires electricity. Even if the
program is so small that you can just memorize it, and type it in at
another terminal, it still must reside in your grey matter until
transfer it through the keyboard to the RAM and then hard-drive of the
computer you work at.
So, while the GNU General Public License can be used to free any
information, we are still at the mercy of those that own the physical
sources required for hosting and manufacturing.
Small-time hosting is fairly cheap and easy for an individual, but
some things are too expensive to be held by a single person, or are
only meaningful in a group setting.
For instance, the machinery and buildings needed to manufacture cars
and computers are terribly expensive and out of reach for a single
individual. Setting such as a "community center" and the physical
infrastructure of a network are usually only meaningful if more than
one person is participating.
So it is useful to be able to "share" or "co-own" resources, but this
organization is typically left to those that intend to extract profit
from the consumers or users that need the objects of those facilities.
As a community of users grows around that hardware, it becomes more
and more clear that the owners are in control even if the virtual
sources being used are free.
The GNU General Public License is a trade agreement originally between
the copyright holders (the developers/programmers/artists), and
finally between all object INSTANCE owners (those owning the media
used to host their own copy) that share with others.
When such trade occurs, the INSTANCE owner is required to allow that
new user "at cost" access to the Virtual Sources of that information.
This is fairly trivial for Virtual Sources, as the costs are quite
small (though never zero). But what can we do for the User to gain
control of the Physical Sources of production?
I have an idea about how to go about this, but am not sure it is
complete or even accurate. Please tell me what you think of the
following proposal, and how we might merge these ideas with those of
others working on creating a physical commons.
The kernel of my idea is to write a contract that causes any price
paid above cost (what would usually be called profit) to become an
investment in more physical sources required to insure that objective
continues to be hosted in the future under the direct but collective
control (limited by the agreement of the owners of each realistically
divisible sub-group) of that very same user. In this way hosting can
be large-scale while remaining under consumer control.
The contract would then be used by any group of consumers that buy
physical sources for the purpose of product instead of profit.
This perpetuates user freedom through dynamic allocation of physical
sources as real property ownership. New users thus gain ownership
when the profit they pay becomes their own investment toward more
physical sources - so that price approaches cost as competition
Contact: projekt oekonux.de