First — it's a great privilege for me to be able to contribute to PK's blog. Two disclaimers are in order.
First, I'm a childhood friend of Gigi Sohn. We grew up together, we were so inseperable in third grade that our elementary school teacher had to force us to sit on different sides of the room. So it's hard for me to ever disagree with her or an organization that has her name attached to it! although I'm quite sure I will over the course of this week or so;)
Second, I think it's important to state openly a bit about my political priors. I'm a libertarian wanna-be. What I mean by that is this: in the best of all possible worlds I'd probably be more like a libertarian than anything else. But in this world, I am certain that the pre-conditions we would need to make libertarianism work in anything that would come close to maximizing a Benthamite utililty function, are not close to being in existence. Until those conditions come to be, I'll be a liberal. Which probably means forever. The point is, I'd really rather be a libertarian.
I'd like to use this little bit of bully pulpit to provoke a conversation about 'open-ness' — what it means from a philosophical standpoint, an engineering standpoint, a political standpoint, an economic standpoint. I'd like to invite thoughts about how those perspectives often see different, sometimes incompatible things, that require trade-offs — that in turn become the stuff of thoughtful public policy making and corporate strategy.
I come to this for a couple of different reasons. One is that, with my friend and colleague Jonathan Sallet, we are writing a book about the subject. A second, and more immediate reason, has to do with current debates over 'net neutrality'. I find the conceptual framing of this issue really peculiar — and I'll have more to say substantively about that — although for the moment I just want to point to a simple empirical indicator that, for me, suggests an issue is badly conceptualized — I see very smart people saying some pretty dumb things about it. A third reason is the merger announced today between AMD and ATI — and one particular challenge that these companies will surely have to face — how to make compatible the notion of integrating graphics and CPUs, and seeking the advantages of integration — while remaining open, and seeking the advantages of open-ness.
So that's a small hint of a set of subjects I will try to bring to this lively blog. More tomorrow!