Dan Gillmor: Liberty Takes Work

Dan Gillmor wrote some inspiring words in his last column for the SJMercury:

The Internet and its progeny are still early in their development, meanwhile. The Net is nowhere near as universal as it will be when we enter an age of what some call ubiquitous computing, but the outlines of its value are obvious today. For example, all media will eventually move around the world in little digital packages, called packets, that are the basic units of tomorrow's communications. The importance of this -- in decimating old businesses while improving most people's lives -- has not been sufficiently appreciated.

The risks are growing, too. When the ability to do great things spreads away from the center, so does the ability to do massively dangerous things. The power of one fanatic or small group to create incalculable damage -- assuming we don't do it simply by mistake -- should worry everyone. But we should not allow that concern to stifle progress.

And, as always, the people and institutions currently holding the clout don't cede it willingly. Governments are clamping down on us in all kinds of ways. Incumbent business powerhouses are trying to hold back the tide as well, not just to keep their positions but also to thwart new innovation that might threaten them.

These reactionary encroachments and retrenchments are not surprising. They always occur in times of swift change and challenge. In the end, they are almost always unsuccessful, because progress ultimately finds a way around barriers, and because people challenge the reactionaries.

But we need to keep the pressure up, as citizens and people who want the freedom to use these new tools and live in liberty. The stakes are high, and liberty takes work.

Be sure to check out Gillmor's new blog: http://dangillmor.typepad.com

His RSS Feed is now: http://dangillmor.typepad.com/dan_gillmor_on_grassroots/index.rdf