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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Siva Vaidhyanathan's 4-part essay series lays out the basic premise for his forthcoming book The Anarchist in the Library: Peer to peer is analogous to other forms of non-digital dissidence and social organisation, and will have an impact at the cultural and political level, as well as on the nation state. Media & The Net editor Bill Thompson argues that Vaidhyanathan has misunderstood the technology and overstretched his case; Sandy Starr thinks Vaidhyanathan falls too readily on the side of the anarchists; and Richard Barbrook takes it all in and churns out a compelling analysis of the internet's forgotten gift economy. Also: discuss P2P with Vaidhyanathan in the discussion forum.

P2P: revolution or evolution?

The language of anarchy used by Siva Vaidhyanathan to describe peer-to-peer networks cannot capture the nature of the change they represent – no less than the birth of a new epoch of culture.

The Genie's Revenge: a response to Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan’s openDemocracy series on peer-to-peer networks raises vital questions about intellectual property in the digital age, but he falls prey to the unsubstantiated revolutionary rhetoric of the copyright-buster. If claims by peer-to-peer distributors that they are supporting free speech and contributing to knowledge want to find a sympathetic ear in the courtroom, then they have to mean it, says this legal expert.

Part 5: Networks of power and freedom

Part 5 of The new information ecosystem: networks of power and freedom

The gift of the net

The polarity between anarchy and oligarchy deforms Siva Vaidhayanathan’s vision of the future of the net. Beneath the rhetoric, he and Bill Thompson share a belief in the net's democratic potential. But Siva does point to a real danger: that state and commodifying forces will undermine the liberating ‘gift economy' that lies at the heart of the net.

Part 4: The nation-state vs. networks

Part 4 of The new information ecosystem: the nation-state vs. networks

Bikinis in Saudi Arabia: info-anarchy as cultural imperialism

The advocacy of p2p as a libertarian panacea is a covert rationalisation of corporate control and United States power. What the net really needs is democratic regulation to guarantee online equality.

The global conversation: info-anarchy, dissent, and human rights

The core issues raised by p2p are those of ideology and potential, not technology. They imply a defence of universal rights that seeks the end of all architectures of control.

Part 3: The anarchy and oligarchy of science

Part 3 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure

Taking the anarchists to task

Irresponsible behaviour on peer-to-peer networks will never be significant without intelligent public debate. ‘Anarchy’ on its own will not achieve anything but cynicism and draconian reaction. As for cultural diversity and ‘world music’, Sandy Starr argues that Siva Vaidhyanathan is deaf to the ‘celestial jukebox’ that everyone can share.

Part 2: 'Pro-gumbo': culture as anarchy

Part 2 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure

The challenge is not P2P but democracy and accountability

Siva Vaidhyanathan’s argument is entertaining but simplistic, argues this journalist, programmer and editor of openDemocracy’s Media & the Net theme. A democratic and open network regulated by the state, not techno-anarchism, is the only practical approach.

The new information ecosystem: Part 1: cultures of anarchy and closure

Part 1 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure
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