Open source movement key for Internet growth in India
emerging around the community centre model, as opposed to the individual
dial-up model which dominates the U.S. market.
Along with Esther Dyson, Barlow is co-founder of Bridges.org, a non-profit
organisation geared at stemming the international digital divide.
Freeware and shareware have a key role to play here, he said. People can
make more money through skills and minds via relationships, rather than
through bloated prices for intellectual property.
"In the information age, value is based not on scarcity but on
familiarity," said Barlow.
Addressing concerns over the aftermath of the Black Friday tech market
crash in April and its implications for the Internet economy, Barlow said
the wildly inflated stock valuations were "silly" and that we are now
"thankfully back to doing business with hard work and a reasonable path to
sustainability and profit."
He was particularly critical of the U.S. recording industry in their
efforts to crack down on sites like MP3.com and Napster.com. Barlow drew
parallels to the early days of the video cassette industry, which the
Motion Picture Association of America tried to suppress for five years;
today 70 per cent of the U.S. movie industry revenues comes from video
sales and rentals.
The Grateful Dead, the rock band with whom Barlow was a lyricist for some
time, pioneered a business model where taping was freely allowed in
concerts; the band became much more popular for its live concerts than for
its studio albums.
Barlow cautioned India against getting stuck in the "IPR trap" that the
U.S. entertainment industry was heading into. He also urged Netizens to
actively remove bureaucratic hurdles in the Internet economy.
For instance, it is not possible in India for individuals to register
".co.in" domain names - only organisations can. "I'm sure this is because
the registration process here is controlled by a bunch of old power hungry
academics," Barlow remarked.
Looking ahead down the road, he said that if there is one word to describe
India's future in the Internet Age, it is "hope."
He said the Net must be protected as a medium where nobody can shut out
anyone else, no matter who they are or what they say. "Don't block out hate
and porn - educate, understand, and convince people of choices and
priorities," he urged.
"You can't own free speech. We may be in one of those moments where you can
be utopian and still make sense," Barlow concluded.