A tangible information commons?

For information, often the best solution to too much is more: metadata, opinions, histories, filters, and background documents help lead the way. To restrict information would be unacceptable: the communications rights of individuals and communities must be inalienable, insuppressible, and not for sale. Yet among those rights might be ownership of your personal data, and a right to undisrupted attention. Thus when media become situated and persistent, profound challenges emerge in information ethics. Questions of stewardship, expression, privacy, pollution, and attention theft all intensify.

To a generation of conscientious users, network philosophers, policy wonks, and street-level activists, these problems may long remain topics of policy and debate. The need for governance has become difficult to ignore. Whether through unanticipated liberation, ruthless privatization, or sheer volume, ubiquitous information technology now influences even the most everyday cultural acts.

Under these conditions, it may be costly to neglect the role of augmented surroundings. For unlike the open Internet, an embodied systems that people must inhabit imposes physical and experiential limits; more is not always better. Recall the consequences of those attitudes in mobility and housing. Now as shared physical spaces are flooded by media, corporations enclose cultural commons, and the dynamics of participatory networks shift to street level, what particular concerns arise with the ambient? Is there now a tangible information commons?

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