Last Tuesday I was at the Berkman Center for “The Second and Third Enclosures”, a presentation by poet and cultural critic Lewis Hyde on what he calls “our ‘cultural commons,’ that vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past and continue to produce.”
Hyde is working on a book about why these ideas and works of art should be owned by the commons, rather than by individuals. His thesis is that limiting ownership of creative works also limits human creativity in ways we can’t begin to imagine (mostly because there’s no way to know that we’re missing out on them).
I’ve been trying for a week to write up my notes from the event, but I keep getting bogged down by amusing quotes (see: “beating back the bounds,” “fattening your muse”) and a train of thought that winds through medieval England, Scottish printing presses and Roman law to somehow end up at John Cage’s 4’33”.
But potential blog posts have painfully short half-lives, and in half an hour I’m heading back to the Berkman conference room for a talk by Beth Kolko on how communications technology takes on different meanings in resource-constrained environments. I’m going to force myself to live-blog this one.