“Blow In” – Nomadic ownership of place

“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we killed on it, died on it…That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.” – from John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939, p38

People move. In the 20th Century, with the invention of the aeroplane, people began to move faster and further than they ever could before. But moving place is something that people have always done. From nomadic cultures and tribes to those who have moved out of necessity (due to famine or crisis), people have always crossed borders and scrambled into unexplored areas in search of a place that they can be born in, work in, and eventually die in.

A photograph of clouds from above, taken from an aeroplane window
The landscape of clouds from an aeroplane window is a territory that we will probably never blow in as far as.

People also “blow in”: the dismissive term blow-in is regularly bandied about in Ireland and other countries to describe people who have moved into and settled in a town or village Continue reading ““Blow In” – Nomadic ownership of place”

Possession 0.9 (Beta) – Ownership in open source

Firstly, let me briefly apologise for the abhorrent lack of activity on MUW over the past three months. Blogging is time-consuming, and sometimes life is too, and unfortunately the latter has been the case of late. Expect posting to get back to normal over the coming weeks; no posts doesn’t mean no ideas and there is a colossal backlog of brainwaves. Watch this space!

An image of a communications tower behind a fence.
Information wants to be free?

Possession is nine-tenths of the law. In the past wars have been fought and families split over possession and the idea of ownership. However, this tenuous law is dependent on the idea that there is some value in ownership – the economic worth of property guides the idea that possession is valuable. People understand that the boundaries that surround owned areas and objects are respected by a sense of possession that we take for granted. In cyberspace, ownership is more ambiguous as spaces are owned or maintained in virtual areas that are often maintained for free. So how does possession work in a community with spaces and services provided free of charge?

In the late 1700s and 1800s the frontier lines were pushed west in the United States. Frederick Jackson Turner famously documented the scramble. Continue reading “Possession 0.9 (Beta) – Ownership in open source”