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Lessig's ideas

Dave has an excellent short opinion piece today on Scripting News regarding free software, Lessig's position on it, and why software can't be entirely free. People (and yes, software developers qualify!) need money to buy food, clothing, etc. Well maybe not so much clothing. CNET's Charles Cooper makes a slightly different argument but touches on similar points.

I agree with what they say, and in particular the attack on the comparison on Hemingway. And I would add, isn't that analogy a bit overstretched? Literature is not software. Lessig's take is that:

When the system protects Hemingway, we at least get to see how Hemingway writes. We get to learn about his style and the tricks he uses to make his work succeed. We can see this because it is the nature of creative writing that the writing is public. There is no such thing as language that conveys meaning while not simultaneously transmitting its words."

Let's look at the centerpiece of his argument here: "We get to learn about his style and the tricks he uses to make his work succeed." This is a very strange argument to make. If what Lessig says is true, then this "exposure of the inner working of the book" would mean hundreds of Hemingway copycats. Ditto for anything else, like Joyce or Pynchon or whatever. Yet the works of these authors is unique in history. Hmm. Intriguing, no? Maybe "what we learn about the tricks these people use" is not that much eh?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 23 2002 at 3:13 PM

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