Posted by: antyx | February 22, 2008

The impact of transparency and openness to society


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The term openness may as a first though be related with software and digital implementations. Practically it refers to a basic human right of knowing and being able to transform every complex system that affects him, from software he uses to the core of governmental mechanisms of the country he lives in, through information freedom. Through the lifetime of human society knowledge and information could only be distributed through material constructs like stoneplates, papurus and paper. The big leap of human society and the geometrical growth of its complexity may be because of our ability to regenerate and store information. An objective observer may point out that this constant increase in complexity coincided with the growth of information technologies through the mid 60’s which has led almost 50 yrs later of the unmitigated digitalization of human knowledge. The true revolution though came in the mid 90’s when this new and highly sophisticated digital medium became commercially available more commonly know as the internet. This hypermedium as i like to name it, differs from the conventional TV, Radio and Printed Press networks because it provides the ability by certain circumstances to change, edit and contribute to this digital information sphere. These lines written here, which are able to be broadcasted throughout this global network is one example of this new revolution. Practically some examples of the openness of this new Hypermedium are the following: Linux OS, Wikipedia, Youtube, Creative Commons as well as many other services/technologies are labeled as Web 2.0. You may think that software and information are not the same thing but infact they are. Software is information that only a certain computer architecture can understand, which in most cases deals with processing and transforming human information. Web 2.0 as many proudly point out is the sum of web technologies like wiki’s, blogs, tags, web communities and generally whatever gives the end user the ability to interact with this new hypermedium. Though nowdays our everyday life and our ability to generate profit depends on information we are only able to see the end product of this procession. thus there is a great deal of uncertainty of the way complex structures work, from digital technologies to social and governmental formations. This need lies as a basic democratic principle, if we want to call our western society as truly “Democratic”. Some may say that democracy is only a utopia and the right of voting is just an illusion. I may agree on that, because unfortunately modern democratic systems are built in such way where everyday interaction with this system that is supposed to govern us , is non existent. In my country for instance i have never witnessed any public referendum and i bet there are a lot of matters that would be worth having one. A main excuse for that is that it costs too much etc. And i ask, what doesn’t cost in a governmental scale? Electronic voting is not science fiction and is practiced in various developed countries and there are realistic ways of keeping the results of each vote secure from potential intruders. I may wonder why this most practical way of democratic expression is not known to the public by conventional media and the answer is simple: The governmental systems and conventional media are not constructed by democratic principles and thus are not open. So taking the openness of the Internet as an example and a basic need in order for human society to progress, the need to demand transparency in every system that affects us in any way is crucial.

By tradition i’ve embedded a small video underlining the main thoughts expressed. R. Stallman back in 1996 and talks about the free software movement, strangely enough predicting the future:

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