As a community of developers and technologists, we have to build powerful, indispensable apps and services on top of this data. Killer apps that save lives. If we can make ourselves invaluable, they won’t have the chance to try to cut off our oxygen.
TNR: Lawrence Lessig: Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.
Yes – you read that title right.
Lessig connects the dots from newspapers to the music industry and the ripple effects taking place – everything having to do with the architecture of the Internet and the dynamics set forth.
You need to read the full piece because it is not ‘against transparency’ – far from it – but it does call for a sense of concern and realism to settle into conversations about transparency as means to an end. Ultimately, in regards to government, it is a call to reform, specifically election finance reform – and I agree with much of it.
Reformers rarely feel responsible for the bad that their fantastic new reform effects. Their focus is always on the good. The bad is someone else’s problem. It may well be asking too much to imagine more than this. But as we see the consequences of changes that many of us view as good, we might wonder whether more good might have been done had more responsibility been in the mix. The music industry was never going to like the Internet, but its war against the technology might well have been less hysterical and self-defeating if better and more balanced alternatives had been pressed from the beginning. No one can dislike Craigslist (or Craig), but we all would have benefited from a clearer recognition of what was about to be lost. Internet triumphalism is not a public good.
Likewise with transparency. There is no questioning the good that transparency creates in a wide range of contexts, government especially. But we should also recognize that the collateral consequence of that good need not itself be good. And if that collateral bad is busy certifying to the American public what it thinks it already knows, we should think carefully about how to avoid it. Sunlight may well be a great disinfectant. But as anyone who has ever waded through a swamp knows, it has other effects as well.
O’Reilly Radar: Carl Malamud: Larry Lessig and Naked Transparency
Aaron Swartz: Transparency Is Bunk