The Basement Interviews by Richard Poynder

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 06:18:18 -0500

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The following is re-posted from Bloomsbury Academic.

            The Basement Interviews by Richard Poynder

      Common Knowledge, Common Good:
      Architects and Advocates of the Free Knowledge Movement

"A few years ago I could see an increasing number of "free" and
"open" movements beginning to develop. And while they all had
different aims, they appeared to represent a larger and more
generalised development than their movement-specific objectives might

"Indeed, I felt that they looked set to exemplify the old adage that
the sum of some phenomena is always greater than the constituent
parts. But if that was right, I wondered, what was the sum in this

"I was also intrigued as to why they were emerging now. For while it
was apparent that these movements ? including Open
Source and Free software, Creative Commons, Free Culture, Open
Access, Open Content, Public Knowledge, Open Data, Open Source
Politics, Open Source Biology, and Open Source Journalism etc. ? all
owed a great debt to the development of the Internet, it was not
clear to me that the network was the only driver.

"The genesis of the Free Software Movement, for instance, could be
said to lie in the specific culture of the Artificial Intelligence
Lab at MIT in the 1970s, rather than the Internet. And at that time
software programs were still generally written as part of large-scale
centralised projects, and distributed on floppy disks or tapes. So I
suspected that the Internet was not a sufficient explanation on its

"Additionally, I was curious about the individuals who had founded
these movements: What had motivated them? Why did they feel so
passionate about the cause that they had adopted? What did they think
the various movements had in common (if anything) with one another?
What was the big picture?

"All in all, it seemed to me to be good material for a book; a book
that I envisaged would consist primarily of a series of Q&A
interviews with the key architects and advocates of what I had come
to call the Free Knowledge movement ? people like John Perry
Barlow, John Gilmore, Michael Hart, Richard Stallman, Eric
Raymond, Linus Torvalds, Jay Rosen, Lawrence Lessig, Joe
Trippi, Harold Varmus, Vitek Tracz, Stevan Harnad, Paul
Ginsparg, Cory Doctorow, Yochai Benkler, Richard Jefferson, Michel
Bauwens etc.

"I eventually started publishing the interviews on my blog, as The
Basement Interviews. And much to my pleasure I began to receive
positive feedback almost immediately. I also felt the big picture was
beginning to emerge, although the project remains ongoing for now.

"Many of those who have contacted me have urged me to seek out a
publisher. A publisher, they insist, would be able to market the
interviews in ways that ? whatever the advantages of self-publishing
on the Web ? I was not able to do. Besides, they added, it would be
great to have access to a print copy of the collected interviews.

"Others were less sure. As one reader who emailed me put it, "Now the
interviews are in the blogosphere they will surely find their own

"What do you think? I'd be interested to hear. I'd also be interested
for suggestions as to who is missing from my list of interviewees.
Who else, that is, do you think of as a key architect or advocate for
the Free Knowledge movement that has not been mentioned here? I can
be contacted at

"Further details about The Basement Interviews can be accessed here

"The interviews thus far can be read by clicking on the links below:"

                1. Michael Hart, the founder of Project
                2. Richard Stallman, the founder of the
            Free Software movement 
                3. Eric Raymond, a co-founder of the Open
            Source Initiative
                4. Jay Rosen, a leading proponent of Open
            Source journalism
                5. Lawrence Lessig, the founder of the
            Free Culture movement
                6. Cory Doctorow, a cyber activist and
            specialist in copyright and digital rights
                7. Vitek Tracz, the first Open Access
                8. Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate, a
            co-founder of the Public Library of Science,
            a former director of the US National
            Institutes of Health and now one of the
            co-chairs of the Council of Advisors on
            Science and Technology in the Obama
                9. Richard Jefferson, the leading
            advocate for the Biological Open Source
                10. Stevan Harnad, the self-styled
                11. Peter Suber, the de facto leader of
            the Open Access movement 
                12. Michel Bauwens, the creator of the
            Foundation for P2P Alternatives

      Richard Poynder writes about information technology,
      telecommunications, and intellectual property. In
      particular, he specialises in online services; electronic
      information systems; the Internet; Open Access; e-Science
      and e-Research; cyberinfrastructure; digital rights
      management; Creative Commons; Open Source Software; Free
      Software; copyright; patents, and patent information.

      Richard Poynder has contributed to a wide range of
      specialist, national and international publications, and
      edited and co-authored two books: Hidden Value and Caught
      in a Web, Intellectual Property in Cyberspace. He has
      also contributed to radio programmes.
Received on Tue Jan 27 2009 - 11:19:13 GMT

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