The Internet and public domain

Sally Chandler, a colleague from the English Department here at Kean University, is working with two undergraduate research partners, Jacklyn Lopez and Joshua Burnett, on a project which explores differences between "insiders" (members of the internet generation) and "newcomers" (members of print generation). She sees ownership and digital generations somewhat differently. She says that her reading and research indicates that:

individuals whose experiences in digital spaces have influenced their mindsets do hold a different perspective with respect to the ownership of ideas. This is not to say that members of the internet generation do not bring conventional assumptions about ownership to most of their relationships in the material world, but it is to say that they have very different assumptions values and beliefs (mindsets) regarding how and for what uses ideas and products can/should be legitimately owned in virtual spaces. Insiders' ideas about ownership are qualitatively different from the ideas embedded in xeroxing pages of a book or copying a tape for a friend, which are common to the print generation.

These differences have resulted in "the creation of open code, shareware, creative commons, and other vehicles which allow respectful and "free" use of  other's ideas and conceptual creations. For those interested in pursuing this topic, she mentioned work by Richard Lanham, Manual Castells, Colin Lanshear and Michele Knobel, and John Perry Barlow. 

Two online sources to check out include John Perry Barlow's "The Declaration of Independence for Cyberspace" and Lawrence Lessig's blog.

Her main point was that

our mindsets are the products of our experiences, and those of us who are in the print generation bring patterns for thinking and behaving to digital spaces which are suitable to the material world, but which may or may not make sense in the virtual world.  As pointed out in Barlow's Declaration, conceptions of ownership developed in a material economy of scarcity where goods get used up and are limited, are not applicable in a world of infinite resources where use generates value and access increases use.

It's hard to imagine that one's experiences, in cyberspace or otherwise, do not have consequences. I'll read and think some more on this issue.