Loose Thoughts:
About Ethics and the Internet

(last updated 6/21/2007)

Some time ago (circa 2004), several colleagues here at Westmont presented their perspectives on ethics and the internet with a primary focus on downloading copyrighted material.  During the presentation, I discovered that I had a deep interest in the problems facing social structures as a result of changing technology.  In particular, I was intrigued with how my faith would shape my approach to such problems and what the church should be contributing to the conversation.  For some time after that forum, my passion was focussed on intellectual property and copyright problems.  But since then, I've been seeing broader connections to virtual reality in general and how to socially structure such realities.  Below I've included a few of the sources that I've been reading lately.

Eventually, I organized a Westmont Faculty Exchange where four of my colleagues and I presented position papers on Creative Work in an Ownership Society (3/20/2006).  You may find my position paper here.

On Tues. March 29, 2005 (coincidently the day the oral arguments were presented to the Supreme Court in the MGM vs. Grokster case), I agreed to moderate a discussion of Copyright and related issues.  I have a few notes here.

The Gift: Imagination and the erotic life of property by Lewis Hyde.  Here is a review that is consistent with my take after finishing the book.  (The book was recommended by John Blondell and I highly recommend it to anyone else.)

Hyde's book is responsible for getting me thinking much more (too?) broadly about things.  The following sources are much more focussed on technology and property, althogh Lessig's work is widely relevant.

Copyright in Historical Perspective, by Lyman Ray Patterson.  (1968)  This is a detailed history of copyright in England and the United States.

Free Culture: How big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity, by Larry Lessig.  I've read several of his essays and started Free Culture.  The book has already provided me with several revelations.  It can be read online or downloaded.

Open Sources: Voices from the open source revolution, edited by C. DiBona, S. Ockman, and M. Stone.  The book can be read online.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric Raymond.  The book can be read online but is not to be printed. 

I found this wonderful site for a course taught by Max Hailperin at Gustavus Adolphus College, that I would have loved to have taken.  There are a number of excellent links.