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27 December 2005 / erikduval

Triangulation

I regularly listen to [This Week in Tech](http://thisweekintech.com/), and discovered [Triangulation](http://thisweekintech.com/tri1) that way.

The first thing I like about this podcast is that it tries to offer the perspectives of three informed parties, not necessarily very different perspectives, but three distinct views nevertheless. That format seems to work well and could maybe inspire some podcasts on the role of technology in learning?

Secondly, this particular podcast is about the Google Print program, now called [Google Book Search](http://books.google.com/). [Lawrence Lessig](http://www.lessig.org/blog/), [John C. Dvorak](http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) and [Leo Laporte](http://www.leoville.com/) make some good comments on what the real source of contention with the authors and publishers is all about. The most important comment for me is close to the end and about much more than just Google Book Search: copyright law is now so broken that people will just tend to work around it. In fact, working around the law is often the only option, as it can be impossible in practical terms to obtain permission from all parties involved with a reasonable effort.

As a consequence, much of what people do is basically illegal and therefor they cannot share their results. I work with quite a few organisations on [share and reuse](http://www.ariadne-eu.org/) of learning material and often find out that people try to come up with fake reasons for not sharing. Sometimes it is only over dinner that they will mention that they actually reuse a lot of material without respecting copyright law.

Moreover, this situation will create a generation of users who will look quite differently at the meaning of law: it will cease to be something most people try to observe most of the time and will become more something that most people try to circumvent most of the time.

(And then there is the more paranoid idea that this is all quite intentional as it will enable governments to put anyone behind bars that they feel less comfortable with…)

Finally, I stumbled upon a [discussion on Wikipedia about this podcast](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Triangulation_(podcast\)): it seems like the essence of that debate is not whether or not the information is correct, but whether or not that information should even be in wikipedia… I’m a bit at a loss to understand why anyone would want to restrict the scope of wikipedia – say that I would want to create a posting about my cat: as long as others who know my cat would not see a problem with what I write, why would anyone take issue with my posting?

2 Comments

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  1. Joris Gillis / Dec 28 2005 1:39 pm

    I have the feeling that this generation already exists. My friends look very surprised when I tell them I don’t download music illegally or make copies of DVDs.
    Offending copyright laws is already daily business for a vast majority of users.

    About your cat’s article: I think there exist more encyclopaedic topics to fill Wikipedia’s databases.
    In the future, though, when the server capacity increases and wikipedia becomes semantic*, the article about your cat might gain relevance.
    * http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Semantic_MediaWiki

  2. *Riina / Jan 5 2006 5:17 pm

    There is an interesting Pew American and Internet Life Project research (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4403574.stm) about US youth on the web.

    “Young people were well used to downloading content such as music from lots of different sources on the web too, the report found. Although about half knew it was wrong to do so, more than half (51%) said they downloaded music, compared to 18% of adults.”

    More interestingly “… the teenagers who blogged (52%) were more likely to care about copyright issues than those who did not blog.”

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