An Edge of the Internet

Internet as Commons conference, EP

by Alex — Thu 01 October 2015

Data as extension of self

Corporate engagement with consumers and workers in the real world is (relatively) highly regulated.

Data captured from consumers on the internet by websites; and data produced by web 2.0 workers, are reified fragments of self.

The code facilitating data capture, and data manipulation, are, literally, the contracts of how companies use those reified fragments.

Regulating this virtual people farm should require that the contracts be transparent to the public.

The means by which this transparency is achieved is by requiring that code as contract to be published as Free Software.

If we had, black on white, the contracts by which internet corporations operate, people, courts and government, would call them out.

Internet as Commons

The notion of internet as commons argues that the internet should be a public good for the benefit of humanity.

Within this context the questions that arise are:

  • How do we avoid vendor lock in?
  • How do we prevent abuse of the commons, whereby the common good provided by all is used by individual actors for their benefit to the detriment of others.


There is another commons metaphor: Free Software as a Commons.

Free Software is software that is available for the picking, on the wilderness of the internet.

It is guaranteed to remain free and available, it is protected against abuse, by existing legislation around copyright.

The means of this protection is copyleft, for instance, via the GPL.


The problems faced by the Internet as Commons movement are in part already resolved at the infrastructural level: the internet runs on Free Software. This infrastructure is protected against the abuse as manifested in the questions phrased above, because it is Free Software.

To what extent can we think of Free Software as the already exsting, legally enforceable solution to a large chunk of the concerns around Internet as Commons?

Link Spam talk


  • Is Goteo Free Software?
  • It is apparently open source?


  • La Brique Internet — my cloud thingymagig?