The State of the Intersection: my #opentech talk

At Opentech 2013 today I gave a talk about the ‘State of the Intersection’ as part of a wider debate about the value of open data with Gavin Starks from the ODI.

This is the text I wrote beforehand, and which I used as the basis for my talk. But as ever, what I said will have differed from this..

The State of the Intersection

25 mins for OpenTech 2013

Bill Thompson

We live in a liminal space, between the real and the virtual, and neither its scope nor its characteristics are determined or well-understood.

Rather than discuss the state of the union, I want to consider what is happening in this intersection.

And in so doing I propose to suggest that we take the politics of our current situation more seriously than we have done so far, because if we don’t we are in danger of being useful idiots in the cast list of the next iteration of global capitalism.

The Compulsory Opening Quotation

Courtesy of John Naughton I was alerted to this comment from John Carey regarding his view of the Internet1 Carey, a professor of English at Oxford, wrote in his review of Richard Holmes’s history of ballooning:

Ballooning was a dream that failed and the lesson of Holmes’s story is that an invention that seemed to promise democracy and universal brotherhood became merely another means for humanity to exhibit its insatiable appetite for triviality and destruction. Perhaps the nearest modern parallel will turn out to be the Internet.

The triviality doesn’t bother me too much – I’m as fond of kittens as anyone here. But the destruction seems like a real danger, not least because the principles on which the Internet is founded leave us open to exploitation and appropriation by those who see openness as an opportunity to take without paying – the venture capitalists, startups and big tech companies who have built their empires in the commons and argue that their right to build fences and walls is just another aspect of ‘openness’.

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