by Tony Curzon Price at the iCommons summit 2007 in Croatia
``What is the purpose of the iSummit?'', I asked as a disparate band of commoners jumped into a taxi to the centre of town. The question seems obvious: fortunate scholars have been flown in from around the world to an astoundingly beautiful Mediterranean medieval fortified town; the conference is professional, the drinks good and plentiful, the publications beautifully produced. This conference has been well funded. So to what end? ``When Heather [Heather Ford is the Executive Director of iCommons, the organiser of the iSummit] filled in the parts of the grant applications that asked for `measurable impacts', what do you think she wrote?''
But the answer was not so clear: what behaviour would Heather want to see flowing from the conference?
Creative Comomons (CC) is an organisation built around a set of licenses allowing a creator of a work to give up some of the default copyrights he or she holds to allow the sorts of uses - like copying, sharing, re-mixing - that digital technology has put into many of our hands. iCommons is a separate organisation that was founded with the intention of becoming the social movement to bring together the creators and mashers working with CC licenses.
I suppose that, very roughly, this is the idea: there are lots of people making Free Culture, and this group is defining a whole new economy based on peer production, reputation, recombination and digital technology. Some of these people -- call them the peerotariat -- will come up against traditional media and the battleground will be copyright. For example, the student who reproduces a table from an academic journal on her blog and is asked to take it down by Springer Verlag. iCommons is there, ready to welcome the newly aware, and turn them into political beings.
So where does this leave the iSummit and its purpose? Is this the intelligentsia, the vanguard of the peerotariat, alligning ideology and developing dogma? Are there members of the peerotariat here? Or is it the entrists -- the members of the national delegations of the Creative Commons who have been workng through government to get CC accepted by governments from Singapore to Bulgaria?
I don't know, but I'll let you know how much I get to find out.
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