Sunday, July 13, 2014

What intellectual property?

One of the most contentious areas out there is the arena of intellectual property where I like to ponder my default position of simply giving ideas away. Of course the most visible is with my open source, but I do have other ideas I've simply put out there.

With one idea I DID first pursue a patent, and did so back in the 1990's without success. That idea was for computers to use a generated password that cycled on the basis of connection time. I came up with it for cellphones, so that they would generate a new password with each connection invisible to the user. The telecommunications industry wasn't interested in my idea and that was when it was switching to digital instead of analog (yup that wasn't that long ago), and moved to digital encryption.

I resurrected the idea a couple of times on this blog, with the most recent asking a simple question:

Giving that idea away makes sense to me but it's also just easier than worrying about how to make money with it.

Also I updated recently an idea I had for storing encrypted files as copy protection. I labeled that idea Digital Media Equipment Self-Encryption.

Maybe that one could have made money for me, but I don't care that much. There were multiple problems I wanted to solve where the biggest was being able to make a copy of a movie that I bought. I figure that issue is being resolved.

Problem solving to me is for a purpose. If I simply want something then the problem is still solved if putting out an idea satisfies that want. And I think that as we move forward into a world where people can easily share ideas globally that viewpoint will show up more and more.

Why? Well for me ideas are like my buddies. I have lots of them. They come and go easily, and we have good times. That enjoyment is meaningful in and of itself. Sure I'd like some money but don't need a lot. And am terrified of getting too rich! Yup, I am terrified of getting too rich. Show me a single extremely wealthy person on the planet who can just casually walk down any street in America to go to a coffee shop say, and sit and chat with strangers.

One of my all time favorite ideas can't be patented anyway, though I'm not certain it's completely mine! But I know I am someone who has publicized it, which is about science, one of my favorite subjects.

I put forward the following:

Science is the art of prediction.

If correct that could be one of the most powerful concepts in all of human history, and if science can be encapsulated so succinctly it could be one of the coolest things ever: the greatest driver of human progress also capable of easy description.

Yeah, but I don't get to decide any of the above.

I have an entire recent blog post dedicated to explaining for the people who DO help decide:

And maybe that helps explain the concept of giving away ideas even better than some recent attempts I have on this blog. Can you imagine? If just that little idea is accepted then it could change the lives of billions of people by helping science get done better. It does matter when we're talking about it, to actually know what it is!

But, my opinion actually doesn't matter at all. That is the great beauty of the web--the collective opinion of so many people that make it work.

That's how people find my content. Not because I'm out there yelling to please read my blog, but because others have found an interest here. If we have a simple way to talk about science then it's not just about me stating some simple sentence. And I really doubt I'm the first to think science is the art of prediction.

If that concept changes the world it will be because a LOT of people found it useful.

Like I said, with me problem solving is for a purpose. I'm practical. If it isn't useful, why try to use it?

And finding use in ideas is a group thing. Like, imagine an individual with an idea he LOVES and no one can convince him there's anything wrong with it, but no one else thinks it useful! He's in his own little happy world then, by himself.

To me ideas are like these little gems that you get excited about when you find them and show them to people. But these gems of knowledge reproduce endlessly and travel the world. It's so beautiful and it's all about people.

So this post is about showing some ideas I find fascinating. But others decide whether or not those ideas work for them.

So YOU are the difference that makes it matter. Your opinion and that of so many others, rules.

What I get to do is share. And it's so easy to share what you think is a gem of knowledge these days.

Our ideas fly around the world. Zipping through borders. Able to touch as many lives as need them.

So is the concept of intellectual property dead? I don't think it is, but I think it has to evolve as reality is I can toss something up on my blog and not worry a lot about legalese. What good is that legal framework for me anyway? Do you think anyone is really going to steal any of these ideas from me? Guess we'll see, eh? And for people not money motivated, it can be a lot more fun, as generating ideas is just a natural thing for them.

And the web seems designed for them.

Others may fear the web. They may get angry or frustrated at the idea of losing their ideas to it. Desperately worry about how to protect themselves from it.

But I feel like it's an ocean of information, where finally I am free, and so are my ideas.

Here on the web they can fly around the globe, and carry me and as many who wish.

James Harris
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