Calling for Five Minutes of Your Time

I just read a disturbing story on how libraries are being pressured away from cooperating with open source project: a concise post, written by Aaron Swartz over at Raw Thought. If you don't have the time to read the article, please, please, sign the petition.

Here's what I wrote as my message, feel free to crib, borrow, or challenge:

As a professor of classical rhetoric and new media production, I stress to my peers and students the important of open source projects. The progression of our society depends upon the free, uninhibited flow of information; digital technologies magic stems from their ability to foster cooperation and harness human interest, effort, and work.

We cannot allow any group to attempt to usurp and monopolize information. Centralizing control of library catalogues is itself a bad idea; to attempt to capitalize on such control treads on the criminal. The information collected in libraries represents the work of thousands over hundreds of years. It is not a resource to be strip-mined for benefit of a few.

Update: A few people asked for a quick summation, so here goes. There's a library database group, the OCLC, that started grassroots. Essentially, they run a master database that catalogues every book in the US. Back in the day, every library employed somebody to do this, but now almost every library relies on the database.

Well, the grassroots company has been purchased by for-profit industrialists, and they realize that they have a potential monopoly on their hands--without them, no library could run an electronic catalogue. They have grown into a power, and now they are demanding that any library that uses their system refuses to share catalogue info with any other group.

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